We watched Encanto together over Scener this January. Disney movies lately haven’t been great, but this one had great reviews, so we decided to check it out. This was a good decision. Encanto has stunning animation, a great soundtrack, well developed and likable characters, and portrays Columbian culture with accuracy. The writers also weren’t afraid to dive into serious issues like the effect of generational trauma. Encanto is available to watch on Disney+.
The story of the Madrigal family began when Abuela Alma and Abuelo Pedro were forced to leave their homes due to violence in their area. The conflict depicted in the film is likely based on the Thousand Days War in Columbia. Pedro sacrifices his life to save Alma and their triplets. A miracle manifested in a magical candle that builds them a gorgeous house and all her children and grandchildren–except Mirabel–are given magical powers. Their powers provide for the town around them and Alma puts pressure on the kids to use their powers to take care of everyone.
Abuela lost her husband to violence, and then this magic candle granted her family magical powers. They don’t know how the candle became magic, but they do know their powers can provide for the entire town. The town flourishes with Luisa’s strength, Pepa’s weather controlling abilities, Julieta’s healing, Dolores’ hearing, and Isabela’s beautiful flowers that decorate the town. Their powers provide safety and security to their community. Alma believes that through hard work and determination, they can keep this town flourishing. Because the children’s abilities help everyone survive, Alma values her children’s and grandchildren’s powers more than the kids. She holds high expectations because she is afraid of losing everything. The miracle is unknown and she desperately wants to keep the miracle going. Alma insists on perfection and is hard on Mirabel in particular, who didn’t receive magical powers. Alma repeats that her children and grandchildren must “Make your family proud,” but treats their efforts as unsatisfactory no matter how hard they try–especially with Mirabel.
The music from Encanto is fantastic and it is topping the charts. The movie’s songs were composed by Germaine Franco and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Franco said that she read Columbian history, music, and literature to prepare to get inspiration. Both writers are of Latin American descent, and so are all the actors playing the characters. In addition, the songs “Colombia, Mi Encanto” and “Dos Oroguitas” were sung by two of Colombia’s current biggest artists, Carlos Vives and Sebastian Yatra.
We Don’t Talk about Bruno
We Don’t Talk About Bruno was #1 on the music charts, and it is the first Disney movie since Aladdin to do so. Remember when Let it Go was all the rage and felt super popular? Encanto‘s music tops Frozen, and for a good reason. The song begins with Pepa and Felix singing and then the song flashes to Dolores and then Camilo. The story of Bruno’s disappearance is told through the perspective of the Madrigal family and also the townspeople. People are also talking about Bruno when they say they don’t talk about him. The irony! Then the family gets ready for Mariano to come.
Dolores’ part makes Bruno sound mysterious, and we learn that she does hear Bruno. She says, “I always hear him muttering and mumbling, I associate him with the sound of falling sand.” Dolores clearly knows where Bruno is and can hear him, but the family doesn’t listen. It is also worth noting that sounds like footsteps are louder in Dolores’ part, emphasizing her hearing power.
Bruno is seen through the eyes of the family, and he’s basically a myth to the kids. “Seven foot frame, rats along his back, when he calls your name it all fades to black. Yeah he sees your dreams and feasts on your screams” is obviously exaggeration. The song is a hit, it makes you want to listen again. It also builds mystery about Bruno. The more we hear about Bruno, the more the myth builds and the suspense grows as Mirabel starts to regret bringing him up in the first place.
This song is relatable for many people, especially older siblings and those who feel like they are under a lot of pressure from their family. I love how the donkeys Luisa was carrying are incorporated into the scenes as spectators, dancers, or as part of the weight she has to carry. There are references to Hercules, who fought Cerberus, as well as Atlas, who held the weight of the world on his shoulders. Another familiar reference is one to the Titanic, as she imagines her family not swerving from danger even when they “heard how big the iceberg is.” This sense of impending doom weighs on her a lot. “I’m pretty sure I’m worthless, if I can’t be of service” is a line that hits so hard. People often measure themselves by how much they have accomplished for others, but for Luisa, this amount of service is never enough even if it is constant. I wonder if the donkeys are included because Luisa’s family treats her like some sort of beast of burden–or at least Abuela Alma does. This may not be at the top of the charts like We Don’t Talk About Bruno, but it is still remarkable as an anthem of the stressed.
What Else Can I Do?
Isabela is supposed to be the perfect sibling. Abuela adores her and she has a power to grow gorgeous flowers. One youtuber noted that Abuela actually smiles in the portrait of her and Isabela. She is the golden child, so she has to be perfect. Isabela previously thought that she could only create pretty, perfect flowers. But she lives under her grandmother’s expectations and any deviation from that plan is a failure. She’s also suppressing her emotions other than total joy, “I’m so sick of pretty, I want something true, don’t you?” Isabela creates a cactus and carnivorous plants. She isn’t allowed to be angry, but here she can finally express herself. The line “I wonder how far these roots go down” seems to hint at the family trauma. How far do the roots of their problems lie? But just as Isabella talks about roots, she grows a giant palm tree over the roof of the house. It shows her potential, and Mirabel is amazed at first. She is jealous of her sister because her grandmother favors her the most, but really, she feels trapped under the weight of her expectations. She realizes that imperfect things are even more beautiful. Her powers are also fun when she doesn’t have to be perfect. Isabela discovers the joy of creating, of using her powers for her and for the first time, she can escape those expectations and truly live in the moment. With her powers growing so much, perhaps she could change the world.
The animation in this film is colorful. Everything is incredibly detailed and just gorgeous. It brings you into the magical world of the Madrigal family and the audience shares Mirabel’s excitement and wonder.
There are representations of the character’s powers on each of their clothes.
Bruno has an hourglass pattern that represents his ability to see the future.
Camilo has chameleons on his clothes that represent his ability to shapeshift.
There are sound waves for Dolores, representing her ability to hear well.
Louisa has barbells representing her strength.
Mirabel has representations of all her family members embroidered on her dress. A chameleon for Camilo, animals for Antonio, flowers for Isabela, weights for Luisa, a sun for Pepa, etc. Butterflies on her dress connect her to the candle and Abuela Alma also has them on her dress.
The line “Coffee is for grownups” isn’t accurate. Colombian coffee is super popular, and it is pretty common for kids to drink coffee there. Although the coffee the children drink is weaker, they still frequently drink coffee.
The film was partially inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude. In that book, a village is secluded from the rest of the world and gradually gets more contact with the outside. The family home sometimes behaves in mysterious ways. The book is about the downfall of a family. These are all aspects that One Hundred Years of Solitude has in common with Encanto.
Every time Pepa had storm clouds above her on numerous occasions. Abuela Alma was always telling her that they were there, as if she didn’t know. It’s frustrating, kind of like when someone just says to relax to someone who is chronically stressed–not only is it annoying, it is also ignorant. The first time Pepa had a storm cloud above her head and Abuela did not scold her was at the end.
Pepa and her husband Félix are really cute together. Their relationship is sweet, and this was especially evident during the song We Don’t Talk About Bruno, where Félix played a supporting role to Pepa’s part. Their son Camilo is really nice to Pepa–he brought her a drink and tried to comfort her.
One parallel in the film is how Mirabel holds Antonio’s hand as he approaches his door in the beginning, and Antonio holds her hand to approach her door at the end.
Note: About Time is rated R and contains swearing and sexual content/partial nudity.
On the day after Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d write about a love story that I watched recently, but not necessarily a traditional romance. It could be called a love story between a man and Charles Dickens novels, and I’m only exaggerating a little bit.
Have you ever wanted to time travel? I wish for time travel several times a week. I wish I could go back and undo some moments and particularly the socially awkward moments. I’m not sure I would undo anything major, after all, I wouldn’t want to mess with the space-time continuum or anything. Stories like this always seem to contain a major error on someone’s part.
Out of all the time travel stories I’ve heard, they usually consist of a character who messes up and undoes everything because time travel is bad. Time travel once and you will mess up the entire universe. Saving your friend from an early death will wage war with Russia. Blowing on one extra dandelion turns the world on its head. We get it, we get it, it’s a huge risk. You can’t undo that time you told the waiter to enjoy their meal too, or the time you slipped on ice and bruised your knee.
I’m currently undecided whether or not I agree that small events can change the world in such big ways–such a decision might require me to read more time-travel stores–but it is nice to see a story that isn’t so dramatic. About Time, compared to Stephen King’s 1776 for example, was a refreshing and beautiful story of a young man who learns he can travel back in time. This movie wasn’t exactly what I expected in a good way, and I was pleasantly surprised with this one.
About Time begins with the protagonist, twenty-one-year-old Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), who is awkwardly hanging out at his family’s New Year’s Eve party. Like all awkward introverted people, this party isn’t as romantic as he hopes–he fails to kiss a girl at midnight and bumps her head while everyone else seals a smooch with someone. Sounds painful for a few reasons. Luckily for Tim, he doesn’t have to live with that moment ingrained in his mind forever.
That’s right. We’re about to time travel. The next day, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells him that all the men in his family have the ability to travel back–but not forward–in time. He has no idea why they can do this, but he does know that this is amazing. To time travel, all Tim has to do is stand in a dark room and make two fists. He doesn’t have to worry about being stuck in the past either; Tim can also easily travel back to real time afterward by doing the same thing.
So, what do all these men do with time travel? Well, his father says that he reads every single book he can. He is a huge Dickens fan and he reads and rereads Charles Dickens novels during his free time. Not a bad way to spend your time. I just want to say that I love his father. Having all the time in the world to read and reread books sounds like a dream; it is a pretty harmless way to use time travel yet it is brilliant. His father also has an impressive bookshelf, and he’s just a cool dude overall. I’m not sure if he is a professor or anything–but if he was, that skill would be super useful.
There are so many possibilities and I wonder if Tim even realizes how much potential time travel has for like simple stuff. He could spend the day relaxing and then go back in time and work all day. We learn later that Tim becomes a lawyer. Time Travel would be fantastic help while studying law law school. He could practically memorize all the laws and wouldn’t even miss any time studying. He could spend infinite hours growing familiarity with the material. In real time, he could hang out with friends at a pub or something. We don’t hear anything about Tim’s time in law school, but showing this could be pretty cool. I wouldn’t say it is a missed opportunity though given Tim’s goals and the story’s message. When he hears about time travel, Tim is super excited and a little overwhelmed, and he asks for his dad’s advice.
Tim’s father tells him that he should use his powers to do what he finds most important. And what Tim wants most of all is to meet the woman of his dreams and fall in love. This takes about five seconds, well, actually it happens more like six months later. We go through a time jump.
When his sister’s friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie) comes to stay with his family for two months of the summer, Tim instantly falls for her. He is too shy to reveal his feelings until the last day. She tells him that he should have said something earlier. Of course, he realizes that he doesn’t have to miss his chance. Tim can go back in time, do things right, have a great summer romance–if Charlotte has feelings for him too. Of course, life doesn’t always work out how we like.
Tim leaves the roaring hills and outdoors for the city. He wants to go into corporate life, he becomes a lawyer, and he lives with a family friend who wants to be an actor. He also meets another girl, Mary. Tim really likes Mary and he wants to do everything right–which of course might require a little time travel. The movie starts to get dramatic. It gets even more interesting when he sees Charlotte in the city and she is interested in him.
If you look at the movie cover, About Time looks like a typical love story, and it is a love story. But it doesn’t waste time with a ton of will-they-won’t-they drama. The creators let time pass and they don’t keep the protagonist stuck in his singlehood. Even though he can time travel, Tim doesn’t stay twenty-one forever. Aging is a natural part of life. This makes the story feels realistic and grounded, even with the supernatural parts. It feels like an ordinary supernaturalism.
About Time is also isn’t great because it’s a story about a couple falling in love. It is a story of the love between a father and son. His relationship with his father stuck out the most, the way they cared for each other, the way they made time for each other. Tim doesn’t ever go away and not think of home. He cares about his sister, Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) a ton. He also loves his grandparents and his best friend.
The scenery is also very beautiful. Tim’s family lives by the lake and it is absolutely stunning. We get scenes of him and his father walking on the beach and we also get scenes of Tim with his love interest in a city apartment. We get the best of both worlds.
I liked how this story presented choices. Even a world with time travel requires Tim to make choices, and each choice has consequences. Some choices don’t have major consequences or have an exact direct correlation, but sometimes they do. One little decision can make everything different, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, we end up in the same place either way.
The story also shows how we can’t make decisions for others or choose their story. Our actions can affect them, but we are ultimately responsible for our own decisions. We can only control the choices that we make. We can help others. We can support them and spend time with them. We can’t really fix their mistakes for them. We can’t, and aren’t supposed to, save other people from their decisions or change everything for them. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t help or provide a voice of reason when someone needs to hear it. But sometimes the best way to help in hard times is just to be there for someone. We see this with Tim’s family. Tim has a big heart and wants to help them, but it doesn’t always go the way he imagines.
I liked how the story felt so ordinary. This isn’t a tale of super-talented celebrities with powers, it is about a normal guy who finds out he and his dad have an ability no one else does. He just wants to enjoy life, find love, spend time with people he cares about, and learns that with great power comes great responsibility. The movie is also pretty funny. Tim is pretty socially awkward and time travel just makes things even more awkward.
Tim’s love story was very sweet. He and his love interest had great chemistry and they just fit together. I won’t say too much about the romance to avoid spoilers, but it was really sweet and genuine. The life the build together is beautiful to watch. All of the characters just had great chemistry with each other. It felt like they were really family, friends, and couples. The the music and filming of this movie make it so beautiful. The scenes were stunning and I was just blown away how much the directors, producers, and actors put into this film. The storytelling is just amazing.
It is lovely, tragic, and memorable. Even with time travel, we cannot escape time. We have to make and accept our choices and realize that to spend our time on one thing is to disregard another. In college, I’ve heard a lot about this. The story begins with Tim at twenty-one, and the world feels full of choice and hope for the future, but after that, the choices start to narrow and also open as he grows up. Each part of adulthood provides more certainty and beauty. Tim falls in love with the life that he created, and it is truly beautiful. But of course, the story deals with real life on this earth.
We don’t live forever either. Our lives are short, and we have to decide, like Tim’s father says, what is most important to us. While we have limited time, we should appreciate the time we do have and the people in it. It is a movie that makes you want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in your life.
This movie might make you cry– it made me tear up a bit. I liked how About Time focused a little, but not too much on decision-making and Tim’s time traveling to change things. We change what we can and accept the decisions that we’ve made. Then we make the best of them and find the beauty in the little moments, in the everyday. We also never should give up, even when we mess up. With or without time travel, it is also never too late to move forward and make better decisions.
But this isn’t a huge focus of the story. After all, making choices and preventing mistakes isn’t the whole of life. Life is living with our choices, with where we are in time. For instance, we see Tim working at the law firm, which feels pretty normal. We see him working with partners in meetings and he doesn’t do any of the romanticized court stuff we usually see on TV. Work is a way to provide for himself and his family and be happy. It is great to find a job that gives you meaning, but work is in no way everything. Tim enjoys being a lawyer, but it is a very small part of the movie because there is more to life. Perhaps the film was a little romanticized. Tim’s life is pretty perfect and amazing. He does have hard times, but his day-to-day life is mostly great.
But, it is still a great movie, and it shows perhaps, humanity at our best. There is a lot we can learn from that; we can learn to hope for a great life for ourselves and for others. Time travel or not, life can be pretty great, especially with great people. I liked how this movie, above all, stressed the necessity of caring for those around us.
About Time is full of people, family and friends, who care about each other and look after each other. Their story–not romance, not time travel itself–is what makes this movie so awesome and beautiful.
Have you seen About Time or other time travel movies? Do you like them? What would you do if you could time travel? Let me know down in the comments below.
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 UsRejects 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.
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.
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!
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.