Ugly Betty | This hysterical American take on a Spanish telenovela packed as much heart as it did laughs. America Ferrera delivered as the spunky and determined Betty, who battled posh naysayers at Meade Publications. Before the devil wore Prada, she probably worked for Vanessa Williams’ Wilhemina Slater, the icy nemesis at Mode Magazine. Ugly Betty was a bright light of fun, inclusion and drama that lit my college years.
Heroes | Another gem during my college tenure. NBC’s venture into superheroes without the capes and spandex was an ambitious leap for network TV. And the first season was absolutely perfect. Enough mystery and grit with each character. And then there was the penultimate season finale, which paved the way for the rest of the series. Midway through season two, it lost its footing and struggled for three more seasons. Even its’ reboot a year or so ago was abysmal. But we’ll always have that extraordinary first season: save the cheerleader. save the world.
Collateral | It’s rare I enjoy an action film that doesn’t involve comic characters, but this film peaked my interest. The same year Jamie Foxx dazzled the Academy with Ray, he and Tom Cruise irked out a gritty tale of true heroism. Cruise’s take as a cold-blooded hitman who enters Foxx’s cab during an evening of work is a sleek examination of human behavior. Pure good versus evil, and how the two are never that far apart.
Get Out | Yes, this movie just dropped this year. Yes, it may have had flaws. It wasn’t even an actual horror film, in the traditional sense. But Jordan Peele’s social examination of America’s living nightmare stuck a chord with everyone. Not only is it the highest-grossing film from a black director with an original screenplay, it has been an accelerant for the discussion of race in America.
Broke With Expensive Taste | How does one explain a problem like Azealia Banks. The NYC native is an insanely talented lyricist, singer and potentially actress. She’s bold artistically and has hits that stick like grits. But that boldness erodes any chance she ascends as hip-hop royalty. Instead her mouth is known more for feuding with the public than it is for spitting rhymes. Despite this her debut album is one of the best rap albums of the decade. Hands down.
B’Day | I was a casual fan of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter in 2006. I enjoyed “Crazy in Love” and mimicked the routine in “Baby Boy.” But I didn’t understand the direction of her sophomore LP. Not on first listen. Everything felt forced. It was loud and overbearing. Plus her eccentric performance of “Deja Vu” at the BET Awards that year had me Ray Charles to this era – until she dropped those videos. And one by one my defenses fell. I succumbed to the honey in her hive, hypnotized by “Upgrade U,” “Freakum Dress” and “Green Light.” While I still dodge “Irreplaceable” I no longer deny the moment Beyoncé leveled up before our eyes. Nothing was ever the same.
Last night’s This Is Us spelled something new for Kate, while unveiling a character flaw Kevin inherited from his father. And Randall and Beth took a step forward with Deja, only to face another setback.
Kate busies herself in preparation for a big show, paying particular attention to her steady weight loss. Toby senses she is stressing too much, even ignoring him in the process. But she assures him she is fine. What she hasn’t disclosed to her fiancé is she’s six weeks pregnant.
While Kate prepares for this monumental change, Randall and Beth struggle to connect with the change in their home. A simple discussion about Deja not washing her hair becomes a science neither of them can understand. In an intimate moment, Beth finds the root of the problem: Deja suffers from alopecia. It’s a touching segment seeing her open up to Beth. Unfortunately this progress regresses once Deja discovers Beth shared her secret with Randall. It’s evident men in Deja’s life have been the source of mistreatment.
We see a different form of abuse in the flashback narrative. An outbreak of the chickenpox brings Rebecca’s tenuous relationship with her mother to a head. We had glimpses of her mother’s constant critiquing, but never witnessed it firsthand.
The snide comments about Kate’s weight. Emphasising Kevin’s success with his looks. Judging Jack for his upbringing. And lastly, her racially insesitive disposition toward Randall. Rebecca finally extolls how none of it is acceptable.
This scene brilliantly tackled the timely issue of addressing problematic family members. To all those with Trump supporters at the Thanksgiving table; to those who’s friends make rape jokes; this is how you make it known that their behavoir is unfavorable and unacceptable.
The flashsback segment also gave us insight into Kevin’s backstory with his father. Jack’s seemingly innocent encouragement for Kevin to be tough through the chickenpox ordeal stuck with him. Even after his football-ending leg injury, Kevin learned to cope with pain and suffering by acting like it isn’t there.
Now with his knee surgery, he’s recoiled to the same tough-it-out mentality. Part of it is him not wanting to lose his acting career like he did his athletic one. The other is him fearing how he’ll react to the opioids prescribed.
Just as Jack coveted his father’s alcoholism, Kevin may have inherited a similar addictive trait. And by the looks of next week’s episode, Kevin succumbs to more than just pills to cope.
The week of premieres continued with CW’s The Flash beginning its fourth season. I also made it through the best episode of This Is Us yet.
After season three’s lackluster run, viewers had been promised a fresh start as The Flash is “ reborn.” What we got was an average episode that could have been good, but faltered in its close. Continue reading ELN: ‘Flash’ drags back as ‘This Is Us’ continues strong
Tuesday night was reserved for the family dramas. We returned to the then-and-now family ties of This Is Us, and the down South black love in Queen Sugar. Queen picks up from its midseason hiatus with a two-night premiere. Continue reading ELN: Two families, two shows
Like most of America, I too, was caught up in NBC’s hit drama after the pilot’s jaw-dropping last five minutes. The reveal of the Pearsons then, being the same family now, was touching, bold and smart. Since then Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. have been a new version of the network’s “must-see TV.” Not only is the writing brilliant, but the performances are good, almost each and every episode. And the same way Scandal gathers Twitter viewers every night with an “OMG” moment, Us has gathered faithfuls with the simple complexity of human experiences. Tears of joy or sadness are shed as these characters hit real-life peaks and lows without jerk-move antics or over-the-top outcomes.
That was until last night. Continue reading Hate Is a Strong Word | This Is Us: S1 Finale