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TV

Catherine, Ferdinand, and sugared grapes

Last night was the premiere of the second (and unfortunately, last) part of The Spanish Princess.

Even though things went from happy to sad in a split second, the premier was everything I wanted and more. Even the bit with Ferdinand and the grapes.

In the beginning of the episode, Catherine and Harry arrange a feast to celebrate her family’s arrival in England. Her father, Ferdinand, and her nephew, Charles are there to put the finishing touches on their alliance against France.

As soon as Ferdinand shows up, things get awkward – Catherine was probably cringing inside. And it gets worse when Ferdinand presents her with the plate of grapes.

“I bring sugared grapes for you, your favorite. Remember? Take one.”

Catherine absolutely does not take one, because all she can remember is what happened with the grapes during her childhood.

The scene flashes back to when Catherine was younger. She and Ferdinand are sitting at a table with a grape between them. He encourages her to take it, only to slam his hand on the table and snatch it away.

Later in the episode, Catherine learns that Lina is pregnant. When Catherine asks why Lina didn’t tell her before then, Lina says that she didn’t want to bother her. So Catherine asks a question.

“My father … he took the grape. He used to promise me that this time, he’d let me take it. Then he’d do it again … and again. Now again. Have I become like him … so you no longer trust me? Am I so changed that we are no longer friends?”

And Lina responds

“You are better than your father. You show strength, but humility … courage and patience. And you do something your mother and father could not do. You ask questions of others as well as handing them orders. You have a good heart, Catherine. This storm will pass.”

I know what Catherine is feeling. I know what it is to hope your parents have changed, only to realize that they haven’t – and probably never will.

It’s also nice to see Lina reassure Catherine that she isn’t like her father. It’s so weird when people say I’m a nice person. I have a lot of trouble believing it sometimes. At least Catherine has Lina to lean on. I can lean on my friends too, but I’m always wary of talking about things too much because the last thing I want to do is push anyone away.

It definitely sucks, but it’s also kind of cool to be able to relate to Catherine in this way.

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TV

Appreciation for Bran Stark

I liked Bran Stark as soon as I started reading A Game of Thrones, but the personal significance of his character didn’t really hit me until I saw the first episode of Game of Thrones.

The episode ends with Bran’s fall from the tower window. It isn’t clear if Bran understood what he saw, but the Lannisters weren’t about to take any chances. If word got out that Jamie and Cersei Lannister were having incestuous relations, it would change everything.

Bran’s fall leaves him without the use of his legs, which sort of puts us in the same boat. The only difference between Bran and myself is that I have the use of my legs – with the help of equipment, of course.

At first, Bran is mad at the world, as anyone would be. Sometimes, I find myself thinking “Why me?” too. But he eventually accepts his condition, and House Stark makes it work for him. And it actually starts with Tyrion Lannister, of all people. On his journey back to King’s Landing from the Wall, Tyrion stops with the Night’s Watch at Winterfell. He sketches a modified saddle for Bran and tells him to give the design to his saddler.

And that really makes me want to get back on a horse again. I stopped riding horses when I started college, and honestly, I miss it. If Bran can ride, then I’ve got no excuses. Someday I’ll ride again.

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TV

Too Much Streaming

I recently read an article from the Los Angeles Times about Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. Believe me, it’s enticing, but do we really need another steaming service when we already have so many?

I’m not saying one should have a monopoly or people shouldn’t have choices, but does one person really need to have all the streaming services? At the end of the day, it’s another TV bill. Who wants that?

For now, streaming seems to be a cheaper alternative to cable or satellite. But the separate bills for the different services will add up quickly, if they aren’t already. Netflix and Hulu produce their own content – as will Disney+ – but how many people have time to sit around and watch every show or movie? Not many. It definitely wouldn’t be healthy. And it would probably be boring after awhile anyway.

It would be easy if all anybody had to choose from was a few general services like Netflix or Hulu. The name of the game is making more money, but having Disney shows available exclusively through Disney+ doesn’t seem fair. I mean, its content has been on the other services for so long. Why yank it away now? What if consumers don’t feel like paying another bill? It’s not like Disney is on the verge of bankruptcy and they desperately need the money or anything.

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TV

Appreciation for the Princess

I didn’t think anything could compete with Outlander. But Starz kept suggesting this other show called The Spanish Princess, so I decided to check it out. If the previews were any indication, it was going to be good.

The Spanish Princess nearly blows Outlander out of the water. The waves would definitely make James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser (Sam Heughan) seasick.

It’s got a little bit of everything: romance, drama, and of course, royal politics. It’s basically Henry VIII from the point of view of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Did I mention Catherine is Spanish? It’s probably common knowledge, but it’s very important to me. Because whenever anyone mentions Spanish – or Spain, for that matter – my ears perk all the way up. Part of me wishes they used more Spanish in the show, but the other part of me remembers that Catherine speaks English flawlessly and no one but her squad would be able to understand her. And she’s in England anyway.

There are different ways to view the character, of course. Personally, I err on the side of “Catherine of Aragon is the older sister I never had”. Someone who isn’t afraid to use any means to get what she wants. However, other people seem to think she’s a somewhat self-absorbed trickster. But we can’t exactly go back in time and ask Catherine who she really is, now, can we? It all comes down to the writers’ interpretation of what Philippa Gregory wrote.

And last but definitely not least

I can’t forget Catherine of Aragon herself, Charlotte Hope. She’s definitely one of my new favorite people. And her Spanish accent is spot on. Seriously. The first time I heard her speak normally (spoiler alert: she’s English), it was really trippy. Like, “wait, what?”

But the penultimate episode is what finally compelled me to write a blog post about The Spanish Princess. I was mulling it over after having watched it, and so I took to Twitter as is habit these days:

Yeah, I let the cat out of the bag, and that was her response.

It really means a lot to me. Because while I’ve been lucky to have my favorite journalists notice me (which is always fun and probably won’t ever get old), I’ve never had someone … validate me like this.

Honestly, I’ve always struggled with the strength of my imagination, and whether it’s weird or not to use fictional characters/ famous people to fill the various voids left by my lack of siblings. Obviously, I don’t talk about it much. But it turns out The Spanish Princess herself doesn’t think I’m weird to think of Catherine of Aragon as the older sister I never had. And when the queen of England speaks, you listen. If she says something isn’t weird, it’s not weird.

Charlotte probably takes my sentiment as a compliment. It means she’s doing her job, and she’s doing it well. What is entertainment if actors and actresses don’t make the audience feel things or create characters that people can connect to? Nothing. That’s what.

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TV

Just a karaoke show?

eonline.com

For those who may not know, this is Alejandro Aranda. He was the runner up on this season of American Idol. After the finale last week, The Washington Post published an article about why he didn’t win it all, and they implied that Katy Perry accidentally pointed out the reason why in her comments.

After reading the article, it’s not entirely clear whether Perry’s comments were an accident or a Freudian slip. She simply said that American Idol has traditionally been a “karaoke show”, where the contestants sing covers of popular songs. Alejandro, on the on the other hand, came out swinging with his own music on Day 1.

Since its debut in 2002, the show has evolved to allow contestants to sing original songs. Alejandro obviously took advantage of that. It was a risk for sure, but it will pay off in the long run. He made it to the top 2 in the competition, after all. Now that the audience has seen how far Alejandro made it, it will encourage others to try out for future seasons with their own music and help the show evolve once more.

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TV

Breakdown: A Million Little Things

imdb.com

If it weren’t for Outlander, A Million Little Things would probably take the top spot on my list of favorite TV shows. Is it weird that I even have a list to begin with? Why am I ashamed that I have a list?

Anyway, I actually took a break from the latter for a while because I wasn’t really sure if I would be comfortable with the direction in which it seemed to be going. But the commercials for it sucked me back in, and now I’m fully invested.

I’m going to break down the reasons why I love it so much, because they’re probably somewhat obscure. Here goes nothing.

Friendship

One day, John Dixon (Ron Livingston), Gary Mendez (James Roday), Rome Howard (Romany Malco), and Eddie Saville (David Giuntoli) get trapped together in an elevator. So what do they do? They sit down on the floor and get to know each other. It’s the Muggle version of how Harry, Ron, and Hermione become friends:

There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

So the guys and their wives (well, Gary and his girlfriend) quickly become the ride-or-die type of friends who will do anything for each other. Gary even goes so far as to drop whatever he is doing at the moment to help one of the others out.

I don’t have a lot of friends. Never have, probably never will. And I’m okay with that; quality over quantity, after all. But sometimes I find myself wondering about the ride-or-die part. I’m definitely Gary. If I’m able to, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to help one of my friends. But would my friends do the same for me?

Don’t get me wrong, I found some good friends in college, but everywhere I go, I seem to run into people who seem to be nice to me just because I have cerebral palsy and I use a wheelchair to get around. And that’s the thing I hate the most. I’m more than just a disability, and it’s not something about me that should define me. If someone is going to be my friend, I want the relationship to be reciprocal.

Mental Health

In Episode 9, “Perspective”, Rome finally opens up to his father about his depression while they’re fixing one of the sinks in Rome’s bathroom. His father is somewhat unnerved by the fact that Rome is on anti-depressants. Mental health is one of the most stigmatized things ever, and it’s ridiculous if you ask me, but I digress. Rome explains his situation to his father like this:

You want to teach me how to fix the sink, but me, taking those pills, quitting my job, that’s me trying to fix me.

It really resonated with me, because I’m also trying to “fix me”. I’m trying to lean into the things that make me happy without feeling ashamed about it. I’m getting better, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

Family Dynamics and Amicable Divorce

In the penultimate episode of Season 1 (Episode 16, “The Rosary”), Eddie’s ex-wife, Katherine (Grace Park) chaperones their son, Theo, on a school field trip. Theo has a bit of an attitude because he’s used to Eddie being there for him. Eddie was a stay-at-home dad until he decided to rejoin his band, The Red Ferns.

Anyway, when Katherine and Theo get home, Theo lets her have it, with “just so you know, you did a bad job today” and “I knew it should’ve been Dad”. However, Katherine doesn’t respond by getting mad. She calmly explains to her son that she understands he’s in a bad mood, and she’s sorry, but it’s not okay to talk to her like that.

And Theo actually asked for a consequence. When I got in trouble, I knew I was going to have a consequence, but I didn’t ask for one. Theo’s self-awareness seems a bit unrealistic.

On another weird note, during Theo’s field trip, Katherine hears one off Eddie songs, and she calls him because she thinks it’s really cool and she’s excited. I can’t say I understand it; people can still be friends after a divorce? How? I guess some people are better off as friends. It was really nice to see that everyone hates their ex-husband or their ex-wife.

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TV

Subtitles

image: lightbox.co.nz

I’ve been watching Future Man on Hulu recently – hence the photo – and because I’m a nerd (and trying to be proud of it), I turned on the Spanish subtitles. It’s also a way to ease myself back into Spanish.

It’s really cool to see how certain words are translated into Spanish. Sometimes, they’ll use a phrase instead of just one word. Because realistically, not everything has an English equivalent; translation is never going to be exact, and that’s okay.

But I also have a bit of a problem. Either I’m too busy focusing on the subtitles to pay attention to the action, or vice versa. I wish I could focus on both at once. But is that even possible?

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TV

Thoughts on Outlander’s accuracy

image: youtube.com

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this article about Outlander. I know I said before that I was somewhat disappointed in this season because they changed some of the little things that I’d been looking forward to, but all in all, I’m actually quite satisfied with the television adaptation.

The accuracy actually makes it more fun for me, because I get to see the major storylines – including some of my favorite parts – come to life. And I know it’s going to be good, because all of the actors are amazing.

I may be picky about some things, but overall, I trust the writers because they consult Diana Gabaldon – she’s literally the first person in the end credits, which means they care about getting it right. And I don’t think Diana would let them get away with too many changes. If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

The best changes that they’ve made are the ones that blend in with the storyline so well that it’s not obvious they’ve changed anything. And if I find out that the writers did in fact change something, I don’t even care because it was so much fun to watch.

Blowing things out of proportion much?

This article, on the other hand, is a bit ridiculous. Yes, I noticed that Jamie wasn’t holding his grandson in the season finale. But is it really that much of a disappointment for some people? Honestly, I couldn’t have cared less.

Is “Why didn’t Jamie hold his grandson?” really something worth writing an entire article about? It kind of seems like the writer was grasping at straws to find a topic because they needed to meet a deadline.

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TV

Tripping the light fantastic

image: tracking-board.com

I was watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the other day, when I noticed something. In the episode I was watching, the Maisel family is on vacation in the Catskills, and Moishe asks his wife, Shirley, to dance with him. He says

Shirley Maisel, it’s time to trip the light fantastic, you big winner.

Which, of course, reminded me of this scene from Mary Poppins Returns:

So, I looked up the phrase to find out its significance. Actually, my mom initially looked up, if we’re going to get technical. This is what we found:

To “trip the light fantastic” is to dance nimbly or lightly, or to move in a pattern to musical accompaniment. It is often used in a humorous vein. As early as 1908, it was viewed as a cliché or hackneyed phrase

Wikipedia

I know, I know. It’s from Wikipedia. But at least it provides a basic definition of the phrase.

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TV

Outlander has a Brianna problem?

image: tvline.com

I was going through my saved articles on Google the other day, when I came across this one. I definitely see where the author is coming from, but I don’t agree with everything, and their argument is confusing at times. I’m going to try and make sense of it here.

Let’s rewind to the beginning of this season for a bit. The only reason Brianna went through the stones at all was because she missed her mother. And I mean, who wouldn’t miss Claire? She’s just the right balance of maternal and practically fearless. Brianna probably wasn’t thinking about what living in the past would entail. She was listening to her gut feelings. So when she arrives in the eighteen century, she’s almost totally out of her element. Which is why I have a problem with this:

As I feared, Outlander doesn’t really engage much with Brianna’s cognitive dissonance of suddenly living on a plantation, surrounded by slaves. Much like the show often does with Jamie and Claire, she’s written in a way that attempts to absolve her of any accountability. 

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, AV/TV Club

Brianna is just trying to learn how to live life in the 1800s, and all she really wants is for Roger to come back to her – not to mention she probably regrets what was said during their brief first fight as a married couple, because at the end of the day, she still loves him.

So, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Brianna to examine the conscience of the white man and regret what has happened in history. And anyway, the show obviously wants to focus on Brianna and Roger’s relationship because 1) it’s a really good storyline and 2) Brianna and Roger are basically #relationshipgoals.

And I’m sorry, what’s this about Claire being “written in away that absolves her of accountability.”? If anything, Claire is very aware of history, and perhaps unlike Brianna, she’s never afraid to speak her mind. She literally tells Jamie that she can’t own slaves. And obviously, Jamie listens because he knows that his wife knows what she’s talking about (she’s from the future, for crying out loud), and owning slaves doesn’t exactly sit right with him either once Claire gives him a piece of her mind.

Frank wasn’t exactly a saint …

At the bottom of the article, almost as an afterthought, there was a bit about Frank:

I love when the show shouts out how good Frank was, because if we’re being honest, Frank was a really, really good guy! He handled his wife longing for someone she met while time traveling incredibly well!

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, AV/TV Club

Don’t get me wrong, Frank really loved Brianna, and that was nice. In the books, their relationship is adorable. It’s only natural that Brianna wouldn’t know how to feel about Jamie at first. But that’s as far as Frank’s relationship with Claire went. If I remember correctly, when Claire came back after going through the stones the first time, her made her burn all of her eighteenth century clothing. He wanted her to completely forget about Jamie. Obviously, she couldn’t do that, and he was jealous. I’m not saying Frank had no right to be jealous, but he could take a page from Edward Cullen’s playbook.

In The Twilight Saga:  Eclipse, Bella kisses Jacob before the battle so that he doesn’t go into it with hurt feelings because she’s going to marry Edward. Edward heard Jacob’s thoughts, of course. When Bella says “I don’t know what happened,” Edward tells her “I do; you love him.”

Maybe if Frank were able to understand that Claire also loved Jamie instead of expecting her to forget about him, they could’ve at least coexisted better.

How do you like them apples, AV/TV Club?