You Should Watch Arcane if You Don’t Already

You Should Watch Arcane if You Don’t Already

A spoiler-free review 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books, Uncategorized

Why You Should Read I’m Glad My Mom Died

Trigger Warning: mentions of eating disorders and child abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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