Shows

Shows

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

Pros

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

Cons

  • Casual slut-shaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is an actual shirt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lydia says in an interview episode:

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

Lydia Bennet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte and Lizzie

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

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

“No, you’re not.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slut Shaming and The Writers’ Response

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorable Quotes

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

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

Lizzie dressed as Darcy

“Are you fake texting?”

“It’s super important”

Caroline and Darcy

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

Fitzwilliam about Darcy

And my favorite:

“Everyone deserves tea.”

Jane Bennet

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

Shows

My Reflections On The Tear-Jerking Family Drama This Is Us Before The Series Finale

I am going to talk about a show that I have been watching for quite a while. I watch the show with my mom and my grandma also watches it. If you’re reading this: hi Mom! I’m going to review this show that has been a part of my life for nearly six years.

So what is This is Us about? Well, I wouldn’t say this story has a beginning exactly, but to sum it up would be to sum up the whole of human history, and to ask the meaning of time itself. That sounds like a lot, so I’ll narrow the scope a bit. To sum it up, every episode of This is Us is part of an ongoing story of the Pearson family, and when we think of how we talk about our families and our family stories it is difficult to find a true beginning. I could begin like this: Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) saw Rebecca Malone (Mandy Moore) when she was singing at a local bar and he realized that he had to get to know her. After a while, he asks her out on a date to the amusement park. This all sounds great, but he is also nearly broke and the date goes horribly.

Or it could begin when a young, widowed father leaves his son at the fire station because he doesn’t know what else to do. A white couple, who just lost their newborn son, one of triplets, decide to adopt the boy.

This is Us is a mixture of flashbacks and memories and blasts from the past. Their timeline matches up with real time, starting in 2016, and begins when the Pearson triplets turn thirty. The Pearson family story spans multiple generations from Jack’s childhood to the adulthood of the triplets’ children and–presumably–the death of Rebecca Pearson.

Each episode contains has 1-2 flashbacks and a few storylines that take place in the present. There are a few episodes that focus mostly on the backstory of a certain person connected to the Pearson family. I say connected because spouses, friends, and often strangers get a story of their own. Usually, the strangers’ arcs last an episode, unless they turn out to be connected to someone in the family. For example, we see the man who delivered the triplets several times throughout the series. Life is in interconnected web in this show, and every person’s life is a unique story with happiness and tragedy.

To sum it up, This is Us is a story about multiple generations navigating life. We see them at the grocery store, making dinner, tucking their kids to bed. All the scenes are rather significant moments in the Pearsons’ lives for one reason or another. Both small and big moments are significant and make a difference. Whether or not everyone there remembers the experience, it has shaped them into the person that they are today. Experiences makes up the fabric of the world around them and connect the family together. The family is so close, and often has so many difficulties, because they have been through so much together. We see each of the Pearson triplets navigating adulthood differently. But it isn’t easy for any of them. The family bonds are a huge part of this show. Each relationship is unique and complicated in its own way. We see Jack spending time with Kate as a kid and we learn more about the both of them. Life felt like smooth sailing with them, Kate and Rebecca are another story.

Overall, memory in the show is a good thing, but there is some unreliable narration. Memories are often flawed because of a character’s failure to consider the perspective of another. Failure to communicate or understand another’s perspective is a major source of conflict within the show. Many times, seemingly good intentions rot. Randall is a good example of a man with the best intentions.

Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown)

Randall was adopted by Jack and Rebecca Pearson when his biological father left him at the fire station. He never got to know his birth father as a child, so much of his life has been wondering “what if.” Randall also often felt like an outsider as a Black man in a white family and community. The Pearsons were loving parents, but they were obviously flawed. Randall is the golden child, we learn he works as a weather commodities trader, and does well. He is marries Beth and they have wonderful daughters. He is a perfectionist and struggles with anxiety. His anxiety is realistically depicted on the show, and was formed during his childhood. Randall also has a bit of a savior complex. He is a incredibly compassionate and kind person, but the harsh reality of life sometimes doesn’t mesh with his desire to do good.

Kate (Chrissy Metz)

Kate feels like a middle child. She hasn’t succeeded financially like her brothers and she wants to be a singer. She is talented, but she feels like she is in her mother’s shadow. Her father’s death was the hardest on her, and she struggles with body image, eating habits, and self-esteem.

Kevin (Justin Hartley)

Kevin is the popular older brother. He played football in high school, but was unable to continue in college because he sprained his ankle. He married his high school sweetheart, but that didn’t quite work out. He becomes an actor, but life isn’t perfect for him. Kevin also has issues with self-worth, is an alcoholic, and falls into unhealthy cycles.

They all can be selfish, refuse to listen to each other, and just plain annoying sometimes. The triplets are also funny, caring, and love each other deep down. I love how the This is Us writers are not afraid to make their cast flawed. We also learn that everyone acts the way they do based on past experience. For example, since Kevin felt like his parents favored his siblings growing up, so he became an actor to receive validation and praise.

This is Us also shows that family life–even in the closest families–is not perfect. Not even Jack, the triplets’ perfect father, is without flaws. He and Rebecca get into huge fights, but they stick through. No one fights quite the same way either. Each relationship is unique and comes with its own challenges. but we, usually, understand where everyone is coming form. Seeing the family fight with each other can be heartbreaking, but it also feels real. There is enough backstory to explain every hurt, and the plotlines rarely feel contrived.

I’m going to talk here about a few points that stuck out to me that make This Is Us a wonderful story. I have three things I love. Spoilers below!

1. This is Us Rejects self-actualization and the happily ever after

Characters in This Is Us get their dream jobs, marry the love of their lives, and settle down, but they are never 100% happy and life doesn’t stop changing from there. There are times when families fight and forgive each other and reunite. People die, they lie to each other. No one ever becomes amazing at fixing all their deep-seated flaws. Randall still wants to help the man who robbed him, and maintains his idealism. Kate is figuring out her career and finds a job she likes, but her and Toby are struggling to communicate again. Kevin still isn’t sure what he thinks of himself or what he wants in life.

2. Beautiful Cinematography <eets Excellent Storytelling

The cinematography is gorgeous. One of my favorite episodes is about Randall’s birth mother, Laurel. We see Randall in the lake and it just feels refreshing. The stories also connect so well. Sometimes I wonder why they included a random stranger, but they always tie their story back to the major themes of the episode. The episodes also make you feel warm. The writing, dialogue, and pacing just feels right.

3. Honest look at the Experience of Black Americans

This Is Us has an interesting premise. The show hired 3 Black writers and Sterling talks to the creators about how he wants his character to be portrayed. Randall grew up raised by white parents, and his life experience was different than his siblings. The show has 3 Black writers (out of 10) and Sterling K. Brown often consults the writers about his character. The experiences of Randall’s family and his adopted daughter also are a major part of the show.

Reflections

This Is Us is full of great love stories, marriages, and babies. Romance in This is Us is generally really well done. Jack and Rebecca and Randall and Beth are two of my favorite love stories on the show. Relationships, all kinds, are hard. They all enconter different challenges based over the years, and after hurdles are jumped over (for instance, Rebecca’s father doesn’t like Jack) more challenges come. There is no happily ever after, there are good times and bad times. Romantic love is portrayed as a wonderful and beautiful experience. We see the couples at their best, at their worst, and we want them to stay together because of all they’ve conquered together.

Randall and Beth are my favorite couple on the show. Both are ambitious and intelligent, and they balance each other out. Beth is calm while Randall deals with anxiety. Beth can be too strict sometimes, and Randall is very altruistic. They are hilarious, dorky, and just love each other so much years after marriage, and I love them. They feel realisticly married. Jack and Rebecca have a great love story too.

Out of the other characters, their stories are good too. My third favorite couple is probably Kate and Toby, but it seems like they get divorced and Kate marries her music teacher. He is kinda mean to her, so I’m not sure if if it’ll be an enemies to lovers type thing or he’ll just be a character we love to hate. I don’t mind enemies to lovers if it is done well, but I’m not sure if it will be with the limited time the show has left.

I’ve come to care for all the Pearson family and I want them the be happy. Even if their endings aren’t perfect, I have just become so attatched. Kate was in an abusive relationship in the past, after her father died, so she could enter one again. I can see her falling into a bad cycle, but I hope it doesn’t happen to her. The fact that they divorce makes me sad, especially since I love Toby, but it is realistic. Whenever shows end with a bunch of happy married couples, it feels to simplistic, like everyone is paired off.

So, that brings us to Kevin. Kevin has had a complicated relationship with love. He married his high school sweetheart, Sophie, but they got a divorce soon after. His marriage to Sophie seemed impulsive, a desire for security in the midst of the unknown. His father died, and Kevin wanted one person to be in his life forever. That I get.

I also noticed that the show refuses to make love a solution to someone’s problems or a clutch. Characters rarely fall in love with the idea of a person and then magically have everything work out.

That brings me to singleness. Kevin is most enjoyable as a character when he is with the people he loves like family, rather than romantically. The relationship between Kevin and Randall, Kevin and Kate, and Kevin and Randall’s daughters are more compelling and sweet than his romantic relationships. As to Madison, I’m not sure how I feel about them as a couple. Another love story could be nice, but it could also be nice to see Kevin happily single and happily co-parenting with Madison.

I can see this happening. After all, the show notes and uses other lifestyle options adoption and IVF and Zoe–who didn’t want kids– why not include parents who aren’t romantically involved?

Especially after we learn that Edie and Nicky fall in love, is there really room for another love story? And does Kevin need a partner to be happy– of course not.

As much as I love the couples in this show, This is Us clearly shows that other forms of love, between parent and child, between friends, and between sibilings is just as beautiful. The show can take this point a step further, not everyone needs to end up in a romance to be happy. It would be nice to see Kevin, Kate, or someone else end up single and enjoy a single lifestyle. Even if they are romantic, romance does not have to be their story. There are plenty of them that aren’t told.

It is worth noting that This is Us includes not just heterosexual, but LGBT characters as well. Romance between men and women dominates the Pearson family story, but it is not the entire story. The triplets see Jack and Rebecca as part of a great love story and they expect their children to fall into the same. Randall is a bit shocked when he hears that his birth father William, is bisexual and had a long-term boyfriend named Jessie. His teenage daughter, Tess, later comes out to her family as gay and she starts dating non-binary classmate. This is Us mostly shows sexuality as a part of life, which felt refreshing.

I also like how the show really rejects the happily ever after and shows the intense beauty and pain of life. I feel uplifted when I watch the show. The relationship between the family is honest, caring, and just plain heartwarming, but they aren’t living in a perfect world. Like, the Pearsons have been though hell after their father died. The kids were only eighteen. His death impacted them all years in the future, and they are all grappling with tragedy to this day.

We see death not as an end, but a part of a circle of life. Just because we die does not mean we are forgotten. It is no wonder that Rebecca appears to be dying in the finale and we see her memory fading. But her family will remember her, and they will tell her stories to their children as they create their own. I’m including the scene because it sums up the show pretty well. Kevin shows Tess and Annie a picture:

“What is we’re all in the painting everywhere. What if we’re in the painting before we’re born. What if we’re in it after we die. And what if these colors we keep adding on top of each other until they’re not colors anymore? Wer’re just one thing. One painting.”

“And this wild, sloppy, magical thing, this right here. I think it’s us.”

This is Us shows our lives, our memories, or relationships as part of an interconnected web. The show doesn’t answer any or ask questions about what happens to the person after death. But it doesn’t feel sad to lose someone and no longer see them. Still, we realize death doesn’t define us. In life we part of something greater than ourselves, a history and we lose ourselves in the painting. Kevin notes this. The view of history in the show isn’t quite linear, it doesn’t necessarily achieve perfection or fall apart…it just is. It is not quite a circle either. New experiences and choices change the painting. The triplets children, for example, have not followed the paths of their parents completely. But they don’t have to. All of our experiences are wonderful and unique, but they come together in a great painting. The who picture and image reminds me of the cosmos. Take a look at the stars and how large they are and you realize that we’re part of a greater world and story than ourselves. But our story is there, it doesn’t go away like some stars.

Kevin realizes he has to talk about death in his painting. He initially apologizes, but then realizes as he tells the story that death is part of life. But dying doesn’t mean we’re gone and we disappear. The people we lose are still part of the painting. No matter what we do, no matter what lives we live or where we come from, we are all part of it.

When I listened to Kevin’s speech, I felt wonder and awe. The painting also feels full of unknowns, and there is no pressure to figure it all out. We are all interconnected, through the fact that we exist. Life can be messy, and sad and imperfect, but the connections we have with others, family, friends, and people we’ve never met or will never remember are still present in this web. The picture isn’t one one person can make and it is a web that just can’t be untangled, In this painting, we are more than just ourselves. The past, present, and future, mistakes and errors make the painting, rather than ruin it. But we can choose to care about the people around us, because doing that makes those beautiful pictures. From grandparents to grandchildren, we are all part of this together and that is what makes life so wonderful.

Have you seen This Is Us? I can’t wait for the finale. How do you feel about the show ending? Let me know down in the comments below!

Chronicles of the Muse, Shows

Violet Evergarden Shows That Empathy Can Be Learned Through Writing

Violet Evergarden Shows That Empathy Can Be Learned Through Writing

Anime Review (with spoilers):

Violet Evergarden Season 1

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Trigger Warning: This show covers a suicide attempt, PTSD, and war violence.

Written by Paige Wilson and Ashley Ostrowski.

Overview

Pros

  • Shows the power of writing
  • Beautiful animation
  • Amazing art style
  • Accurate depictions of trauma and PTSD
  • Emotionally impactful episodes
  • Realistic development of empathy through interaction with others
  • Great music

Cons

  • Many viewers found it boring, at least at first
  • It would have been a bit better to get more character development for characters other than Violet
  • It was never explained how she became a killing machine or why she became a weapon
  • Episodic feel can leave one wanting more

Observations

  • Violet’s experiences are not very relatable for most people

Warning: Spoilers below!

Review

Violet Evergarden Season 1 is an anime that was released in 2018. It can currently be streamed on Netflix.

Violet is a 14-year-old orphan who was trained to be a weapon of the military in the fictional country of Leiden. Even though Leiden exists in a fictional universe, the anime feels like it takes place in 19th century Europe.

After a pivotal battle in which Violet loses her arms, she wakes up in the hospital and immediately wants to return to her post. The war, however, has been declared over. Having lived her whole life as a soldier as long as she can remember, she does not know how to live a civilian life and act without taking orders. She chooses to work as an “auto memory doll,” which is basically a nickname for the ghostwriters who write other people’s letters for them. Her reasoning behind this is that it will help her to learn the meaning of the words “I love you,” which are the last words spoken to her by Major Gilbert. Gilbert was the one who taught her to read and write and treated her like a person when other officials in the military treated her like a tool.

Gilbert gave her the name Violet; before that she didn’t have any name. Violets can symbolize truth, loyalty, grace, and gentleness. These are all qualities Gilbert wanted for Violet. He wanted her to just be able to live her life well, to not be resigned to a life of violence, and to grow up to be a wonderful young woman.

Violet already has some of the qualities symbolized by the color and the flower violet. She is very honest and straightforward. She does not lie and cannot understand when other people are lying. She is intensely loyal to Major Gilbert. And she is kind of graceful in a way, in the way that martial artists are graceful even when meting out violence. Gentleness is not a quality she has in great supply–she only knows how to be a soldier.

Major Gilbert helps her transition to civilian life even while in the military by treating her like a person rather than a machine. For example, he takes Violet into town and says that she can buy anything that she likes at the market. Violet is confused at first and doesn’t know what to get. She spots an emerald broach at a street corner that is the precise color of the Major’s eyes and she wants it. He buys it for her and she wears it all the time to remember him.

Violet is 14 when we meet her and she is stunted emotionally. At the beginning she is also expressionless nearly all of the time. It is not until she hears the sad story of a father who lost his daughter that she cries for the first time ever.

It is the process of writing letters for people that teaches her empathy. At first, her letters are excessively formal to the point of being more like a technical report than a heartfelt message.

As she continues to write letters, she grows in empathy and in her fluency of writing emotions on paper. She begins to feel regret and guilt for the deeds she did as a weapon of the military. She gains a much deeper understanding of human emotions with every letter she writes.

Violet develops short but meaningful relationships with several of the people who ask her to write letters over the course of each episode. Her episode with Clara Magnolia stands out in particular. Clara is a dying widow with a young daughter, Ann, who asks Violet to write several letters over the course of a week. Violet acts as a sort of babysitter to Ann, as Ann wants to spend time with her mother in the last days of her life, but her mother insists on writing letters. We as an audience get more and more frustrated with the mother for not spending more time with her child. It turns out that Clara was writing birthday letters to her daughter for the next fifty years. It was so sad. Did you cry? We both cried. The audience sees Ann receiving her first letter on the next birthday and we see Ann read more letters as she reaches a new birthday. It is a twist we hadn’t guessed, and it hits hard.

Princess Charlotte’s episode is also particularly memorable. Charlotte is going to be in an arranged marriage with Prince Damian of Flugel. When she is first on-screen, it seems like she is a young girl who is put into a marriage that she does not want to a man she has never met. She tells Violet she has no idea what to say in her letters, which are supposed to be flowery and romantic so that the public can see them. It turns out that Damian was the one who comforted her at a party when she was upset, and she really appreciated him. She did not know what to say because she liked him. Violet’s letters to Damian seem emotionless, and Damian’s letters to her also seem overly formal. She knows how she feels about Damian, but she doesn’t know if he feels the same. Princess Charlotte is upset. Violet suggests that they should write their own letters and it turns out he does. The kingdoms are intrigued by their passionate letters to each other and their wedding is a big celebration of love.

After a while, Violet finds out that Gilbert is presumed dead. It devastates her at first and it takes her a long time to recover. Nevertheless, she never truly accepts or believes that he is dead. It takes her a while to form relationships with the new people in her life, her new coworkers.

The first person to care about Violet is Claudia Hodgins, a man Gilbert asked to take care of Violet for him. He helps her find her first job. Violet meets many people when she gets her new job. Cattleya Baudelaire, Benedict Blue, Iris Canary, and Erica Brown are her coworkers. We get to know Iris in an episode, but the others aren’t as developed. They are likable, but they don’t get much screentime.

Is Gilbert alive? The story ends with an airshow where letters are dropped from the sky. Violet writes a letter for the Major where she tells him she believes that he is alive. We see Gilbert’s wounded body and we see him tell Violet to live, but we never see Gilbert dead. We see Violet at the end visiting a person to write a letter for them, and see a look of surprise when she sees their face, but we are not shown for sure whether this is Gilbert or if she is surprised for some other reason.

Another thing to note is the realism of the series. On Youtube, there is an excellent video where a veteran was interviewed about whether Violet Evergarden’s experience during and after the war was accurate compared to the experience of actual soldiers and veterans.

The veteran said her experience was exaggerated and yet largely accurate.

Some points that stood out to him:

Violet at one point tries to strangle herself. Her suicide attempt was true of many veteran experiences since suicide rates are relatively high among that demographic. The veteran said the episode with the suicide attempt “nailed it,” and was one of the hardest parts for him to watch because he lost several of his own war buddies to suicide.

When Violet tries to save the Major in the last battle before the end of the war, she fails to think straight and clear the area before rushing in to save him. The veteran said that was an instance of her emotions getting the better of her and said that was probably part of the reason she lost her arms and had to have them replaced with metal prosthetics.

The veteran also said that the way she crushed her emotions down was very understandable based on his own experience, and that he could appreciate why she had trouble interacting empathetically after living her entire life in the military.

He also said that he was annoyed about Violet saluting civilians randomly. He said that sort of thing didn’t really carry over into civilian life, but he could see why the creators chose to do this since all Violet ever knew was the military.

A final thing he noted as important was Violet’s nightmares–he said he experienced many nightmares and could relate to that.

The music in this anime is absolutely beautiful, the intro especially.

The intro song is called “Sincerely” by TRUE. It is about the power of words. The singer sings about learning words she didn’t know, which brings memories to the surface. She explains that there are words she may be incapable of understanding without the help of others. Specifically, the words “goodbye” and “I love you” are held up as special and powerful. They cause longing. The lyrics say that words do not have to be spoken to hold weight, they can cut to the heart even while they are unspoken but felt or read.

The outro song is called Michishirube and is by Minori Chihara. One of the lines from it, when translated into English describes a nameless flower that has found peace. This, to us, really describes Violet as she comes to terms with her actions during the war and accepts her new life as an auto memory doll.

The art style and animation are beautiful, especially when they show water or light as you can see above. The attention to detail is excellent and the character design is stunning. We see the characters in the snow, farmland, below the starry sky, and on the lake–among other settings.

In conclusion, we fully recommend this anime. We are aware that many people found the beginning boring, but we found that the development, in the beginning, was necessary and not really that boring. Although the anime has a very episodic feel that at times left us wanting more, there was a continued theme of Violet developing empathy. It is confusing why the military would choose a random 14-year-old orphan girl to use as a weapon, but we hold out hope that this will be explained in later seasons.

We will be putting out a podcast episode next week where we will share our opinions, so keep an eye out!

Shows

Sinners Need Love; Everyone else is Useless. 4 Predictions for the Future of Helluva Boss & Hazbin Hotel

Sinners Need Love; Everyone else is Useless.  4 Predictions for the Future of Helluva Boss & Hazbin Hotel

Some Spoilers are included for Helluva Boss and Hazbin Hotel!

Hazbin Hotel, a Youtube series, and the first show Vivziepop created is a hotel that hopefully will rehabilitate sinners. Helluva Boss and Hazbin Hotel both take place in the same universe. Vivienne Mercado said that the Hell in her Helluva Boss and Hazbin Hotel series is not a copy of the Hell of Christian tradition. Mercado is called Vivziepop on her YouTube channel, and I’m using that name in this article.

She has taken some liberties, but still, the show bears some similarities with a cultural understanding of Hell, especially Dante’s Inferno. Dante’s Inferno is part of a trilogy that Dante Alighieri wrote about Dante’s journey through Hell to Purgatory. Dante was Catholic, but he took liberties in his depiction of Hell. Dante’s Inferno has been called Christian Fanfiction. I would agree. As this blog has shown, we can learn wisdom from most media. While this violent cartoon is not trying to be Dante, all media can teach wisdom or provide an accurate picture of the human condition. Whether or not this happens in these shows is to be determined.

Is everyone irredeemable? What is Hell like? Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss somewhat answer these questions of this nature in two hilarious YouTube shows. I find shows about Hell and Heaven fascinating, and I’m curious how this show addresses areas of morality, religion, redemption, and relationships. As much as these characters are “supposed to be bad people” there are a lot of sweet moments too. I’ll begin with a description of the lore, which is both invented and inspired.

Like Dante’s Inferno, there are nine circles of Hell. Seven of them represent the seven deadly sins. Everyone goes in a ring based on the worst sin they committed in their previous life.

In contrast, Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss place all earthborn sinners in the pride ring. You could argue that all sins come from pride because people sin because they believe they know best. This Hell is also composed of many different creatures, including Imps, Hellhounds, and princes of hell. Speaking of princes, Vivziepop confirmed that seven princes control the seven circles of Hell, but we have yet to meet all of them. This is where this story defers from Christain and Dantean notion of Hell. People experience positive emotions there–at least non-humans do.

RoboFizz and Demons in the Lust Ring

From the episodes we’ve seen so far, the rings of Hell, rather than rightfully punishing people for the sins they commit, are places where people relish and fully enjoy the sins of that ring. Only those born in hell can enter these rings, so the sinners cannot reach them. Asmodeus is in charge of the ring of lust, which runs like a lusty restaurant. Couples come to the tables as a place to express and celebrate their lust. Humans cannot go to the Ring of Lust, so at least sinners do not just celebrate their sin. That would make no sense. The problem is that romantic love, expressions of affection, and appreciation are as disgusting in the Lust Ring.

Therefore, when Moxxie sings a love song for Millie, he is kicked out of the ring of lust. The last episode of Helluva Boss shows that lust is not sufficient to make either Stolas or Blitz happy. Blitz feels like Stolas is using him, and rightfully so. Then Stolas starts to care about Blitz. He finally wants to get to know him. Valentino is in an abusive relationship with Angel Dust, who performs for him. I wonder if his persona is accurate or if Angel Dust is putting on an act. His video “Addict” makes me feel bad for him. 

 I’m a little confused why the rings exist. If the sinners are not punished according to each one, what is the point? The princes who ruled each ring may have created them based on what sin they liked doing the most. For instance, Asmodeus loves all things lust-related.

As Charlie creates the hotel, I wonder if there will be any change to the rings. Asmodeus and Fizz seem like a couple, will he realize that he loves Fizz and that lust is not enough? No one judges him, but you never know. They are a likable couple so far so I can see him rebelling a bit and falling in love with Fizz.

These two seem to like each other more than just lust

So, that leads to my predictions for both shows. 

We don’t know much about the earthborn sinners, but we know the demons are capable of good. Stolas and Blitz are loving, imperfect fathers, and Moxxie and Mille show love for each other all the time. Yes, they do terrible things, like try to murder husbands and people they want revenge on, but they also do good. This is important when we think of what happens next.

  1. Charlie will realize that Heaven is a Bad Place.

So, as to the question of rehabilitating sinners, I’ll start by saying that not everyone deserves to go to heaven. In the fourth episode, C.H.E.R.U.B, we meet the angels who rival Blitzo by fighting to get an elderly man into Heaven. Blitz’s group, IMP, is hired to kill him by his old business partner, Loopty. They died when they created a de-aging device, and it backfired. Loopty died, while Lye survived. Loopty went to hell for his corporate greed, and his business partner on earth reaps all the benefits of the business they created together. The man, Lyle Lipton, is a trillionaire and gives none of the money to others. He has a framed photo of money for goodness sake. He hates being old. The cherub angels come to convince him to live. Then he can be a good person and then go to Heaven. IMP plans to convince him to die so he’ll go to Hell. The story ends with Lyle deciding to live, but then he dies and goes to Hell for being a greedy person.

Despite the cherubs’ attempts to show him the goodness of life, most of their arguments are about appreciation. They argue for the beauty of the earth, music, and art and that Lyle may one day fall in love. All of these are self-centered, all will make Lyle happy, but they don’t talk about loving others. God is also absent from their arguments. The God of Vivziepop’s universe is distant. He is also far from Hell, which is correct from a Christian perspective. But, God also seems distant in Heaven and Earth. The cherubs never mention God in their speech or God’s relationship to the created world or these good things and reasons to live. In Christianity, sinners enjoy Heaven because they are with God forever. But this God seems isolated and confusing. I’m not sure if these people even interact with God at all, which is outside the point of Heaven from a Christian perspective. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-2-1024x442.png
The cherubs look so good here, don’t they?

The cherubs are rude and disrespectful to Blitzo, Moxxie, and Millie. They are funny, but they seem sketch. I feel like they would murder a child without hesitation. Maybe Heaven will be a case of toxic positivity, pretending to be happy all the time is good for no one. There are several online theory videos that predict Hazbin’s Heaven is a miserable place. Perhaps people are forced to be happy all the time and cheerful in this Heaven. In a Heaven without a present God making things good and these annoying cherubs being cheery all the time, I probably wouldn’t enjoy this Heaven either.

So, my theory is that either or both shows will have their characters find out that Heaven is a terrible place. I guess that it will be Hazbin. Humans are stuck in pride ring, so maybe Hazbin Hotel will allow them to enter all the rings. If they let go of their pride, perhaps they could enjoy Hell as it is. Others characters, I think, will remain in the pride ring.

2. Some human sinners are unredeemable and are just selfish

This old man does not care about anyone besides himself, so he belongs in Hell. He will probably remain rude and useless. As shown by the rude reporter, some people are just bad. They don’t want to change. We see people die in hell but then come back. This is based on a Prometheus myth; souls are erased using holy steel. I wonder if some souls will be destroyed in the show. If someone is evil enough, the show may say death into nothingness is necessary for some. What will the evil rich old man do in the pride ring? If he is unredeemable is the best punishment suffering or disappearing completely? Although I can see human sinners staying in the pride ring or gone for good, unfortunately, I’m guessing there will still be bad demons who were born in Hell, but everyone has to deal with them. But how about the others?

3. The show will argue that life circumstances and power makes us bad

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KatieFullDemonForm.png

Helluva Boss and Hazbin Hotel are comedies. They are not solving moral questions about the problem of evil, nor are these characters supposed to be examples of how to live morally. Still, they deal with evil, and we can learn from what the show calls evil. I am guessing that power and cycles of abuse will be the worst evils. Angel Dust, for instance, became an addict and died from drugs. He was born into a mobster family, so it could have been his environment that made him an addict. He could be going along with his family and never have learned to be good. We also see Blitz’s insecurities delve from his past experiences. His desire for status and power appeals to him because he has none. He thinks a successful business will make him happy and give him respect.

4. The Main Characters will learn to love better

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3-1024x431.png
Stolas and Octavia

Some of these sinners have committed terrible atrocities. Alastor was a murderer on earth and buried his victims on the deer-hunting ground. He also kills demons in Hell to become powerful. He comes to the Hotel to watch sinners fail to become better. Charlie seems idealistic; her plan seems like it won’t work. I’m looking forward to hearing Alastor’s backstory and if the show finds a way to justify his actions. Did he kill bad people? Or are his actions wrong, but is he able to redeem himself? Since these characters are likable, I think they will. Charlie is overly optimistic, but Alastor is a pessimist. Their ability to work together will probably be both disastrous and challenging. It will also help both of them find a healthy medium. Hopefully, it will be hilarious.

I was surprised to see murderous characters portrayed as better than greedy and prideful people. Our pride makes us do things that harm others and ourselves. I would agree that manipulation can do plenty of damage to a person, and this is obvious in the series. Helluva Boss is quite bloody, and IMP kills people in Hell with little regard to the consequences. Alastor and Angel Dust are murderers, which is terrible. However, they are more sympathetic than the greedy rich guy. 

With Blitzo, it seems he will have to confront his past, and with Stolas’ help, learn to love him. It will be similar to other characters; they will decide to be better through the love of one another. There is also some self-sacrifice. Stolas might lose the respect he gets from the upper class. I’m hoping this happens; it seems like the owl gets whatever he wants. We love others not for what they do for us, but for themselves as people. Dante claims that all love is perverted, we love ourselves more than others. Therefore, we must redirect our love to what matters most: others. Stolas must let go of his pride and status to truly love Blitzo. He needs to be humble, which would be weird but nice to see in the pride ring.

Overall Thoughts and Questions

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-5-1024x439.png

Power dynamics create the most evil on the show. Hell itself is composed of a hierarchy, and overlords like Valentino can treat Angel Dust like garbage despite this disparity. The difference in social status between them is why Stolas makes Blitz feel bad about himself. He is so high above Stolas in society, and he teases Blitzo and enjoys that he has authority over him. This is evident in the nicknames he calls him, “impish little plaything” and “Blitzy” are a few. Stolas needs to be kicked down a peg, at least metaphorically. Despite his faults, Stolas does care about Blitzo and his daughter. He is greedy, he wants Blitz and his status and power too, but he isn’t unwilling to change.

Overall, I’m a little disappointed by the worldbuilding. I know both shows are new, but I found much of the information I included on Hell came from the wiki page. Vivziepop also reveals information through interviews, Twitter, and the character’s Instagram accounts. Yes, these characters have Instagram. It is kind of cute, but I don’t check their accounts regularly. Creating character social media accounts is an intriguing and fun way to add to the story. As the episodes take time to come out, they can be fun bits of content for fans to look at while waiting for the next episodes. I hope these posts remain an addition rather than a necessary element to the story.

I’m hoping to get answers to big questions, like why sinners are only allowed in the pride ring and what the different rings of Hell look like soon. I want to see what happens next with Stolas and Blitzo watch their relationship grow, but I also want to learn more about this fictional world. I should be able to enjoy and understand the worlds of Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss without watching any youtube videos or any interviews or seeing any social media posts.

I’m curious to see what happens next. I like this show. It surprisingly has good messages that things like lust fail to make us happy because they are self-serving. Power can do horrible things to people. But Charlie’s plan to help others become better is a good one. Considering her father is Lucifer, I am surprised she’s a well-intentioned character. It may be idealistic, but I’m hoping she will learn along the way. I am quite curious about how the show will depict Lucifer and God. I’m not expecting a Christian message or program. This God will probably look very different from the Christain one if shown at all. From what I’ve seen on the wiki, this God is not a Trinity, and there is no Jesus or Holy Spirit. I would be surprised if they were even remotely similar, but that also gives God the power to be evil. Will God be good is Lucifer the good one in this world? If Lucifer is the king of pride, is he selfish? How is Charlie so determined to help others.

Stolas and the main characters better not die. It would feel cheap to kill anyone right now. Considering the creators love Stolas and Blitzo as a couple, it seems unlikely. I like them too, though I hope they’re able to fix their problems. They’re pretty unhealthy right now, and Blitz has to work himself a bit. Stolas needs some awareness of people outside of himself. For other characters, I want to see more development. I want to learn about Alastor and Angel’s backstories and learn more about Charlie. I hope they don’t give Alastor a love interest like they said they wouldn’t. It would be nice to have a character who isn’t paired off. Everyone is deeply flawed, so I hope they can learn a bit and become better people. Whatever happens, I’m hoping for good storytelling and tons of jokes.

Note: I heard that Hazbin Hotel will be recast. The previous cast was fantastic and I’m a little disappointed I won’t be hearing them again. As to the new cast, I won’t I’m not sure how I feel about this yet, but I’m reserving judgment until more information is released.

Have you seen Hazbin Hotel or Helluva Boss? What did you think of the show’s portrayal of Hell so far? What do you like or not like about it? Let me know down in the comments below. 

Shows

BoJack Horseman argues Parenthood Should Be A Choice

A horrible mother, a strong-willed woman, a horrible person, a debutante, and the one who never asked to be a mother– all those phrases describe Beatrice Horseman. BoJack, her son, the only living person to remember her says:

“Beatrice Horseman was born in 1938, and she died in 2018, and I have no idea… what she wanted.”


Beatrice’s big tragedy is that she never got a chance to go after what she wanted. She never even had time to evaluate and figure out where she wanted to go in life. She was raised into a life where no one asked.

Who is Beatrice Horseman and why does she so trapped? It all began when she was a child, and her problems began far before she could fully understand them.

Beatrice had a brother Crackerjack who died in the war. Her mother broke down, and her father lobotomized her mother Honey when Beatrice was a young girl. She warned her daughter to never love others as much as she loved her son because he died. Her father, Joseph Sugarman, was emotionally abusive. Beatrice then turns into an abusive mother.

If we look back, her present behavior comes from her upbringing. We see later that Beatrice is mad at BoJack for what giving birth to him did to her body. Beatrice was a little chubby as a kid, as many kids are, and her father was overly critical of her weight. He even went so much to prevent his daughter from eating ice cream, he said eating sugar and lemon was a better snack for girls.

When she gets Scarlett Fever, her dad says he’s glad that she lost weight from the fever. He’s outlandish, sexist, overly rude, and selfish. He also has no moral backing for his actions. He holds onto gender roles and rejects emotions for no foreseeable reason; he is a two-dimensional character. We can only assume that his father was terrible as well, and he makes a terrifying villain. None of this excuses his actions. However, we don’t understand why he does the things he does. He also blames his wife for not knowing that her daughter has Scarlett Fever and for not protecting her. The role of a woman is to be a good mother, he says, but he is ironically a terrible father. He says weird things like this:

“Now, stop making books your friends. Reading does nothing for young women but build their brains taking valuable resources away from their breasts and hips.”

She also makes the wrong choice, unintentionally, the first chance she has to break away from her parents. She attends a debutante party and chats with party crasher Butterscotch Horseman. He scorns the life she is born into and is different and attractive, and they have a one-night stand. Then she gets pregnant.

Beatrice marries Butterscotch and plans to raise BoJack with him because she thinks they can have a life together. She bases this on a romanticized picture that Butterscotch paints for her. The time her father burned a favorite doll haunts her, so she decides to have and raise the child out of fear and fantasy.


She never thinks about what she really wants out of life. She has passions, but her parents present marriage into a wealthy family as the only option. Therefore, she never gets to consider putting her career or other interests over finding a man. Things seem black and white to Beatrice. There are two groups: the high society that her parents live under and the rebels. She rejects the societal choice: ice cream businessman Corbin Creemerman. Beatrice chooses the rugged Kerouac-loving stallion instead thinking he’ll give her the a viable alternative to her father’s choices. But she is wrong. She learns that Corbin wanted to challenge his father’s ideas and do his business his way. He also had passion and talent. But pregnancy means that things are too late for her. That one night now determined her future. Butterscotch talked the talk, but his words came out horse crap.

The show stresses that we cannot run away from our problems. We have to look for solutions based on what we want. Beatrice is a perfect example. Running away from her emotionally abusive father led her to another abusive man. Butterscotch’s abuse is not Beatice’s fault. The mentality her father ingrained in her kept her from seeing other options as viable.

BoJack Horseman constantly reminds us that we can’t run away from our problems, and Beatrice models that ideal like she’s working for Cosmo. She learns that running away from her emotionally abusive father led her to another abusive man. She gave up her dreams for a man, so when she meets a woman with dreams to become a nurse, she encourages her to choose her career.


When Butterscotch gets the maid pregnant, he begs Beatrice to talk to her.

“Don’t throw away your dreams for this child. Don’t let that man poison your life the way he did mine. You are going to finish your schooling and become a nurse. You’ll meet a man, a good man and you’ll have a family, but please believe me you don’t want this. Please, Henrietta, you have to believe me. Please, don’t do it I did.”


Beatrice went to Columbia College. Her father wanted her to find a husband there. We do not know what Beatrice studied, but we do know she was passionate about civil rights, justice, and lessening economic disparities. She was critical of the social class she grew up in and of her father’s business.

She reminds me a lot of Diane, they both have the same passions, but Beatrice got stuck in a life she never wanted. When she decides to marry Butterscotch, she follows is a romanticized idea of marriage and a family and is thus stuck there.

Time’s Arrow challenges the idea that things happen for a–presumably good–reason. Beatrice and Butterscotch actually wanted different things out of life, but they din’t get a chance to end their relationship. Beatrice accepted the consequences of her choices, and her acceptance of the life she chose limited her for the rest of her life.

Beatrice says that later in life Henrietta will meet a good man and have a family. Is Beatrice projecting here?

She chose not to think about if she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom because Butterscotch told her life would be idyllic and she wanted to believe him. She never made a conscious decision to be a parent, let alone a good one. She didn’t see her child as a living creature who deserved love. She was never taught about loving another person. Instead, she saw BoJack as something that ruined her life. It is fortunate that her son never becomes a father.


At the end of the series, Herb says BoJack is a:

“Husband to no-one, father to no one (that we know of) Standup comedian, actor, crippling alcoholic, a talented charmer, a stupid piece of shit.”


It is joked about that BoJack paid for several women to get abortions. The horse certainly spread his seed, and he could have gotten a woman pregnant who ended up either raising or putting up a child for adoption. It is no surprise when Hollyhock tells him that he might be her daddy. Hollyhock forces BoJack to become responsible for another human, and as we see in Stupid Piece of Sh*t, he uses this to fuel his self-hatred further. He ditches her to get drunk. So, fatherly responsibility isn’t going to fix BoJack.


His lie that the voice in her head goes away would probably come back to haunt her when she realized her father suffered the same way. He is relieved when he realizes that Hollyhock is his sister instead. Once he realizes he has no obligation to be a parent, their relationship actually improves. The show never argues that parenthood makes anyone a better or less selfish person. It is clear BoJack makes a terrible parent.
BoJack’s experiences with children are rarely good. He gives four-year-old Sarah Lynn that harrowing speech not to stop dancing. But that doesn’t stop his desires or curiosity about having children.

But he dreams of an alternate world of marrying Charlotte and having a daughter. It is a beautiful image of what could have been. We don’t know if it could’ve been that good. The idealist in me wants to believe that, though it wouldn’t have been all sunshine and rainbows, it would be better for him. If BoJack thought about it and decided to leave LA, he could have been happier. But when he meets Charlotte’s family and real daughter, Penny, he gives her teenage friends alcohol, leaves an overdosed teen at the hospital unaided. He then agrees to and almost has sex with Charlotte’s daughter after Charlotte rejects him. I could go on, but BoJack takes horrible care of himself and even worse care of others.


Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter are other characters who deal with children. Diane has an abortion and the two seem just not to want kids. Their relationship as a couple has been tumultuous, but they also have good times. Oddly enough, I would argue that the episode where Diane has an abortion is the best the two have gotten along and the healthiest day we see of their relationship. We also see that their lack of interest in having kids is completely unrelated to the state of their marriage or their desire for love. They both marry and remarry a couple of times in the show and put effort into their marriage when they’re together. Being in a loving and stable relationship and having a partner to lean on and live life with is important for both of them. Having children is something that neither of them wants out of life.
Diane does end up marrying Guy, who has a teenage stepson. It was fun watching them bond. Sonny is a pretty well-adjusted teen, and she doesn’t have to parent him. That is all Guy.

Diane also has a heart for helping kids, and people who are struggling. She cares for a boy in Cordovia only for him to die. She worries about her neglectful parents and wants to use her trauma for good and to help others in similar situations. Diane ends up writing a middle-grade mystery series about a Vietnamese American girl named Ivy Tran because she enjoys it. She says she wishes that she could have read a novel like this growing up. It could have helped her. Although she doesn’t help children through motherhood, Diane helps kids in ways she didn’t expect. BoJack Horseman shows that you don’t have to give up your passions to be happy. She helps others by doing things that she loves rather than sacrificing what she wants. By realizing her passions, Diane can help kids around the world. Kids can look up to her and have hope for the future. Ivy Trans is a gift that keeps giving, she creates a world that she wishes she had as a kid.


Instead, she watched BoJack’s Horsin’ Around as a kid, a show that simplified life’s problems into 30-minute segments. The show put real kids on set for hours a day, performing for an audience of people who do not care about them. A good parent could have helped Sarah Lynn realize her passions and encouraged her in her dream to become an architect. Instead, she was raised by money-driven parents and negligent producers who contributed to her low-self worth and addiction. Sarah Lynn deserved so much better.


This show would be pretty skeptical of all parents if it weren’t for Princess Carolyn. She is the one major character who desperately wants a baby. She famously says:

I compulsively take care of other people because I can’t take care of myself.”

Out of all the characters, surface-level Princess Carolyn would not want kids. Women in fiction who focus on their careers usually lack a desire for children. Work and children are two separate areas of life where one can succeed. A woman chooses one or the other. Princess Carolyn cares about her career more than anyone else. She works long hours, does almost everything for the job.

When we look at Diane, she works hard when she is passionate about something, but she cares much more for the social impact of her work and gets little of her value from the work itself if it is not meaningful. She also spends a considerable portion of her time on her romantic relationships.


For BoJack, the work is the means to an end too. BoJack puts a decent bit of his self-worth into work. He is willing to put effort into work if it makes him feel good about himself, gives his life purpose, and makes him look good, but he gives up if it doesn’t serve him. His work never fully fulfills him, because each project ends and then he has to do something new. He keeps looking for a meaningful role, but he doesn’t find what he’s looking for. Work can’t make him feel better about himself, which is why he also spends a significant amount of his time trying to feel better about himself and numb the pain through drugs, alcohol, and sex. Mr. Peanutbutter and Todd put their effort into wacky hijinks and work seems to just happen to them.

Princess Carolyn, in contrast, spends the majority of her time working. She rarely dates or puts effort into romantic relationships, even though she wants to have a child. She is good at her job, so she puts all her time and energy into work.


It is only when Princess Carolyn leaves an environment that promotes working hard and selling anything that she is challenged. This is when she visits a pregnant woman named Sadie who lives in the same rural town she grew up in. Her hometown was a place where she she started out, and it humbled her even when she doesn’t want to be humbled.

Princess Carolyn tries to impress Sadie, but she learns that outside of Hollywoo, people aren’t flattered easily. Sadie calls Princess Carolyn out. Princess Carolyn insists that Sadie does what she wants and doesn’t decide based on her boyfriend or the baby. Princess Carolyn insists that she knows best, and though she has good intentions. The reality is that Sadie could give her child a good life if she wanted to be a mother. There isn’t a better way of life or one right way to be a parent, but you have to want and choose to care about your kids and put them first.

“I just want to give your baby a better life”

“Better than what. Better than a sky for of stars?”

Princess Carolyn and Sadie

Princess Carolyn has to let go of her ego. She treats taking care of a kid like a business deal, but Sadie doesn’t fall for her tricks, just like a child wouldn’t. Princess Carolyn is called out for her flaws, before adopting a child, and I found this important. Princess Carolyn is one of my favorite characters, and she is certainly tenacious, but I did wonder if she’d be a good mother. She ends up spending a lot of time on her career after adopting Ruthie and she ends up marrying Judah, who is just as job-focused as she is. Her acceptance of Sadie, and realizing that what she wants might not be best for Sadie. She has to understand someone else’s needs and put them first.

I felt hopeful after that scene, if her daughter is different from her if she doesn’t have that work-loving ambition, Princess Carolyn will love her all the same. Unlike her mother, she can accept someone’s dream is not hers. Her child will grow up and become an individual and find purpose in a lifestyle that might be different from her mother.


By recognizing that her child won’t always do what she wants, Princess Carolyn will be a better mother than hers was. I found that role models help. Beatrice Horseman lost everything that she loved, but she had no role model. Princess Carolyn is inspired by Amelia Airheart to pursue her dreams, and she always worked for what she wanted. She knew what she wanted, which can be rare, but she always made the best of a bad situation. It is how she grew up. She will raise Ruthie and pass her values into her. I like to think that Princess Carolyn became a good mother.


Still, her self-reliance is a trademark of her character, she pushes a loving boyfriend away. She’s also been through a lot, she knows that she wants a baby and is willing to go through anything to get there. In the episode Ruthie, Princess Carolyn imagines her great-great-great-granddaughter telling her class about a day in her life. It is revealed in “Ruthie” that she had five miscarriages. She isn’t longing for an idealized fantasy, she wants something and goes after it. She does enjoy the work she does and she names a tv show Philibert after a baby she lost. The show becomes a pseudo child for her. It becomes clear though, that the show isn’t what Princess Carolyn wants. She wants a real child, a real person to love and to carry on her legacy. It is only when her work baby dies–Philbert gets canceled–that Princess Carolyn finally gets her real baby. Princess Carolyn chooses to have a baby because it is what she wants, and she makes sacrifices to get there. Princess Carolyn and her goals are amazing, but the show makes it clear that not everyone should follow her example. When BoJack contemplates his life in a dreamlike state in “The View From Halfway Down” he talks about sacrifice with the important people in his life.

BoJack: “When we grow up in a house that does that we internalize this idea that being happy is a selfish act, but sacrifice doesn’t mean anything.”

Sarah Lynn: “Yes it does.”

BoJack: “Sacrifice? In the service of something greater, maybe, but just in and of itself? What’s the good in that?”

Beatrice was convinced that she was giving up herself, sacrificing her happiness for a husband and child. She feels that marrying Butterscotch and raising BoJack was her sacrifice to life, but this notion limits her. In reality, she does not give anything to BoJack. She emotionally abuses him and makes him feel small and worthless. She clings to the societal convention that people shouldn’t divorce, but there is no heart behind that conviction. Her father burned her doll as a child when she gets sick, and he tells her it is a good thing. Giving up the good things is never the answer. Beatrice made a sacrifice raising BoJack, but she never wanted to be a mother of Butterscotch’s child. He doesn’t want BoJack either, and they are both miserable. Her mentality about sacrifice isn’t good for anyone.


There is never a message that there is a greater cause that makes sacrifice worth it. Beatrice’s father’s misogyny is shallow. He only cares about money and surface-level appearances. Beatrice continues this cycle and remains miserable because it is the only thing she knows. She feels unable to love BoJack because she feels like her ability to love is gone, like her doll in the fire.

If we look at Diane, she never gave up her passion for anything else. She ended her marriage with Mr. Peanutbutter because she didn’t want to live always squinting to see what makes her happy. She wanted to be happy and to be the best version of herself. By following what she is good at (writing) and what she enjoys, Diane helps others in a brilliant but unexpected way. The same is to be said for BoJack. He never becomes a father in the traditional sense, but he helps coach young actors at Wesleyan and later actors in prison. He turns out to be a great coach, and he gives to something bigger than himself. His acting is no longer just something to boost his ego, and he doesn’t have to put hours into something he hates for the sake of doing good. He genuinely loves helping people and uses his experience to his advantage. BoJack also has made the decision to change and do good by the people around him.


When Princess Carolyn finally adopts Ruthie, life becomes busier, but she is in a good place to have a child. Soon afterward, Judah tells her that he loves her and they get married. Before her marriage, her friend Todd also helped her out and babysat. She can handle this and she wants a baby. Although things might not always be the same, Princess Carolyn trusts her past self made the right choice.


Choice doesn’t necessarily make things better in BoJack’s world–people often make terrible ones–but the central message is that you have to both accept and embrace the decisions you make. When Beatrice makes Henrietta give up her daughter, it is easy to see her as cruel. We know Hollyhock was raised by loving parents, but we don’t know if giving up the baby was the right decision. Henrietta wanted her baby more than Beatrice ever did, but she also wanted a baby for perhaps the wrong reasons. She still cared for Butterscotch and hoped he would be a good father and romantic partner. Beatrice knew the truth.

So, when it comes to decisions and sacrifice, the series affirms that thoughtful and careful consideration are important. People who are unable to receive the facts are at a disadvantage. Beatrice is here when she decides to marry Butterscotch. It is important to take what we know and work with it.

We can’t predict the future, but we can learn about our situation now and decide on those factors. At one point, BoJack asks Princess Carolyn why she is an agent and she says that she is good at it. She keeps working and finds she wants to be a manager, a similar role, instead. We should look at what makes us happy, our strengths, and think about what makes us happy in real-life rather than grasping for ideals or our imagination. At the end of the series, BoJack responds to Carolyn’s concern about doubting herself. What if her marriage to Judah doesn’t work out? Well, that’s just life–we make choices and figure things out.

” No, but you’re here because at some point, Princess Carolyn thought this was a really good idea, and I think we oughtta listen to her because she’s the smartest woman I know”

Have you watched BoJack Horseman? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Shows

5 Reasons Bojack Horseman Is Perfect for Gen Z

Sad Horses. I can not remember the last time I watched a show with anthropomorphic animals that made me so sad, maybe Charlotte’s Web? I was around eight, and I watched the 1973 version. It always cracked me up when I was having a bad day. Does anyone remember the rat paradise scene? I’d recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it before. He walks around the fair and eats a bunch of fair food. A mood perhaps. Anyway, I the ending of Charlotte’s Web made me cry the first time I saw it, but Bojack has so much more sadness.

So, why do I keep talking about this? Why is this odd show starring anthropomorphic animals and cartoon humans so good? Look at this picture.

There were loads of pictures and great scenes I could have introduced BoJack with, but this one fits my gut reaction to the show best. BoJack Horseman forces us to see ourselves. The show serves as a mirror to ourselves. It shows the world we live in, the lines on our faces, our mistakes, our biggest regrets. Our days of Horsin Around have ended. Hard times and self-reflection have begun. The days of animal puns, a deep dive into various facets of the human psyche, and all the worst parts about ourselves are just beginning.

Raphael Bob Waksberg is incredibly talented. If you are an optimistic person and have a high view of human nature, buckle up. You will be in for a bumpy ride. Do you see that one with all the potholes? Yes, we are in the right place. We are going to fasten our seatbelts now. If you are in the camp of people who feel stuck a lot of the time and struggle to get better, prepare for more disappointment in humanity and animality. I am not saying the characters are unlikable. Many of them–like Princess Carolyn, Todd, and Diane–are fascinating and deeply imperfect. Others are awful people or random criminal masterminds, like Margo Martindale, and almost everyone is miserable.

There are also moments like this:

The fire department saves this poor cat quickly. Unfortunately, when people get stuck in a bad situation due to their personal choices, we cannot become free from what got us there. A few people, a truck, and a ladder cannot solve their unhealthy patterns. Mistakes come with long-term consequences and sometimes permanent damage to relationships. How we acknowledge and continue to live after our mistakes is a question that the show asks. And if you want more animal puns, BoJack Horseman contains many, many more of them. 

So here is a Spoiler-free list of all the reasons to watch Bojack Horseman.

So, why do you watch that weird show with the talking horse? That is a question I heard a few times this summer from family and friends when I told them I watched Bojack Horseman on Netflix. Bojack Horseman, known for sad themes, is often called the Sad Horse show. Bojack Horseman was the type of show I watched a couple of episodes at a time a few days a week. I would never binge the series in a week. Like a fine wine, Bojack works best when you take a sip and let it sit with you for a while. Perhaps I have not convinced you to watch yet, fair enough. I had not watched many adult cartoons before this one, and I was a little skeptical about a talking horse show.

Thankfully, a few scenes popped enough on my youtube recommendations. After witnessing enormous emotional depth and character development packed in a few short clips, I needed to watch BoJack Horseman. When I finished the sixth season, the tall, depressed, anthropomorphic horse actor and his friends won my heart. Despite, or even because the show focused on this fifty-something talking horse rather than some live actor. BoJack Horseman felt more human than anything I have watched in a while. Here are some reasons why you should give BoJack a try.

  1. Excellent Character Development
136 Hidden Jokes You Probably Missed On "BoJack Horseman" | Bojack  horseman, Horseman, Cartoon cat
Princess Carolyn, agent

Many of the characters are unique and have different backstories and goals for life. I recognized myself in several of the characters. BoJack is a washed-up actor trying to find out what will give him purpose.

Princess Carolyn is focused on her career and longs for a baby. Her desire to be a mother and issues conceiving feel very real. She works with BoJack, which is complicated for several reasons, one is his egoism. She often takes care of other people over herself and after all these years, she still isn’t where she wants in life.

Diane is a passionate writer and wants to help others and make a difference. She is a humanitarian and she wants to do good, but she still hasn’t figured out how her ambitions fit with the soullessness of LA. She is dating Mr. Peanutbutter, whose constant optimism clashes with her dissatisfaction with the world.

Todd is a young guy who is oddly successful with his wacky business ideas until they crash and burn. He crashes at BoJack’s and he is trying to find his place in the world. I’m going to add a minor spoiler here.

A part of Todd’s storyline is his discovery of his sexuality. Todd finds out that he is asexual in the fourth season. Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction to anyone. In a world where romance and sex are rampant, I appreciated how much the writers cared about the storyline. They took an established and lovable character, Todd is so sweet and funny, and showed him figuring out that he is ace. This storyline made me love him all the more. Todd meets other asexual people, and we learn about their asexual experiences too. Todd is a great character and represents a group of people (1% of the population) rarely seen on screen.

Overall, everyone is on a unique path to understanding themselves and the world better. Everyone in BoJack Horseman is grappling with life dissatisfaction at the beginning of the series. Everyone is shaped and drawn to certain behaviors for better or worse, but they all have to figure out how to live in this world. Every person or animal must grapple with cycles of bad habits and character flaws as they try to create meaning for their lives.

Their parents and past shows shaped their current selves. How does someone develop and find peace after leaving behind an unhealthy childhood? Most of the characters are stuck in their careers and lifestyles. But does that mean that they are successful and happy? What does it mean to be a success, anyway? And where do we go next if our choices aren’t making us happy? What does happiness mean for us? How do we get there?

Every character has a unique set of passions, goals, and personalities. The road to happiness is not a straight drive, and I root for all of them along the way.

2. Mental Health Representation, Depression, Alcoholism, and Abusive Childhoods

Bojack and Todd Vibing in Bojack’s Mansion

There is not much accurate representation on TV for any of these experiences. Recently, mental health awareness has become more popular and widespread. Representation in media helps people with these experiences feel seen and helps educate others about people who suffer from depression, anxiety, Bipolar disorder, or other mental health issues. BoJack Horseman shows the day-to-day life of a person experiencing depression. Season 4, Episode 6, “Stupid Piece of Sh*t”, is celebrated for portraying the inner monologue of someone dealing with depression and alcoholism. “The Face of Depression” and “Good Damage” give an inside look into depression from another perspective and capture the feelings some people with depression experience. Both characters struggle with depression but they both experience, process, and deal with the symptoms differently. 

Bojack Horseman shows how childhood abuse affects self-worth. Get prepared for flashbacks! And bring the tissues and the tomatoes. I disliked quite a few people in the show. I would not boo them off stage, but I want to. I also want to keep watching. The people in this show are sometimes the worst. Most come from complicated lives and have reasons for why they are the way they are. 

3. It is honest

Princess Carolyn and Bojack

Bojack Horseman shows that life is hard; Wacksberg never shies away from critiquing Hollywood, the deep flaws within our culture, and the tragedies that befall people who become famous at a young age. If you heard about the cast of Full House or the case of Britney Spears, famous people are often treated like dirt, by their audiences, by each other, and by the industry itself.

I found myself understanding and empathizing with many characters even though I never experienced fame myself. Everyone in Bojack Horseman is flawed and human. They also have moments where they are funny, kind-hearted, and creative. Shows like the Simpsons and other sitcoms are funny and sometimes heartwarming, but I can never get invested in them. No one truly changes or grows, and few acknowledge existential angst. They are comfortable, sometimes they complain about the monotony of life, sure, but they don’t question their place in the world. They never desperately long for a change but go about it in the wrong ways.

Full House is good if you want to turn your brain off for a few hours. If you are looking for another Fuller House or Friends to watch, I would not recommend watching Bojack Horseman (except maybe season 1). I love Full House, but when each episode ends, you wonder, that is it? They solved this complex issue in thirty minutes. This character never makes the same mistake again, and if they do, they solve it in another 30 minutes? Bojack realized that in real life, with real human beings, reaching such a satisfying conclusion is impossible.

It is a deep show, man. Bojack asks questions like; what type of person should I be? How do I become a better person? Why do I keep failing? Why are the things that I am doing not making me happy? They all bring me back to reality. Often, at the end of an episode, I would feel sad. There is no grand speech or gesture that makes it happy again. In a typical comedy, characters make stupid and occasionally cruel choices and act dumb, but they never really change. Nor do their mistakes have any consequences after the episode has aired. Every action follows the characters of Bojack Horseman. Just watch the opening credits. Every season and even episode changes.

In life, there is not an easy fix or an easy answer. We make decisions. Then we fall and start over. We do good and then screw it up; we have to decide if we should get up and try again.

Life is not clean-cut and easily understood. Every decision in the world of Bojack leads to repercussions and sometimes permanent damage to their relationships with others. There is no reset button with every episode. We do not just forget that our friend betrayed us. There is forgiveness, but forgiveness does not make everything right or make consequences disappear. We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward where we are. Getting better results requires us to act kinder to ourselves and others right now. Every person keeps going, living with choices they made in the episodes before.

In life, there is no easy fix or an easy answer. We make decisions, we fall and start over, we do good and screw it up and have to decide if we should get up and try again. The characters get stuck in unhealthy patterns and screw up in a world where people only care about fame, power, and individual happiness. The decision to do good is often made alone in a world that does not give a damn. The support from others certainly helps, and it does, but we can not fix other people or their unhealthy patterns. The actions one takes and the consequences are something that every character must understand and learn from themselves.

4. Witty animal puns and jokes

This show is so punny. I need to rewatch it to get all the jokes. Bojack Horseman contains countless animal puns and pop culture references; we are in Hollywood, after all. The animals act like actual animals. Mr. Peanutbutter is a happy-go-lucky golden retriever. He gets excited when guests ring the doorbell, stick his head out the window in the car, and hoards tennis balls. Princess Carolyn says she is not catty, but she keeps a scratching post in her office and always lands on her feet. Pretty much everyone gets an animal pun, so lookout. The artwork, background characters, and regulars are full of puns. Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter bring plenty of wacky hijinks that never cease to amaze me.

Like Tuca and Bertie, the humor is self-aware and witty. Though Bojack is a total jerk, Bojack has a great sense of sarcastic horse humor.

5. It provides understanding into the time we live in

When I first started watching Bojack Horseman, to put it bluntly, I saw a cynical show full of miserable people. The show gets darker after each passing episode, but there are many heartwarming moments. If you are making your way through the show right now, I will tell you it gets better. It also gets worse but in a good way.

But why is it so sad?

I would say that the show causes so much distress and sadness is because of its harsh criticism of our culture, past, and present. There is little that the characters of Bojack can hold onto for comfort. Many characters are alone and struggle to communicate with one another. The resolutions are not the happy talks we expect from Full House. I would also argue that the show refuses to sugarcoat what it believes to be true about reality. Life is not all gloom and doom, but the nature of our existence and state as beings in this world, if we really want to live well, according to the creators, requires us to accept some harsh truths.

Bojack Horseman refutes common beliefs about love, family, death, redemption, and friendship. Whether or not you agree with how the show approaches these topics and others, Bojack Horseman is consistent and seldom shallow. Cue cringy pool joke about the opening credits here.

Bojack Horseman carefully considers the characters and their decisions and what the audience takes away from the show. A question I often ask is, what do the writers think of the characters? They, after all, write every decision that the characters make and have to make them likable or redeemable enough to keep people watching. There are some fantastic meta moments later. They might make you question things, or they may not.

Overall, Bojack Horseman is correctly called the Sad Horse show. It made me laugh out loud, I fell in love with the characters, and it made me (awfully) sad sometimes. I found it to be a pretty accurate representation of our culture and (some of) our generation’s view of the past and the human condition. Life is hard and, this show never shies away from, well, anything. Bojack Horseman is layered and well written. The dialogue hits hard, and characters call each other out on their crap. I love watching people get called out. But it is also sad to watch. I would recommend the show to anyone looking for a new show to watch. If you feel in the mood for a chipper, happy-go-lucky, Disney-like comedy, I would not recommend watching the entirety of Bojack Horseman now. It can be sad. You could always watch a few of the best-rated episodes from IMDB. Time’s Arrow is my favorite episode.

One more thing, if you do give it a watch, a final reminder, DO NOT skip the intro! The intro is a total bop, and the background of the credits changes and gives some hints and Easter eggs.

Have you seen Bojack Horseman or any shows that deal with sad themes; what do you like about it? What are some of your favorite shows? Let me know what you think of this review in the comments below.

Shows

“I Am Not Okay With This” Ended and Here is Why I Will Never Be Okay With That

“I Am Not Okay With This” Ended and Here is Why I Will Never Be Okay With That

Why I Can’t Get Over “I Am Not Okay With This” Ending

As Stranger Things Season 4 rolls around, I find myself missing a good superpower-themed show. I heard about I am Not Okay with This on Netflix a while ago. I didn’t get around to watching it until this November. After watching the first season, I am not okay with this show ending. The show begins with Sydney Novak, Sophia Nills, an unpopular 17-year-old who discovers that she has telekinesis a year after her father’s death. She recently started high school in a Pennsylvania town.

Fun Fact: the show was filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the bowling alley, Baden Bowl, is near the town I grew up in. Surprisingly, there are quite a few shows that take place in Pennsylvania, but I haven’t seen many filmed near me.

Sydney recently moved to live a pretty normal life. She skips football games and hangs out with her best friend and fellow new kid Dina. Syd’s pretty chill with that, she loves spending time with Dina, and the popular kids are huge jerks. She watches her little brother after school. She is also grieving her father’s death and has a difficult relationship with her mother. Her world starts to erupt when her best friend tells her that she is dating the popular football player Brad Lewis. Sydney then starts hanging out with her neighbor Stanley “Stan” Barber.

Sydney’s story is compelling from the start. The show starts with her walking through the streets in a fancy dress covered in blood.

The show is not subtle being a teenager and having a superpower is hard.

I Am Not Okay With This deals with themes like depression and suicide. Also, there is blood. If you put on the first episode, you will see the protagonist covered in blood–that is a warning.

The story stars Sydney Novak, played by Sophia Lillis. Sydney starts the story off pretty snarkily.

Dear diary, go f*** yourself.

Just kidding, I don’t know what to write in this stupid thing.”

This sums up her character pretty well. She is sarcastic and sometimes cynical on the outside. On the inside, she feels alone and has no idea what she is doing–she is not sure how to tell people either. She puts up a bit of a front and, she’s not a jerk. Syd is a grieving teen who is figuring it out just like everyone else. 

She looked familiar, and I found out that she played Beverly Marsh in IT and was not surprised. I, unfortunately, have not seen IT yet, but from what I can tell…she fits the horror/supernatural genre well. Her character experiences a wide range of emotions, and her acting was terrific.

The supporting actors were wonderful as well. I loved Stan–the man has a killer fashion sense and is hilarious. The first awkward interaction between Stan and Sydney cracked me up. They begin as neighbors who make small talk occasionally but never hang out. He awkwardly asks if she wants to hang out and get high and, Syd watches this odd guy with shock, confusion. What is this guy? Because Dina suggested that she also find a date for the homecoming dance, she agrees.

Spoilers Ahead- Warning!

If you dislike seeing (some) spoilers before watching as much as I dislike Brad, I’d suggest reading this post after you watch.

I was into the show from the first scene; it looks awesome. The vibes are immaculate. The whole time, I kept wondering about the origin of Sydney’s powers. After all, she seems to be the only character in this story with them. Her abilities kind of come out of nowhere, and it is great. Her powers come out when she feels overwhelming emotions. Where do they come from? What will happen next? We do not get all the answers, but I felt pretty shocked by what I found out. The ending was pretty satisfying in an incomplete sort of way.

I liked how Syd’s powers were a sort of metaphor for her dealing with depression, anxiety, grief, and figuring out her sexuality. Sydney feels alone, and she’s grieving without many people to support her.

Being a teenager is rough. The show shows us all the worst parts of high school, the ones we’d rather forget, the ones that make us want to curl into a ball and cry. There are bullies, boring classes, and detentions, but friends make it a little easier. It was also nice to see actual teenagers playing high schoolers. The show feels realistic that way.

It is like Stranger Things, but a little more mature and dark. Sydney starts as a loner whose crush and only friend ditches her to hang out with her boyfriend, but by the end of the story–she has a trio and a potential girlfriend on the horizon. It was great to see Syd, Dina, and Stan hanging out. Knowing she has friends to support her as she moves forward with what she knows about herself and her family was great to see.

I loved Stan and his dynamic with Syd. There are not many shows where a guy and girl are just friends, and I liked how things were pretty chill for them. The homecoming scene reminded me of Pretty and Pink a little bit, the lights and the dance, and Molly Ringwald has a similar haircut. Stan reminded me of Ducky a little bit. He is funny, sweet, and an outcast, a perfect friend to mock football games with Syd.

The 1990s and 1980s aesthetics interweave throughout the story–like Stranger Things. Both have a similar premise, but I Am Not Okay with This is darker and more realistic. Stranger Things plays to the nostalgia and the family dynamics go smooth enough. I Am Not Okay With This also jumps straight into the drama and hard feelings about high school. I also liked how the show focuses on a small cast of characters. If the show continued, they could have developed the characters further, and it could have been something special. 

I did like the modern update too. Stan is such a good friend to Sydney. He genuinely cares about her and thinks it is freaking awesome that she has superpowers. Although she is unsure what to make of him, Sydney grows to like Stan as a person and friend. Stan is strange, but he is also unapologetically himself and pretty content with life. Sydney can learn from him in that way. I loved how their friendship continues and goes back to normal even after Sydney says she likes Dina. 

Sydney and Dina

Speaking of romance, her relationship with Dina is so wholesome. Both characters seem like they have their person. A significant other is does not complete you or make your problems go away, but they are loving and supportive and the best person for you. 

Dina helps Syd out of her shell and makes her so happy. Sydney is so closed off, sarcastic, and quiet. Energetic, sweet, and fun-loving Dina seems like a perfect match for Sydney. I like how their relationship builds slowly, but I could have seen less of Brad–the moments where the two of them are together are small but beautiful.

She keeps me laughing, even when I want to melt to the floor.”

I wish the show continued, so we could see them more as a couple and get to know Dina better. On the bright side, Brad pretty much sucked– and I am glad he is gone. He was the worst kind of jock guy on TV and treated women like tissues. He keeps using them and then picks up another one. He has plenty of lovely lines like–when he talks to Syd for the first time,

 Jesus, do you ever smile?” 

The ending was satisfying but also gross and disturbing as it should be.

I read that the writers did not want romance to be the end-all-be-all for the characters. The family relationships are well-developed and dynamic.

Family Relationships

Her mother, Maggie, for instance, has been through hell. She lost her husband and now works a full-time job as a waitress to support her family. Working long hours in customer service is rough, especially if you have coworkers who always call off and make you cover their shifts. It is still disappointing watching her ignore her children’s grief and Sydney’s anger towards her. Her children lost their father too, and they are all struggling. I understand that she is grieving and frustrated. I do. But one line she says made it hard for me to sympathize with her, at least at first. It is the one scene where the two sit on the couch and talk, the one time her mother isn’t running around or off to work. Syd tells her mother: “Sometimes, I feel like the people I love don’t love me back.”

 Syd says this to her mom after a fight with Dina, but it applies to everyone in her life. Sydney is thinking of Dina a little, but she mostly thinks of her mother in this scene. The mother always seems judgemental and seldom seems loving. Her mother criticizes her while constantly needing her support. She never gets anything in return and the fact that Maggie can’t see that hurts. She is a kid seeking reassurance from a parent, desperate to hear that people (she) love her, that she is important. Her mother hits her back with “Well, maybe you’re aiming too high, hon.”

Sometimes, I feel like the people I love don’t love me back.

Well, maybe you’re aiming too high, hon”

Maggie’s words feel like a raw knife in the back. Man, it is brutal out there.

Syd’s mom sucks here, but I don’t think she said this to spite her daughter. She and Syd end up bonding later before the dance. She helps Syd get ready and, she talks about dancing with Syd’s father at a high school dance and feeling like she knew he was the one. Her actual marriage didn’t live up to the fantasy. She mentions how Syd’s Dad wasn’t present even when he was home–he hid in the basement and kept things from his wife. After we hear about her father’s situation at the end, I can’t even imagine what must have been like for both of them. Syd maintained a loving image of her father, which was for the best. Maggie seems like she was going through this all alone and didn’t have anyone to confide in. So they all grieved his death alone.

She feels like the hope in love she felt in high school was aiming too high. Her marriage never measured up to the early parts of her relationship. There were times where she did not feel loved by her husband; I understand her cynicism. She is not completely closed off though. In that last scene with her daughter, Maggie tells Syd about when she went to a dance with Sydney’s father and felt like she just knew that he was the one. She seems hopeful that Sydney will experience a love like that too. Maggie never apologizes for her words earlier, but she is trying to be better, more present. Maggie starts to see that there is hope for her daughter, and her as well, after all.

Netflix's I Am Not Okay With This Cast & Character Guide

Sydney’s younger brother was also a great addition to the cast. He and Sydney have a pretty good relationship. They annoy each other, and he makes weird mac and cheese, but they have each other’s backs. When she hears Richard making fun of her brother, she goes off: 

“Well, let me tell you something. One day, it’s all gonna go downhill, buddy. Your life will be so pathetic, you’ll attend high school reunions because you know what? Nothing else is ever gonna happen for you in your entire life. Yeah, you won’t even have a dog!”

If that isn’t a great roast, I don’t know what is.

The aesthetic is also pretty cool. The show references to its predecessors and includes references and fashion, and I am here for it.

I really liked the last episode, the show builds one conflict the entire series, and the payoff is so satisfying. Will Syd follow the same patterns her father did? Will she break the cycle and use her powers for good? The hooded figure shocked me to the core. I expected Syd to end up alone. He seems pretty helpful, but he could be a secret villain. Both of those sound fantastic. He probably knew her father and holds similar powers and realizes that she needs someone to help her learn to control them. Sydney needs a guide to help with her powers, beyond Stan’s comic books, which are appreciated but not necessarily helpful when you just blew a guy’s head off at homecoming. At least she doesn’t have to process this alone.

Most of the show is Syd slowly realizing her powers. This is a huge event to grapple with clearly, and the stakes jump when someone shows up to help. The balance is pretty good at the beginning too. She gets angry and intense, and then we have teen drama or iconic moments.

The Show’s Portrayal of Theaphy

I have a kind of criticism. The story begins with Syd’s therapist telling her to keep a journal, and her narration is in a journal format. I was kind of surprised that therapy was not very present in Sydney’s story since it began with a therapist. Sydney sees a therapist at her school as she processes her father’s death. But she does not talk to her therapist much except to get the journal. Syd has to deal with her emotions alone so, she lashes out and boom powers. She would have to keep her powers a secret to a therapist unless she chose to tell them. A few recent shows portray characters going to a therapist and benefiting from talking to someone, and this show felt kind of regressive on the topic.

In This is Us and Never Have I Ever the therapists are characters of their own. Both Devi and Randall talk to someone to help process loss and trauma. Sydney’s therapist was pretty bad, but there are bad therapists out there. I guess it feels stereotypical. Syd has a bad therapy experience that says write your feelings down and, it will all be okay. I am going on a side rant, but it is a valid criticism of the show. Plot-wise, I get that she needed to be alone to go full telekinesis mode. Perhaps, they could have developed this more next season. Sydney could have used therapy to help process her father’s death and her emerging powers, even if she did keep them a secret.

Dina and Sydney a Complaint/Critique

I loved this story. The amount of character development and plot was paced well in such a short season. I also loved Stan, he was hilarious. I enjoyed all his scenes. I was disappointed that Sydney and Dina didn’t have more scenes together. We get to know Stanley Barber more than the girl Sydney is in love with, and I wish it could have been different. I guess I just wanted to see more of them. The scenes we saw were great, so showing her more would have made it better.

I wish Stan would have not had a crush on Sydney either. I loved his character and I wish he could have happiness at the end, whether he meets a new love interest or is happy another way– I wanted more. The cliche where the guy likes his best friend and she doesn’t like him back feels a little cliche. Haven’t we seen enough Ducky and Andies and Steve and Robins to last a lifetime? I didn’t mind this too much, and it made sense to the plot so this is a relatively minor complaint. It can be realistic, for sure. But just generally, close male and female friendships without romantic feelings would be great to see.

Overall Thoughts

 I Am Not Okay With This has a promising first season to what could have been a fantastic supernatural show. The ending has so many unanswered questions; there are so many ways this story could go next. How many other people have powers? Who was the hooded figure on the roof? Why do Sydney’s powers only come from anger and anxiety? Is getting revenge on people who do wrong ex: Brad, using her powers morally okay? There are so many ways this story could go.

I wanted to hear more about Sydney’s father and his life and how he discovered his powers. I wanted a happy ending for Sydney, Dina, and Stan, and it was, but there were so many unanswered questions. Diana and Sydney just started talking about their relationship. They had such potential to grow as a couple and Dina was hilarious. Where did her positive attitude come from, when did Sydney and her meet for the first time? Did Sydney like her right away? They could have been so good together.

I wanted to hear more Stanley Barber lines too, and maybe for him to find happiness–whether that be in a romantic relationship or whatever. So many of Sydney’s problems are left in the open. Like, how does she even process what happens next? The end was okay, I guess. I am not okay with how it just left me on a cliffhanger. I’m not okay that these characters’ lives are on a permanent hiatus and I will never know what happens to them. We’ll never know if that stranger was there to help and where Sydney goes moving forward. The portrayal of her mental health struggles was well done, and her performance felt real in a way I haven’t seen in too many shows like this. Another season where Sydney is processing through these events with the support of others could help many teens feel seen. Seeing her get out of a place of isolation and anger could have been an uplifting story.

I am disappointed yet again that Netflix canceled a great show. Although it was short, I enjoyed the first season and watched it all in one day. I recommend I Am Not Okay With This to anyone who loves the 80s and 90s aesthetic, dark comedy, family drama, and superhero stories. It’s a good show to watch on a break or in a day because it is so short. It flies by, but you will not regret watching. I am Not Okay with This takes place in the same universe as End of the F***** world, which could also be cool to check out if you are left wanting more. I’m watching it right now, and the humor is similar and dark. The review for season one might come out at some point.

Shows

Absurdity, Anxiety, and Friendship in Tuca and Bertie

Dirt: Imagineering architecture in Tuca & Bertie and My Favorite Shapes -  by Dirt - Dirt

A spoiler-free review of Tuca and Bertie Season One

If I were to describe the last 2 years, or maybe even the last 5 years in one word, I might go with surreal. Often life just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know why things happen the way they do. A worldwide pandemic is an event that only a movie like Contagion or the Simpsons could predict, and we’re still grappling with all this uncertainty.

Life can just be weird and events sometimes don’t make sense; I often wonder where I fit into it all, but nevertheless, here I am, embracing the absurd parts. Of course, other times, I get so wrapped up in habit and routine that life feels boring and predictable. I want silliness, oddness, and just to laugh again.

From snake busses, purple jaguars, careless plant teenagers, to bouncing boobs on buildings, Tuca and Bertie is a goofy show. If you’ve ever felt a craving for some more oddity, with some adult content, or if you’re just looking for a well-written animated sitcom, Netflix and Adult Swim have something for you.

Tuca and Bertie takes place in a world way more surreal than ours, it’s with a catchy theme song that juxtaposes their names. Tuca and Bertie are zany and bold as they wave their arms wildly to a catchy bop. Their theme song slaps, there, I said it. They’re both dancing around and doing their thing as they navigate the fun, stressful, and just plain absurd parts of life together.

The theme song is really fun, but to tell you the truth, the show gets dark. It’s not too sad, and it’s so good, I promise.

I discovered Tuca and Bertie partially by surprise. I had just completed the last episode of Bojack Horseman and felt completely wrecked. I’ll have more thoughts on this in other reviews, but basically, I simultaneously felt like I both never wanted to see anything that could make me feel things again and to dive into a new show to help me get over Bojack Horseman. I kind of wanted more Bojack too. Netflix kindly displayed a new program that seemed perfect. Tuca and Bertie were written and produced by Lisa Hanawalt, the animator of Bojack Horseman.

I found Tuca and Bertie more fun than Bojack, it deals with difficult topics at times, but Hanawalt’s show is nowhere near as bleak. Their world is bright and colorful and though Tuca and Bertie are so zany, their lives feel grounded and accessible. For me, it’s partially because the show is written from a female perspective. In adult cartoons and television generally, there aren’t a lot of narratives like Tuca and Bertie.

Creator Lisa Hanawalt said in an interview:

“I wasn’t consciously thinking, “How do I make this more relatable to women?” I was just writing stories from my own life, stories from my friends’ lives and things that I specifically haven’t seen in adult animation before. Like, that feeling when a plumber is in your apartment and you don’t know if he’s going to attack you or not. That’s really common for women.”

Lisa Hanawalt

Tuca and Bertie isn’t a tale of the lives of Hollywood celebrities, they’re real people, well, birds, learning about themselves and their place in the world. In comparison with characters from a lot of adult animation shows, the characters in Tuca and Bertie seem pretty put together on the surface.

Typical of TV best friends, Tuca and Bertie are classic polar opposites. Tuca, played by Tiffany Haddish is fun, free-spirited, resourceful. She’s “friend, hero, connoisseur of snacks, confident but relatable, wearer of short shorts.” She sounds like the cool girl that I’d want to be friends with but would be a bit intimidated to approach her. But once that first conversation started, by her making a snarky comment and me bursting out into uncontrollable laughter, we would know this friendship was going to be one for the long haul.

Once a Tuca is in your life, she and all her belongings become utterly intertwined with your apartment and your heart. Tuca is confident and kind, and as you get to know her, you see she’s got insecurities as well. Tuca begins the show as a recovering alcoholic and fears being alone. She’s given a lot of depth and even if you’ve never been the life of the party, you’ll feel for her as the show goes on.

Bertie, voiced by Ali Wong, is the total opposite, she’s a total introvert who admires Tuca’s ease with talking to people. She’s equally awesome. She’s introduced as a “professional amateur chef, people pleaser, fuss bucket”, which sounds like she could be a little stuffy, but early on, we learn that Bertie’s behaviors stem from her anxiety. Bertie’s kind of living the dream that many of us crave in our twenties, she’s got a nice apartment with a supportive partner, an awesome best friend, and a job as a senior operations analyst for a magazine.

Tuca e Bertie: perché è molto più di una commedia sull ...

That being said, Bertie’s anxiety often dominates her life. Television is just beginning to show characters with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and Bertie is one of the few characters that portray anxiety well. She is hardworking and passionate, but her thoughts can spiral, and she makes mistakes and feels isolated and alone at times. She’s also super kind, a total introvert, and a lover of romantic period dramas– I can totally relate to that last part, I could rewatch BBC’s Prude and Prejudice all day, and some of her experiences with anxiety as well.

I’ll say it now, Hanawalt is fantastic at writing self-aware humor. Hanawalt makes jokes in scenes portraying Bertie’s anxiety without mocking or discrediting the character’s or anyone else’s experiences. Bertie is totally hilarious, and the show mocks anxiety itself, because it makes no sense at times. Anxiety isn’t an overreaction or done for attention, in fact, these feelings are often the last way an anxious person wants to feel, but here they are right in the middle of the work, a date, or the grocery store. Luckily, she has friends to be there during the worst moments.

Tuca, Bertie, and Bertie’s lovable boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yuen), have a fun and complex dynamic together. Friendship is weird sometimes, especially as we grow up, relationships shift in some ways and stay the same in others. We put value into our relationships with others while juggling life, work, and for some, romantic relationships that also require our energy and time. Friendship isn’t always dancing and rainbows and the show digs into the complexities of our relationships with one another, the role of a friend, and all the uncertainty and stress we experience as we figure out what we mean to each other.

The background is totally wack, the jokes are unapologetically bawdy at times, but it never felt gross or offensive. The style is fun and Hanawalt uses the drawing style to show some side commentary on the characters and effects.

Needless to say, Tuca and Bertie is a great show that explores complex and dark themes with care and humor. It made me laugh and grow to care for these two silly birds. On days when things felt totally surreal, I’d watch this show and feel a little less alone.

I’d recommend Tuca and Bertie to anyone who doesn’t mind adult humor. The show also references to anxiety, sexual assault, and harassment.

If you’re curious about learning more about the show’s creator Lisa Hanawalt and her perspective writing the show, I found an interview of hers on the first season

About me

The Perusing Muse is a site where I look to culture as a means of understanding life and analyze what it says about living a meaningful one. In less overly philosophical mission terms, I analyze shows, books, movies, and comics that I like and talk about why I love them so much.