About Sense8


*Dusts off dirt, turns on the lights* Hello, is this thing on? Oh, yes, you’re still here. Which means you’re still here to listen to my ramblings and musings as a TV fanatic. It’s been a while, but we have so much to talk about.

The TV landscape has changed drastically in a few short years. Show formats have been altered, new streaming services have emerged, and social media is no longer just a backseat passenger. Because of the connection the internet brings viewers and fans to pop culture, it’s no wonder people pen this as the “golden age of television.”

There are more shows than one can consume nowadays. If one show doesn’t suit you, it’s no sweat to jump into something new a minute later. The way TV is set up today allows for everyone to find a series that suits their interests. New shows come and go almost weekly. But with such a large offering out there, there’s still a need for TV to introduce diverse characters, storylines that break boundaries, and represent our changing world.

Which is why when a TV show comes along that includes a rich, diverse cast, with representation rarely seen on screen, and stunning visuals, fans vocalize and unite, especially through social media. And when these shows are canceled, it’s not only a sting for those already emotionally invested, but makes a statement on television as a whole.

As an avid TV viewer, I’m constantly looking for my next binge, my new obsession. It was no surprise for me to gravitate to Netflix’s genre series Sense8. I had already sampled most of Netflix’s original programming and had heard mixed reviews from peers about Sense8’s first season. But still my interest in the show was sparked in a group of people from all around the world who wake up one day to find they are connected telepathically, empathetically, and physically.

Source: pridesource.comI was hooked within the first 10 minutes. I finished the first season within the day. I connected with each and every member of the “Sensate Cluster.” Each one of them had a relatable story; and as each of them became connected to one another, it heightened just how important their journey to self discovery was. The closest show I could relate Sense8 to for those who asked was Orphan Black, which showcased a very similar premise in set up: A group of special people are hunted for being different. Along with Orphan Black, Sense8 featured LGBTQ characters, like transgender character Nomi, portrayed by transgender actress Jamie Clayton. And in Sense8’s case, it also featured diversity from other parts of the world rarely represented in mainstream TV, such as Kenya, India and South Korea.

A few days prior to the show’s official cancellation, show actor Brian J. Smith (Will Groski) tweeted to his followers that now “might be a good time to start making some noise” if they wanted a new season of Sense8. Fans did not disappoint, and #Sense8 jumped to a worldwide trending topic within minutes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. On June 1, 2017, the very first day of Pride Month, Netflix cancelled Sense8 after two seasons. It was a cancellation heard all over social media. Outcries from fans around the world were loud and fierce. Instantly, hashtags and petitions began popping up trying to #RenewSense8. A Change.org petition garnered close to 500K signatures alone. The power of social media couldn’t be ignored.

The backlash even sparked Netflix/Sense8 to release a public statement, standing firm in their decision. They knew how hard people like me loved the show, found a community within it, but this cancellation would not be reversed.

Outlets claimed Sense8 cost $9 million an episode to make, a little less than Netflix’s other recently cancelled series, The Get Down, which boasted an $11 million an episode price tag. And while many other Netflix Original series, such as House of Cards and The Crown, also come with equally hefty price tags, viewership was the Achilles’ heel.

Netflix notoriously does not offer up its ratings per series. And according to series creator J. Michael Straczynski in 2016, Sense8 was the most re-watched series on Netflix. But one thing was clear in Netflix’s June 1 decision; not enough people were watching Sense8. Recently, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hasting, has touted that the streaming services hit ratio was “too high” and they would begin cancelling shows to make up for it.

Sense8 becoming collateral of Hasting’s warning was a proverbial punch in the gut, especially given weeks ago, rumors started circulating that Iron First, a critical press and fan “flop,” was nearing a Season 2 deal. A show that not only didn’t measure up to its other Marvel counterparts, but which appropriated Asian culture and didn’t seem to quite understand itself.

Credit: Netflix

I can’t sit here and argue with the CEO of the most successful streaming service, one that continues to turn out some of my favorite television programs, but I can question the decision. Sense8 was a celebration of all life and kept you on the edge of your seat with drama, action, and yes, a few orgies that showcased that “love is love is love.”

We live in a society where the conversation about humanity is expanding, becoming a focal point both socially and politically. Our current Administration is burying the integrity of acceptance and the open dialogue that needs to continue. Sense8 helped keep that conversation alive and delivered a message of openness in such an important time.

Sense8 will always hold a special place in my heart. It was visually beautiful and made great strides, encompassing everything I love about television. Capheus, Sun, Nomi, Kala, Riley, Wolfgang, Lito, and Will stood for something greater than just another TV show. They showed the world that together we are stronger, with love we can accomplish so much more. They helped drive television one step forward, and for that, I will always be grateful for the Cluster.


Summer Watch List

I was walking outside last night and all of a sudden felt a cool breeze hit the air.  No, it wasn’t the wind, it was the official sign that fall had suddenly sprung on us.  It’s that time of year where we break out the flannels, the boots, and our blood suddenly becomes infused with pumpkin spice.  Along with fall comes the beginning of the new television season for many shows.  But what about shows from the summer, when only a handful of networks aired new episodes of series, and we were left with Netflix and friend recommendations to fill our days?

Like last summer, I was able to sample and watch some excellent television both old and new.  Your schedule may be full this coming fall but don’t let that keep you from tuning in to some great shows you may have missed before!

Erin’s Summer Watch List: 2014 Edition

The New Shows

Finding Carter Cast1.jpgFinding Carter (MTV): Laugh all you want, but MTV has proved they can turn out a decent series.  In fact, Finding Carter is the third drama I watch produced by the channel (Awkward and the surprisingly entertaining Teen Wolf being the first two).  The premise immediately sparked my interest as the show follows the titular character, Carter (starring Kathryn Prescott of Skins fame), as she deals with the bombshell that her whole life has been a lie; the woman she thought was her mother is actually her kidnapper.  The show follows Carter as she struggles through the adjustment of returning to her biological family and navigates forming a whole new identity in doing so.  Though the show can feature some pretty cheesy and infuriating moments from the characters (Carter’s father is an author paid to write his daughters story but constantly lies about it and Carter falls for the stereotypical “bad boy”), there are some surprises and endearing moments that make the show worth tuning into.  The show returns with a second season in 2015, and thank goodness as Season One ended on a frustrating cliffhanger.

The Strain (FX): Genre shows have always been my thing. So, when FX announced their new “vampire” show created by Guillermo del Toro and based off a series of books, I was immediately intrigued.  It didn’t hurt that Corey Stoll was leading the cast either as his role as the heartbreaking Peter Russo on House of Cards may be one of my favorite performances in a television series to date.  The show follows an outbreak of a vampire-like disease that ravages NYC.  Unlike most vampire and supernatural shows on today, The Strain doesn’t give their creatures emotions and love triangles.  It’s more akin to The Walking Dead as the outbreak continues to spread and infection pretty much equals zombie-death of all humanity, body function, etc. The show puts an interesting spin on the whole genre, grittier than what we’ve become used to.

New-ish Shows:

arrowArrow (The CW): Already heading into its third season, Arrow has already cemented its popularity in the DC comics/superhero world.  The show, based off of the Green Arrow comic series, centers on playboy billionaire Oliver Queen as he returns from years stranded on a remote island after his family yacht capsizes at sea.  Oliver’s time on the island becomes apparent throughout the series as he transforms into The Arrow, the resident vigilante superhero of his home of Starling City.  Showcased are a bevy of smart, fun, and very attractive characters as they fight off the enemies and villains of the city.  The show has become so popular that a brand-new spin-off based off another DC character, The Flash, is set to hit television this fall.  The world loves comic-book character TV and movies right now and with good reason.

truedetecTrue Detective (HBO): Why I didn’t watch the wildly popular, critically acclaimed mini-series when it first premiered is a mystery to me.  But True Detective is a winning gem for HBO.  The insanely good acting on the parts of leading actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are not to be missed as the show follows the detectives as they recount their story of tracking and capturing a small-town serial killer.  The cinematography alone is worth the watch and attention to detail when viewing is a must.  The series is also a one-off as Season Two is set to star new actors (Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughan) in an all new town, setting, with new characters, etc.

Bob’s Burgers (FOX): Need I say more? This show is actually laugh-out-loud funny, rare in this day and age I find, especially when it comes to cartoons.  Bob and his family constantly find themselves in wacky situations but the humor is more adult, sarcastic, and even a little dark at times (and Louise is the best).

broadchurchBroadchurch (British – ITV): Possibly my favorite viewing of the summer.  Broadchurch stars Doctor Who alum David Tennant who stars as a detective in a small British seaside town investigating the murder of a young boy.  Everything about this show is phenomenal; from the acting to the story, I cannot praise this show enough.  FOX apparently felt the same way as they hired Tennant to reprise his role, polish up on his American accent, and reshoot the entire series in a US setting also starring Anna Gunn (two-time Emmy winner for her role on Breaking Bad).  The American remake is entitled Gracepoint and airs this fall with the exact same premise.  Whether the remake follows the same end result is still unknown, but the shock value of learning the true killer in the British series is one of the biggest twists that leaves the audience stunned with a million more questions.  The British series is already shooting its second season and my hope is Tennant at least receives the recognition and praise he deserves here in the states.

The Old (but still good!)

Friday Night LightsFriday Night Lights (Entire series streaming on Netflix): Tim Riggins. Tim Riggins. Tim Riggins.  Oh darn, I thought if I said his name aloud three times in a row he would suddenly appear.  FNL is a show people have been gushing about for years.  The original run lasted for five seasons (2006-2011) and piggybacked off a movie of the same name.  The drama follows the lives and residents of small-town Dillon, Texas and their overt obsession with the Dillon Panthers High School football team.  Although the show may not be to everyones liking (the show dropped many story lines and wrote off several characters without followup), acting by head coach Kyle Chandler and on-screen wife Connie Britton are enough to keep viewers enthralled.  It’s a lot of teenage angst but does a good job of blending it with some truly great stories.

Also viewed: True Blood (HBO – final season), Wilfred (FX – final season), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix – Season Two)

In Memoriam: Character Death’s I’m Still Not Over

(A pretty big and obvious SPOILER WARNING applies)

Over the years television has become bolder, brasher.  Bold moves such as huge plot changing twists often include deaths of beloved characters. Some character deaths are minor, only contributing a bit of heartache moving forward on a show. Some character deaths are so big that their repercussions can be felt throughout the remainder of a series.

Death’s can also be silly and contrived, only serving as a plot device to move other characters or story in a certain direction.  A death of a beloved character can spark heated debate and opinions.  Though most shows on television today utilize death as a plot point, some just leave us wondering.

Kol Mikaelson (The Vampire Diaries – Season 4) – Season three of The Vampire Diaries introduced us to the entirety of the Mikaelson clan, including brothers Finn and Kol. Eldest brother Finn, devoted to ending his and his siblings “miserable” lives as vampires, posed a threat not only to the protagonists of the show, but the rest of the Mikaelson family as well. His kol1death was swift but necessary. Youngest brother Kol, though, showed vital signs of excitement and a touch of trouble when undaggered and reunited with his family. He quickly became a fan favorite; his cute and mischievous ways were a welcome addition to the sometimes bland main characters. His all too controversial death in season four came after Elena and Jeremy White Oak-staked him, producing an outcry on social media. Not only was his death sloppy and heartbreaking, it also produced a vampire genocide that really didn’t seem to have much effect on the characters consciences or the vampire world moving into future seasons.

Death seems to be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to The Vampire Diaries. Characters constantly perish and are reborn again, one way or another. No season truly displayed this act more than season five, where some of our favorites characters, including Elena, Stefan, Alaric, and newcomer Enzo were resurrected from “The Other Side.” Accordingly, TVD introduced its popular new spin-off, The Originals, which centers on the Mikaelsons and their troubles in New Orleans.   Every opportunity to resurrect Kol was given, especially after the season one finale of TO, where patriarch Mikael, matriarch and witch Esther, and brother Finn were all brought back into the land of the living one way or another. Kol still remains the one permanently dead Original. His loss is still felt and debated.

peterrussoPeter Russo (House of Cards – Season 1) – The inaugural season of House of Cards not only brought some of the best small screen produced drama, but it introduced viewers to a bevy of new and exciting characters. Fans of the show rooted for Pennsylvania Congressman Peter Russo and his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. He was a good guy who couldn’t settle or overcome his upbringing, an underdog from a rough home and it showed. That didn’t stop him from being one of season one’s best characters. Frank Underwood’s mission to turn Peter’s life around for his own gain was manipulative, though necessary for Russo. A good kick in the proverbial ass would straighten him out and put him on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, Underwood’s determinations wavered and Russo became more of a hindrance to our main character. Frank and his team manipulated Russo into a relapse, ruining his chances in office. The final act came when Russo, high, drunk, and down on his luck, confided in Frank. Frank sat back and watched his mentee slip, delivering his final act as he let Russo die of asphyxiation in a locked, garaged car. Russo’s death signified the gritty tone of House of Cards, introducing audiences to the real Frank Underwood. But Peter’s loss was felt through season two, leaving fans of his to struggle with whom to root for.

Tom Shayes (Damages – Season 3) – Similar to Frank Underwood was Patty Hewes. A powerful, successful New York City lawyer who didn’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. Patty tomshayeswasn’t afraid to take the more immoral path when it came to fighting for a win. The high-powered woman had many enemies and many people who were ready to destroy her and her associates. Patty’s right-hand man and partner, Tom Shayes, suffered the brunt of her misdeeds. Tom fought for his place by Patty’s side, turning down amazing offers and opportunities for an easier life with his family. Tom’s loyalties to Patty delivered him the ultimate sacrifice – his life. Entangled in a high-profiled case with proven dangerous people, Tom was murdered trying to do the right thing, fighting to save Patty and the firm. Although his death was presented as the main mystery of season three, his final minutes on screen didn’t make his death any easier. His loss was evident through out the rest of the series, as it never really did recoup after such a huge character loss.

nealonceNeal Cassidy/Baelfire (Once Upon a Time – Season 3) – One would think that the son of the all-powerful Rumpelstiltskin would be the last on the list of characters that would meet a deadly fate. Another show that plays with death like a toy, many other Once characters had experienced temporary death — the loss of their heart, being cursed, and being brought back to life with true loves kiss. Season three’s Zelena (The Wicked Witch) would prove to be the gang’s biggest foe, causing heartbreak and bloodshed in her wake. This terrorizing beauty made sure no one stood in her way, including Rumpel. The expanded family paid the ultimate price when Belle helped a grief-stricken Neal try to find a way to bring back his father from his own sacrifice. Regrettably, this meant sacrificing a life for a life as the two were tricked into resurrecting Rumpel only for Neal’s life to be taken in the process. The Dark One tried everything in his power to bring back his son, but Zelena’s magic and havoc was too strong. Neal begged to be let go of, to die a hero – and that’s what he did. Not only was Neal one of the best additions to the show, but he also showed a true chemistry with Emma, son Henry, and the rest of Storybrooke. His death came too soon as Michael Raymond-James’s series regular status on the show only lasted one season. The potential was wasted for his character and growth as his death only served as an easy plot device to later move Emma and Captain Hook closer to each other.

Mitchell (Being Human UK – Series 3) – Supernatural shows are no strangers to death, but when that death is of a main character it’s jarring, nonetheless. The UK version of Being Human saw a huge shift in character and story after its third season. One of the only shows to successfully transition into an entirely new cast, the loss of the first group of supernatural aidanbhentities living in a house together was still traumatic. Vampire [John] Mitchell had been on a long and hard road to overcome his blood addiction. Constantly struggling to be as human as possible and do the right thing, the charming vamp relapsed and fought his way through his urges with the help of werewolf best friend George and ghost girlfriend Annie. Mitchell’s ultimate sacrifice came when a faction of vampires were gearing up to take control. It was either Mitchell join them or subject himself to a fate worse than death.   In the Being Human world there was no afterlife for the soulless vampires and Mitchell knew that to save his roommates and loved ones he would have to help stop the war before it began. He had taken part in the murder of an entire train of innocent humans and had given into his most basic vampiric urges. But he had fallen in love, making every effort to pick himself up again, and giving his life for the ones he cared for most would be his final act. Faced with the choice of killing his best friend or die himself, George made his most gut wrenching decision as he delivered a stake into Mitchell’s chest. The loss of Mitchell was so big and painful that the rest of the original cast exited soon after, making way for a new group of supernatural roomies. Mitchell’s was the first of a handful of big moves for the UK edition that still makes one tear up to this day.

Henry Durham (Being Human US – Season 3) – It’s hard to mourn and move on from a character’s death, especially when said character didn’t even perish on screen. Aidan’s progeny, Henry, was a great addition to the US version of Being Human in its second season. He was compelling and easy on the eyes. We watched as Aidan struggled to rebuild a kyle2relationship with the “son” he had banished almost a hundred years earlier. Aidan struggled to keep himself cemented in the human and vampire worlds and Henry struggled for acceptance from his maker and the vampire community that had exiled him. Season three found most of the Boston vampires dead, wiped out by a horrible virus that only knocked humans into bed for a few days. The vampire flu was unavoidable, but Aidan helped himself and Henry from feeding off of tainted blood. Henry, though, would prove he wasn’t as strong as his maker. The vampire couldn’t control his hunger, feeding on diseased blood and contracting the fatal illness. Henry’s final speech to Aidan was his goodbye as he reminded his “father” that they were vampires, not humans. Henry walked off, letting the virus take him. Except, viewers never watched Henry die; Henry walked off, presumably turning into a pile of dust. But this was a character who had proved his survival skills, a trait Aidan made sure to remind his vampire son of over and over again. It’s hard to accept a characters death when their final moments aren’t even seen on screen and they have a history of making surprise entrances. Unfortunately, Being Human ended after its fourth season and it’s still unknown if Henry ever did miraculously survive the vampire flu.

cyril1Cyril O’Reily (Oz – Season 6) – On a show that centers around America’s toughest criminals, it wouldn’t shock anyone when shady goings on in a prison takes out one of its own. Fortunately for Oz, they built a series with a plethora of different and intriguing characters that one couldn’t help but root for. No character showed more compassion than Cyril O’Reily, Ryan O’Reily’s mentally handicapped brother. Cyril had been commissioned by Ryan to murder Gloria Nathan’s husband and Cyril, who could only comprehend at the mental capacity of a five year old, easily complied. The otherwise sympathetic Cyril was willing to do anything his brother asked of him. Cyril’s actions landed him straight in Oz and he became one of the most likable characters within a cast of degenerates. Cyril’s accidental but deadly actions in prison landed him on death row; the poor man couldn’t comprehend that he had made fatal mistakes. No appeals or a mental institution could help Cyril and in the show’s final episode and one of the shows more disturbing acts, Cyril was given the death penalty. This devastating final act was also one of the shows strongest moments. It showed how corrupt the prison system is and how even the most soulless of characters could have heart.

Tommy Merlyn (Arrow – Season 1) – Oliver Queen’s playboy best friend, Tommy, not only rose above his childish, egotistical ways, but also showed viewers that, indeed, a person can tommymerlynchange. Although his relationship with his best friends ex came off as less than honorable at first, Tommy and Laurel Lance worked. Her stern demeanor and his care free views on life fit together, evening each other out in a way that made more sense than former beau Oliver and Laurel. Tommy overcame his spoiled upbringing and although it took a little push by his father, Tommy learned that hard work really does pay off. Tommy proved himself as a formidable character and presented himself as a sweet and charming brother type, not only protecting Thea, but holding onto Oliver’s double life as The Arrow a secret all the way to his grave. Tommy’s untimely death at the end of season one was a shocker that changed the course of many characters lives moving forward on the show. His absence was felt as Thea learned that Malcolm was, in fact, her biological father and as Oliver continued to take on the evil in Starling City.

mikeehrMike Ehrmantraut (Breaking Bad – Season 5A) – Perhaps a turning point for Walter White and the series as a whole was the accidental death of Mike.  In a desperate attempt to procure the names of the men who worked for Gus and his operation, Walt fatally shot Mike in the former hitmans attempt to flee town.  Walt’s shot was purely accidental as he only meant to scare the elder partner.  Though Mike was by no means a “good” guy, he showed a ton of heart, especially in scenes depicting him and his young granddaughter.  All the money Mike had been earning through Gus and Walt had been put away into savings for young Kaylee.  Unfortunately, with the arrest of one of his men and the discovery of Walt’s true character, the money was seized into evidence.  To this day, Mike remains one of the best characters Breaking Bad has ever created.  With the announcement that his portrayer, Jonathan Banks, would be joining the prequel spin-off, Better Call Saul, fans don’t have to mourn his death too much longer.

himymTracy McConnell (How I Met Your Mother – Season 9) – As depicted many times, a character death as a use of a plot device can prove infuriating and sloppy. No plot device was as obvious as the death of the titular character of How I Met Your Mother. Fan’s tuned in for nine years to finally meet the mother of Ted Mosby’s children, the love of his life. Tracy, who had been introduced in the finale of the eighth season, came to be adored and loved by viewers. She was smart, funny, and was the perfect match for the love inept Ted. Tracy and Ted were perfect for each other – soul mates. But that hadn’t been HIMYM’s long-standing plan. The plan from the beginning was for Ted and Robin to constantly play the “are they, aren’t they game,” going back and forth on whether they were meant to be together or not. Robin seemed happy with playboy Barney and Ted was growing and moving on in his life. But Tracy’s death served as the final blow to the series. Ted had spent nine years telling his children the story of how he met their mother, but it was really just a journey as to how he was rediscovering his love for their Aunt Robin. The series took nine years of great character growth, story, and suspense and flushed it down the toilet. By turning the mother into a device and having Tracy fall ill and die, the series ruined what it had stood for since the beginning.

Honorable Mentions: Bobby Singer and Kevin Tran (Supernatural), Zoe Barnes (House of Cards), Allison Argent (Teen Wolf), Robb, Catelynn, and Ned Stark (Game of Thrones), Debra Morgan (Dexter), Mike Delfino (Desperate Housewives), Everyone (Six Feet Under).

2014 Emmy Reactions

The 2014 Emmy season is upon us.  Nominations were broadcasted this morning at 8:30 AM EST/5:30 AM PST.  While most people probably slept through the nominations, I was up with baited breath just hoping this would be the year that some of televisions most talented performances weren’t overlooked.  Unfortunately, every award show comes with a handful of snubs, the academy omitting some of the most outstanding work on television today.  Accordingly, exceptional work by some stellar people was recognized this year.

The Snubs

orphanblackTatiana Maslany (Orphan Black): Hands down one of the most marvelous actresses on television is none other than Tatiana Maslany and her work on the BBC American show Orphan Black.  Tatiana has taken on the role of on not one, not three, not five, but eight different clones throughout the series.  Only in its second season, Maslany has continuously showcased just how unique one person can make eight different characters.

shamelessShamelessEmmy Rossum, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Allen White: Bumping Shameless into the comedy category proved well for the Showtime series as William H. Macy was finally recognized for his work as alcoholic, deadbeat dad Frank Gallagher.  Although Macy’s nomination was a nice surprise, Frank’s shenanigans on the show have taken a backseat to the younger cast of Shameless.  Emmy Rossum (Fiona) hands down carries the series, while Jeremy Allen White (Lip) and Noel Fisher (Mickey) pulled out some amazing performances this year.  It can be argued that Shameless isn’t fit for the comedy category — this past season went to some pretty dark places — but a nomination for Macy may lead to further recognition down the road for this very talented ensemble show.

Dean Norris (Breaking Bad): Perhaps one of the most infuriating snubs of the season as Norris’ eligibility for an Emmy ended this year with the last season of Breaking Bad.  The standout character development of DEA agent Hank Schrader was above and beyond this past year.

Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation): No explanations needed.  Offerman’s Ron Swanson has been overlooked for the past six years.  A real travesty for the comedy category as his portrayal is perhaps some of the most excellent comedic work on television to date.

mcbrideMelissa McBride (The Walking Dead): A standalone performance on a continuously overlooked show.  Melissa McBride’s portrayal of Carol on this season of The Walking Dead outshone her fellow cast members.  Carol’s ultimate sacrifice of [spoiler] killing Lizzie, the psychotic child she had sworn to protect, was phenomenal.  It’s no surprise TWD and its acting was once again passed over as series star Andrew Lincoln and once cast member Jon Bernthal have been just as deserving of a nomination in the past.

hannwillHannibalMads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Raul Esparza: NBC’s Hannibal falls into an interesting category.  It’s horror and horror is not something the academy often moves towards.  But with the continuous recognition of American Horror Story, Hannibal is finally in a place to deserve a fair chance at recognition.  Although the show can be gory and over the top, the acting continues to be absolutely stellar.  Titular character Mads Mikkelsen shatters any doubters as Hannibal Lecter, while Hugh Dancy’s struggling Will is harrowing.  Guest actor Raul Esparza (Dr. Chilton) maintains a manipulative yet funny presence on the show.  The direction cinematography are not like any other on TV today.

Arrow stunt work: A random and underrated addition.  But Arrow’s leading man, Stephen Amell, does all of his own parkour-esque stunts.  This comic book inspired show is a hotbed for incredible stunt work.

The Well-Deserved:

The Normal Heart (various nominations): No surprises here.  The HBO movie was absolutely out of this world.  From the story to the acting, The Normal Heart may be this years best few hours of television.  Stars Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomber, Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello, and Alfred Molina all garnered nominations for their performances.  The movie is sure to win best TV movie and will probably dominate in the acting categories as well.

ahscovenAmerican Horror Story: Coven (various nominations): QUEENS.  Is there any other word to describe the handful of women all nominated for their acting in the third installment of American Horror Story? Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy, Angela Bassett, and Kathy Bates all held their own this year on the miniseries.

William H. Macy (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Shameless): As stated above, Shameless‘ move into the comedy category proved worthy.  Macy has continuously given life to patriarch Frank Gallagher.

Amy Poehler (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series – Parks and Recreation): If Parks and Recreation has to continuously face being ignored by the voters then at least leading lady Amy Poehler’s nomination can give some light to the underrated comedy.

oitnbOrange is the New Black (various nominations): The Netflix comedy’s inaugural season was not surprisingly given high praise and high recognition.  As well as the show as a
whole, actresses Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red), Natasha Lyonne (Nicky), Laverne Cox (Sophia), and Uzo Aduba (Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’), were all bestowed accolades for their work on the show.  And that’s just for season one.

freddyhocReg E. Cathy (Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series – House of Cards): A House of Cards fan favorite.  Freddy and his BBQ joint were highlighted in a devastating way during HOC’s second season.  Cathy’s performance was a gut-wrenching look into the inner city of DC, one that left audiences heartbroken and angry.

Breaking Bad (various nominations): No explanation needed.  The AMC drama’s swan song season was some of the best television ever made.  All the performances (including nominees Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn) were top-notch and the series once again proved that television can be a real piece of art.

The Originals (Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series): Because of reasons.


What Can Be Done:

Implementing a separate sci-fi/horror/genre category: Shows like Orphan Black, The Walking Dead, and Hannibal continuously fall onto the short list.  Over the years, television has jumped leaps and bounds, making way for groundbreaking shows that don’t exactly fit into a drama or comedy category.  Shows that implement a horror, sci-fi, or otherworldly story house some of the best talent on television today.  The Emmy voters have slowly taken note, continuously commending the work on Game of Thrones and American Horror Story, but there are so many more deserving pieces of work out there.  An additional category to single out these series and performances would make way for some new faces.  Television is ever evolving and the Emmy’s should follow suit.

The Importance of ‘The Normal Heart’


Once in a while a show comes along that defines a generation, that pushes the boundaries, and changes the minds and even the lives of people. Every so often I see a show that not only I enjoy but that I feel changed by; The Normal Heart did that for me.

Set in the early 1980’s, The Normal Heart follows the life of Ned Weeks, a gay writer and activist who has been investigating a new disease (HIV/AIDS) infecting gay men in New York City. Ned is introduced to a doctor, Emma Brookner, who has had an astounding number of gay patients present with this unknown virus. The play follows Ned as he becomes an activist for this unidentified virus, as he deals with the virus in his personal life, and as he and his friends struggle to educate the public and government, who refuse to listen, who refuse to help, and have turned a blind eye.

I first heard about this show when it began its run on Broadway in April 2011.  I wasn’t 100% sure what the show fully entailed, but I knew it dealt with the AIDS crisis and the cast looked fabulous. After the big wins at the Tony Awards that year I knew I had to see the show before it closed.

Without giving anything away I can say I was not disappointed, in fact, my mind was blown away. By the end of the first act I was already feeling chills. The acting was phenomenal and the story was completely fascinating. Before the second act began I overheard a fellow audience member say “The usher said get ready for the 2nd act, it gets heavy,” and let me tell you, it does. I think for the last 30 minutes tears were streaming down my face. I can honestly say I have never cried during live theatre. That’s not to say that I haven’t felt emotion towards a show, but because I am usually good at separating myself from the show and the characters. This show I was not prepared. I wasn’t the only one as the muffled sounds of cries and sniffles were audible through out the entire theatre.

tnh1By the end of the show I was an emotional wreck. At the beginning of the play forty names are showcased on the back wall of the stage signifying the first to perish from the virus and by the end thousands and thousands of names were projected onto all the theatre walls, showing a small percentage of those who have died since 1981. I knew a good amount about HIV/AIDS from past research, but nothing prepared me for what was in this show.

I got the lucky chance to be able to see the staged production one more time when it toured through Washington, DC.  The cast was different, the venue was different, but the show still held that powerful punch it presented on Broadway.  Knowing the story and the characters didn’t matter, my emotions were running as high as the first time I had seen it.  I was blown away again, unable to hold in my fervid emotions.  I had been changed for the better because of this show and had wished everyone had the opportunity to see this once in their lifetime.

When HBO announced that Ryan Murphy would be adapting Larry Kramer’s play to the small screen I was overwrought with a mix of excitement, apprehension, and nerves.  I hoped they could recreate the passion the stage produced and the raw scenes that tore into its viewers.  Either way, I couldn’t wait.  I had been waiting to share with people what I had been gushing about for several years.

The movie didn’t disappoint.  Being so attached to the staged version I found the opening a little jarring.  But this was a movie and not a minimalist show taking place live.  I opened my mind up to the changes and watched as the work I had raved about transpired on my television screen.  The most important aspects of the show were kept in tact;  my heart broke as Felix revealed his positive status, I gripped my blanket tight as Bruce recounted his journey to return the body of his sick and dying boyfriend to his mother and his battle with hospitals, and as Emma fought so hard to gain recognition for her work and research.

tnhThe performances were top notch.  Mark Ruffalo portrayed Ned’s egotism and selfishness with a hint of awkwardness in a way that made you empathize easily with his cause.  Matt Bomer’s Felix was tragic, his astounding weight loss added to the distressing journey  his character takes from start to finish.  Taylor Kitsch strayed from his known role as Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights as he gave Bruce that sympathy and fear of someone who was so scared to step out of the closet and publicly out himself as a leader.  Julia Robert’s nailed her monologue as a stressed and tired doctor who had fought for years for funding and for the acknowledgement she deserved.  All the performances had their shining moments, especially Joe Mantello, who played Ned Weeks in the 2011 Broadway revival, as he took on the role of Mickey.  His part was smaller yet packed a punch as he recounted his suicidal thoughts and fears.

tnh2The last moments of the movie were as powerful as ever as Ned and Felix pledged their everlasting love to each other, a love that would survive death.  Ned’s older and sometimes close-minded brother looked on with a new view of the world and Emma watched as she knew her work truly did mean everything to the people closest to her.  The culmination of the events of the movie were wrapped up into a last few minutes that would stay with you for a long time.

Though the changes between the stage version and the movie were evident, such as the names displayed through the theater (replaced by Tommy Boatwright’s (Jim Parsons) saving of his rolodex cards), the impact of the show stayed, presenting an audience with a gritty early 80s in the gay community as men and women fought to discover what the “gay cancer” was that was killing off more and more by the day.

To say that The Normal Heart is an important piece of work is an understatement.  To say that many predjudices within the play and movie still ring true today is a travesty, but true.  The world is still fighting to discover the origins of HIV/AIDS.  The world is still fighting to find a cure, a vaccine, an eradication. People in this world still refuse to accept and refuse to help.  The brutal truth is that we are still struggling as a nation in 2014 and to win a war, you have to start one.

The Five Best Suits on Television

Call me shallow, call me simple, but there is nothing I enjoy more than a well dressed television character.  It doesn’t take much for an actor/actress to be dressed flawlessly on the small screen as wardrobe budgets usually allow for the finer threads in life.  Designer clothing is a staple across television. However, it takes a special person to pull off the classic look of the suit.  So, who does wear the best suits on television? That’s a tough one as so many shows on television today feature characters donning the professional staple.

5. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) – Hannibal 

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????If there’s one thing Dr. Hannibal Lecter is good at, besides murdering and cooking folk up for a delicious dinner, it’s wearing a suit.  Mikkelsen’s take on the infamous serial killer is so chilling and frightening it’s easy to forget you’re watching an actor on a television show.  If he has to murder and eat peeps, at least he can look impeccable while doing so.

4. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) – House of Cards


Not far behind in the calculating, murdering character pattern of wearing dapper suits is none other than (SPOILER) Vice President Frank Underwood.  This White House master manipulator always looks handsome.  You don’t know whether to root for him or against him as he unapologetically fights for power.

3. Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) – Law and Order: SVU


Over 15 seasons, SVU has gone through a handful of ADA’s.  None have looked as good in a suit, tie, and suspenders as Rafael Barba.  What makes Esparza’s appearance even more delectable is the pop of color his character isn’t afraid to sport.  Pink, purple, pastels, you name it and this ADA is ready to wear it. He may be one of the best additions to the SVU cast in recent years purely for his characters likableness, but looking damn good while arguing through a case doesn’t hurt.

2. Elijah Mikaelson (Daniel Gillies) – The Originals/The Vampire Diaries

Bringing Out the Dead

The TV vampire looked so damn good in a suit that the creators of The Vampire Diaries centered an entire spin off around it.  Okay, I may be exaggerating, but Daniel Gillies’ portrayal of Elijah Mikaelson did spark the creators of the show to keep him around, tie him into some important plots, and lead them to ultimately create the shows popular spin off, The Originals.  Elijah has flawlessly worn a suit, his signature look, continuously on both shows.  It’s become an eye candy staple for fans.

1. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) – Parks and Recreation


Okay, okay.  Enough with all these men.  It’s time for a badass, suit wearing woman.  Good thing she also falls in the number one spot because she looks so perfect in a suit.  Leslie Knope could out suit even the smartest of men.  She is strong, independent, and looks beautiful while kicking butt and taking names within the Pawnee government.

My Day at House of Cards


(Events of this post took place on Thursday, July 11, 2013 and contains mild spoilers for season 2.)

It’s no secret, one of my new favorite shows is Netflix’s House of Cards.  So, when I found out the second season would be holding an open casting call, I had to go.  I was even more surprised when I received a phone call from the casting agency asking if I would be available to be an extra on the show.  I immediately said yes.

The night before I received my call time and holding location, as well as all the information regarding the filming for that day.  Luckily the show was shooting close to my house.  With my call time set for 6:30 AM and my role secured as a “Reenactment Visitor,” I hardly slept a wink that night.

I woke up at 5 AM, slightly nervous but also more excited than I wanted to admit.  A million things rushed through my mind:  What if I got to watch Kevin Spacey film? A living acting legend and one of my all time favorite actors.  What kinds of “spoilers” would I witness?  The first season ended with several cliffhangers that anything was possible.  Then it dawned on me, there may be a chance I wouldn’t see Kevin Spacey or any others from the flawless cast.  For all I knew they were just shooting establishing shots and background scenes.

I got to the extra/crew parking lot around 6:15 AM.  Vans were there, ready to take us to the actual holding area/set at Patapsco Valley State Park.  As we entered the big, empty park, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  As we continued down a small road, though, trailers, filming equipment and various crew members became visible.  The park itself was set up as an reenactment event.  The van dropped us off at the top of a hill where we walked down to a series of tents.  A plethora of men were dressed in civil war garb, armed with guns and everything.  We were escorted through the tents to the very back, where the extras holding was.  It was crowded, at least two hundred people, and loud.  The production assistants made sure to keep everything together, though, and called for certain groups of extras: reenactors, press, secret service, visitors, etc.

I put my stuff down and was almost immediately escorted to wardrobe.  We were assigned to dress for spring: I wore a black skater dress with a jean jacket and flats.  We had also been advised to bring an extra change of clothes if wardrobe didn’t approve of what we were wearing.  I didn’t even stand before the costumer for ten seconds before he said I looked good and cleared me.

A production assistant then escorted a group of us who were approved and ready to go.  We saw the people in charge of props; some people got items like cameras, fake guns, etc.  and then we walked down a road, into a woodsy area, where the scene was set.  We walked past fake stands for concessions and games and were lead to two sets of bleachers.  Most of the people in the reenactment costumes were already on set.  They stood lined up on different sides, depending on which side of the battle they represented.

The visitors were instructed to sit in the bleachers.  We had full view of the scene in front of us with all the reenactors.  At the head, a small, ribboned off, mound of dirt stood.  I was still unsure of who from the cast would be involved with this scene.  My hopes perked up again at the hearing of a group of actors playing secret service.  I sat on the bleachers with a group of other extras and we chatted for a little.  It was still very early (not even 7 AM yet) and I had yet to eat or drink anything (and was slowly regretting that decisions).

Shortly after, the director showed up.  He talked to a group of others and that’s when I got my first glimpse: Michael Kelly, who plays Frank’s right hand man, Doug Stamper, dressed in jeans and a simple white t-shirt.  My heart started to beat faster.  Michael had me excited enough, as I’m a fan of everyone on the show, but my emotions were piqued as right behind him, in similar clothing but with a baseball cap walked in Mr. Kevin Spacey.  I tried to contain my emotions.  I felt lucky to be there.  I would be seeing Mr. Spacey’s impeccable acting as the ruthless Frank Underwood up close and in person.

Kevin and Michael were walked through the scene and then escorted to get ready in costume and make up.  In the mean time, they had a group of stand-ins for each key actor, who were blocked and walked through the scene as well.  We watched them set up the scene for about an hour.  Kevin, Michael, and the other actors came back all ready to go.  They looked like they had hopped right off the screen.

hoc1The scene unfolded as such: Frank was to give a speech to us about the ground breaking for the Overland Campaign Center (what the park had been transformed into) and then break earth for its inauguration.  During the speech Stamper receives a phone call and turns his back for a moment.  After Frank’s speech is over, he instructs us in the stands and the reenactors to bow our heads for a moment of silence.  He kneels and buries a ring in the ground.  As he stands and thanks us, we all clap.  At this time Stamper walks over to him and whispers something in his ear.  I believe the line is: “we got him.” or something to that effect.  Frank doesn’t bat an eye as he turns towards the crowd of reenactors and salutes them.  They salute him back and end scene.

They shot that scene for five hours.  Different takes, different angles.  Mr. Spacey seemed to be enamored by the two horses brought to set.  He would walk over to them between takes, petting them and feeding them grass.  It was very endearing to see him go from such a manipulative and stern character back to his animal loving self.  Michael Kelly was the real stand out to me in terms of personality.  He was constantly joking with Kevin and the other actors around him and hugged several crew members through out the day.  At one point when he exited for a break he stopped by us and gave us a thumbs up, asking if we were all doing well.  It was very sweet of him and he seemed to really enjoy everything and everyone.

As it was nearing lunch time and they were capturing their last angles of the scenes, we all started to become a little restless.  We had been sitting on the same, hard wooded bleachers for hours now.  Some extras would go up and get food and go to the bathroom and the crew was very caring and attentive, constantly bringing us water.  In the early morning they had brought over some Gatorade, which had sparked me awake.  At one point I went to explore with two other girls for the food. We came across a table but accidentally took food from the crew/SAG table but none of the crew standing around seemed upset about it (sorry!).

One of the last angles was an up close shot.  Frank’s lines were unimportant to the shot so Kevin would continuously repeat the first few words “Today we break ground (or earth, depending on the take he would switch up words).”  One of the last shots, he said “Today we break wind,” which got all of out spirits up as we all let out a roaring laugh.  It was nice that Mr. Spacey was trying to lighten the mood after being outside in the woods, surrounded by bugs and falling rain for five hours.

Around 12:45 we were escorted back to holding for lunch.  It was catered and everything (and good too!). The background actors ate the same food the crew/main cast did which was nice.  We weren’t treated as lowly extras.  We ate for about forty-five minutes before we were taken back to set.  This time the scene was different.  A small stage with a podium was set up and that’s when I witnessed my first real spoiler of the day: the podium had a “Vice President” seal on the front.  This was not shocking as the first season ended with Frank being offered the Vice President nomination, but to anyone who hadn’t watched the entire season yet, it was a shocker.

This time I sat on the opposite set of bleachers, which happened to be right beside the podium.  Kevin, Michael, and all the other actors were escorted back to set to begin setting up.  I was even closer to Mr. Spacey this time, a hands reach away, which was very exciting.  The whole scene was even more riveting to watch, as this was one of Frank’s cut away, direct camera monologues, which is a notable and unique aspect of House of Cards.

Frank gave a short speech, we clapped, and he walked off the podium, looking directly into the camera as he began his little blurb.  We did this scene for another several hours.  It was more exciting this time since there was a chance I would actually be on camera for this part.  Besides all of us once again becoming uncomfortable in our seats and starting to get a little impatient as the day went on, we all joked and kept our spirits up.  At one point in between scene set ups, one of the camera operators came over to chat with us.  I asked him which episode they were currently shooting and he couldn’t remember if it was five or six.  It was really nice of him when he came back later just to confirm that it was episode five.  This surprised me since they had only started filming in late May, I had only thought it would be episode two or three.

mehocThe last scene we did was one where Frank watched the reenactment in progress.  The podium was moved directly in front of us, a few feet away, and had Frank and several others now sitting by his side.  Our set of bleachers were instructed to react to the reenactment.  We did this a few times, the first one not animated enough, the second one too animated, and the third one was perfect.  I joked with the people around me that we would all be collectively nominated for an Emmy for our reaction shots.

After this scene, they wrapped up Mr. Spacey for the day.  We all gave him a round of applause and he waved at us in thanks.  He was very professional the entire time but was able to lighten up in between the seriousness of the scenes and seemed very much into his work, asking questions when he needed clarification and even giving suggestions to the director, which he gladly accepted.  It was amazing to see him in action.

We stayed around for about two hours longer.  They were setting up a shot to capture the reenactment but after a while they decided they didn’t need the background actors and after twelve and a half hours of sitting outside in the woods, we were wrapped.  The director and crew thanked us and we all were excited to finally stretch, walk, and sit on something that wasn’t a bleacher.

Overall the experience was exhausting but one I wouldn’t trade.  One that I would mostly likely say “yes” to again.