Author: Ashley Ostrowski

Hi! I'm Ashley Ostrowski. In this blog, I analyze what media tells us about living a meaningful life. I talk about my favorite books, movies, shows, and more.
Books, Reflections

Why I am working on Writing in a Commonplace Book

I wrote this post the week after New Year’s with the intention to publish a cool, philosophical examination of the commonplace book. But like most New Year’s resolutions, things didn’t work I planned. I have been thinking about this topic for a while, but I have put it off. I finally started cleaning out my room this week after I got home from college. I decided that it was time to do some spring cleaning. I’m living at home after college, and I have an average sized room, but I have a ton of books and notebooks and not much space to store them. My closet and bookshelf and desks are so full. I started going through college papers and notebooks, and I realized that I don’t need to save all of these.

But it is a bit sad to throw them away. I have a fear of forgetting everything that I learned in college, and I think from a practical standpoint, students pay a ridiculous amount of money to attend university and to sit in a classroom and take notes. Why should I throw these notes out? They’re worth so many paychecks.

I realized that I’m too much of a saver. I don’t have room for every single worksheet or notebook in my room. Many of them I will never look at again. I mean, there is Google. I can research Finite Math and review Chemistry, but what about the humanities? What if I forget all these writers and philosophers that I read and loved?

So, that is why I’m returning to a commonplace book. It is a place where you can keep all the meaningful things you learned in one place.

That is why–after I graduated college–I decided that I should get back to working on a commonplace book that I haven’t touched since my fall semester of college.

What is a Commonplace Book?

So, if you haven’t heard of a commonplace book, you might be very confused right now. I first heard of a commonplace book not from the internet, but from a philosophy professor that I had at Grove City College. It was even a grade for my philosophy 101 class. All we had to do was write 45 quotes from the works we read in class into a notebook. Sounds simple enough and an easy way to get points, doesn’t it?

During the course of a semester, we wrote a few quotes from every reading into the notebook. It wasn’t too hard of an assignment, and I was grateful that my professor chose this project for a few reasons. Keeping one of these books is an easy way to improve your grade in Philosophy 101, and it is also an easy way to grow a little bit wiser every day.

So, how does one create a commonplace book exactly? And why do I plan to spend my time writing quotes that I find in books? If that sounds boring, like it did to me at first, I’ll ask you this:

Have you ever read a great quote in a book that you never wanted to forget. Have you ever read a quote that you loved not for the beauty of the words, but for the message? The message was so powerful, you wanted to remember it and not just keep it as a pretty wall poster. The words you write in a commonplace book can provide guidance, wisdom, and advice for a difficult time or be read as an everyday reminder. There have been many passages throughout my reading that I have wished to keep with me.

For years, I did not know how to save these quotes and remember them. I have collected phrases in journals, made Pinterest boards, and saved posts I’ve loved on Instagram. I remember in high school, I loved copying my favorite scenes and quotes from books into my journal. I’ve been collecting words, sharing them, and eventually losing them my entire life.

When I started college, I took notes in class and added stars to quotes in books. I was an English major. I marked them down because my professor told me to and because I would likely be tested on them. But I also knew I wanted to come back to them someday. Looking back, I’ve realized that after tests and papers are done, I rarely return to those passages that meant so much to me at the time.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care about what I learned or that the quotes no longer applied to my life or understanding of the world, they did. But college can be stressful sometimes and life changes, and you forget to look back on the things you’ve learned.

Another problem I had with saving quotes was that I never knew how to sort them. In my philosophy class, it was pretty easy to find quotes to include in my notebook. We read many authors with words worth holding onto, looking to for guidance, and keeping with me. We studied the works of Plato, Dante, Aristotle, and Boethius.

Something about this guy is worth remembering, and not just his glorious beard

I feel like I can go back and read them again and learn something new every time. My professors often said that good authors are worth rereading and learning from, time and time again. My one professor mentioned that he reread the Aristotle’s Ethics every year and reread Charles Dicken’s Christmas Carol every Advent. I would like to try that, I haven’t yet, but I feel like you could learn quite a bit from rereading the same book every season.

And just like I plan to reread great books, I also plan on returning to these commonplace entries in the future. I also like how I do not have to reread the entire book that day with a commonplace book. I can simply look back and find quotes on the topics that I’ve been thinking about. I could Google these quotes too, but I feel like I don’t remember things as much when I Google.

I discover something magical when I look back on my own words rewriting and remembering the words of another person. I honestly had no idea how beautiful the writings of these authors were until I read them. I kind of fell in love with the philosophers, some of them, at least. We read about Aristotle’s definition of perfect friendship and Boethius’ words about how we can’t trust fortune or rely on external circumstances alone to make us happy.

Putting all the quotes together in commonplace book is a great way to find those topics and return to those quotes again and again. You can flip to a page in your commonplace book and find a specific topic and author.

Commonplace books are great at helping you remember these quotes and the impact they have had on society. If we look at topics like philosophy, politics, and religion, our culture has been influenced so much by the writers of the past. We are influenced by the past more than I realized. Martin Luther King Jr. for example, included several references to philosophers of the past.

In my classes at college, I was amazed how these writers were able to bring together the words of other authors and include their thoughts and ideas in their writings. How do you remember all of this? With a commonplace book, all of these quotes and phrases are kept together and organized. Writing them down and looking back on your commonplace book can help you remember it all.

What to Include in a Commonplace Book

Commonplace books entries don’t have to be from only philosophers and academics. You can include quotes from anywhere you find inspiring, novels, poetry, from the Bible, Koran, or any religious text, from a movie, tv show, or song. Even a street sign.

You can use quotes that you’ve heard in real life too. I learn so much about the world from family, friends, professors, and acquaintances. There is something about people that makes us want to quote each other. My sorority had/has a group chat where we quote each other and send it to the group. Most of these quotes are super funny, random, and out of context. But they can also be wise and insightful.

In the case of the commonplace book, I always do look at the context. So I do not misunderstand what the writer intended to say. Jeremiah 29:11, for example, is not meant for a 21th century reader but for the people of Israel. Shakespeare’s “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” is not nearly as deep as people think, and the term “greatness thrust upon them” is an innuendo. So be careful what you quote for inspiration.

For this book, I look for quotes that say something accurate about human nature or offer wisdom about how to live a good life.

Not all of your quotes have to be older either; they can be modern or from a song you heard last week. I would pay attention and look for things that you can learn. There are plenty of quotes that I find deep at the moment. James Arthur’s “Empty Space” was stuck in my head for at least a month. I’m not sure I’d include them or not. We sometimes find genius in unexpected places.

It is good to have authors from different time periods, cultures, and places. If you keep a broad scope, you will discover universal truths. You can find great wisdom from any era too. I like to keep learning about the world I live in–not just where I am.

Lately, I’ve noticed that when I read something I really want to remember, it gets lost–amongst all the other ideas swimming around my brain–like all the emails I read, the things people say in real life, my homework assignments, and articles I read online. It feels like too much. I also have a million notebooks, so most of my quotes were scattered into multiple journals. Then I lose it all. So when I learned about commonplace books, I figured I’d get all this together.

Organization

So, how do I even organize a commonplace book?

I have heard that there are different ways to organize them, but I figured I’d follow the meathod my professor described. It is easier, but if you find another method that you prefer, go for it. I organize mine alphabetically by the category of a quote. I make a page or so for every letter and the first vowel of that letter.

For example, I have a page for AA and the next page is AE. I vary the number of pages for each letter depending on how many words you can make for each letter and vowel. I make up the categories as I go along and put the categories on the pages corresponding to the alphabet. For example, let’s say that I’m writing down a quote about humility. I would go to the page where I wrote “HU” and would add the category humility under it with the words. All quotes that are about humility go there.

I write the quote under the category. Then I write the name of the author, the name of the work, and the page numbers under the quote. If I want to go back and read a whole section or reread the work I referenced, I can find it easily.

This is Your Commonplace book- don’t just listen to what I’m doing

You don’t have to structure your commonplace book as I did. A commonplace book is yours to write in and reference, so you should structure it the way it works for you. You could use a physical journal like I did or make a digital one on a word document. I personally love writing quotes down to remember them. You could even have multiple commonplace books. You could use one for quotes you like from books and another for words of wisdom. There are plenty of quotes that I love and want to read again that I wouldn’t call good advice. But it could be fun to keep track of them. I’m not sure if I’ll do this or not.
The main reason that my professor assigned this and why I’m writing this, is so that I can learn and grow in virtue and understanding. They can help me become a the best version of myself. They can help me grow as a person. In our internet age and how I noticed how quickly trends fade, I want something that I can hold onto. And becoming more like people you admire isn’t the impossible task that I once imagined it was.


Patience, honor, bravery, justice, benevolence, temperance, wit (Aristotle said wit was a virtue, I approve), and other virtues improve with practice. I fall into the problem of seeing virtue as abstract rather than concrete, and sometimes I find it easy to forget my moral code or forget that these are important.
Writing them down, and reading them, helps me remember. I can remember what is right. I can also read sections about wealth and remember that it does not matter the most. Money is the means to an end rather than the final end. I want to learn and remember how to be a good friend and care about others around me.

You certainly don’t need a commonplace book or to study philosophy or ethics to live a moral life, but I find writing down quotes and looking at them again is a helpful tool. When I feel stuck in my own thoughts, I can look at what people have to say about these things. Writing in a commonplace book is a great way to remember quotes and bits of information. There are also authors who I love reading and want to keep with me.


I would highly recommend starting a commonplace book if this sounds interesting. A commonplace book is a way to cultivate wisdom and a love and appreciation for words that lasts a lifetime. Making commonplacing a regular habit can be a helpful way to keep your favorite writers with you. It can motivate you to go back and reread your favorites and seek out new material. One of my worries about leaving college was forgetting how much I loved reading, especially philosophy and literature. If this sounds like something that sounds even remotely interested in, I would recommend giving it a try.
Tip: Whether you mark an entry every time as you read and discover something new, or spend seven minutes a day or three days a week commonplacing, building it into your life is the best way to ensure that it doesn’t end up under your closet. I know it has been a temptation of mine. Even if you forget about it for a while, you can always come back. There is no time limit or rules for your book.


This year, a few of my goals are maintain a schedule to cultivate good sleep, exercise, and eating habits; cultivate relationships and grow spiritually; and find a job after graduating in the spring. I wrote most of these goals down in January, and I’m still working on them. I also hope to grow in wisdom and learn about lives outside my own. So, commonplace book, here I go. I will not save every worksheet from Finite Math and Shakespeare, but I will keep this book with me.


I really hope that I will look back and remember old entries. I wonder what I will think when I look back at the quotes I wrote down when I was younger. I’d love to write more about this in the future once I get into collecting more quotes. Have you ever heard of or tried creating a commonplace book? If you’ve started or plan to start one, I would love to hear about it and plans for this year.


What do you think about a commonplace book? Are you a fan of spring cleaning? Do you tend to hold onto everything you receive or take a minimalist approach? Let me know in the comments!

Music

Cardigan Analysis with P. A. Wilson

Cardigan is one of three Taylor Swift songs in a series that she calls the “Teenage Love Triangle.” This story is about three teens, Betty, James, and an unnamed character who James cheats on Betty with. Each song takes place from the perspective from a different teen, and Betty is the first one to share her perspective in her song, “Cardigan.”

P. A. Wilson and I decided to analyze each song in the series and offer our thoughts and opinions. We love a good song analysis, and this was a lot of fun.

Vintage tee, brand new phone

High heels on cobblestones

When you are young, they assume you know nothing

P. A. Wilson: I automatically get modern vibes or 2010s vibes at least. It seems recent mostly because of the new phone, but vintage tees have been popular for a few years now I believe. I am not great at keeping up with what’s in style, but I see teenagers still wearing vintage tees. High heels and vintage tees are a weird combination. I kind of wonder if there are two people in this scene due to the mismatch. High heels on cobblestones mostly makes me think of how I never wear them because I am so clumsy. On cobblestones, I would probably end up tripping and falling. I wonder if high heels on cobblestones is a metaphor for the relationship between these two people. Like if they are going through a rough patch or are uncertain in their footing. The last sentence is super relatable because adults always assume that teenagers, or even younger adults, are simply too inexperienced to know anything about the world or themselves. When I came out as asexual and biromantic, and even before that when I implied I was sex-repulsed, I was told that I was too young to understand how I felt. So yeah, this hit home.

Ashley: I’m curious about the vintage tee and high heels. It is an odd combination of clothes to wear, and I’m guessing there are two people there. The brand new phone also sounds like one of the people is able to afford a new phone, maybe they’re more wealthy, but they prefer to dress in vintage tees for comfort. High heels on cobblestones sounds slippery. I would probably fall over, myself. Cobblestones maybe indicate that they’re in someone’s driveway or maybe they’re walking through town. I like that last sentence. I feel like we don’t take young people very seriously, and it’s quite annoying.

Sequin smile, black lipstick

Sensual politics

When you are young, they assume you know nothing

P. A. Wilson: “Sequin smile” is a wonderful usage of descriptive imagery. Sequins look like they are diamonds or some other gem, but they are fake in reality, mere plastic. A sequin smile is shiny and looks genuine but masks a different feeling inside. Black lipstick also suggests a somber mood. Sensual politics seems to refer to the subtle manipulation and deliberate impression made by this behavior and clothing choice–like the intentional maneuvers and diction of a politician. The final line about adults assuming young people know nothing takes on a different vibe in this section, because it seems like the adults came to this conclusion because of the smiles and makeup/clothing choices of young people. Like it is a judgement based on appearance.

Ashley: “Sequin smile” is an interesting phrase. It feels plastered on or fake, almost ornamental. This person is dressing up, maybe in sequins. I have personally never worn black lipstick, and from what I’ve heard, it sounds like it is hard to pull it off. I kind of want to try black lipstick now. But, I get the vibe here that she’s (or the person wearing lipstick) is dressing up for the other. The phrase “sensual politics” sounds like it is a younger person trying to be more mature. Politics reminds me of politicians having secret affairs with each other. Sensual makes me think that this is a liaison between two people, if not a cheating situation. I can see where the second phrase comes in. Maybe older people observing their relationship saw it as them pretending to be adults, and her dressing up for the person she’s with is seen as exaggerated and overdone. She says the phrase dismissively like they assume, but she knows the truth.

But I knew you

Dancin’ in your Levi’s

Drunk under a streetlight, I

P. A. Wilson: Knowing someone when they are in a different state from one in which they would normally like others to see them suggests a kind of intimacy. It’s a personal moment that the narrator has shared with one they love. Being drunk and dancing also suggests a kind of vulnerability and implied trust.

Ashley: They’re definitely out at night. The image here also just feels intimate. It is one of those moments that not everyone knows about a person. Although this person is drunk, they seem vulnerable. They’re carefree, dancing around. I also find it interesting that the two of them are not dancing together. One is watching while the other dances, at least that’s how I interpret it.

I knew you

Hand under my sweatshirt

Baby, kiss it better, I

And when I felt like I was an old cardigan

Under someone’s bed

You put me on and said I was your favorite

P. A. Wilson: She sounds like she feels left behind often, abandoned as unwanted, but that the lover made her feel like she was special. The old cardigan was an interesting choice, as a piece of clothes, something that you put on sometimes for comfort but that you might not wear around others as often since it is old. Almost suggesting that her lover “puts her on” when it is convenient or just as a means of comfort. “Baby, kiss it better” is kind of childish, suggesting that the singer is vulnerable and believes the lover’s affection would have a healing effect.

Ashley: She is definitely confident, telling him to kiss her, and we definitely know this is some sort of relationship now. I like the cardigan image. I don’t have any clothes under my bed myself. If anything, it would be a cardigan on the floor of my closet or hung up somewhere. It sounds like she feels like she is forgotten. Maybe she feels like no one sees her as a romantic prospect, and then he chooses her and she feels good and warm. I’m not sure if this extends into other categories of life too. Does she feel like family and her peers don’t notice her much, or does she just feel like this in a romantic context?

A friend to all is a friend to none

Chase two girls, lose the one

When you are young, they assume you know nothin’

P. A. Wilson: I understand very well that “a friend to all is a friend to none.” I try to be on good terms and build relationships with many people, including people who don’t get along with each other. Because I do not choose sides, I am often resented by everyone involved. James chased another girl, and now has lost the Betty. Losing the one could also be interpreted as losing “the one.” Like the one person who is a perfect match. I never believed in “the one,” instead believing there are many potential partners who would be great, even if you only choose one in the end. The repetition of “they assume you know nothin'” now seems like it means they assume one cannot be held responsible for such actions if one is young, due to ignorance.

Ashley: I feel like she’s pretty right here. You can’t please everyone and be everyone’s friend, but I’m not sure if you’d be a friend to no one. You’d have to have someone, right? The next phrase totally contradicts the first one. If only one girl is lost, they still get the other girl. I’m guessing Betty is the girl that was lost, because she says she knew them in past tense. Again, the refrain maybe reinstates that her lover didn’t know how to keep her, so maybe in this case, at least James really did know nothing.

But I knew you

Playing hide-and-seek and

Giving me your weekends, I

P. A. Wilson: Playing hide and seek sounds cute and sweet like the children’s game, but it could mean James is hiding something more serious, like his affair with another girl. Giving weekends makes it sound like it is a gift that James is giving her. Oddly, she does not consider that she is also giving him her weekends. The gift is mutual. It becomes increasingly clear that Betty has low self-esteem.

Ashley: I feel like this relationship is starting to show its disfunction some more. Playing hide and seek first sounds fun and a bit childish, but it maybe carries another meaning. James might not be as consistent with meeting up and hanging out with Betty. We know from Swift that James is cheating on Betty, and it sounds like he might be hiding when they are in public or isn’t very consistent with making plans. Giving me your weekends also shows how Betty sees James’ weekends as a gift. She doesn’t see herself as giving her weekends, and it sounds like she felt special to get weekends together. Their relationship could only exist on weekends, and James spends the other time with this other girl. But Betty didn’t seem to care. She just liked feeling special.

I can understand that, enjoying whenever you’re around someone. You soak up all your time together like a sponge because he makes you feel special, and it feels like you don’t get that feeling anywhere else. And that’s all you can think about. Your head is so filled with love that you forget all their flaws and the circumstances you’re in.

I knew you

Your heartbeat on the High Line

Once in 20 lifetimes, I

And when I felt like I was an old cardigan

Under someone’s bed

You put me on and said I was your favorite

P. A. Wilson: Not really sure what heartbeat on the High Line means, other than it is a straight street in New York. Maybe it refers to how Betty thought James’ heart would not deviate from her. She felt like this love was so special it would only be found once in 20 lifetimes. The repetition of the cardigan line emphasizes her low self-esteem and how he made her seem special.

Ashley: I looked up High Line. It is a straight street in New York City. I’m not exactly sure what she means with this image. I’m imagining that if she feels like his heartbeat is on a straight road, then maybe she doesn’t see him as pursuing another girl. She is the road to happiness and their love is a straight line. It feels extra special, once in 20 lifetimes. So, it doesn’t matter if she is young. She feels like with this person she has lived and has now finally experienced true love. I also feel like she’s justifying her love for him. She felt so special and she had no idea they’d break her heart.

To kiss in cars and downtown bars

Was all we needed

You drew stars around my scars

But now I’m bleedin”

P. A. Wilson: Cars and bars both seem connected to the fast life. Interesting they are kissing in places where the instinct to kiss or the alcohol could impair judgement. Is that really all she needed? What about kissing in the intimacy of a home? She is apparently emotionally or psychologically scarred, and being around him distracted her from that. Drawing stars around them does not heal her, but it does distract her from her pain and make the world seem brighter. That’s why when James leaves it is especially devastating.

Ashley: Ouch. Cars and bars are pretty secretive. They aren’t together in public but somehow it is enough for both of them. But is it? It might be all they wanted in the moment, but look at the next lines. I’m imagining James is drawing stars with a pen on Betty’s arm. I’m not sure how metaphorical and literal they are. Also, stars seem like they’re nearby forever, but then the night ends and we can no longer see them.

Scars indicate she’s been hurt in the past, either emotionally or physically or both. She seems like she’s healed, but she’s still fragile. If we’re thinking of physical scars, drawing around the scars seems like they’re creating a distraction. She isn’t being healed, but she feels better with this person who seems like a ray of light. The only problem is that she’s rested her happiness on this person and once they leave her, the pain is worse and she is alone.

Cause I knew you

Steppin’ on the last train

Marked me like a bloodstain, I

P. A. Wilson: Stepping on the last train suggests he wanted to be with her for a long time, but ultimately left her. A bloodstain leaves no positive memories and has no good associations, just the notion of pain. In addition to her scars and bleeding, she feels stained.

Ashley: He is leaving her. The last train might indicate he cares for her too, he is spending every moment that he can with her. But marking her like a bloodstain, that hurts. He still causes a harmful wound whether he means to or not. She is too in love with him.

I knew you

Tried to change the ending

Peter losing Wendy, I

I knew you

P. A. Wilson: I understood the Peter Pan and Wendy reference, because they were really close, even though I do not recall the ending. It seems like James is trying to backpedal and change this ending where he loses the girl of his dream, but he fails.

Ashley: I haven’t seen Peter Pan since I was a kid, and I can’t remember the ending. I think Wendy leaves Neverland. I picture Neverland a place where nothing ever changes–where they can stay young and carry out their romance forever. He seems like he’s trying to get back together with her after leaving. He wants to keep their romance, but he has already hurt her and they can’t go back.

Leavin’ like a father

Running like water, I

And when you are young, they assume you know nothing

P. A. Wilson: “Leavin’ like a father” is a painful line. It seems like Betty’s own father might have left her, but also like this is a commentary about how fathers sometimes leave their children. Running like water makes it sound like she thinks it was natural that he left her, if unexpected. She shows that she has experience and doesn’t really know nothing.

Ashley: The speaker seems like she’s pretty vague about her own past. I can’t tell if her father or another family member left her in the past and that is why she has these scars. I don’t get the sense that James caused her initial scars. The metaphor of running like water. Well, water runs, but it leaves an impact on the ground that it runs under. It also keeps moving forward, regardless of the feelings of the people around it.

But I knew you’d linger like a tattoo kiss

I knew you’d haunt all of my what-ifs

The smell of smoke would hang around this long

P. A. Wilson: A tattoo is long-lasting and often permanent, so his love has marked her permanently, whether that is desired or not. She is haunted by what could have been. Smoke comes after a fire and is a sign of destruction. Usually, it fades away, but this smoke is lingering, suffocating Betty.

Ashley: She says they’re lingering, and lingering means someone stays longer than intended or wanted. It seems like she doesn’t necessarily want to keep him on her mind, but she can’t let it go. A tattoo feels more permanent than a lingering stranger. A tattoo is meant to be permanent, and it is pretty painful to remove. Haunting what-ifs shows that she made decisions too. Maybe she could have gotten with James when he fought for her, but she gave up. The smell of smoke reminds me of a fire burning or a cigarette. Also, fire is quick and passionate in the moment, and you don’t expect smoke to hang around after.

‘Cause I knew everything when I was young

I knew I’d curse you for the longest time

P. A. Wilson: Young people know more than they are usually given credit for, even if they are inexperienced. They learn about life, and their experience should not be disregarded. She knows even now that she is going to hold a grudge and not be able to move on for a long time.

Ashley: She knows that she won’t forget him. She knows her feelings and that she’s in pain, and she won’t get over how he hurt her for a while. Just because she’s young doesn’t mean she doesn’t know herself or hasn’t learned from her experiences.

Chasin’ shadows in the grocery line

I knew you’d miss me once the thrill expired

And you’d be standin’ in my front porch light

P. A. Wilson: Even though Betty knows James is gone, she looks for signs of his presence in public places. She knew he would come back to her. He is no longer the person drawing stars–now he relies on the porch light instead of being a source of light himself.

Ashley: I like the image of chasing shadows. I wonder if she sees him at the store and watches as he walks away from the store. I like how she continues the metaphor of light. But instead of a shadow, he is now present in the light.

And I knew you’d come back to me

You’d come back to me

And you’d come back to me

And you’d come back

P. A. Wilson: I didn’t expect this confidence that he would return. I had hoped the end of the song would show her moving on and happy on her own or finding someone new. The repetition makes it seem more likely.

Ashley: She’s pretty confident. This ending surprises me a little. But he did care about her, so it makes sense. It sounds like maybe they’ll get a happy ending.

And when I felt like I was an old cardigan

Under someone’s bed

You put me on and said I was your favorite

P. A. Wilson: This song was a good one. I appreciated the imagery, especially the cardigan and the sequin smile. I personally hope they both move on. It’s hard to trust again after being cheated on, and I am not sure that Betty will be able to heal if she re-opens old wounds by being with James again. The positive ending makes me think that they may have a chance, though.

Ashley: I liked this song. It tells a story in the details. I feel like if these two get together, they have a bit to learn, even if she does know herself pretty well. James has to make it up to her for leaving, but I feel like coming to her doorstep is a start at least.

I feel like she’s captured the experience of being young and in love. Betty both knows herself and James more than people think she does, but she still makes mistakes and learns from them. She feels so happy about being someone’s favorite. It feels special and exciting, but she also feels comfortable with him. That isn’t something you want to let go. Cardigans are something that you keep for a long time in her case.

In real life though, I had a cardigan that, like this one, I left in my closet for years. It was grey and thin. It was comfortable enough, but it didn’t match many of my clothes. I enjoyed wearing it at the time though, but I ended up donating it. I don’t really miss it. I got a white cardigan this Christmas, partially out of my love of Taylor Swift. It is shorter and has two buttons. I hope to wear it again in the fall when it gets cooler outside.

So, that’s our analysis of “Cardigan.” Next, we’re going to analyze “Betty” next. What did you think of the song? Do you think Betty should have taken James back? Let us know in the comments below!

Shows

10 TV Couples that I’m a Little in Love with

Spoilers for New Girl, Gilmore Girls + The Revival, Jane The Virgin, The Good Place, and Dickinson

I have to say, romance is a lot of fun. I love fictional couples and watching people develop feelings for each other. I feel like I live through fictional relationships sometimes, and it is a lot of fun. So this week, I decided to compile a list of the TV couples that I ship the most and share them with you all.

10. Serena and Dan from Gossip Girl

I know this ship is a rather unpopular one, but I really liked these two. I never got around to finishing Gossip Girl, but Serena and Dan were a great couple in the first season. Dan is an outsider and Serena is the IT girl. They had a lot of chemistry, and I liked the drama that came with this couple. Blake Lively is also incredible. I liked her with Nate too, but these two were my first ship on this show, and I always rooted for them to get back together even after they broke up. That’s why I’m giving them a higher rating. Gossip Girl just had good ships in general. Most of them were really unhealthy, but the drama was fun to watch. It is one of those shows where almost everyone dates each other because the actors have chemistry with everyone.

Best Quote:

Serena to Dan: “I loved you and just because we broke up doesn’t mean that I could turn it off like that”

9. Morticia and Gomez from The Adams Family

It shouldn’t be surprising that I chose these two. I have seen The Adams Family as a movie and a play, and both times that I watched, one of my biggest takeaways was just how these two love each other. They are nothing like the typical sitcom couple where they don’t actually like each other. For some shows, husbands and wives hating each other or barely tolerating each other is a big punchline. Not funny, guys. If you’re looking for the perfect married couple, just look at Morticia and Gomez. These two have been married for years, and they both adore each other and are passionately in love. They both love their rather strange lifestyle, and they get to do the weird parts of life together. I feel like a lot of media shows a couple fall in love, but not the aftermath. I like seeing these two married with kids navigating family life. They fight like a normal couple, of course, but they still always come to a solution. It is no wonder that many online lists put them as one of the best romances of all time.

Swoon-Worthy Quote:

Gomez: “How long has it been since we’ve waltzed?”

Morticia: “Oh, Gomez…”

Gomez: “…Hours.”

8. April and Andy from Parks and Rec

Okay. I absolutely love these two. When I first watched this show, I thought Andy was a pretty annoying boyfriend to Ann, but luckily, he improves so much in the next season. These two are also the grumpy/sunshine trope. Andy is a goofball slacker, and April is a goth slacker. When they get together, there is absolute chaos. They start as friends and then start liking each other and date pretty early in the series.

I was most surprised that the most childish couple of the show ended up getting married so early. But I kind of love it. Their wedding is the most random thing ever. They have a party with their friends, and then they announce their house party is actually their wedding. Andy wears a football jersey to his own wedding, which is pretty awesome. April says that she never really hated him in her vows, which is so her. I love how this couple are just fun whenever they’re together. Some couples become boring after they get together on TV shows because the writers don’t know what else to do with them. All the relationship drama stops. At best, they are reduced to background characters, and at worst, one of them cheats on the other.

But when April and Andy get married, they’re anything but boring. Also they aren’t organized or good at what they call adulting, but they’re figuring it out together. I can relate to them as someone who just graduated from college. I have no idea what I’m doing; these two don’t either–but they know they want to be together–and it works out. They don’t force themselves to grow old and boring. They know how to have fun together. They make each other laugh, and their personalities play off each other really well. They’re happy and know how to make each other laugh. I would say that’s pretty awesomesauce.

Best Quote:

Andy: “Aww Babe… you had a crush on me, that’s so embarrassing.”

April: “We’re married.”

Andy: “Still”

7. Jane and Rafael from Jane the Virgin

I started watching Jane the Virgin a while ago, and I fell in love with Jane and Rafael. Basically, the plot of their story is that Jane, a virgin, accidentally gets artificially inseminated when a doctor mixes up her pap smear with another woman. That woman is Petra, and Rafael is the fiancé and the father of Jane’s child.

Jane and Rafael actually met once before. They met a coffee shop years ago and kissed. It sounds like it is almost fate, but Rafael is with Petra and Jane is engaged to a man named Michael.

I liked Michael a lot too, but Rafael was just a sweetheart. He had his issues, but so did Jane. I loved how they always encouraged each other no matter what. Rafael always encouraged her writing and was willing to make sacrifices for Jane’s happiness. Jane encouraged Rafael and showed him that he could be a better man than his father was. These two also have so much passion and chemistry. Rafael is also incredibly good looking, so that helps. But even as they go from a couple to friends, I feel like neither of them truly stopped loving each other. I also liked how Rafael didn’t get along with Jane’s family right away. It takes some time for them. Especially after Michael’s passing. By the end, he loves her family, and they love him and he has been there with her through so many different life challenges. And despite all the hurdles, they get together in the end.

I liked how they are able to be friends as well, and they care about each other and are best friends even when they’re not dating.

Swoon-worthy quote:

Jane: “It’s your dream. Go for it, be brave.”

Rafael: “Hey, that’s my line.”

Jane: “Well, it works and it’s true.”

6. Jess and Rory from Gilmore Girls

I have to say, I normally don’t like whole bad-boy romance stories, but Jess from Gilmore Girls is my exception. He is Luke’s nephew, and he moves in with his uncle during the second season. He and Rory meet pretty quickly–Lorelai and Luke are close friends after all–and instantly feel a connection. Unfortunately for Jess, Rory is in a relationship with another guy named Dean.

Jess isn’t who you’d think of as Rory’s type. He is extremely intelligent, but he thinks school is a waste of time and doesn’t trust authority figures. Rory is dedicated to studying hard and heading to Harvard. The two of them are connected by a love of books (swoon!) and they end up dating after quite a bit of drama with Dean.

One of the best things about Jess and Rory is that although their paths in life and goals are somewhat different, they’re always pushing each other to be the best versions of themselves. Rory inspires Jess to write a book, and in the revival (major spoiler), Jess tells Rory that she should write a book about her and her mom. They also grow together and are inspired by the other person’s influence.

I will say that Jess was pretty flawed. His mother basically gave him over to Luke and his father left him, and Jess has problems with authority in general. Jess does grow to be a better person with Luke and Rory and even Lorelai’s influence. He leaves in the fourth season, but he does come back to visit.

This is one ship I like that doesn’t end up together. Honestly, I’m not sure if it is for the best or not. These two are great both as friends and as a couple. I like how much they cared about each other no matter what. I think if Amy Sherman Palladino ever made a second revival, I would love to see Jess and Rory get together. But even if it doesn’t happen, I’m grateful that these two were thing.

Best Quote:

Jess: “You know, Ernest only has lovely things to say about you.”

This is from a discussion where Rory wants Jess to read The Fountainhead and Jess wants Rory to read Hemingway.

5. Eleanor and Chidi from The Good Place

I haven’t finished The Good Place yet, but I love Eleanor and Chidi together. Chidi is a philosophy professor of ethics, and Eleanor is actually not supposed to be in The Good Place because she was just a bad person. There’s really no other way to say that. But Chidi is stubborn decides to teach her how to be good so that she can stay there. They do this by studying the philosophers and talking about ethics. For Chidi, this means teaching and talking about his passion, for Eleanor, it is learning that Aristotle is not pronounced “Chipotle.”

I love these two for their wildly different personalities. Chidi is an extremely indecisive guy who desperately wants to make the most ethical decision, but he can never decide. Eleanor is the poster-child for not caring. She is snarky and honest and has no filter. Eleanor is smart, but she just doesn’t care about anything or anyone but herself, at least at first. I like seeing them interact and react to each other.

Best Quote:

Eleanor: “I was dropped into a cave. You were my flashlight.”

The Plato reference gets me. Intellectual beauty–I love it. Honestly my best romantic quote on here.

5. Petra and JR – Jane the Virgin

Petra was one of my favorite characters on Jane the Virgin. She starts the series as Rafael’s fiancé and Jane’s rival. Petra makes some . . . interesting . . . decisions throughout the show. But it is mostly because her life and past has been incredibly chaotic. Most of these characters go through so much melodrama, but Petra has been through too much that she doesn’t deserve. Petra honestly might be my favorite character on this show. She’s tough and calculated, but she had to grow up that way.

After watching her pine over Rafael for so long, I was pleasantly surprised when she develops feelings for her lawyer, Jane Ramos. Because her name is so similar to our protagonist, Jane, they call her JR.

Petra is always so confident, which drew me to her character. She also always seems to want to be in control, so it was fun watching her fall for Jane and juggle feelings for someone.

Petra hires JR as her lawyer because Petra’s sister died. This is a long story, but it is not Petra’s fault. Jane and Petra end up getting together when they think the case if closed. Of course, this is a telenovela, so when you think it is over, it never truly is. But they break up and end up realizing that they love each other.

I went into ending this show with no idea how the writers would end it, but they gave Petra a perfect match.

She and JR are both ambitious and fiercely protective of the people they love. It was so nice to see Petra happy too, after all that she has been through. I get that this show is a telenovela, but there is so much drama. From husbands coming back from the dead to crime lords, it is quite the ride. These two are amazing though, the way they love and care about each other. I love how JR fits into Petra’s life so well, with her daughters, with her past–all of it. They have their bumps in the road, but they just fit together. They’re amazing.

Best Quote:

Petra: “I love you too, which is scary because its so fast. But here’s the thing, I’ve never felt about anyone the way I feel when I’m with you. And I think I just quoted Dirty Dancing. But that’s the kind of cheesy thing you make me do.”

JR: “I happen to love . . . Dirty Dancing

4. Lorelai and Luke from Gilmore Girls

I’ve talked before about how much I love the grumpy/sunshine trope and these two fit this trope to a T. Lorelai is a single mom and a huge coffee fanatic and Luke owns a diner that she goes to every day. They have been friends for years. One of my favorite tropes is the friends who have been pining for each other forever and Luke and Lorelai are great together as friends and as a couple. They have hilarious banter and if there’s any guy for Lorelai, it is Luke.

The writers of this show threw in so much drama later in the series, but I still love them together. I like how their relationship shows different love languages. Luke for instance, shows Lorelai that he loves her by works of service. He makes her an ice rink when they’re dating. Love doesn’t have to be said all the time or showed in a certain way. This show is a good example of that.

Best Quote:

Both of them:“Will you just stand still”

3. Schmidt and Cece from New Girl

Schmidt may be my favorite New Girl character. He is very high-maintenance and interested in brands and labels. One of his quotes is “Can Somebody Get My Towel? It’s In My Bedroom Next To My Irish Walking Cape.” He has an Irish walking cape, and he owns more hair products than anyone in the loft. He is also a ladies man and a huge flirt. The group has a douchebag jar for Schmidt to put money in when he told Cece he would marry her the moment he met her. Cece wasn’t sure what to think of him at first, but after they spend some time together, she develops feelings for him. They are on-and off again and then finally end up getting married.

Best Quote:

Schmidt: “You like me? For my personality”

Cece: “I was surprised too”

2. Emily and Sue from Dickinson

I absolutely love Emily Dickinson poetry, so I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the new Apple TV adaption. In real life, Sue Gilbert is Emily’s friend and sister-in-law. Sue married her brother Austin. Literary critics have speculated that the two were in love. In the series, Emily and Sue are best friends and fall in love and carry on a passionate, secret romance.

They both have amazing chemistry, and Emily writes poetry about Sue. Falling in love with your best friend is the dream. Some of the best couples are friends who have known each other forever. These two also have amazing chemistry. The show vibes are amazing, and these two are the best part. And I’m a huge fan of Emily Dickinson and Hailee Seinfeld, so it is pretty great. Emily is outgoing and hilarious and Sue is more introverted and sweet. Their relationship is definitely messy, but their love for each other never is.

Best Quote:

Sue: Emily, I love.
Emily: Stop lying to me.
Sue: I love you, and I felt you in the library because you’re always with me. I can’t escape from you because the only true thing I will ever feel is my love for you.

1. Nick and Jess from New Girl

New Girl is a show about a woman named Jess who moves in with three guys after her ex-boyfriend cheats on her. When we first meet Jess, she is a quirky elementary school teacher. Jess is also super sweet and isn’t afraid to be childish or silly. She mixes the group dynamics in the best possible way.

Nick is about the opposite. He is also a rather unusual love interest. Nick is a bartender and a law-school drop out. He is an underachiever and he has an unfinished novel called The Pepperwood Chronicles.

He is also a great friend and, when they get together–a great boyfriend. They both care about each other so much, even when they are not dating. They’re also one of those couples who clash a bit in personality, and it keeps things interesting. Nick can be his goofiest, truest self with Jess and vice versa. They also have so much chemistry. It is crazy. Their first kiss was wow…

I haven’t seen many sitcom couples that have this much chemistry and aren’t completely toxic (Ross and Rachel cough). They have their problems of course, and the writers broke them up for no reason, but they’re just great together. As friends, as a couple, as people supporting each other. I love them so much, and they’re the kind of couple who do anything for each other. Nick will move mountains for Jess and she’d do the same for him.

Best Quotes (2 this time, because I can’t help it):

Jess: “There’s Something About Him…I See Him And My Heart Explodes.”

-Swoon… I can’t with these two. They just love each other so much. The passion, the drama, the witty banter. I love this so much.

Nick: “No! not like this!”

This is before they start dating. Nick and Jess are playing a game with the gang, (True American, which I still want to play), and they are given a dare to kiss. The two of them are locked in a room together until they kiss, but Nick just can’t kiss her over a dare. He yells “No! Not like this” and Jess is confused, so he climbs out a window to escape. He ends up kissing her later that night and says “I meant something like that.” I love this scene so much. The man is a great kisser, so much passion. It was probably the best way to start their relationship. 100/10.

So, that is my list of my favorite TV couples. What did you think? Do you like any of these shows? What couples do you ship? Why? Let me know down in the comments below!

Shows

The Absurd Worldview of Mr. Peanutbutter: Let’s talk about Toxic Positivity

As I’m about to graduate college, I’ve been thinking about BoJack Horseman again. I literally love this show so much, probably because it makes me think about people and the patterns they find themselves in. I’ve also found it interesting that the show includes characters of all different age groups. BoJack is in his fifties. Princess Carolyn is around 40, and Diane is a few years younger than her. Sarah Lynn and Todd are thirty. Hollyhock and Penny are a teens and then young adults. Several characters go through big life changes and experience growth. But I’m not sure that works for everyone. BoJack struggles to make lasting changes over time, but if there is anyone who fails to change over time, it is Mr. Peanutbutter.

I have been thinking lately about mental health and BoJack Horseman and about how Mr. Peanutbutter is the perfect example of toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is a term that I’ve seen everywhere. There are even toxic positivity memes out there. We have all heard the usually well-meaning advice to just stay positive and choose to be happy every day. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

And what is toxic positivity, exactly? According to Medical News Today, Toxic Positivity is “is an obsession with positive thinking. It is the belief that people should put a spin on all experiences, even those that are profoundly tragic. Toxic positivity can silence negative emotions, demean grief, and make people feel under pressure to pretend to be happy even when they are struggling.”

Don’t get me wrong, looking for things you are grateful for and appreciating the people around you are good things, but that simply isn’t the answer for every life situation, especially the painful parts of life. Ignoring life’s tragedies and pain for the sake of positivity is deeply toxic. But before we dive into toxic positivity, it is important to understand Mr. Peanutbutter as a whole.

He is one of those characters that I love to hate, or more accurately, he is one of those people who annoy me, but I can’t help loving them a little anyway. He is funny and always so happy. But his happiness is a strange one. He is willingly oblivious, which seems like a quirk at first. If you think about it though, he’s actually pretty harmful—even if he isn’t causing harm on purpose.

Mr. Peanutbutter’s worldview is actually one of the most complexly thought out. When I first watched the show, I figured he was one of those characters who never thought of big questions about life and just enjoyed being rich and famous. After all, money is quite distracting, life is distracting. Not everyone constructs a worldview or decides to understand their place in the world. I thought maybe Mr. Peanutbutter was happier than BoJack because he never thought about the world and just enjoyed the good stuff. Boy, I was wrong. He has thought of his actions and what it means to be in this world. In one episode, he tells Diane.

 “The universe is a cruel, uncaring void. The key to being happy isn’t a search for meaning. It’s to just keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually, you’ll be dead.”

Wow, I can’t quite agree with you on that, bud. I understand that we can’t figure out the answer to every question or solve the world’s problems, but wow. He also uses the word unimportant nonsense, which indicates that there are important things to do with your life. He could be trying to help others and help with issues he does care about. He does care about the people close to him, Diane, for instance. And he’s not in a position where he can’t help others be happier and safer.

As an actor, he has a lot of money. He already recognizes that it won’t buy him happiness or make his life perfect, so why doesn’t he help the less fortunate? Diane, in contrast, is all about saving people. She knows that the world is full of pain and harm, and she wants to help other people. But she breaks down when she realizes she isn’t making lasting change. That’s totally understandable. The world is full of hurt, but I feel like our best efforts are worth it. I agree with Diane’s decisions at the end, she does help people in a new way. But there is an alternative worldview and way to look at things. We don’t have to give up, and we don’t have to fix everything. So, I wonder if a middle ground between Diane’s activism and Mr. Peanutbutter’s denial would be recognizing that you can’t fix everything and that bad things will continue to happen. But do good anyway. Mr. Peanutbutter also, in deciding that there is no point in helping, ignores the privileges that he has that others do not. Few people are able to distract themselves with “unimportant nonsense” without worrying about bills, health, and other life struggles. Even if you take up the view that life is all nonsense, why not allow others to enjoy nonsense the way you do. That brings me to the next point, the episode, “The Face of Depression.”

The Face of Depression

I find it interesting how when Mr. Peanutbutter is labeled, The Face of Depression, BoJack and Diane are completely skeptical. He’s so happy all the time, how can he possibly be depressed? Diane is diagnosed with depression and it sounds like BoJack has it as well from what we see.

I wonder why they have to be so skeptical that their friend has depression. Even though Mr. Peanutbutter is generally a happy person, that doesn’t mean he can’t suffer from depression. Anyone can have any mental illness regardless of their personality or the face they put on in public.

But Mr. Peanutbutter doesn’t have depression. The show says he does not, and that is partially why he works as an example of toxic positivity. He is absurdist in philosophy and deep into toxic positivity. Now, when we hear the term positive, we wonder, what is wrong with that? Is there anything wrong with being happy and having a good view of life? Is it wrong to be an optimist and to see the glass is half full?

Well, frankly, it depends. Toxic positivity refers to downplaying any emotions that are not positive.

Of course, we all want our friends to be happy and we want ourselves to be happy too. We don’t want them to be going through hard times or to feel bad. When we feel good about life, we want other people to as well. That is a normal feeling and a human one. But happiness isn’t something we should expect out of other people. No one should have to pretend to be happy when they are feeling miserable. I get his ignorance, however. I personally do not have depression, and I can only imagine what it would be like for others.

I understand that it can be hard to understand why someone’s external circumstances seem so good on the outside, but they might be unhappy. Take this conversation between Mr. Peanutbutter and BoJack.

BoJack Horseman No. Of everything. Everything comes so easy for you.

Mr. Peanutbutter Oh, and it doesn’t for you? You’re a millionaire movie star with a girlfriend who loves you, acting in your dream movie. What more do you want? What else could the universe possible owe you?

BoJack Horseman I… want… to feel good about myself. The way you do. And I don’t know how. I don’t know if I can.

On Mr. Peanutbutter’s end, it sounds like BoJack has every reason to be happy. Shouldn’t these good things, love, and career success make him happy?

The two of them end up reconciling, and I’m not sure if Mr. Peanutbutter understands BoJack in the end or not. I’d say his worldview makes it hard for him to understand people. Mr. Peanutbutter, because he sees the world as meaningless, doesn’t recognize that others think differently than he does. If life is about doing silly things, why doesn’t everyone go with the flow and enjoy them? Nothing has any inherent value or meaning, and if it doesn’t matter–why not have fun?  

This is why he and Diane clash. Diane doesn’t like large parties and being in the spotlight, but Mr. Peanutbutter just assumes she’ll love it. It is fun for him, so why doesn’t everyone else want that? As an introvert, I can relate to Diane. She’s awkward at parties and doesn’t feel comfortable in a large group of strangers.

But Mr. Peanutbutter never tries to consider her perspective because it doesn’t matter. He sees almost all parts of life as things to embrace. Unlike BoJack, he is willing to take any role, no matter how silly, cliché, or even downright harmful. Birthday Dad, a knockoff of BoJack’s show, and an app that later enables sexual harassment are never a no for Mr. Peanutbutter. He goes along with whatever comes his way. There is something to be admired in going with the flow and accepting challenges or when life doesn’t look what you expect, but Mr. Peanutbutter takes it to the extreme. He is utterly thoughtless, and his moral code is weak. He cares about niceness and friendliness, which BoJack lacks, but he also doesn’t look beyond the surface level.

He refuses to, and he refuses to see any deeper meaning in life.

Toxic Positivity in Real Life

I found this gif when I was looking for online quotes. This is extremely harmful. Being sad is a normal human emotion that we as humans feel. Ignoring your emotions will be harmful in the long run.

I don’t think that belief that the world is meaningless is the inherent cause of toxic positivity, though it certainly can lead to it. I have heard about it in various subgroups. People who are passionate about their jobs or about the opportunity to study in college can fall prey to toxic positivity. I’ve seen this mentality amongst Christians, even though Jesus showed a wide range of emotions and wasn’t exceedingly positive. He cried and got angry and was pretty human and he validated people’s emotions and didn’t pretend sadness didn’t exist.

If that’s the case, I don’t get why we all shouldn’t be like that. God has given blessings and there are good things in the world, so we should appreciate them. Every day is a gift, there is a beautiful creation and there are the joys of coffee and friends. I don’t disagree with that, but creation can also be terrifying and horrific. There are hurricanes and tsunamis and nature is frankly, a wild beast. While I agree being thankful and focusing on blessings is important, we don’t always feel happy even with the good things in our lives.

One instance I can think of during college was a situation with academics. In my English classes, I read fantastic literature and listened to great lectures. But does that mean I’m not going to be stressed that I have to read 200 pages for one class by next Thursday in one class and 60 pages in another? No way.

If a friend is stressed about school, it is tempting to say to them, “But we have it good here. Our classes are amazing and the books we are reading are profound and beautiful. We have good friends here and our professors are helpful and kind. Classes are fun, why complain if they are hard and you feel anxious? Just enjoy them.” Now, saying that sounds incredibly dumb. College is stressful. Heck, life is stressful. Why should we pretend like it is not. Just like it is absurd to convince our friends to be miserable when they are happy, it is absurd to convince our friends to be happy when they miserable.

Instead, we should listen to people and validate their emotions. Let them let the guard down a little and don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling if you’re upset or something is bothering you. If you feel academic stress, for instance, I know that sometimes a lot of people feel the same way but are a bit afraid to say it. I like x aspects of school, but I’m struggling with x. Or it bothers me when x.

No matter how good things appear on the outside, let yourself feel your feelings. Then learn about them. Understand them. Talk to a counselor if you feel like it could help to have someone else help you understand yourself more.

Toxic Patterns

I think that one of the people that Mr. Peanutbutter hurts the most from his actions is himself. He jumps from wife to wife and doesn’t have any stable foundation. He keeps up a cycle of denial, and that can’t be the right way to live. He also has been deeply sheltered from anything “bad” in the world. His parents raised him on a farm and never taught him to be empathetic or emotionally intelligent. They stunted him.

Toxic positivity does the same thing. It stunts us. It tells us to deny, deny, deny when bad things happen to us, and when life exists outside that bubble of contentment that we’ve created for ourselves. Whenever he faces a challenge, he just moves on to the next thing. He doesn’t reflect on his experiences, and he repeats the same toxic patterns. Bad parts of life exist, and we should learn from them. We should live with them and acknowledge them. Otherwise, we might make the same mistakes. Associating a negative emotion with a certain choice can help us avoid it. For instance, Diane feels disappointed when Mr. Peanutbutter does a big gesture. Instead of recognizing that and seeing it as an opportunity to learn more about his girlfriend and be a better boyfriend, he just moves forward like nothing happened.

His constant invalidation of others’ emotions is pretty terrible. And how are we supposed to learn and love ourselves and the people around us if we do not understand them? If we sort all life’s events into the category of good, there is no opportunity to recognize wrong.

But I can’t just critique his toxic positivity without realizing how it works with his philosophy of life. Mr. Peanutbutter thinks that nothing matters, but it kind of does. His running for governor, for instance, impacts real people around him. To Mr. Peanutbutter, why not run, it sounds like fun. He’s rich, he can do whatever he wants. But Diane admits that he wouldn’t make a good governor. But she doesn’t tell him. Mr. Peanutbutter is never told no, so he keeps doing whatever he feels.

If we go back to that original quote, where he asks BoJack what more could he want, I think Mr. Peanutbutter is jealous of BoJack just like BoJack is jealous of him. Horsin’ Around was a thing before Mr. Peanutbutter’s House. There is also Diane. I feel like a part of him noticed that Diane and BoJack connected emotionally in a way that he can’t with Diane or with any of the women he dates really. He starts dating younger and younger women, and he is never required to understand any of his wives.

Of course, Mr. Peanutbutter is a dog. Dogs are loyal and loving but not always understanding. They like doing different things, and they don’t see any inherent meaning in their actions. At least, I’m assuming they don’t. But none of this is to retract my points. Humans have a natural craving for meaning, and we experience emotions deeply and they hurt. It is tempting to shove our emotions down and pretend we’re fine. It is tempting to say “at least….” when someone shares bad news or says their day was bad.

But that doesn’t make the pain go away. In fact, it lets us suppress the pain and force ourselves to put on a happy face for the person who asked us. Mr. Peanutbutter is a dog, but it is okay if he is a sad dog sometimes. A self-aware dog would be nice to see too.

Have you heard of toxic positivity or watched BoJack Horseman? What are your thoughts on the subject of Mr. Peanutbutter? Let me know down in the comments below.

Links:

https://theconversation.com/how-to-avoid-toxic-positivity-and-take-the-less-direct-route-to-happiness-170260

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/toxic-positivity

Hobbies

An Official Guide to My Tea Drinking Habits

A Ranking of all the Teas I’ve Tried

So, I have mentioned that I enjoy drinking tea. I put it on all of my social media bios because I drink at least a cup a day. If you’ve met me in real life, you’d know that I can’t go a day without drinking tea. And as a society, I feel like we don’t talk about tea enough. Coffee dominates our conversations about hot beverages, even though eighty percent of American households have tea in their kitchens. I was surprised, since tea isn’t talked about in the US the way we hear about tea in England. Who knew! I absolutely love tea as a college student, so I decided to talk about it. Here it is–the list of teas that I like or have shaped my life. Let’s go.

Lipton Black Tea

This is from Unsplash, but still. Quite boring, isn’t it?

Caffeinated: Yes

Recommended for: iced tea fans and fans of classic beverages

Lipton tea was the first type of tea that I tried. It is not my favorite, but I still have a cup now and then when I have a chance. Lipton is part of the reason that I thought I disliked tea for the entirety of my childhood. Lipton tea is a black tea, which though it is helpful when I’m sick, I just don’t vibe with it. Black teas have a strong, distinct flavor that I just can’t get into. When I was younger, I thought Lipton black and green tea were my only options. I know that Earl Gray and other black teas are pretty popular, but I’m not a fan.

It wasn’t until I went to college and tried other teas that I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. If I am drinking Lipton tea, I usually add some honey. It is the only tea I will drink honey with–otherwise it ends up meshing with the flavor, and I don’t like it. Honey makes black tea sweeter, which it desperately needs. I think I still put this on the list because I like the idea of it. I drink it at home with my mom when I am sick. It has grown on me, just a little.

Chamomile

They are made of flowers, but I’ve never tried to make my own.

Caffeinated: No

Recommended for: those who want to relax and sleep well after a long day

Chamomile is a chill type of drink. When I’m worried about something, I usually go for a cup of tea. I go for a cup of chamomile at night often because it contains apigenin, which can help you fall asleep. Not tired? Don’t worry, chamomile helps you sleep, but it rarely makes me feel sleepy or super tired during the day. Sometimes I’ll have a cup of chamomile in the morning.

I have been drinking chamomile lately because of my cold. I’ve also been avoiding caffeinated teas, so chamomile fits the bill. I usually get Celestial Tea for Chamomile, but I don’t have a strong brand preference. I love a good love chamomile tea with lemon too. My college gives us Numi tea as part of our meal plan, and while not all the flavors are for me, I love whenever they have chamomile lemon. The lemon adds a bit of extra flavor, and it just tastes great. Tea with lemon is also helpful when you are sick, so I’ve been drinking lemon tea every chance I get. Lemons go with this tea really well.

Matcha

Beautiful. I can’t declare my love for this drink enough.

Caffeinated: Yes

Recommended for: fans of trendy caffeinated drinks with loads of health benefits

I first heard about Matcha lattes from a fitness Instagram account that I follow called Blogicomics by Cassey Ho. I think it was a comic where she meets a new friend, and they decide to get matcha lattes together. She raved about them on her social media, so I figured I’d have to check them out. I’ve also always been drawn to green smoothie drinks. They sound nutritious, have health benefits, and I feel all fancy when I order one. I also like trying things that I’ve never heard of before. Matcha lattes and drinks are made from matcha power, which is a green tea powder made from finely dried tea leaves. Matcha originates from Japan and was brought to the US because Americans like health drinks. They’re pretty good drinks, so I’m not surprised.

I first tried a matcha latte at Dunkn Donuts, and it was good. I also got a matcha doughnut. That is a glazed donut with matcha power on top. I personally didn’t like it. Matcha powder on its own without tea tastes odd, and I like my doughnuts to be sweet. It totally messed with the purpose of a doughnut. In my opinion, doughnuts are great because of the sugar, icing, cream, and sometimes jelly. Eating “green doughnut” or vegetables on a doughnut would be terrible. I don’t get it, but if you like them–that’s cool. Matcha also contains caffeine, so I would be aware of that before having a cup at 11 PM. Matcha Tea takes a bit more preparation as well; it comes in powder rather than a bag, and you have to stir it into a hot cup of water.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint is great for studying. It helps me focus and fits the aesthetic.

Caffeine: No

Recommended for: tea newbies, fresh breath and mint advocates (it is also said to help with digestion, cramps, and headaches, but there isn’t a ton of evidence–it feels like it helps, at least)

Peppermint tea is one of the first teas that I got into. I like the taste of peppermint leaves, and I figured it would be pretty risk-free to try first. I like peppermint tea. It is minty and I like to have a cup after a meal or at night. I like Celestial’s peppermint the most, but I also like Mint Medley with Bigelow. I like this tea for its flavor and the lack of caffeine. It is a good tea to drink as I’m working on homework or studying. I occasionally get bored of peppermint, and I have been exclusively drinking chamomile at night for the past few weeks.

Fruit Tea

I don’t make tea in a kettle. I (gasp) microwave it. I do want to buy a tea kettle at some point.

Caffeinated: No

Recommended for: fruit fans and people new to or who don’t like the taste of other tea

Fruit tea is a type of tea that I haven’t branched out much with. I sometimes buy the Celestial Fruit Tea Sampler. I love blueberry and I like the cherry, raspberry and mixed fruit. I can’t get into the peach for some reason. I love peaches in real life, but the flavor of this tea just doesn’t feel strong. I drink it anyway, but it isn’t my favorite. Fruit tea is a good alternative for fruit juice or soda. They taste like fruit and don’t have the taste of regular tea. I’ve never been a big fan of fruit juice, but fruit tea is a bit of everything.

Chai

This is a Chai Latte, which I prefer over the tea alone

Caffeinated: Yes

Recommended for: coffee shop enthusiasts and those who don’t mind a little spice in life

If you’ve ever been to a coffee shop, you’ve probably heard of chai tea. I love when I go into a coffee shop and they put a swirl on top of the chai. I’m more of a fan of the hot chai lattes than anything. It is so good. I have tried to get into iced chai lattes, but they are just okay. While I prefer to get one from a shop, I do drink it at home occasionally. I got a package of chai tea as a Christmas gift, and I quite enjoyed it. It is filled with spices, and I like adding milk. I’m pretty picky about my chai tea. I don’t like drinking it on its own, I need milk or some sort of sweetener. I’ve also drank a decent bit of chai in the past year, so I got tired of it for a bit. I will have to try a good chai tea latte again sometime, that would be nice.

Final Thoughts on Tea

So, that’s my list of teas. I’m still fairly new to the whole tea drinking lifestyle, but I absolutely love it. Tea looks beautiful with an aesthetic and loose leaf teas fascinate me, but I haven’t ventured far with them yet. I also want to try a lavender tea and more types of green tea. I have been avoiding caffeinated tea for the most part lately, so we will see.

Strangely enough, my pursuit of tea has been a fairly autonomous and independent act. My family doesn’t drink tea much, and I buy it for myself in college. I also have tried new tea and drank tea with friends. It is as good social activity and a solo one. It has been a pursuit of aesthetic, of taste, and of health. I feel like it is a journey that I am still growing in, but I’m curious to see where it goes.

That’s my list. There are a few teas I tried a few times but just don’t like. I don’ t drink sweet tea at all and I can’t stand rooibos tea no matter how many times I grab it when I’m craving a caffeine free tea at my college cafeteria. Does anyone really like rooibos tea? Other than that, I tend to stick to the basics. I hope to branch out soon.

What is your relationship with tea? What are your favorite types? Are there any teas you avoid? Let me know down in the comments below.

Movies

Netflix’s If Anything Happens I Love You Review

Trigger Warning: This short film is about the grief after losing a child to gun violence.

If Anything Happens I Love You was written by Will McCormack and Michael Govier. It is available to watch on Netflix.

I finally watched the short film If Anything Happens, I Love You. I had seen this film on my suggestions on Netflix, and I was curious. I heard nothing about the plot or characters or anything beforehand except that it was sad.

The film begins with two adults sitting across a table from one another. They are silent, but their shadows are on top of the table in an argument with the other person. Meanwhile, they sit in silence. The woman picks at her spaghetti, and the man sips a soda. He glances at her, and he looks like he wants to reach out to her, to say something. You can see the lines on his face. But he’s too filled with hurt.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this short film. All I heard before watching was that it was sad. It is difficult to tell a story in less than twelve minutes, especially with as little details as this one includes. In almost thirteen minutes there is no sound and very little color. The art style looks like sketches that someone would make in a notebook. At first, we only see the blue paint on the back of the house and a shirt. This story wrecked me. It just gets sadder the more that you watch.

The shadows are confusing at first. They sort of do their own thing and act on their own. They are clearly metaphors. It seems like they want to comfort their characters. One shadow holds a flower out to the wife. The first piece of clothing we see is a blue shirt.

The one odd part is the song 1950 by King Princess turns on. The song is an upbeat one about unrequited love, and it oddly fits. These parents long for their child, whose shadow still lives in the background. We see flashbacks of her life, her birth, of her playing soccer with her family, and on her tenth birthday. Her life was just beginning. These drawings are more detailed. A blue balloon flies up into the sky after their daughter takes a selfie of the three of them. Her time is so short.

We see her go into a school. Her shadows don’t want her to go. They chase after her and then fade into each other. Her mom sends that fateful text “if anything happens I love you.” It comes from that instinct that we all have that something awful is going to happen. She walks into the school and we don’t see her go into a classroom. We see the hallway and an American flag in the hallway. It is bright red, white, and blue. Eventually, the couple is pushed into each others arms by their daughter’s shadow.

I remember hearing about school shootings in middle school and high school. These were kids my age and kids much younger. I can’t imagine begin to imagine the grief those parents went through. But this story provided a window into their grief. In such a short film, the story is incredibly complicated while maintaining a minimalist style. The characters’ facial expressions show their sadness and joy with their daughter. The music is light piano, and it just fits. The music isn’t upbeat like it used to be, it is minimal and lacking.

The light isn’t there like it used to be. The daughter is hopeful, confident, and happy. They cannot get over her death. Their grief stays with them for a lifetime. The writers interviewed parents who had lost their children to school shootings for this movie. I haven’t seen any film like this, and it feels bold to talk about their pain. School shootings are so tragic that we try to shy away from them. At the end, there is a ray of light of the sunshine. The sun is bigger than the parents and watches over them as they stand on the hill. I’m not sure what the film was trying to say about life after death, but I like that there is hope. There is hope that there is more than this life. Hope that she is okay, and that she is at peace. There is hope for the parents to go on in their daughter’s memory and their love for each other. Grief doesn’t exist in a timeline, and it doesn’t go away even if you know they’re not truly gone. I would recommend watching this one, even if you read through my review and saw all these spoilers.

Have you seen “If Anything Happens I Love You”? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments below.

Shows

The Dragon and the Tiger Play Cupid

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

Overview

Pros

  • Unique characters
  • Fun character dynamic
  • Even the animals have quirky personalities
  • Well written slow-burn romance
  • Attractive animation and design

Cons

  • Taiga’s violent nature is abusive
  • Occasionally uncomfortably bizarre
  • Drags at times
  • The ending could have been better

Observations

  • One of the most awkward friend groups ever

Review

This blog article was co-written by Ashley Ostrowski and P. A. Wilson. We decided to watch Toradora! after we went through a list of romantic comedy anime. P.A. Wilson had already watched it a few months before, and said it was pretty good. We’re both fans of romantic comedies, and gave it a try.

Toradora! was created in 2008 by Yuyuko Takemiya. It is currently available to watch on Netflix, Funimation, and Crunchyroll.

Ryuji Takasu, a kind high schooler who is often mistaken for a delinquent, runs into the notorious Palm-top Tiger, a vertically challenged and short-tempered girl. They discover that they both have crushes on each other’s best friend and make a pact to help each other out with their crushes.

What ensues is completely awkward and entertaining. Ryuji’s crush, Minori Kushieda, is a quirky and athletic teenager who is always full of optimism and spunk. The Palm-top Tiger, whose actual name is Taiga Aisaka, has a crush on Yusaku Kitamura, a talented member of the school council. They meet Kitamura’s childhood friend Ami Kawashima, a self-centered model who plays the part of the perfect girl but has her own deep-seated flaws.

Ryuji, Taiga, and Ami are typically referred to by their first names in the anime, while Kushieda and Kitamura are referred to by their last names. We intend to do the same for this article.

Ryuji is a clean freak and germaphobe who takes delight in keeping things clean. This is one of the first things we learn about him. It’s quirky and makes him an interesting character, and also pretty likeable. His habit of taking so much work upon himself is one of the first indicators that he is used to being his own guardian, in a way. He cooks for himself and his mother, and his father left him a long time ago.

He seems to almost raising himself because his single mother works a lot, and when she is home she is incredibly immature. Her childlike behavior goes to extremes, and Ryuji has almost become the head of the household.

Ryuji looks like his father, and is constantly told stories about how his father put magazines under his shirt to protect himself from being stabbed. It is obvious that his mother still loves his father, even though he is gone. Because of Ryuji’s appearance, he is often mistaken for a delinquent. People give him their wallets sometimes because they think he is trying to rob them. He always turns wallets into the lost and found, which looks really suspicious.

To us, Ryuji does not really look like a delinquent, except maybe when he is angry. We think the other characters may think he is sketchy because he has tiny eyes, which look like just pupils. Everyone else has big, colorful, innocent-looking eyes.

Ryuji meets Taiga when he runs into her. He did not notice her because she was so short. (P. A. Wilson understands how she must feel.) She is nicknamed the Palmtop Tiger because of her ferocious attitude, and she quickly lives up to her name by knocking him to the floor.

It is funny because they both have reputations for violence and danger, but only Taiga’s reputation is merited. Ryuji is such a sweet guy, and is only ever aggressive toward germs and mold. Taiga is aggressive toward anyone who annoys her in the slightest.

When Taiga tries to put a love letter for Ryuji’s best friend Kitamura in his bag, she accidentally puts it with Ryuji’s stuff instead. He takes it home and is amused to discover that she had forgotten to include the letter and it is actually just an empty envelope. Taiga breaks in with a weapon and tries to kill him–hopefully not for real–until he assuages her. Taiga discovers that Ryuji is in love with her best friend Kushieda, and they decide to help each other out with their love lives.

Now, a quick side note. In this episode we learn that Ryuji has a bird named Inko who is hilariously ugly and freaky. Ryuji and his mother are always trying to get Inko to say its own name. Unlike most pets, Inko has real character, and the show just wouldn’t be the same without it. We wouldn’t want to have Inko as a pet personally, but he is a permanent fixture in Ryuji’s small family.

What kind of surprised us is that Taiga confessed her love to Kitamura so early in the season. It seemed like she would pine away in silence, but she had guts. If it had ended out better for her, the pact between her and Ryuji might have ended almost before it had begun. But Kitamura basically friend-zones Taiga. He used to have feelings for her, but after she rejected him, those feelings faded.

Taiga lives directly across from Ryuji in a fancy apartment while he lives in a run-down house. Taiga lives alone due to a difficult family situation and starts eating meals with Ryuji and his mom. She becomes like a member of their family, and Ryuji even makes Taiga lunch for school days to make sure she has something to eat.

We liked how the creators included little details about the characters. For example, Ryuji has a habit of tugging at his own hair.

The two bond pretty quickly despite their differing personalities. Within one scene, Ryuji and Taiga are so frustrated that they start kicking a pole. While they do this, they rant about the rumors that they are dating and that Ryuji is a delinquent.

Taiga repeatedly calls Ryuji her dog, but he insists that he is a dragon, because that is the only animal that stands on equal footing with a tiger. Even if it seems like Taiga is the one bossing Ryuji around, they treat each other like equals. Taiga appreciates Ryuji, and she keeps coming over to hang out with him.

There are times where Taiga goes too far with her violence and she makes their relationship seem abusive. For example, she attacks Ryuji’s eyes at one point. That’s a pretty awful way to attack someone. The eyes are sensitive. Taiga also kicks Ryuji at different points. That wouldn’t go over the same way in real life, because it would be viewed as a toxic relationship. Even though her violence is animated, it does make it harder to sympathize with Taiga. She does tone it down later in the series.

The series gets more complicated when a new character, Ami, is introduced. She is a teenage model and Kitamura’s childhood friend. Ami is spoiled and self-centered. She puts on a nice girl/airhead act, but she can be very selfish and causes a lot of drama. She changes the entire dynamic of the friend group, making it an even more awkward friend group. She grows as a person as she learns to deal with stalkers and comes to terms with herself.

The show gets more awkward as it goes on. Ryuji made fake boobs for Taiga because she is flat-chested. Taiga panics when Ryuji nearly drowns. Kitamura dresses up as a shirtless Santa. Taiga dreams that she marries Ryuji and gives birth to puppies. Kitamura dyes his hair blonde. The show likes its metaphors, whether it is talking about ghosts, aliens, or stars.

Taiga’s dad is terrible, pretending he wants to be a part of her life and then not showing up when it matters. She is never his first priority. Ryuji convinces Taiga to give her dad another chance because Ryuji will never get another chance with his own dad. So he kind of guilts her into it and then it blows up in her face.

One of the reasons Ryuji and Taiga connect so well is because they both do not come from stable, consistent households. They take care of each other and help each other become better people.

The ending left some people satisfied while others were just disappointed. Some people believe Kushieda should have ended up with Ryuji. We did not ship Ryuji and Kushieda as much because they did not have as much chemistry, and Kushieda is really confusing sometimes. The whole anime was building up the relationship between Taiga and Ryuji, so if it had ended differently it would have been odd.

At the end, Taiga and Ryuji elope, but end up separating while Taiga tries to get on better terms with her family. They end up together again after that separation, but it was weird considering Taiga did not care what her family thought of her very much before that.

The show kind of got boring in the middle because it dragged out the drama but it was not super entertaining. The show picked up again later on.

The intros and outros are fun but not especially notable. They fit the characters well without spoiling anything, so that’s good.

We wish that Taiga had been nicer to Ryuji because a lot of times she seems abusive. Their relationship is okay, but they have a ways to go before they have a healthy relationship. They are cute together, but it would have been better without so much violence. Overall, the show was fun, and we would tentatively recommend it to anyone who enjoys rom-coms.

Links

Shows

The Epic Love Story Between the Perpetually Single and the Soulless Newsie: Looking at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Ten Years Later

Pros

  • Witty Dialogue
  • Creative, modernized retelling of Pride and Prejudice
  • Likable and captivating characters
  • Lydia Bennet becomes a complex, lovable, and sympathetic character

Cons

  • Casual slut-shaming

Ten years ago, Bernie Stu and John Green decided to write a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Thus, the Lizzie Bennet diaries were born, a vlog series where communications grad student Lizzie Bennet posts chronicles her adventures in work, love, and life.

So, where did I even hear of such a series? It all started when I read Pride and Prejudice back in high school. I simply fell in love with the story and wanted more Lizzie and Darcy. I love a good slow burn and stories about people who have preconceived notions about the other person at first but then fall in love with them. I did what any good Austen fan does and googled “Pride and Prejudice adaptations.” At first I thought there were only two, the one with Colin Firth and the 2005 movie with Kierra Knightley. Turns out there are many adaptations of Pride and Prejudice–fifteen in fact–and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries was one of them. And no, I still haven’t seen them all. But this one is pretty good.

Modern day Lizzie Bennet is the average millennial/older member of Gen Z. She interns and joins the job hunt, carries debt, and lives with her parents. She is also quirky and awkward and painfully relatable and she needs a job as badly as Austen’s Lizzie needs a husband to provide for her financially. Since the ten years that the show premiered, not much has changed for us twenty-somethings.

It has been more than ten years. I can’t believe it. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries aired on YouTube on April 9, 2012 and contains 100 episodes in its vast and interconnected universe. I’ll say now that I didn’t watch the show until about four years after it aired, but I still watched the entire thing in full. Lizzie isn’t the only character with a vlog either–Lydia Bennet, Charlotte’s sister Maria Lu, and Georgiana Darcy all post videos at some point. You can skip most of them if you’d like, they add to the story but don’t detract from the plot, but I would highly recommend watching Lydia’s videos.

This series expands Lydia’s storyline and develops her character far better than Austen did. I wasn’t a big fan of her videos at first. But you should still watch them, even the early ones. Lydia’s spirited personality and ending song “nannanananayea” might seem slightly tiring and elementary, but her vlogs tell a far darker, and frankly, more balanced story than Lizzie’s diaries tell us.

But before we dive into Lydia. You might wonder how this vlog series works. Essentially, Lizzie posts videos after events occur and then gives her opinion on them. Lizzie also does what she calls costume theater. She dramatizes people and events and uses exaggerated expressions to describe them. Her mother and William Darcy are the most exaggerated–and humorous–of the bunch. The episodes last 3-5 minutes each and a new episode was usually released every few days.

So, what are the The Lizzie Bennet Diaries about exactly? The story begins with 24-year-old Lizzie Bennet, who lives at home with her two sisters, Jane and Lydia. Her first video introduces herself and she says that this video series is her thesis project for a graduate degree in communications. She tells us that her mother, Mrs. Bennet, has begun to concoct a scheme after she discovers that wealthy newcomer Bing Lee is moving in next door with his best friend William Darcy. Bing Lee is the character Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, and he is studying to be a doctor. Mrs. Bennet insists that her husband introduce himself to them.

Such a wealthy man must be looking for a future wife and to Mrs. Bennet, there is nothing more logical than to set him up with her daughters. She even gives them these t-shirts.

This is an actual shirt

In this story, the idea women should get married and settle down for material and financial comfort is only held by Mrs. Bennet and for everyone else, romantic relationships are a choice based on compatibility, falling in love, and affection rather than financial necessity. Most of the characters are more focused on their careers or having fun instead of finding their soulmate. This seems pretty refreshing. Lizzie wanted to marry for love in the books, and it wouldn’t make any sense for her to feel otherwise.

Overall, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries follow the plot of Pride and Prejudice with a few deviations. To seem more typical of 21st century birth rates–and to reduce the amount of required actors–there are only 3 Bennet sisters. Mary Bennet is their cousin, and Kitty Bennet is a literal cat. So, unfortunately, we don’t get to see a recreation of the scene where Kitty coughs and her mother scolds her for coughing for her own amusement.

The series itself is rooted in Lizzie’s desire to build a career in media. The diaries themselves are Lizzie’s graduate school thesis project. A life vlog sounds like a heavy project to handle. Thankfully, she also has the help of Charlotte Lu, a fellow grad student, to help her edit and offer moral support and sometimes tough love.

Lizzie’s decision to film her personal life for a school project and include friends and family in her videos raises some interesting questions about media ethics.

Bing Lee, for example, appears on camera in several episodes but is never told that videos of him are on the internet. He never consents to having himself put on YouTube, and Lizzie films him in his own house without his knowledge. Lizzie also talks about several characters behind their backs that do not know about the videos like Bing and Darcy. Lizzie talks badly of Darcy and Bing on video and posts several times. Bing finds out about the videos near the end of the show, but we never see his reaction. As a communications student, Lizzie studied media ethics, but she hardly hesitates to blur the ethical line in her videos. All I can say is that the series requires us to suspend our disbelief. Darcy is worth it.

But I have to say, I started the series for Lizzie and Darcy, but I stayed for Lydia. Well, I did stay for Darcy too. But I honestly didn’t expect to like Lydia as much as I did. In this rendering, almost all the characters remain the same except Lydia Bennet.

In the original Pride and Prejudice, Lydia loves parties, guys–particularly the officers–and socializing. She is very excited and young and bold. In this series, however, Lydia is excited, young, and a bold too, but we get to see so much of her. Lydia isn’t a favorite Bennet, and she knows it. While Jane is her mother’s favorite and Lizzie is her father’s, Lydia is the pesky younger sibling. Lizzie just finds Lydia annoying. But she, and the writers, refuse to let her story be sidelined.

Lydia says in an interview episode:

“You’re only a secondary character if you let yourself be one.”

Lydia Bennet

Lydia is determined. She refuses to be reduced to Lizzie’s characterization of her and her story captures the hearts of the viewers. I would argue that she stole the show.

I wonder if Lydia became interested in parties and is more outgoing to have an identity that is different than her sisters. She feels like she cannot measure up to the perfect Jane and studious Lizzie and her parents compare her to them pretty often. Why can’t you be more like Jane or Lizzie, her mother once asked.

But out of the three sisters, Lydia feels the most human. She puts on a face even when she is unhappy and left out. She hides her insecurities and tries to be a better person and sister. And although she likes to party with people, she has few real friends. She has people to party with, but when they don’t want her around, they drop her. Lydia seeks Lizzie’s approval and tries to hang out with her, but Lizzie is very judgmental of Lydia and her life choices.

Lizzie’s prejudice towards others is clearly at the forefront of this novel. Lizzie mentions multiple times in her video diaries that they are based on her perspective on true events, and that she “remembers everything”. Lizzie a bit of a type 1 on the enneagram, a moralist who takes the high ground and holds people to high standards. This can be a good thing, like when she stops talking to George Wickham. It becomes a problem when she acts self-righteous. She never says it is my way or the high way, but she certainly implies it.

It isn’t that Lizzie’s POV is uncontested, in fact, it constantly is questioned and occasionally debunked. Multiple characters point out that Lizzie isn’t always right–Charlotte and Jane even hijack Lizzie’s videos to tell the audience about times where Lizzie’s is portraying other people and situations inaccurately.

And with the show’s characterization of Lydia Bennet, Lizzie has to recognize her opinions about others are not only incorrect, like her opinion on William Darcy, but downright harmful to the people she claims to care about. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen justifies Lizzie’s view of Lydia being an irresponsible and boy-crazy when Lydia ends up in a marriage to an officer and could care less that she almost ruined her family’s reputation. Nevermind that Lydia in the book was only fifteen-years-old and fell for a man who manipulated her and only pretended to care for her. Now she’s doomed to what will probably be an unhappy marriage. Luckily, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries ages its characters up. Lydia is a community college student. Lizzie is 24, and Jane is 26. Lydia gets a better ending and in this modern retelling, Lizzie is dead wrong about her sister.

I’m in a similar life stage to Lizzie. We’re both trying to figure out what the future looks like and feel anxiety about what comes next, but despite this, I can’t help but sympathize more with Lydia.

Lizzie seems harder to like. She is so certain about the people around her. I understand her position. The world she lives in is full of uncertainty. She holds onto judgements about people because it they paint a picture of the world that is stable and predictable. Her mother is always marriage-obsessed and outlandish, and Lydia is always energetic and happy, Charlotte is her best friend who never edits anything out of videos; Jane sweet, thoughtful, and never struggles; and Darcy is awkward and obnoxious.

Charlotte and Lizzie

Perhaps the issue is that Lizzie sees the world as full of characters rather than other humans with lives as complex as hers, her friends and family are archetypes that follow a particular path and never stray. That is why Lizzie is so shocked when Charlotte takes a job at Collins and Collins. Lizzie begs and uses her audience to convince Charlotte to stay, while Charlotte asks her to let her go. Charlotte explains to Lizzie why she took the job.

“Yes I do. Like you, my family’s in debt. Like you, I’m in debt, just more debilitating than yours.”

“No, you’re not.”

“We live in an apartment. We used to live in a house. My sister is going to college. There is no house to sell.”

Lizzie focuses so much on her passion and misses that Not everyone has the same financial opportunities, and while Lizzie’s family is struggling, they have a privlidge that not everyone does. She doesn’t try to understand Charlotte’s position until later.

In addition to finances, Charlotte’s decision also raises the question of practicality. She and Lizzie are good foils for each other in this way. It isn’t everyday that your old neighbor begs you to take a job with their company, and Mr. Collins made a good offer. Charlotte isn’t making the videos of her dreams, but she gets to be creative and edit and ends up leading an entire branch. Lizzie wants to do her own thing, but taking a job that sets her up for the future doesn’t sound too bad. Mr. Collins is talkative, but he is also nice and knows his work. I personally have to go with Charlotte on this one. But this is Lizzie’s house of cards, and she tells us where they stand.

Everyone has a role to play in the narrative of Lizzie’s life, but the tower starts shake when her expectations don’t come true. When Jane falls for Bing, and then Bing takes off. Charlotte moves away. Life doesn’t turn out how she wants it to. If other people just stayed the same and were comfortable, then maybe one day she too will settle someplace comfortable, instead of wandering into what feels like open emptiness.

It is also worth noting that though many of the characters value their careers, Lizzie’s series–and Pride and Prejudice as a whole–centers on romantic drama, particularly Jane’s relationship with Bing. The diaries are for a research project, yet whenever Lizzie tries to bring up her work or classes, she is shot down by those around her.

The show’s presentation of singleness isn’t simple, especially since the show is centered on romance. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries by nature follows the romance plot, but it is also pretty self-aware. Lizzie knows that she talks about Jane’s relationship with Bing all the time. She knows that she’s in a place in life where everything is uncertain. Romantic relationships offer a form of stability and validation that Lizzie doesn’t have.

Her graduate studies, while impressive, have yet to offer her anything substantive in terms of career options. The other option of success the series presents is a romantic relationship, and Lizzie isn’t too successful in that area. She doesn’t actively pursue guys and only begins seeing George Wickham when he shows interest in her. I’m not sure if the writers meant to echo the original Lizzie Bennet, who wanted marriage for love rather than for convenience. Maybe this Lizzie is waiting for her romantic happy ending, and in her mind, it just hasn’t happened yet. But it doesn’t matter what her perspective is, because society still judges her for not having found a relationship yet. Her sister Lydia has a list of “Reasons Lizzie Bennet is Perpetually Single.”

Not perpetually awkward, not nerdy, not unemployed, but single. Singleness is a status to change in this story. Obviously, Lizzie’s mother’s opinions affect her, much like the pressure and expectations of family, friends, and society put on women and people in general, to marry. Lizzie rarely personally complains about her lack of a relationship, but her mom and sister do. While some of their attitudes come from Pride and Prejudice, other attitudes come from American 21st century values that encourage those in their mid-twenties to move out of their parents house and move on. Relationships mean moving somewhere, they indicate that kids are moving forward with their lives and toward life with partner. When, Jane eventually moves out of her parents house to follow Bing, Lizzie is left alone.

She’s afraid of when Charlotte leaves for work and of being lost and aimless. Lizzie and Lydia are strange mirrors of each other in that way. Lizzie ends up getting her happy ending with Darcy, but they both face similar fears. Neither is entering a future with any certainty and it is notable that Lydia, the one who doesn’t do relationships, enters a relationship with George Wickham. But while the show praises and shows us cute moments between Jane and Bing and Lizzie and Darcy, we see the dark side of clinging to a romantic partner for happiness.

Lydia allows Wickham to convince her that she doesn’t need her family and that he will always be there for her. The idea of moving on with a partner means the total exclusion of the family unit. Wickham presents a dichotomy, choose your family or your partner. He takes her away from everyone. He isolates her and brings out her deepest insecurities. His words are cold and twisted and we see Lydia’s clothing getting more and more grey as he sucks the light out of her.

I’m not going to talk too much about the Wickham plotline. Wickham initially charms Lizzie, and I get why Lydia liked him at first. As a swim coach, he has a habit of showing up and disappearing everywhere. He is one of the most vile creatures in literature, and this series dives right in to his story. He is a master manipulator, and you can see signs of abuse in his videos with Lydia. I don’t know much about the subject, but I’m glad that the show raised awareness of abusive relationships. The topic isn’t talked about often, and it is painful to watch, but it is important. Their relationship continues to get worse as Lydia spirals and Wickham messes with her self esteem.

Wickham ends up manipulating her into filming a sex-tape and then almost releases it onto the internet. It never airs, thanks to William Darcy, but Lydia still faces judgement for the video being up in the first place. Lizzie assumes she was in on it and starts to blame Lydia. If there’s anything to criticize in this show, it is the slut-shaming and it gets worse than this part too.

Slut Shaming and The Writers’ Response

Attitudes about slut-shaming have changed over the past ten years, but that doesn’t mean slut-shaming was completely accepted during the run of LBD. I saw a few people in the comment section on YouTube complaining about Lizzie slut-shaming Lydia in 2012, so I did some more research into what the writers John Green and Bernie Stu were thinking.

On the Pemberley Digital Website, I found a form where fans can ask questions to the writers. In one Q&A, one viewer, who described herself as a “somewhat strong feminist” said that she expected Lizzie to hold similar feminist attitudes. The writers responded to this message while episodes of the show were airing. Bernie Stu said,

“The slut shaming critique is definitely something we’re aware of and honestly one of the few disappointments we have with the reception of the series. I’d like to clarify that we are not defending it. The critique is a fair one. It really is something we simply missed on.

Lizzie’s line early in episode 2 when she casually refers to Lydia as a “wh***y – s***t”  is especially one I really really wish I had caught and taken back. :/”

The later episodes don’t repeat these comments as often, but overall, they make it harder to like and sympathize with Lizzie,. But it also makes the ending more impactful. When Lydia throws Lizzie’s words back at her, “because I was being a stupid, wh***y s**t again?” She asks her sister honestly. It hurts to watch Lizzie realize that she doesn’t know Lydia, but she realizes the harm in her words. She apologizes and wants to get to know her sister better and be there for her. It is a heartbreaking redemption arc for Lizzie. Lizzie and Lydia make up only after Lydia has been hurt, but we do see Lizzie making effort to do better and you can tell she’s hurt and wants to do better. I like how the sisters make up. The series focuses on the relationships between the Bennet family just as much, if not more than they focus on romantic relationships. Family is first, and extremely important.

On a second watch, I found it harder to care about Darcy and Lizzie’s romance. During my first watch, I was so excited to see Darcy for the first time and to watch him and Lizzie fall in love. I analyzed and rewatched every interaction and read the comment sections. I looked up Lizzie and Darcy quotes on Pinterest (yes, I’m that much of a fangirl). I got excited with them. I was thrilled when they got together. I still love both of them, and Darcy is still adorably awkward, but on a second watch, my attention went to Lydia. I noticed how Lizzie treated her, and how she left Lydia out. Lizzie struck me as cold and superior. It is hard to feel excited about her and Darcy as I watch Lydia fall apart again.

Lydia ends the show single and slowly rebuilding, closer to her sisters than ever. It is a beautiful ending, and I feel horrible that Lydia had to go through all this pain to get there. There is a book on Lydia Bennet’s adventures in the aftermath, just like there is for Lizzie. I’m not sure if I’ll read either of them or not.

Additional Thoughts

In lighter news, I do have a few other observations on the show.

One question I can’t help going back to in this series is perhaps an unimportant one. When did Lizzie start to have feelings for Darcy? From the beginning, she never hesitates to talk about him, usually to call him out on his rudeness. We learn later that Darcy had a crush on Lizzie early on, when he told Caroline that Lizzie had fine eyes and then abruptly started fake texting about something “super important” to avoid Lizzie all night.

Of course, Lizzie doubts that Darcy likes her because he doesn’t like people, except maybe Bing and his sister Georgiana. Darcy has an entire list of qualities that make up the accomplished woman and, frankly, it feels like he is reaching for someone unattainable. I’m theorizing that she did like him, and that is why she felt so annoyed with him all the time.

We also can’t blame Darcy here completely. Part of his behavior is pride, which he works on later, but he is also just socially awkward. That makes him relatable. I get not wanting to smile all the time. And being told to smile when you’re not actually happy is pretty annoying. Darcy has a point. He doesn’t like parties or big gatherings, and that is fine. If you’ve ever had a crush or just spent time with someone you want to impress, you’ll relate, who hasn’t been awkward? I’m already a fan of these two, and honestly their awkwardness makes me like them together more.

The platonic relationships are pretty great in this series too. I loved Mary Bennet and her friendship with Lydia. They are polar opposites, and I always liked watching them interact. Charlotte and Lizzie’s friendship is pretty sweet too, even if Lizzie doesn’t quite get her friend at first.

My favorite relationship was probably Darcy and Lizzie. They are adorable. Darcy doesn’t appear on screen for a while, but once he does, he and Lizzie have great chemistry. He is awkward and oddly formal in the modern retelling, and he is just perfect. He and Lizzie play off of each other really well, and we get some hilarious lines. Which brings me to quotes.

Memorable Quotes

There are many quotable lines in the diaries, but these are some of my favorites. I found some of them on TV Tropes.

“This party is preposterous. I hate dancing. It’s a waste of time, like saying nice things to people. Many of these people seem to be enjoying popular music un-ironically.”

Lizzie dressed as Darcy

“Are you fake texting?”

“It’s super important”

Caroline and Darcy

“The guy doesn’t always make the best first impression, and he’s got the social skills of an anthropomorphic lobster”

Fitzwilliam about Darcy

And my favorite:

“Everyone deserves tea.”

Jane Bennet

Have you read the Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Let me know what you think down in the comments below!

Books

Why You Should Read New Kid, A John Newbery Award-Winning Graphic Novel

Pros

  • Interesting main character
  • Cool art style
  • Good message
  • Handles serious topics well for middle schoolers
  • Well developed cast

Cons

  • Pace could be slow at times
  • It isn’t overly dramatic
  • Somewhat anticlimactic

Have you ever been the new kid? I have been a few times. It can be good and bad, but it isn’t easy at first. I remember meeting a bunch of people and having trouble keeping track of names. I switched schools twice in my life. I transfered from a public high school to a Catholic school when I was in fifth grade, and I started attending a public school in eighth grade. Both of these were my middle school years. Eighth grade was the hardest to transition to, so I can empathize with Jordan there. It takes a while to figure out where you fit in. Even after the first few months, it doesn’t always get easier. Right away, I can empathize with the protagonist, Jordan Banks who is a new seventh grader student at a prestigious private school called Riverdale Day Academy. New Kid was written by Jerry Craft.

I grew up loving to read, and I especially loved graphic novels and comic books. I heard about this book and decided to check it out and write a review. I haven’t read many of the Newbery Award Winners to be honest, I’ve probably read too few, but this one was a great choice. New Kid won the 2020 Newbery Award for the Most Distinguished Contribution of Literature for Children.

A I checked out Craft’s website and to learn more about him. Craft grew up reading comic books and wants to help other kids to experience the same thing.

“One of the most transformative things a child can cultivate is a love of reading.”

Jerry Craft

I also watched Craft’s interviews on his website; I would recommend checking them out. He talks more about his experiences with books and about the story as a whole.

I remember how I felt that way when I was younger. I loved reading as a kid–grabbing a book and jumping into a character’s life. The storytelling for New Kid was good, and I don’t read graphic novels or middle-grade fiction very often anymore, but I’m glad I checked this one out.

New Kid begins when Jordan Banks, a Black seventh-grader from Washington Heights, starts attending Riverdale Academy Day School, a prestigious private school.

This wasn’t his initial dream. Jordan loves drawing comics and wants to be an artist when he grows up. This book is semi-autobiographical, and Jerry Craft wrote New Kid partially based on his experiences growing up in Washington Heights. He wanted to be an artist ever since he was a kid, but his parents thought he couldn’t make a living from it, so they sent him to The Fieldston School. Craft went on to the School of Visual Arts for college and got a BA in Fine Arts. His story isn’t exactly the same as Jordan’s, and he was also inspired his sons, who also attend a mostly white private school.

Jordan, like Craft, dreamed of attending art school. Technically, Jordan can’t start until 9th grade, so that puts his art studies on the back burner for a bit. For now, his mother wants him to go to Riverdale because of its great reputation. Jordan isn’t too happy to start a new middle school; he’s also disappointed that, as his father points out, Riverdale Day Academy also isn’t racially diverse.

Riverdale Academy Day School is a pretty typical middle school, Many of them are also pretty wealthy, they go on ski trips and stuff like that and the students wear pink most of the time. Other than that, Jordan’s middle school is pretty typical. I’m not sure if there is a middle school that is not like middle school, at least in the US. No matter where you go, I’m not sure anyone can escape the petty social dynamics, messy cafeterias, and annoying homework assignments.

Jordan is in the middle of all this, and New Kid is primarily a story of a kid finding his place in a new school and learning more about himself and his relationship with the world around him. Jordan is wondering about who he is compared to his peers and how he can be himself in a school where he feels a pressure to conform. At Riverdale Academy, he meets students with eccentric personalities. There is Alexandra, a girl who carries a puppet around, Maury, a geeky band kid, and an obnoxious bully named Andy. Jordan also meets a couple of guys that seem pretty cool–Liam and Drew.

Although he finds friends to hang out with, life at Riverdale Day Academy is difficult. While Jordan is navigating middle school and figuring life out, he also has to deal with a series of racial microaggressions from the students and teachers around him.

For example, his friend Drew is also Black, and a White teacher frequently calls Drew the wrong name, Deandre, after another black student that was in his class before. This teacher has Drew in her class all year, but she still never makes an effort to correct and remember his name. We see Deandre later and the two kids just don’t look alike. Teachers also call Jordan by the wrong name sometimes.

They mix up his name with a boy named Maury, who plays in the band. No one tries to change, even when students outright correct them. This isn’t just a problem with students. One teacher that has been at Riverdale for fourteen years and he still called “coach Rick” by another teacher. He doesn’t coach anything and the teacher didn’t bother to notice.

Jordan also navigates relationships with friends at the predominately white Riverdale with his friendships in his Black neighborhood. In one section, Jordan describes his experiences taking the bus in Washington Heights compared to the bus on the way to Riverdale Day Academy. He is expected to look tougher on the Washington Heights bus. But on the way to Riverdale, he needs to look laid back and chill.

The story talks about issues that occur in Jordan’s day-to-day life in a way that is easy for middle schoolers to understand. It can open up conversations about race between kids, between kids and parents, and honestly with anyone. It could be a good book to read in a classroom. I wish it was something we read at that age. It is a fun read that touches on important issues that not everyone is aware of–I know I wasn’t.

The art style is also cool. The comics are funny, and Craft doesn’t use color for a few of the side scenes where Jordan explains a certain rule or idea like “A Dude Pyramid: A Guide To The Cafeteria Hierarchy” or “Jordan’s Tips For Taking the Bus.” The drawings are in the same art style overall, but they look like they came right out of Jordan’s notebook.

The relationships between Jordan and his friends were sweet and fun to watch. Jordan, Drew, and Liam, a white student, end up all becoming friends. Jordan’s parents are also very supportive. They also have conflicts and disagreements like any other parents. For example, Jordan’s parents don’t initially agree on whether or not Jordan should go to Riverdale. His father wasn’t quite sure at first, but Jordan’s mom wanted him to go.

Both of their concerns are valid. We see how Jordan’s mom thinks it is a great opportunity that he should take advantage of–Jordan got into a prestigious school and his mom wishes she’d had that opportunity at his age–while his father is worried about Jordan leaving behind his old school and friends and moving to a school where most students are White.

I also liked Jordan’s relationship with his grandfather. They go out for Chinese and talk about Jordan opens up to him about how difficult school can be sometimes, and his grandfather comforts him and tells him that it is okay to be himself.

One of the core messages is to be kind to other kids regardless of differences. Jordan ends up befriending the girl who carries a puppet around at the end. She isn’t made fun of or mocked and we learn why she carries a puppet around. Middle school is a time when lots of students are awkward and just have different interests. She could have easily been the butt of the joke the entire time, but she’s not. She’s a pretty cool kid and super nice.

Middle school is difficult and it is nice to see kids bonding regardless of popularity. I feel like this is a message we need to see more often. Especially with kids at that age. That’s not to say that the bullies all apologize and all is perfect, but Jordan and his friends treat other kids with kindness and respect.

If there are any cons for this book, I would say that the pace is a bit slow. Jordan is going through normal middle school stuff, and there isn’t a ton of drama or a high point of tension. Graphic novels usually have that moment, and it can be cool to see a big dramatic scene in ink. Since it wasn’t too long, it didn’t bother me that much that it wasn’t as dramatic. Reading this book felt like watching Jordan go through life. After all, a lot can happen in one day. His interactions with family, friends, and classmates felt real and their relationships were layered and complex and I wanted to learn more.

I think that is why, while this book is written for a middle-school audience, anyone can enjoy Jordan’s story. This book isn’t too long of a read either, and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a good way to get back into reading after a slump. I know I read this during the semester and it was refreshing to see pictures and graphics after a day of classes. It is also a comic book that I feel like adults would enjoy reading. The message is good, and the book tackles issues well. I’m glad I was able to read this one, even though I’m not within the target demographic. I loved comic strips and books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, and Big Nate back in the early 2010s, but I’m not sure I would reread any of them or recommend them to most people.

New Kid was written to tell a story that Craft didn’t see growing up. Jordan and his friends go to the middle school book fair and see few stories with Black protagonists. He especially can’t find any comedies science fiction, fantasy, or just fun stories with a protagonist that looks like him. Jerry Craft had the same experience as Jordan, so he decided to write New Kid. Craft also wrote a published a sequel in 2020 called Class Act, starring Jordan’s friend Drew.

Links:

To learn more about Jerry Craft and his books, check out his website.

Have you read New Kid? If so, what did you think? Did you read many graphic novels growing up? Let me know down in the comments below.

Hobbies

Here is a List of the Top 5 Wii Games that had an impact on my Childhood, Because Wii is the Best Game System

This is a response to P.A. Wilson’s list of video games that impacted her childhood. I too, gamed a few times as a young person, I wasn’t a huge gamer–I don’t play much anymore–and my favorite system as a child was probably the Wii. I think it still is. Throughout my life, certain video games I played as a kid have stuck with me, and I wanted to share them with you. I have laughed and cried over them, and I have wanted to chuck a Wii remote into the abyss. Have I? No, but I was tempted. So here it is, the list of games that have formed my childhood–for better or for worse.

1. Just Dance

Release date: November 17, 2009

Just Dance is a game that I hope will stay in the memories of our generation. I’m surprised and disappointed that Just Dance is kind of dying out. Just Dance is a great game for anyone who likes to dance to popular music for fun and to be silly. It is also good exercise. You can definitely work up a sweat. I don’t know why people don’t talk about it more. The songs they choose are always culturally relevant bops. I’m not sure what’s not to like.

It is incredibly underrated and it is probably one of the best games to come out of Wii. Who can forget dancing to Katy Perry or Justin Bieber songs, or choosing a giraffe avatar for a group song? So iconic. But of course, I don’t just enjoy feeling connected to pop culture. The game had other benefits as well.

Playing Just Dance was a time in my day where I could be silly and have fun and not feel embarrassed or awkward about anything. After a long, stressful day of school, I had a time to be myself and felt comfortable. They say to dance like no one in watching. On the flip side, I can’t romanticize the past too much.

While I enjoyed letting loose and dancing to songs I loved, playing Just Dance is still an odd experience. I start dancing and I’d feel like there was this other person watching and judging me. Regardless of my score, I would wonder, am I doing this right? These moves just feel odd, what would people think of me if they saw me move that way. I’m not coordinated. But I still played this game, because it was fun. I learned to live with self-judgement and this pressure that I had imposed on myself. I sometimes felt like someone was watching, but sometimes I could fully let go, it depended. Sometimes I felt both at the same time.

When I played with friends, those insecurities weren’t as there. I had my doubts. Sometimes it seemed like my friends were better, but I mostly didn’t care. We were having fun together. My friend even made a playlist for us with all of the songs.

Overall, this game is just fun and encourages you to be yourself, to be goofy, and to play alone or with friends. I love pop music, so this was a fun time to dance along. Creating my own moves myself was unthinkable at the time, so it worked out. Overall, it was a 10/10 experience, and I’m not sure I can say how much I love this game.

2. Animal Crossing

Release Date: November 16, 2008

I didn’t play Animal Crossing very much. I only had the Wii version as a kid, but I have had my share of fun and frustration with Tom Nook, therefore I want talk about it.

Tom Nook annoyed the heck out of me. I remember starting my first city and basically being forced to work for him. Does Tom Nook have a monopoly in this town? Is he the only one hiring? Is this town a weird cult where you have to be initiated by Tom Nook until you can move in? I guess everyone needs a first job, and he offers a start. Doesn’t mean I liked him though.

Tom required me to run around town doing his errands. Why doesn’t he ever train you to help run the shop or sell stuff? I’m not sure why collecting butterflies is such a necessary skill or why people pay for them. I was so happy when I was no longer under his chain of command.

But, other than that–and a few annoying neighbors–I liked this game. The world of Animal Crossing is a peaceful, agrarian society. You as the player are fairly self-sufficient. You can decorate a house of your own however you like and live off the land, catching fish and picking fruit from trees to survive. Thoreau would have liked this game.

I loved visiting the tailor shop and picking fabrics for my clothes. I wish I’d worked there; Sable and Mable are so sweet.

Your life in Animal Crossing quite awesome. You are also surrounded by friends, and you can just walk over to their houses and chat. Sure, some of your neighbors were annoying–Avery, cough, cough–and complained randomly, but many of them were nice as well–Bella was my best friend in this game.

With animal crossing, there is little competition, and there isn’t an ultimate goal for your character. You don’t have to defeat Bowser, compete to win a race, or get through a maze. In Animal Crossing, you’re just living your best life. You get to decide what your goals are, how to spend your time, and who you befriend. You can give back to the community by catching fish and bugs for the museum. You can go into town and take a shopping trip. The game is fun. If my future were like Animal Crossing, I think I’d be quite content.

My only complaint is that this game gets kind of…boring. You mostly catch fish and hang out with people, but there aren’t any major plot obstacles to overcome from what I remember. I also didn’t know many people who played the Wii version, so I didn’t connect with other friends through this game. Maybe if I ever got the DS version, It’d be cooler.

3. New Super Mario Bros Wii

Release Date: November 12, 2009

I’m going to talk about this game more, because I’ve played it the most, and I love it. I’m not sure if there’s a list of the most number of plays for this game, but I hope that my family would be pretty high on it. We got Super Mario Bros when we first got a Wii, when I was around 9 years old. If you haven’t played, basically, Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach at her birthday party of all places, and then keeps hiding her in different castles. Bowser has many friends just like him. They keep hiding in a castle and hiding until Mario and his friends travel through each world, reach the castle, and defeat him.

The bowsers keep castle hopping, and they get increasingly annoying. I remember playing through the first time with my family took forever. We spent so long trying to get to the end of each world the first time we played through, and I think it took years. Countless hours were put into the final battle between Mario and Bowser and that battle took ages. World Seven was the place we barely ventured to and hardly spoke of. We called it the cloud world.

I love this game, still do. The rounds are extremely repayable and are still challenging after years of playing. My family decided to collect all the Star Coins after we defeated the world. The weird thing is that they don’t give you anything for getting all the Star Coins. A message pops up on the screen and that’s it. Boring.

Mario Lingo:

Toads should be called mushrooms or mushes for short, because they looked more like mushrooms than toads. I still don’t get why they call them toads.

Yoshi should be horses because you ride them like a horse, and it just fits. Out of all the levels on Super Mario Bros, the Yoshi levels were probably my favorites. I loved flying with the Yoshis and eating fruit from the trees. I haven’t ridden a horse much in my life, but it felt powerful. I like it.

The Best Superpowers

  1. Propeller hats are the best power. I called them flying power; they helped you go everywhere and make it easiest to avoid villains and travel. Can someone create a propeller hat that works IRL? Actually nevermind. Even if this were scientifically possible, I would probably be afraid to fly with a device that is connected to my head alone.
  2. Fire power looks cool and it is easier to control, so I’d say it takes second place. The toads also look awesome with fire power.
  3. Penguin power is adorable, and sliding is fun. I’ll admit though, I lost many lives in round 3, the ice world, because I slipped into the abyss.

The other powers were just okay. Star power wears out quickly. Freeze doesn’t look as cool as the others. The shrinking power is cute, but if you die, you don’t get a second chance.

Biggest Pet Peeves/Cons

  1. The red mushroom is really annoying. The mushroom constantly cries for your help and you have to carry him through each level. Saving him gives you power houses, but still, I didn’t love him.
  2. You’re forced to play Mario. Whether you are playing as a single player or with a group, somebody has to be Mario. You can have Mario and any of the yellow and blue mushroom(s) or just Mario and Luigi, but you can’t play just as Mushrooms or as Luigi. This annoyed me a bit. Luigi is my favorite character, and he is cool enough to do a level on his own. Same with the mushrooms. But that’s just my opinion.
  3. Damsel in Distress. Super Mario Bros thrives on the damsel and distress trope. Peach is always kidnapped and needs to be saved by Mario and Luigi. She’s totally helpless and stands there while the guys save her. I like her in Mario Cart, but in this game, she doesn’t do much.

4. Mario Cart

Mario cart is a game that I didn’t play as often, but it was still fun. I liked racing against my siblings, cousins, and friends. Yoshi is my go to character, and no, I am not very talented at it. I think I’m an average Mario Cart player, if last place could count as average. Some of my favorite places to play are the place with the ski resort, the space island, and the haunted mansion. Like I said, I love Luigi.

5. Wii Sports Resort

I know Wii Sports is pretty fun, but Wii Sports Resort is where it is at. In this game, you can fence your enemies. If they fail, you can push them into the ocean. I’m not sure what’s more fun than that. I got pretty good at swordplay too, it was probably the only game I played on here regularly. Perhaps I was missing out, but pushing people into the water just took the cake.

I liked a few of the other games on WSR too. Cycling was fun and offered cool locations like the beach. How often in life you get to bike on the beach? Not enough. For some reason, 100 pin bowling was fun, and so was archery, although I wasn’t the best at either. I have played Wii Sports as well, and while it is good, the swordplay option in Sports Resort is awesome. I would be terrified of and would feel bad about pushing people into the water in real life, but it is great as a game.

Have you played the Wii? What did you think of my list? What are your favorite games? Let me know down in the comments below!

View More