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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Helluva Boss Season 2 Episode 1 Reaction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bertie’s Self Perception and Her Snake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snake-free Life

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

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

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

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

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

“It was the snake.”

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

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

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

Tuca and Figgy: The Aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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A Defense of Johnathan Byers in Stranger Things Season 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuca and the Epic Self Sabotage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuca and “The Pain Garden”

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

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

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

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

Tuca’s Pain Garden, ouch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speckle, Bertie, and Figgy

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

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

Figgy says to Speckle in a Tuca disguise:

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

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

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

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

Bertie’s Bakery Dreams and Choice Feminism

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

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

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

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

Bertie Lets go of the Bakery

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

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

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

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

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

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

How ‘Tuca & Bertie’ Season 3 navigates menstrual health

Tuca and Bertie Speaks Loudly to Millennials

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

Let me know down in the comments below!

Shows

This is Us Finale Review: Reflections on what if Kevin was Child-free?

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


The conclusion of This is Us was on this Tuesday. I have been watching this show since the beginning with my mom. When the show first came out, I was sixteen-years-old. Donald Trump had not yet been sworn into presidency. A worldwide pandemic was unthinkable for most of us.

Back then, my favorite tv-shows were teen dramas. They were filled soap-opera drama and unexpected twists, but despite all the tragedies the characters went through–from their partner cheating on them to a dog eating their father’s heart before the transplant–they all lived in typical suburban happiness afterwards.

People get married, have kids, and get their happy ending. Friends tried to stay close, but they also had their own lives and families. They were supposedly content with this in the end. I can name a few of these shows: Friends, One Tree Hill, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, and Gossip Girl. I haven’t watched too many shows in my life, but I have noticed they tend to follow a formula.

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

In the last episode, a scene of the triplets are at Rebecca’s funeral is juxtaposed with a flashback of them and Jack and Rebecca on a day when everyone is at home. Randall had a math competition that got cancelled. The family all decides to do something fun; the Pearsons spend the day at the house, and nothing extraordinary happens.

Each of the kids get upset about something that day, and either Jack or Rebecca comforts them. They watch home videos; Jack teaches Randall and Kevin to shave; and the kids play pin the tail on the donkey. Other than Rebecca’s funeral, this episode feels like a typical filler episode of This is Us.

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

After all, this series was never about endings. It is about how life keeps going and we have to go with it–making bold moves and decisions about our futures.

Rebecca told her kids to:

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

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

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

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

Disappointing Parts of the Finale

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

1. Tess and Annie Disappear

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Final Episode Ignored Kevin and sidelined Kate

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

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

He is a big part of the big 3, and his arc is barely present. Kevin’s ending in general was rushed. The writers created all this drama about who he would marry. Who is the love of Kevin Pearson’s life? They asked us. Some readers shrugged. Who cares? They said. But I am kind of invested. I’m a sucker for a good love story, and I like to know who ends up with who. The stakes are high. It is unlikely that all fans will satisfied with the ending; but if a couple well-written, fewer people will complain.

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

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

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

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

Kevin and Sophie

So, that leaves Sophie. I’m conflicted about these two. I don’t love childhood friends to lovers stories. Not everyone ends up with their childhood sweetheart, especially after you cheat on them and then they marry someone else. I’m not sure what I would do in Sophie’s situation. Is it worth it to give Kevin another chance? She could move on, but they both are in a better place now. Maybe this time it will work. But I do like them together. Sophie is the one who laughs at Kevin’s jokes and he never got over her. My main complaint is that their reunion and storyline was underdeveloped.

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

Final Thoughts

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

The show is not about the Big 3’s future. I’m not sure I would say the show is about Rebecca. It is about their family and Jack; he got the most backstory. I mean, we have his brother, his father, the Vietnam storyline. The writers keep including him in all these flashbacks.

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

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

Deja’s Ending

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

Kevin and Kate should have had more screen time though. More episodes would have helped for sure. The series had to handle a difficult task. They had to manage and tell the stories of a large cast of characters, and they had to give development to characters outside the Pearsons. The writers insisted that this cannot be merely a family story.

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

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

Randall Centered

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

I don’t mind that the show ended with a focus on Randall. The writers did a good job. They also made a decent attempt at showing the lives of those who exist outside of the nuclear family structure. This show reminds me of Friends and how none of the characters have children the traditional way.

This is Us highlights surrogacy and adoption. It shows a couple who almost marry after getting pregnant, but then decide they work better as friends and co-parents. And that’s great. A lot of times, it can be better that way. The show does not quite explore the idea that not everyone wants a romantic relationship though. They pair everyone off in the end into fairly tidy relationships.

Kevin and Zoe

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

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

But they didn’t work out because Zoe didn’t want kids. I have to applaud the writers for showing a woman who didn’t change her mind about wanting kids after adamantly stating she didn’t want them.

Child-Related Storylines on The Big Bang Theory

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

The weird thing is that to some of the audience, it doesn’t matter what tv characters want. We have to acknowledge that a lot of TV is full of wish fulfillment; characters do not always follow the rules of character development, realism, or logic. Sometimes the writers keep a couple together or create an ending to please the audience. That is why in Pretty Little Liars, all the characters ended up with their high school sweethearts. And it is why Arthur Conan Doyle brought Sherlock Holmes back from the dead, even though Doyle himself wanted Holmes dead.

Wish-fulfillment isn’t always a bad thing. Stories belong to readers (and viewers) in a sense (to paraphrase John Green), and sometimes the fans have better ideas than the writers.

Fans are a mixed bag—they can bring different perspectives and challenge the norm for better or worse, or they can cling to convention with a death grip. They might beg for stasis and a return to a story’s roots. Fans are like that. A person’s thoughts on children is a rather complex topic in TV and in real life. And but Kevin isn’t a completely autonomous character. His development doesn’t rely only on what he would do or want. Nor is what he wants isn’t always what he needs or what will actually make him happy.

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

Conceiving also isn’t easy for everyone, and not everyone has kids regardless of the strength of their desire for them. There are more childfree people than you’d think, but they are generally unrepresented in TV.

A Compelling Dynamic

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

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

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that reluctant parents don’t automatically turn into perfect parents. The same is to true with someone who wants kids—it isn’t an easy dream to give up. And it wasn’t a bad storyline. I’m glad it was there as it was. Zoe and Kevin shows how relationships help us grow, even if the person isn’t in our lives forever.

What if he decided that he could be happy with her without children, and that he could still be like his father, a good man, without creating a new generation. What if he realized that fatherhood was something he thought he wanted, but it wasn’t what he needed?

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

What a Childfree Kevin could have looked like

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

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

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

Kevin has been a great uncle to Tess, Annie, and Deja. Maybe we’d get more of a focus on their stories if they went that route. It could also be important for people to see how you can live a full life without kids.

Imagine instead of all this rush to settle down and have a family, he spent the series building something. I loved watching Kevin build his mother’s house and start a business. What else could he have done if the writers stopped all this love life drama and focused on his character development and relationship with someone who had been there with him for years?

Their story could have been great, as flawed and full of ups and downs as Randall and Beth, Jack and Rebecca, and Kate and Philip. The two of them together would put a childfree couple into the center of the Pearson story.

Zoe and This is Us

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

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

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

Some TV shows examine what it means to have a happy ending or to live the good life. They start with lost characters who don’t understand themselves. End their stories with them a changed person. Often, it ends up one way–with the cast paired in their respective relationships. That happens sometimes, but life isn’t always like that. Sometimes people’s good life is they’re single, in a relationship or marriage, or with children.

My Thoughts

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

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

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

Tying Up Loose Ends

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

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

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

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

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

Shows

Stranger Things Season Four is Awesome! Episode 1 Review

I watched the first episode of Stranger Things Season 4, and I am so happy. The feels are intense, everyone. My heart warmed, I felt cold, I wanted to cry. The first episode was awesome. All of my favorite characters are back and (sometimes) better than ever, and I am all here for it.

I watched the first episode of Stranger Things Season 4, and I am so happy. The feels are intense, everyone. My heart warmed, I felt cold, I wanted to cry. The first episode was awesome. All of my favorite characters are back and (sometimes) better than ever, and I am all here for it. We also get to see new characters like Chrissy and Eddie and a return of old, irritating ones like Dr. Brenner. It is great. The first episode drew me back into this world that I haven’t seen in the past year.

All of my feelings inspired me to write a blog post giving my reaction, a detailed analysis, and a few of my predictions for future episodes. The show is pretty good at storytelling, and the characters are just likable people. So, why not.

As of today, I have only watched the first three seasons of the show and this episode. I have been watching Stranger Things since the release; I adore this show and all of the characters, and I am super excited for what comes next.

Let’s Get Into the Review

One of the first shots is of the spokes of a bicycle. A paper boy drives down the street on a green, spring day. Classic Stranger Things aesthetic. I am hype already.

The next shots are of a hot tea kettle and a crossword puzzle–sounds like a wonderful morning. Wow, he is timing the crossword puzzle; this is impressive. Oh this is Brenner, I know him by the tie and the hair. I have the creeps already. Oh! We’re back in the lab. I am looking forward to learning more about the other kids with powers. I see number 10! I wonder if this is a flashback, he looks younger than El.

Brenner is doing the brain scan again and drawing shapes. Brenner draws a cow that looks like a dog. He introduces a little humor here. It is kind of a sweet moment; it almost makes me sympathize with Brenner. Almost.

10 doesn’t look okay. Neither do the other kids. What happened here? This kid can’t be El. It can’t be her, can it? I can’t tell. This scene was hard to watch.

The title is the “Hellfire Club,”–which sounds dark already. El starts writing a letter. I like the background music.

El’s Letter to Mike

“Dear Mike. Today is Day 185–feels more like ten years. Joyce says time is funny like that. Emotions can make it speed up or slow down. We are all time travelers if you think about it.”

I feel like the writers are nodding to us. It feels like we have been waiting forever for the next season of Stranger Things. I’m not sure if I’d say it feels like ten years, but it has been a long time. Especially after the pandemic. Time seemed like it was going so slow then, but now I can’t believe how much time has passed. I agree with El here. I feel like time goes slower when I am bored or unhappy.

When I was in school, the school year always felt so slow before summer vacation. In college, the times when I was having fun with friends and enjoying classes, time went so quickly. The semesters felt very short. I like being busy, but I wish that time would slow down a little.

I am not sure I ever felt like a time traveler. People cannot go back in time in real life as far as I know. Although sometimes when I am with friends or family; life resumes to a sort of normal. It feels like I’m going back in time or going back to a comfortable place. People have changed and so have I, but the comfort remains. Maybe that is what El means.

Joyce is in Sales

In the next scene, we learn Joyce works in sales. She works at home. I feel like this is a nod to how so many people have worked from home during the pandemic. Working independently has its perks–Joyce says she likes the freedom. But it can be stressful for sure–especially talking to people on the phone all day. I feel like you are not as free as you think when you are answering calls. You might think you have a free moment when you get another call from a customer.

My dad works in a field where he calls people often, and it can be stressful a times. My friend, P. A. Wilson, works in customer service, and she has told me some funny stories about the calls she receives. I feel like it wouldn’t be too bad if you only had to answer calls during a window of time. With sales jobs, sometimes it is like that, but sometimes you have to be on call lot. I am guessing that Joyce does not have set hours, so she probably has to deal with calls at all times of the day. Poor Joyce.

Does Will Like Mike?

I like listening to El reading her letter in her head. She sounds slightly awkward, but she has improved quite a bit. She has become better at expressing herself in writing and verbally, and she is thinking about other people’s perspectives, but she misses some of the social cues that her peers have already picked up.

She notes that Will is painting and that he seems different. He will not show El his painting. It might be because he likes a girl. She thinks that he likes someone. El had a crush on Mike, so she recognizes how someone acts when they have a crush. Could Will like a boy? Maybe he has a crush on Mike. This is a possibility, especially since he’s hiding his feelings from El.

Will Jonathan and Nancy Stay Together?

Jonathan is smoking weed with his friends. I laughed at El’s narration. I can picture Jonathan as a stoner based on his general demeanor, so I am not entirely surprised. I guess the writers are trying to show all the high school groups. This scene is funny, but it has me worried for Jonathan. He seems nervous about the future, and he attempting to numb those feelings.

I can’t blame him for feeling anxious. I remember my senior year of high school was stressful–applying for colleges and hoping that I could get into the places I wanted to attend. Deciding on a college was stressful too. Life is kind of like that now, I’m applying for jobs and hoping for a response. It is a lot, especially when finances are involved.

I remember in the last season Jonathan was worried about whether or not he could pay for college. That is very understandable. I am a bit worried for him. He might not be my favorite character, but he seemed to be doing well in the last season. He had that job with the paper as a high schooler. We will see.

I like how El says her grammar is “getting good now also.” The phrase sounds awkward, but she is trying her best. After all El has been through, it is nice to see her living a fairly normal life.

El Faces a Bully and School Life

Will seems nervous walking through the halls. Oh poor El. It looks like her and Will are outsiders. She’s excited for Spring Break mostly because she gets to see Mike. . . awww. El is so sweet. I bet she misses him a lot and vice versa. These two are sweet.

Hellfire is the replacement for DnD club. Okay. I’m not sure I like this change.

Omg. Susie is helping Dustin change his grades. I am glad these two are still together. But no!

Next, I get to see Steve and Robin. I love these two and how we dive into a normal conversation between them. No warning, no awkwardness, just friends making fun of each other. Robin has a crush on a girl named Vickie. I love this. Steve is rambling about his dating experiences. Apparently he is working at the video store. And Robin is putting on makeup to impress a girl she likes. Watching Steve tell her to go for her crush is so sweet. Robin says asking out a girl isn’t as easy as it is for Steve. I can only imagine, especially in the 1980s.

“People who like boobies, Robin.”

Lol. I love how they bond over both liking girls.

Dustin and Mike are arguing about who has the best gf. Love this.

Lucas plays basketball and it looks like there is some tension between him and Max.

The football guy is giving a speech.

“We need something to believe in” and that is basketball? Oh, they’re talking about the kids they lost. This is sad to watch. This school has lost a lot of kids to the Upside Down.

The Hellfire Club vs the Basketball Team

Oh man, there is drama with Lucas. He wants to be popular. Honestly, I cannot blame him. The popular kids seem nice, and not being unpopular sounds nice. He likes playing basketball and seems to get along with these guys, so of course he wants to hang out with the team after the game. Lucas has been through a lot.

He is being reasonable here. He can hang out with the basketball team and go to the championship game and still be friends with Mike, Dustin, Will, and Max. I have never liked how on these shows they make it seem like you have to choose. DnD does not need to be on the same night. Switching time seems like a no-brainer.

The answer to any question that sounds amazing. . . Joyce is good at sales. I love how she’s worried about her son’s college acceptance letters.

El Presents Her Diorama and Drama Ensues

Okay, so the way this girl, Angela apparently, says “disabilities” makes me uncomfortable. She sounds patronizing. She reminds me of one of those people who look down and make fun of people with disabilities, but then say they’re “inspiring” for going through life and accomplishing things. When Jane goes up to speak, Angela looks so judgmental already. I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well. A girl plays footsie with Will in the middle of a presentation, he looks so awkward. Poor Will.

Oh El. This girl is awful. “Clarity on the rules of the assignment” that is total BS. I get that a diorama isn’t a typical school project, but can you just not? Her teacher approved the project ,and El isn’t doing a bad job speaking in front of a bunch of her high schoolers. Public speaking terrified me when I was her age, and I struggled with it in college too. I got better over time though. She’s doing fine. And she cares more about Hopper and put more effort into that diorama than you did with your PowerPoint, Angela. Ugh.

Max visits the School Therapist

I like the music that plays in the hallway. Looks like Max is struggling. She is trying to be honest with the school therapist. Her home life is slightly better without her father, but she still processing a a lot. Her therapist is asking questions, and it isn’t easy for her to just open up.

Max has a hard life. Her stepfather was abusive from what we’ve seen, and the Upside Down and her brother’s death made life a lot messier. It is harder for her to connect with her friends, especially since they seem pretty unscathed. They are able to move on easily, but they also haven’t gone through loss the way she has. I can only imagine what she is going through. I am glad that the writers decided to acknowledge that she went through is not easy; it messes with her mental health in pretty much every area of life.

I like how Lucas is trying. He wants to help her find something that she cares about like he does with basketball. Lucas knows something is up. Max isn’t herself. She broke up with him, oh. She thinks he’s trying to get back together. I feel like no matter what he says, Max isn’t up to talk to him.

Now, back to the Hellfire

The leader of the Hellfire Club is pure chaos. He is kind of charming. I am not sure if he is controlling or sympathetic or both.

“You want to postpone the Cult of Vecna.”

Um, it is a club. I would run, personally. I have no interest in joining any cults, thank you. Maybe Mike and Justin should not do this club, but I like that Mike and Dustin are in a new club with new friends. It is good to branch out and meet new people outside of your circle; I feel like we’ve been dropped into their new lives, and it feels natural. I’m happy for them.

Next, Murray, the weird dude, calls Joyce. Murray does Karate. That is so awesome. And he is pouring vodka. So many of the things he is doing I do not need to see. Watching Murray undress for a bath as he undresses the doll is so awkward. . .for the audience. Joyce doesn’t see this.

Jonathan and Nancy Appreciate Each Other’s Differences

Jonathan does not look okay. “Who the hell works over spring break, man?” His friend asks. I held a few seasonal jobs throughout high school and college. I worked during the summer and winter breaks and rarely worked during spring break, mostly because it was so short and I usually had homework and papers to work one over break anyway. Not that those always got done, but still. There isn’t much time to work over spring break.

I like how they switch back and forth between Nancy and Jonathan talking with other people about their relationship. It would be more accurate to say other people are questioning them. I like how they understand each other and appreciate each other’s passions even though they are in different places in life.

DnD Recruitment

The boys are asking everyone about DnD. I feel like Nancy would be awesome at hellfire.

“You’re just jealous that you have another older male friend”

I love Dustin and Steve. And watching Max mess with Dustin. I love this scene too.

“My mom says that game promotes Satanism and animal cruelty”

“That’s just media propaganda.”

“60 minutes begs to differ.”

Oh they’re recruiting middle schoolers. Let’s go.

The Kids Are Not Alright

Here’s Chrissy. She sees spiders come out of a clock. But they’re imaginary. Wow! Is she connected to the Upside Down or the Russian project to recreate the upside down? I hope so. That’d be dope. Poor Chrissy. She’s going to the DnD leader for drugs, and he is trying to be sweet. She’s so lost and scared.

This guy, Eddie is his name, is so charming and nice. The best drug dealer I’ve seen on TV. Chrissy is cute and sweet. She is pretty quiet, and a little shy or maybe just scared of the monsters. She laughs at him though, when he reminisces about the middle school talent show. She scared of the things she sees, but she trusts Eddie. Okay, I low-key ship this.

Quotes:

“You’re not what I thought what you’d be like”

Chrissy

“You’re not what I thought what you’d be like”

And she wants something stronger. Oh man, she’s going through a lot of deep shit.

Aww, El. That would be tough. This is her first time in school ever; she has to adjust and learn academically and socially. Oh good, her teacher realizes Angela is being a bully. Will being there for her is aww; he’s a good brother.

Why is this man still shirtless? I like Joyce’s gloves, they have cows on them. I know this isn’t entirely relevant, but they’re cute. The doll has a serial-killer letters and looks like it is from Hopper.

The Big Game TM (Hellfire and Basketball)

Why is Steve taking his date to a high school football game? Fair enough I guess. I have a feeling these two are not a match. I’m not jealous. . . well, maybe a little.

Tammy Thompson omg!! I love the look Steve and Robin give each other. Her performance was so cringe. I love Steve Harrington so much. He’s got great hair. And it looks like the girl next to Robin is her crush. She has short red hair. She is cute.

Aww, she seemed so hopeful when Robin mentioned that she used to have a crush on Tammy. But Robin switches her words immediately. I can’t blame her, but it is a bit sad to see. If her old crush was a guy, she wouldn’t have to worry about what someone would think about it.

But aww, it seems like this girl might like Robin too. I ship these two already.

It looks like Steve’s date isn’t going to work out. He needs a girl who can recognize off-key performances. Or maybe she is just being nice? Still, I get the feeling this date will be their last.

Okay, Erica wearing the American flag is so random, but it is so iconic. I love this so much. I like the juxtaposition between the Hellfire Club’s game and the basketball game; both groups experience the same amount of tension and uncertainty. Erica is hilarious. I wish I had her confidence in middle schooler, this girl isn’t messing around.

Dustin’s “Never tell me the odds” lines up so well with “just get me the ball.”

I like the camera angle on Lucas’ foot swerving and watching Erica roll the dice. I remember going to high school football games with my college band and watching basketball games. When the game is close, and it feels like everyone is in this together. It is a unique feeling. I like feeling connected to everyone like that.

Max is listening to the game on her radio, aww. She’s cleaning up after her mom, looks like her mom was drinking. Poor Max. I don’t remember her having a dog, he looks like a sweet dog.

The Final Ten Minutes

*I paused the scene and missed out on a big part. I watched it later that day and. . .oh man.*

Chrissy going into the D&D leader’s house looks so ominous. I am not sure I trust him or not. Okay, he’s being sweet. Giving her drugs, but he is sweet. I like this guy more than I thought I would. He strums his guitar and calls it beautiful; why is this adorable?

Chrissy looks so scared, on edge. I wonder if she has always been this quiet or if it is just the situation. It could be cool to have a shy cheerleader character. D&D guy is Eddie. Oh her mother has a monster face. Watching her sewing freaked me out. I wish I could sew better. Chrissy! No way should she open the door. When Eddie says gotcha it got me.

“Peaceful bliss just moments away.”

Eddie

Why is this guy so sweet and strange? Her Dad’s closed mouth is so scary. This dinner feast looks familiar, like the scene with Billy at dinner in season 3. Oh, this is all in her mind. It seems so real. I’m confused and scared for her. Geez. This monster is so dark. I have goosebumps. He looks like he is from Pirates of the Caribbean a little bit. He’s got those scars and that gushy face.

“It is time for your suffering to end.”

Monster-Thing

Oh, but not like this. No. No. Her jaw breaking makes me cringe. She is so dead. The screen goes to credits. Dang. I did not expect them to kill a character in the first episode. You’re killing me, Stranger Things. Chrissy was cool.

Final Thoughts and Theories

Well, we’re going on a trip here. But to quote Melanie Martinez’s Carnival, “You’ve already bought a ticket and there’s no turning back now.”

I am going to keep watching this show, because I adore these characters. I hope the writers don’t hurt them too much. I’ll see. I have a feeling that we won’t see Hopper anytime soon. I hope that all the kids will reunite soon, but Spring Break might not be for another episode or so.

I’m not sure how the kids will react to hearing about Chrissy’s death. They’ll definitely hear about it from Eddie, but will they suspect that it is from the Upside Down or Russia? I’m not sure. I wonder what will happen with Jonathan and Nancy. I don’t ship them that much, so I don’t care if they break up. Yep, I said that. I am looking forward to seeing the group reunite again.

I’m guessing that the writers will keep them fairly separate, and then group up in the end. I liked seeing Will and El bond in this episode. It would be nice to have another Jonathan and Will scene, or another scene with Will, Jonathan, and El and Joyce. I like Joyce’s relationship with El so far, even though she is mostly on the phone for work.

Have you seen Stranger Things? What did you think of the first episode of the new season?

I had a lot of fun writing this analysis, and I am thinking of writing more. Let me know if this was something you liked–and if so, if you’d be interested in seeing more reactions to other shows, books, or poems.

Thanks all!

Ashley

Shows

My list of the best couples on 10 Couples on TV

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. But I’m not sure I’m alone. 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 also find 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 he is 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 ones on the show. When I first saw Mr. Peanutbutter, 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.

But 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. Mr. Peanutbutter just asked BoJack if he is jealous of Mr, PB because he is married to Diane.

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 or follow any scheme, no matter how silly, cliché, or even downright harmful it is. 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. Maybe that is why he is so popular while running for office. He cares about niceness and friendliness, which BoJack lacks, but he also doesn’t look beyond the surface level.

He refuses to listen and look, and 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 time with 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 books 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. But he doesn’t understand himself enough to fix it. 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 forces 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

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