The Human Connection

Corben Bone

The sitcom titled The Good Place, starring Kristen Stewart, is about a community of people that have apparently entered Heaven or “the good place.” This community is occupied by men and women who have achieved humanitarian, philanthropic, and world altering goals, except Kristen Stewart, who seems to have been mixed up with a person who has the same name as her. Throughout the show, Kristen Stewart’s character, Eleanor Shellstrop, is trying to finesse her way into becoming a good person in order to justify her staying in “the good place” and not being exiled into “the bad place.” Throughout this process we get to know a few other characters that become Eleanor’s friends whom actually belong in “the good place,” and end up helping her fulfill this goal. As the show unfolds, there are transparent tendencies that each character possesses and in the beginning seem endearing, but start to become bigger problems as the show continues.

The twist comes in the final episode when Eleanor figures out that they are actually in “the bad place” and not “the good place.” This epiphany comes when she realizes that although their environment seems like a paradise, it is in fact filled with people that are especially chosen to annoy one another. Each character has specific character flaws or mannerisms that annoy and disrupt the mental stability and attitude of their friends without even realizing it.

The trickery in this show is based around the flaws in humanity and the lack of understanding, however, when Eleanor figures out what is really going on we find out that real human connection is built to withstand and actually grow through these idiosyncrasies.

The plan of torture put in place by the architects of “the bad place” is to convince the people that they are in “the good place” based on their environment and subtly torture each other, however, as their plan unfolds, these small torturous mannerisms actually become the root of connection.

In my opinion, this show provides a great example of how despite our differences, once they are accepted, they are what makes us compatible.

The human connection is something that can withstand manipulation and although it may seem penetrable the truth is that we find love in our differences.

The article below tackles philosophy within the show in four different areas, Aristotelianism, Utilitarianism, Deontology, and Existentialism. All four are important in the show, and can be applied to how different each of us can think, however, we can still find common ground within all of them.

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jan/30/the-good-place-how-a-sitcom-made-philosophy-seem-cool

This next article talks about how empathy helps with human connection and expressing emotion, and most importantly how our pitfalls or small intricacies make us human and in turn make us all beautiful.

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_the_good_place_says_about_good_evil

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Christmas Viewing

It’s nice to break in my new slippers (figuratively speaking since the feet in them are propped) with some knitting and one of my favorite holiday movies, Christmas in Connecticut. Later on in the week, there will be time to write about new movies and binge-watching TV shows on my primary blog at its new home, but tonight it’s fun to check in with a Hollywood classic and relish the familiarity of it.

new slippers

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Money is a Choice: The Lessons from Ozark

Netflix has recently come through with yet another exciting, thought-provoking, enticing original series. Ozark, which was released on July 21, 2017, is a shocking drama about a well-to-do Chicago family that finds themselves caught in the middle of a Mexican drug cartel and a hillbilly heroin producer.

Sure, Ozark is chock full of drama and action, but it is instead the diverse array of character development and plot line that make this such an important series to watch. The series opens up by introducing the Byrde family. The Byrde’s are intentionally casted as the typical upper-middle class American family: a boy, a teenage girl, a homemaker mother, and a father who works as a financial advisor downtown.

ozark.jpg

Labeled for noncommercial reuse.

We quickly learn that the Byrde’s merely appear happy on the surface. In reality, Marty (the father) is consumed in a money laundering scheme, facing death threats from the cartel; Wendy (the mother) has been having an extramarital affair with a billionaire sugar daddy for years; and now, the family is being forced to uproot their lives and move to the middle of Missouri.

While Ozark follows the general narrative of a family on-the-run attempting to “stick together” through difficult times, we learn much more about our own society and humanity in general. The show features characters from contrasting walks of life: rich, urban “know-it-alls” and white trash, John Wayne country folk. While these factions clash at first, differences are set aside as the season progresses, offering hope for a more understanding and peaceful world.

Additionally, the show features four different gay characters (a closeted “redneck,” two FBI agents, and a Chicago boyfriend), a mother with a severe drug addiction, a dock worker who has a disability, and a character inflicted with depression.

The complexity behind each character, and the variety of the collective cast in general, makes Ozark a truly interesting series. The fact that these “differences” are cloaked in the shadow of the more exciting plot line—illicit activity, violence, and survival—works to normalize the complex and diverse world the Byrdes (and we) now live in.

-Jim Walton

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lovable Buffoon

The Office, which aired on NBC from 2005 to 2013, continues to be popular today. This hilarious documentary-style series delves into the foolishness of a dysfunctional office in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Perhaps the greatest reason for its success is the lovable boss, Michael Scott.

Michael is that crazy, befuddling, lovable boss that most of us will come across at some point in our lives. Michael’s bizarre humor and unthinkable quests—and his employee’s reactions to the antics—brings us back to a nostalgic time.

michae-scott-quotes-5

Labeled for noncommercial reuse

Michael is the manager who spices up the monotony of a 9 to 5 job. All of his employees talk about him, grow into themselves around him, and ultimately create incredible relationships with one another in his presence.

Although Michael can draw the ire of his Dunder Mifflin employees more often than not, he is a character who truly cares about them and ultimately wants to feel loved himself. We can relate with Michael so easily because he embodies humanness. He is not perfect, but he is certainly a good friend and a loving individual.

Perhaps Michael’s most compassionate moment occurred in Season 3, in the famous “Pam art show” scene. At the end of the episode, Pam tries to convince the office to come to her art show. She receives little enthusiasm, although Michael says he will attend.

Pam’s boyfriend, Roy, briefly shows up to her exhibition, boasting about the fact that he and his brother were some of the only people there. Downtrodden, Pam is about to take down her art when Michael arrives.

Although Michael is often a buffoon, he used this moment to marvel at Pam’s paintings. He offers to buy one from her, exclaiming that he wants to hang it in the office. Michael fulfilled Pam’s dream—and any artists’ dream—of having their work displayed for many to enjoy.

Pam hugs Michael, who is seemingly unaware of his kind act. The lovable buffoon becomes entrenched in our hearts in that moment, and make Michael one of the best parts of The Office.

 

-Jim Walton

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Family Guy: Getting Away with Murder

Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy has elements of blatant racism that seemed to be accepted in the American home. Often, the minorities in the animated sitcom are the subject of ridicule or hyperbolic stereotyping, it is a familiar technique to prey on minorities for a cheap laugh. A prime example could be found in the episode “The Son Also Draws”, indigenous people of the United States are depicted as greedy swindlers, capitalizing off of their heritage and a casino.

Deals_with_Wrist

Family Guy “The Son Also Draws”

The surrealistic and animated nature of the show may allow the characters to partake in scenarios that would never happen in real life, and never be acted out by live actors on a set. In The Sitcom Reader, the chapter on magicoms discuss how even though these elements of certain shows may ‘detach’ it from reality, the topics discussed or how people are illustrated on shows such as these, are still detrimental to the ones being the subject of ridicule. Family Guy is this type of show.

Embedded in the humor and outrageous antics are a plethora of ideals and attitudes towards minorities that are not in the least productive towards reversing damaging images of minorities. Family Guy is the kind of show that prides itself on its’ offensiveness, most of it may just be for shock value, but this kind of tool cannot continue to be accepted as “OK”.

People may argue that it is only harmless jokes, but this representation and representations like this continue to be damaging to the image of a group of people. Perpetuation of these stereotypes are regressive. It is amazing to me that ridicule such as this can be depicted on television, and accepted, while accurate representation of minorities is often ignored or even combated in White US sitcoms.

The more authentic a show to a group of minorities, it seems the shorter it lasts, but racist elements will seem to be something acceptable in US sitcoms, especially when the characters are “not real”. This is something to think critically about. What makes this acceptable?

I do watch Family Guy myself, but I do find myself cringing and turning the channel when these offensive jokes make their way onto my TV screen.

Jordan Stackhouse

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Atypical or Completely Normal?

Netflix recently announced a new comedy called Atypical, the story of a high school student named Sam, who is on the autism spectrum, and his journey to find love and independence. This eight-episode first season of the original series will premier on August 11th.

MV5BMTkyMjg2NTUyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzE5MTQ5MjI@._V1_SY1000_SX750_AL_

The coming-of-age sitcom Atypical is created by Robia Rashid, who brought us How I Met Your Mother, and features Jennifer Jason Leigh, Keir Gilchrist and Michael Rapaport as the leads.

We’ve seen a successful comedies about characters on the spectrum before, such as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory or Abed Nadir on Community. ABC is set to release a new show, The Good Doctor, in the fall, which feature a young doctor on the spectrum. This network also recently released a comedy called Speechless about a family with a special needs member, a teen with cerebral palsy.

There have been many portrayals of characters with autism before, some more accurate than others. I lovingly recall Brick Heck from The Middle; although he was never diagnosed with anything specific, he attended an ASD-style social skills group. Or “Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black. I know Sonya Cross from FX’s The Bridge was a favorite as wellIt’s exciting to see more and more diverse representations of characters with ASD on television.

Characters like Sam in Atypical make us question – what does it even really mean to be normal?

atypical-netflix-premiere-date-video-keir-gilchrist-3

No one is normal. Atypical creator Robia Rashid, says Sam is “This is a guy who’s just like all of us”. Brigette Lundy-Paine, who plays Sam’s sister Casey, adds, ““Atypical goes deep into the magical world of the mind of someone with autism… So much of the show is told from inside Sam’s head, so it’s this treasure trove of experiences”.

Read more about it here and watch the trailer.

 

By Emma Cooley

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Carmichael Show, The United States’ Racist Legacy, Gun Control, and what it means to/for you.

The Carmichael Show is a show on NBC that talked about ‘uncomfortable issues’ in the United States. The creator, Jerrod Carmichael is actually a native of Winston Salem, North Carolina, whose unscrupulous stand up has been becoming increasingly popular in the last couple of years. His standup is mostly popular with liberal Whites, then Black people. His style of comedy is to bring light to sociopolitical issues through dry fact-of-the-matters coupled with harsh criticisms from every angle.  NBC’s website even says that in the show he created, “nothing is too taboo to explore”… until it is. NBC made the decision to blank out whole sentences containing the n-word for viewing audiences in an episode which whole basis was around the use of the word. Another censoring move by the network was to not air an episode regarding a mass shooting, which is something that unfortunately happens way too often in the United States. The network said it was due to the mass shootings that had just occurred the day the episode was supposed to be aired. There are many things that go on in this country that make it far from being great, and this show put it in the forefront; too bad it’s being cancelled.  The ratings for this show were steady enough to keep it going, but the difficulty from the network that the creators had to deal with may have discouraged lead creator, Jerrod Carmichael to return for a fourth season. Many say that the no-holds-barred nature of the show was unique to the traditional sitcom format, and will be considered as something ‘special’ in the way these issues were presented.

 

What might it mean for/to you? Ultimately, it depends on what side you’re on, either it means nothing to you, something that is un-empathizable, things that you can laugh at that you’ve never experienced. Maybe you’re offended at these serious topics being presented in a satirical nature. On the other side of the coin, it could be something that bares relentless truths that mirror your life experience as a citizen of the United States, maybe it is a mix of the two. A viewer might watch this show and say “well that’s not true”, but to someone it is, and there are things that happen every day to people this particular viewer may never experience in a lifetime. Some citizens turn a blind eye to the fact that race or gun control or gender or any other controversial aspect that comes with being an American in 2017 makes a difference in people’s lives, it would be ignorant to think that these factors do not influence daily life. Controversy should not be ignored or avoided; it should be addressed.

carmichael show.png

The Carmichael Show Season 1

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments