Review: Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters is awesome. Don’t let anybody rain on your Ghostbusters parade. It’s hilarious. The special effects are excellent. The dialog is ridiculous. The actors are wonderful. It’s awesome.  Continue reading “Review: Ghostbusters”

Some Thoughts on Season 3 of The Fosters

The Fosters ended season 3 on several cliffhangers. It was a season filled with stupid moves by teenagers. The Adams-Foster clan has plenty of teens to go around. Beware the spoilers if you haven’t watched the entire season yet. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Season 3 of The Fosters”

Brain Dump: Stalker, State of Affairs, Madam Secretary, The Fosters, Switched at Birth

A brain dump is little bits of this and that. Excess baggage from my brain. If you have thoughts on anything I mention, please feel free to dump your brain in the comments.

Stalker

Maggie Q in Stalker
Maggie Q in Stalker

I’m happy to see that Stalker continues to mix it up between male and female stalkers and male and female victims. Beth Davis (Maggie Q) is finally going to open up about her own stalker and her own past. This aspect of the show gives Maggie Q a chance to show off some expanded acting skills, too.

State of Affairs and Madam Secretary

Katherine Heigl in State of Affairs and Téa Leoni in Madam Secretary
Katherine Heigl in State of Affairs and Téa Leoni in Madam Secretary

Wow! These two women – Charleston Tucker (Katherine Heigl) and Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) – can work miracles. They can do anything that needs doing anywhere in the world. What I’m saying is the plot lines in these shows are a little grandiose. Come on writers, you know plausibility is a virtue in a plot. However, I’m loving the characters. I’m still waiting for Alfre Woodard to get her name dropped during the promos, but I’m happy her role puts her in so many scenes.

What I’m liking about the female characters in Stalker, State of Affairs and Madam Secretary is that they are strong and powerful, but also completely female.

The Fosters Christmas Special

Sherri Saum as Lena Adams in The Fosters
Sherri Saum as Lena Adams in The Fosters

The Fosters Christmas special is available early if you watch using the ABC Family app instead of waiting for the show to air on network TV. I have to say it made a complete mess of me because I cried all the way through. I cried because Lena (Sherri Saum) and Stef (Teri Polo) were fighting, I cried about the wonderful way that Lena talked to Jude (Hayden Byerly) about being a half sibling. I cried when Stef got so mad at her mom (Annie Potts). I cried when Stef’s mom gave the kids college money for Christmas. All that crying made me very happy. Everything about The Fosters makes me happy. “Thank you for the tears I’ve cried.”

Switched at Birth Christmas Special

Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano in Switched at Birth
Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano in Switched at Birth

This show is also available early using the ABC Family app.

Switched at Birth pulled a Christmas miracle switch. Bay (Vanessa Marano) and Daphne (Katie Leclerc) were switched back to their right parents. Everything was different and wrong and a mess, but Bay and Daphne knew it. Of course, they switch it back to being with the wrong parents. A tired plot, but I love this show. Switching characters gives everyone a chance to make their persona completely different, which is entertaining for me. It reminds me that these people are acting.

No matter how much we love a character, it’s good to be reminded that the person playing the character is acting. Oh shit! That means Jennifer Beals isn’t really Bette Porter and Anna Silk isn’t really Bo Dennis. Damn!

A Personal Manifesto

A couple of decades ago I realized everything in my life up to that point had been determined by men. I can hear my friend Denise shouting, “It’s the patriarchy, stupid!” That’s not it – at least not completely. The patriarchy is still with us. But inside my head, things have changed.

Let’s start with ancient history. I grew up when the movies were westerns with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Or they were war movies with Aldo Ray and Montgomery Clift. Stories were about men. Books were about men. In college, I majored in English and I read dozens of books by dead white men. Men were supposed to rule the world and women were supposed to let them. I lived with a man who controlled and manipulated everything about my life. And I let him.

Then I stopped letting him.

After that, I wanted to think some new thoughts. I wanted to learn about feminism, which had passed me by. I wanted to read books by women, I wanted to see movies about women, hear songs sung by women, and see TV shows about women.

I’m not saying I started hating men. I like men. I have a son who is the finest man you could ever know. It wasn’t about men. It was about women, about finding the feminine, about understanding the female heart and mind, about finding the essence of what it is to be a woman.

The first thing I did was start reading books by women: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danicatt, Margaret Atwood, Sara Paretsky, Amy Tan, Mary McCarthy, Annie Proulx, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jeanette Winterson, Sandra Cisneros, Dana Stabenow, Rita Mae Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, Joan Didion, Gloria Steinem, Diana Galbaldon, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Berg, Janet Evanovich, Sarah Waters, Rita Dove. I didn’t care if it was great literature or a speed-readable romance as long as it was by a woman.

No more war movies, no more westerns, no more guys coming of age (girls coming of age are acceptable), no more buddy films about guys. I became attached to films like “The Secret of Roan Inish” and “Practical Magic” and “Thelma and Louise” and “How to Make an American Quilt” that told stories about women. I decided what to go see based on who the female star was – the male star didn’t matter. Did it have Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Queen Latifa, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, Julie Christie, Angela Bassett, Shirley MacLaine, Holly Hunter, Halle Berry, Alfre Woodard, Julia Roberts? I was there.

I started to get a bit picky, a little more demanding. The woman had to really be there. Be a person who added to the film. If “The Fugitive” advertised Sela Ward and she got offed in the beginning so all we could do was watch the hero run around, I was pissed.

Television had some women to offer. There was Mary Tyler Moore. Carol Burnett. There were shows with a lot of male characters and a few memorable female characters. “China Beach” had both Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger. “Northern Exposure” had Janine Turner and several other interesting women. “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” was all Blair Brown. “Cagney and Lacey” – Woohaw! “Any Day Now” with Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint – double woohaw! The four fabulous women on “Sisters” – a quadruple woohaw.

In the last couple of years some really good female led TV has come along. “Saving Grace,” “The Closer,” “In Plain Sight,” “Hawthorne,” “The Good Wife,” “Weeds.” I’m loving it.

And, there was “The L Word.” A show that was practically all women. I so, so loved it. I thought I loved it because I liked Jennifer Beals. I watched every old Jennifer Beals movie that I’d missed over the years. I found dancers, cops, crooks, a naive housewife, a madam, a psychic, a blind wise woman, singers, liars, the bride of Frankenstein and a whole lot of other people, but I didn’t find Jennifer Beals. I only found characters. That’s when I realized the thing that really attracted me was the character of Bette Porter on “The L Word.”

Bette Porter. A strong woman who stands up for herself. She’s not perfect, but she’s powerful and inspiring and a leader. She seems very real there inside the TV.  She’s who I’ve been looking for in all the books, in all the movies, in all the TV shows. She’s in the courageous politicians I look up to. She’s in the tech savvy leaders I admire like the founders of BlogHer. She’s in the organizers for charity and the women who fight against injustice. She’s in the writers who tell stories that change the world. She’s in my daughter, who’s raising a kid with no help from the father. She’s in my granddaughters, who don’t take shit from anybody.

Real women I know have courage and strength and power. Maybe even I do. I’ve been trying to figure that one out for about 20 years. I could be close to an answer.

[Reprinted from Two decades of women on First 50 Words.  This post was first written in August 2010. I decided to repost it here as well because it’s relevant to why I started this blog.]

Monday Night Madness

Now that the new TV season brings back some of my favorite shows, there are so many shows on Monday night I want to see that it took me two days to watch them all. Here are some quick reactions to what I watched.

Join in with a comment if you have a different Monday night favorite.

Switched at Birth

I love this show, I love the silent moments where there is only sign language, I love the characters. The first episode of the new season was a solid one, building on where we left off last season. New students at the school will be interesting. Kathryn (Lea Thompson) is having some sort of personal crisis. Lots of new things going on while the old plot lines advance.

The Fosters

The honeymoon lasted all of one morning for newlywed moms Sherri Saum and Terri Polo. That’s when they figured out that the foster daughter they were all set to adopt (Maia Mitchell) had run away. The rest of the episode was the hunt for her and a look at how her absence affected other members of the family. Annie Potts was still hanging around post-wedding and anytime you get to see Annie Potts is a good time. This is such a good show. I hope you are watching it.

Castle

Here we are in season 6 of Castle and, WOW!, one of the best episodes ever of this show pops up. James Brolin guest starred as Castle’s father. There was just the right mix of crime solving, character, suspense, emotion, and great storytelling in this episode. It was electrifying.

Bitten

I haven’t made up my mind on this one yet. It’s a werewolf story, which is okay. No problem with the scifi stuff. I’m not crazy about the ratio of male to female characters. Too many males, not enough females. Too many characters, period. Who are all these people? I had a problem with the one leading female character (Laura Vandervoort). I’m not really attached to her yet. And if I’m not hooked in the first episode, I may not ever take the bait. I’ll try again next week and see what happens. What did you think of it?

Lost Girl

This show is a complete favorite of mine. You know that if you’ve read any of my Lost Girl recaps from season 4. This show does have a great male to female ratio and the women are not just there for decoration. Bo (Anna Silk) wasn’t around much in episode 1 of the new season, but it gave us a chance to see Ksenia Solo take a turn in the lead and do an outstanding job at it.

Intelligence

Episode 2 was even better than episode 1, in my opinion. Josh Holloway is doing a great job as Mr. Cyborg of America while remaining entirely human in his performance. Meghan Ory and Marg Helgenberger’s interactions with him are perfect. The tech is fascinating.

I know a lot of people like Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human but I can’t build up any enthusiasm for either of them. What was your Monday night schedule?

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts Together Again on The Fosters

From 1998 to 2002 a series called Any Day Now captured my devoted attention. It starred Annie Potts as Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Sims and Lorraine Toussaint as Rene Jackson. The two grew up together in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960’s. Despite their difference in race and the upheavals and violence of the civil rights movement swirling all around them in Birmingham, they were best friends.

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts
Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts

Years have passed since those childhood days, which we see in frequent flashbacks. M.E. has been in Birmingham the entire time and has a husband (Chris Mulkey) and kids. She’s a housewife and aspiring writer. Rene has been gone, working as an attorney in Washington. She returns to Birmingham after her father’s death and they strike up their old friendship.

Any Day Now was about friendship and marriage and family. It was set in a crucible of the civil rights movement. The reverberations of race and the struggle for equality that affected the two friends’ childhoods and continued into their adulthoods made for powerful storytelling. Even though there were heavy themes involved, the stories were told with warmth and understanding.

While I loved it for the characters and the stories, it’s safe to say that it was a groundbreaking story of civil rights and race relations.

These two actresses – Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts – worked together to weave stories with a message about equality and human rights. Any Day Now ended over 10 years ago.

This week on ABC Family’s new series The Fosters, these two actresses will be together again.

The Fosters is about a multi-ethnic family of foster and biological kids raised by two moms. The moms are Stef Foster (Teri Polo), a police officer, and Lena Adams (Sherri Saum), a school Vice Principal. ABC Family emphasizes the family relationships and downplays the two mom aspect of this show to present it as just another family.

Much as ABC Family doesn’t make the lesbian couple the focus of this family drama, there’s still the lesbian issue right in your face. And the race issue. Lena is bi-racial. Two of the adopted children are Hispanic. While I love it for the characters and the stories, it’s safe to say that it is a groundbreaking story of civil rights and race relations.

The Fosters Wedding
Sherri Saum and Terri Polo

Monday night on ABC Family, in the season 1 finale of The Fosters, Stef and Lena are getting married. Their parents will be in attendance. Their mothers will be played by Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts.

On the very day the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the wedding scenes in the series finale were filmed.

When the civil rights struggles began in the 60’s, no one knew how long the fight would last or how hard the battles would be. A movement that originated around justice for African Americans has grown to include women’s rights and gay rights and encompasses numerous social justice issues. It isn’t over. We still struggle, despite all our progress.

It’s a long and painful history of struggle and progress that I will remember when I see the wedding of two women on The Fosters. A history that is tangibly tied to the early struggles in Birmingham and the South by the presence of two women who worked on a show called Any Day Now. This episode of The Fosters represents much more than a modern love story. It represents 50 years of the fight for equality in America.

Bravo to ABC Family and The Fosters for pulling these threads together into this powerful television moment with two brilliant casting choices – Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts.

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts images via Lifetime.

Update: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.