Faking It: how average shows should be

 Faking It is not what you can call a great and deep TV show, but in its simplicity and even ordinariness it obtains something very few have. It is an average show, one like all the others you may catch on TV switching channels, but it’s a modern, more open-minded version of those silly shows.

 The topic through the seasons is teenage life, the daily drama of grown-up kids and their parents, just a common, overused, trivial topic we have seen millions of time on TV. And yet, the show comes as an amused breath of fresh air.

 It’s a comical show, exaggerated in its drama, ridiculous in most of its dynamics, and yet it also manages to offer some deep considerations. It can be watched as a light show to pass time, or it can be watched more carefully, paying attention to the messages behind the comical exaggerations of teenage drama. 

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How I became familiar with “The 100”

 I learned about the show thanks to some clexa fan-video where I saw this new couple and I had to check it out. I started by only watching Lexa’s scenes and I loved the chemistry between the two actresses (Alycia Debnam-Carey and Eliza Taylor), Alycia’s performance was wonderful, I loved her character immediately. I was going to keep watching only the couple’s scenes, as I do with shows when I’m only interested in one or two characters, but then this friend of mine who was, at the time, kinda obsessed with the series pushed and begged me to watch the whole thing, so eventually I gave in.

 I didn’t like season 1 too much, the start was taken right off Lord of the Flies, a lot of ideas weren’t original at all, but bad and less than bad copies of other shows or movies. There were a lot of cliches too, but when the grounders made their appearance I hoped it could get better. It didn’t, but it wasn’t all that bad, I would never put The 100 in those lists of best TV shows, I can’t understand the people who do that, but as an average show it is not too bad, the customs are nice, the special effects get better after season 1, the characters are very well written and the cast is a good one. The real flaw about this show is the story. It’s a pity the story is actually what people normally watch a show for – though, is that still true?

 But I should admit, I liked the grounders society, their clans, their story, if we don’t mind the Commander’s story, it’s still pretty interesting. I hoped season 3 would have focused on them and their clans. It is not an original idea, of course, but it could have still been used in an original way. A lot of shows have clans and that kind of stuff, but none of them is really that good, with the characters it has, The 100 could have succeeded. But of course they had to throw in there a storyline that, if I’m allowed, is boring, overrated and still not original.

 The thing that makes me angry the most though are the messages the show sends. A lot of newspapers have called The 100 a progressive and open-minded show, but that is not true. I hate the way strong women are portrayed: in order to prove that they are strong they have to give up grief, they can’t even process their pain because they have to suck it up and go back fighting, while the boys can be whining idiots and make horrible decisions because they’re hurt. When Clarke makes one bad decision, they immediately blame her, when Bellamy makes plural huge bad decisions and kills hundreds of innocent, puts his people at risk destroying all Clarke has fought for, he’s forgiven because he was grieving.

 This only sends the message that boys don’t really need to do anything to be strong, they can do the worst and be forgiven because they’ve been through a lot, while girls have to prove over and over again that they’re strong and to do so they have to never show hurt and never grieve.

 In season 3 the show also starts to become unnecessarily violent, as if challenging Game of Thrones, but resulting quite pathetic. They kill the few people who always fought for peace, they show the rape of a man and handle it in such an ignorant way, joking about it on the Social Medias. And apparently a woman can only win a war if all she has to do is pull a lever.

 That’s all kinds of wrong. We have a rape that doesn’t matter, ’cause he was a man and men don’t get raped, a lesbian who, how surprising!, dies right after finally sleeping with the woman she loves, a man who dies because he refuses violence (men are strong because they’re violent after all, isn’t it?), an idiotic boy who’s forgiven everything because he was hurting, a girl who can only win pulling levers (because women couldn’t win wars otherwise)…and a bunch of disgusting choices by the developer Jason Rothenberg. 

 If at first I considered it a nice average show with very good characters that had some potential, I now see the all thing as pathetic, they keep ruining every good thing they still had.

 Though I do want to say again that I have nothing against the actors. The cast is the only thing that keeps getting better on the show. If it weren’t for the cast, I would have never started the show in the first place. 

The 100: How to ruin potential

 The 100 is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series developed by Jason Rothenberg. The planet was bombed and civilization destroyed, almost a hundred years later the survivors of Earth are still on the Ark, the only space station left. When the oxygen is about to run out, they send their under-age criminals – who were waiting to turn eighteen to be executed – to Earth to see if it’s finally safe to go back. Landing on Earth the kids find that the radiations are not harmful any more and they struggle to survive in the wild nature. Things turn even worse when they learn they’re not alone on the planet. The grounders and the Mountain Men survived the bombs too.

 Clarke is a strong-willed girl who will take the weight of responsibility on her shoulders since she lands on Earth, she will lead her people, care for them, sacrifice everything for them. She will become a woman through the hard decisions she will have to make. She’s caring and selfless, she makes a passionate leader.

 Abby is Clarke’s mother, she’s a doctor and the Chancellor on the Ark. She’s a passionate woman and a concerned mother, it will take her time to accept that her daughter has grown up during her time on the ground. 

 Raven is a sassy brunette, a strong woman who will endure a lot, she will have her great share of pain and push through it.

 Octavia is a warrior, she’s one of the criminals sent down from the Ark. She’s the first to embrace the grounders’ culture and learn their ways, she proves herself suited to become a warrior and finds love among the grounders, as Clarke will.

 Bellamy is Octavia’s brother, he feels the duty to always look after his sister but his choices are often very questionable. He never learns to trust the grounders, but he works with Clarke to protect their people.

 Marcus is another Chancellor of the Ark and even if at first he doesn’t trust the grounders at all, he will learn to see them as more than savages.

 Jaha is the Chancellor of the Ark at the beginning of the show, he will have a huge role in season two when he makes a big discover.

 Lexa is probably the most beautiful character in the show, thanks to the actress (Alycia Debnam-Carey) this character stole the attention of the fandom becoming almost a co-leading character at Clarke’s side. She’s the Commander of the grounders, Heda. She’s strong and lethal, but will rediscover feelings she has long since buried when Clarke stands up to her and walks at her side into a war. There will be heartbreak and love, but this character had the potential to be so much more than what Jason made her.

 I do not recommend people to watch The 100 for two main reasons: 1) if you’re watching it for the story itself, it’s not a very original one, all the good ideas have been dismissed way too quickly, 2) if you’re watching it because you heard about how modern and progressive the show is, I can tell you that it’s all a marketing strategy.

 The 100‘s leading characters are mostly all women, strong, powerful women. That is true, Clarke, Octavia, Raven, Abby are wonderful women and Lexa is a fantastic addition. But if you think Jason handles it in a good way, think again. I find a lot of things offensive about how the show handles independent women.

 How do people face loss in The 100? The boys are allowed to grief and grief for entire seasons, they’re allowed to make really bad decisions and kill innocents because of their pain and are forgiven because “poor boy, he was suffering”. The girls have to suck it up and go on, they don’t even get the time to cry over a lost one. The message of the show is that to be strong boys only need to be males, girls need to get over their feelings and be strong all the time, never grieving or showing hurt. If a girl cries she goes back being considered the weak female, if a boy cries the character is modern because “boys should be allowed to cry too”.

 The ideas for the story are not original, in the first few episodes they just downright copy The Lord of Flies, then they start to throw in many typical stereotypes and eventually copy things from Game of Thrones. A show that starts off as mildly violent and presenting moral doubts and issues, becomes grossly violent in the third season, when it loses every good thing it had. 

 The characters are what you could really save about the show, or maybe were. Lexa, Clarke, Raven, Octavia, Lincoln are all amazing, well-written characters, the cast is wonderful and they give life to powerful characters. The whole cast is pretty good anyway, I would never say anything against the actors, the problem of this show is some choices of the writers and mostly its developer, Jason Rothenberg. He had in his hands a show that could have been really nice with a cast like that and he ruined all the good stuff.

 I would definitely not suggest to watch The 100, although it is really a pity to lose Alycia’s performance as Lexa: she’s very powerful. I do, however, advise to check out some of the actors, they really are good.

 

Actors I like in the show: 
Eliza Taylor as Clarke Griffin
Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa 
Lindsey Morgan as Raven Reyes
Ricky Whittle as Lincoln
Marie Avgeropoulus as Octavia Blake 
Christopher Larkin as Monty Green

Wynonna Earp: a pleasant distraction

Wynonna Earp is a Canadian show developed by Emily Andras, who was also show runner and executive producer for seasons 3 and 4 of Lost Girl.

Cursed city, demons coming back at every new generation, a heir who can put them back in hell with an old-fashioned gun.

Wynonna is a bad ass woman who comes back to her home town when she turns 27, the age at which the curse starts. She has a gun to fight the bad guys, now she only needs a partner.

Dolls is an agent of the Black Badge division and is sent into town to investigate the curse and take care of the demons. He helps Wynonna figuring out her mission and improving her skills.

Waverly is the kick ass sister, she’s funny and smart, she can find anything in old books. She’d make a great – and incredibly cute – investigator.

Doc is old, like a lot old, and he’s kind of immortal. He’s been cursed to eternal life by a witch, back at the time when the curse was cast upon the Earps. He’s going to be Wynonna’s other side kick and help her fight the demons.

Nicole is the Haught police officer. She’s a very cute, caring and brave red head who totally has a crush on Waverly. Bobo is the leader of the demons, he has many secrets to reveal through the season. Constance is the witch who cursed Doc. 

 Wynonna Earp is not a great TV show, you can definitely find better, but it’s a nice distraction from all those shows that have potential and keep destroying it. The queer side of the story – the show has LGBT characters – is like a breath of fresh air, lesbians still haven’t died in idiotic ways and in this first season there’s a sort of joke about it, a scene that makes fun of those shows that kill off their gay characters in boring, overused ways. 

 Don’t watch it if you want a good, interesting and challenging, well-written show, but do watch it if you want to laugh on a slightly “horror” show that’s totally not scary and instead is kinda funny. It’s a good distraction if you come from a delusion of a show like The 100 and such. 

 The reason I watched it though is the WayHaught ship, because those two are actually pretty damn cute. 

The Fosters: shout out to the ABC family

The Fosters is an American show about family and teen drama. Unlike many other shows, it offers a vast range of representation, it recounts the usual teen drama, but it also tells it from different prospectives. It is not everyday that you see a show telling family drama from the eyes of adopted children and homosexual foster parents. The show depicts all the drama of the foster system, but also the drama of foster kids being just that: kids, normal teenagers.

I just started this show a couple of weeks ago, I binge-watched the first two seasons and I’m now in the middle of the third one. I absolutely love it, there are all the clichés about teen drama – and there definitely is a lot of drama – but everything feels fresh and realistic, because the characters are not all white straight people living with their biological parents.

There are young loves, troubled relationships, broken hearts, family issues, all the things we’ve seen on TV many times already, but there also are portrayed the foster system’s many flaws, the adopted children’s trust issues and their doubts even well into an adoption, the foster parents’ abuse of the children, and the fight the good ones have to draw on in order to finally make those children family.

Every topic is handled with care and different point of views are offered to the audience. Religion clashes with the Fosters’ lack of belief in God and sometimes religion loses, sometimes there is no loser at all. In the matter of whether to label yourself or refuse to and simply be who you are, both opinions are explained and neither prevails on the other.

Stef and Lena’s relationship is treated like any other, they have their issues and their arguments, but their sexual orientation doesn’t matter at all in any of that, it doesn’t make them good parents or bad parents, the question is not even acceptable. At the same time it is also shown how they sometimes have to deal with people who are not okay with their relationship, and never does the series suggest that it’s okay to discriminate.

The struggle of adopted, LGBT, non-white skinned characters against discrimination is shown, but so is the support that should naturally come from family.

Everyone is accepted on the show, discrimination is portrayed, but it is not the cause of all the drama. What keeps causing problems and arguments is not discrimination, it is life, clashes of personalities, teenage years bumping around, unfair laws and systems, human mistakes.

The Fosters gives so much representation without showing off, without priding themselves with it, without using it as a marketing move, it fights discrimination in the best way it can: portraying it on the screen and making its characters strong enough to fight it. It offers the representation of life, not of LGBT community or adopted children or any category, but representation of persons.

And maybe it is not the perfect TV show – honestly I kinda have had enough of Callie’s love drama – but it is a great representation for life and it is realistic.

Now I’ll just briefly introduce you to the main characters:

Stef is a policewoman, she has a partner, Lena, and three kids at the beginning of the show. She would do anything to protect her children and family.

Lena is a sweet and wise woman, she’s a loving mother to her adopted kids, she works as vice-principal in her children’s school and is very passionate about her job and her family.

Callie and Jude have been in six different foster-homes, they’ve been through a lot and they may finally find a family in the Fosters. Callie’s great at helping others, even if it means she’s going to get hurt, and she should probably think more about helping herself sometimes; she has trust issues and a big heart. Jude is a sweet and special kid, he’s sensible and he’s not ashamed of showing who he is, he loves his sister very much and suffers with her through the drama of her life.

Mariana and Jesus are the Fosters twins, they’ve been adopted by Stef and Lena at the age of five and have grown up with them. Mariana just wants to be accepted in school and blend in with everyone else, she will find that normal is overrated. Jesus cares a lot about his sister and always looks out for her, he’s always ready to put himself on the line for his family.

Brandon is Stef’s biological son, he has three parents, he grew up with Stef and Lena since he was a young child but his father is still a constant in his life. Piano is his passion and he will have a troubled relationship with it as the seasons proceed.

Mike is Brandon’s father and Stef’s ex-husband, he struggles with his relationship with his son for a while, but he’s always part of the others’ lives.

Black Sails: my favourite show

 I watch a lot of TV shows lately, some of them are good, some others definitely aren’t, but none of them is Black Sails. This is my one and only favourite TV show, the only one that still hasn’t disappointed me in any way – there’s only one season left, so I hope I’m not talking too soon. I may speak about Orange Is The New Black, Person of Interest, Wentworth, and many others, but none of them comes close to the amount of love I have for Black Sails.

 Black Sails is an American show written as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. In the show real life pirates are also portrayed, such as Anne Bonny, Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Blackbeard, Benjamin Hornigold and Ned Low. It is a pirate show, so if you don’t like pirates and realism, you shouldn’t watch it. It can be brutal, it can be very crude, and some scenes are not exactly nice. Rape is not a taboo, sex is not a shameful act, prostitution is not something hidden away, violence is daily occurrence. I love it. It doesn’t spare us the gruesome details, although it’s not exaggerated, it’s not shy in showing us how it was at the time. And although it presents us with a world that was unforgiving, a world where women were just a little more than slaves, where dark skinned people were meant to be slaves, it is not a show of discrimination. On the opposite, it shows us a place where discrimination can be beaten. Prejudice is there, of course, but discrimination doesn’t always win and the smart people know better than that. The world they live in is an educated jungle, but the island of Nassau (New Providence) is a safe harbour, quite literally. Black people can be more than slaves, women can earn the respect of the strongest of men, gay men can be as fierce pirates as straight men.

 Everyone has a chance to fight their way through life in Nassau. But Nassau is an island of pirates, a safe hold, and Britain will not stand and watch for long.

 Charles Vane is a charming character, probably the character with more morality among the leading figures, he’s tough, but he can show care, he’s been through hell and he walks with his head held up high, he’s proud to be a pirate, one of the most respected captain in Nassau.

 Eleanor Guthrie is a smart woman, she knows how to manipulate people and how to bend to circumstances, she knows how to survive in a world that can change in a day. She’s beautiful and can be as ruthless as reasonable.

 James Flint is the captain who always falls on his feet. No matter how much his men can come not to trust him, he will find his way into their mind and change their opinion. His charm is in his words, he delivers powerful speeches that can get his crew to face whatever he asks of them.

 Max is a prostitute, she fights her way to freedom, passing through hell to get there. She knows people better than anyone and knows how to gain power over them, how to sneak into their heart. Her charm equals her intelligence and she comes out as a very wise character in multiple occasions.

 Anne Bonny will not hesitate to cut you to pieces with her knives if you piss her off and Jack Rackham is just the best man you’ll find in Nassau, apparently hopeless as a captain he’ll fight desperately to earn that position. John Silver is probably as good with words as Flint is, but where Flint is feared, Silver is “loved” – if such a thing were possible in Nassau – at least for a while.

 The thing I love the most about the show is the accuracy of the fights. I fence – Medieval fencing – and I can’t watch fights on TV because I’d spend the whole time pointing out all the mistakes that make the fight so not realistic. On Black Sails I can enjoy the fights as well as the amazing acting of the cast. 

 Anyway, if you like pirates and you don’t mind a crude show, go watch it because it’s worth it!

Wentworth: variety in prison

 Wentworth is the prison we’re taken in following Bea Smith’s arrest after she tries to kill her abusive husband.

 Bea is a beautiful redhead. She’s a strong yet broken woman, over the seasons she will have to fight harder and harder to survive in prison and later to maintain her position as Top Dog. For her it all starts with a desperate attempt to put an end to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. Her marriage broke her spirit and her daughter is her only reason for happiness and hope when she ends up in prison for not revealing her husband’s domestic abuse. Prison will break her even more and grief will haunt her through the seasons of this show, only to come to a wonderful evolution in season 4 when she will finally find someone to love, something to do, something to look forward to.

 Franky is a raging lesbian, a fighter with a sharp tongue, she’s full of witty remarks and anger from an unhappy childhood. She’s in prison for throwing hot oil on the host of a cooking TV show after he verbally abused her on camera. She’s a tough character and will go back being Top Dog after season 1. She has anger issues and a fragile edge to her tough persona that we will see come out as the seasons go on and she falls for the prison’s psychiatrist, Bridget Westfall.

 Boomer is not someone to mess with, she is in prison with the charge of “intentionally causing serious injury”, she’s a close friend of Franky and will protect our favourite prison’s Top Dogs all through the seasons. She’s witty and funny, has a great sense of humour that earns her a great deal of love from the fandom. Her character will develop beautifully in the last seasons.

 Liz is the mother hen in our favourite unit, she got eleven years after getting drunk and accidentally killing her mother-in-law. She has already served several years as we meet her when Bea goes to prison and she takes the new inmate under her wing. She proves herself to be a great friend, but it is also evident how she still struggles a lot when alcohol is involved, which will cause her many troubles in season 3 when she will have an important but difficult reunion.

 Doreen is a sweet woman who ended up in prison for “Reckless Endangerment” after her unborn child dies in a car accident caused by her wasted state when she was driving. She longs to have another chance at being a mother and she will finally have it when in season 3 she gives birth to Joshua. She’s very close to Liz and initially part of Franky’s crew.

 Vera is the Deputy Governor in Wentworth prison who, since the very first season, aims to become Governor. Her job is everything, her life limited and asocial because of her mother who requires her attention at all times and berates her at every chance she gets. She always tries to do the right thing and almost always means well, but she will find that good and evil are more alike than she thought, that innocence is a relative thing and abuse can pull the worst out of someone.

 Will is the good guy if you ask me, he’s a screw as well, he stumbles in his grief for the death of his wife during the first season and will take that pain with him in season 2. He’s friendly with Bea and they have a relationship of mutual respect, he’s probably the most understanding of the guards in the prison, maybe even of the inmates, he tries his best to help her and their relationship, although complicated, is something of a beautifully silent friendship.

 New characters are introduced every season, but I will only mention four of them, as quickly as I can.

 Joan is the governor in season 2 and she will soon manifest her psychotic and manipulative side, only showing it fully near the end of the season. Everyone will start to call her The Freak after some brutal abuse she puts some inmates through. As horrible as she is, as much as the fans can hate her, she’s a very strong, very well written character. Her personality is complex, her past playing an important part in it, and it will slowly unravel through season 4.

 Maxine is a male-to-female beautiful woman with a heart of gold. She’s my second favourite character (only because Allie walked in with her bright eyes and disarming smile and took the first position away) and I love her with all my heart. She’s in prison for stabbing her boyfriend with scissors after he broke her heart rejecting her after the gender reassignment surgery, she’s not easily accepted in prison and is targeted with discrimination even from a pretty close-minded screw, but she bonds with Bea during the season and she comes to care very deeply for the redhead Top Dog.

 Kaz is a sort of violent vigilante who hates men, she makes her first appearance in season 3 and becomes an inmate at the beginning of season 4, she antagonises Bea immediately, even though she admired her and fought in her name in season 3. She’s had a hard childhood with sexual abuse from her father, she deeply cares for her women, although she’s not good in showing it positively. She will be easily manipulated by Joan into aiding her to achieve her goal to take back her power.

 Allie is the light in the darkness. She’s part of Kaz’s crew but will soon develop feelings for Bea that will bring her to wanting to change side. Kaz is much of a motherly figure to her and she will feel deeply betrayed as the woman crosses the line in her fight against Bea. Allie is a beautiful young woman who will finally bring light in Bea’s life, she’s patient and caring, always ready to simply be there for the people she loves, she has a bright personality that collides with her difficult past of drugs and abuse. She’s strong, forever flirty and smart, she has all my love since the moment she introduces herself to Bea and the crew in episode 1 of season 4.

 This Australian show is full of amazing variety and wonderful representation that make it seem more realistic. Many shows forget about the variety in life, forget about how we’re not all straight, we’re not all white, we don’t all fall in love with the kind of person we expected to have feelings for, we’re not all strong, we’re not all able to overcome our weaknesses. In Wentworth there are LGBT characters, both positive and negative – Joan was in love with a woman and yet her character is not exactly positive. I think it’s important to have negative LGBT characters as well, it shows even more equality as it confirms that LGBT people are exactly like straight people: they can be good, they can be bad.

 Liz struggles with alcohol, she doesn’t easily overcome her weakness, she succumbs to it more than once, her strength is in understanding her limit, not heroically besting it. Doreen tries to redeem herself, but doesn’t cease to make mistakes along the way, Kaz fights for what she believes in, women’s right not to be abused by men, but crosses the line in her violence. Kaz is a good example of how even feelings that we can associate to “feminism” – which is a term we’re used to often hear in a positive meaning – can degenerate in the same violence they’re trying to fight. Where does the good stand, where does the bad start? Is there such a thing as bad and good? In Wentworth we can empathize with all of them, but who do we consider bad and who do we still consider good even if they crossed the line? To which extent do intentions matter? Is Kaz justified for beating those men just because they, or most of them, had abused women? We understand the feeling, the need for justice, but can we forgive taking justice in her own hands? As long as it’s self defence, we haven’t got much of a problem answering that question, but what Kaz and her crew did was not self defence, it was vengeance. Can we excuse Franky, who was pushed just a little too much and snapped? Or Liz, who was pushed and pushed until she got drunk and accidentally killed someone?

 Wentworth can get a bit brutal over the seasons, although it doesn’t really come close to the brutality we witnessed in this last season of Orange Is The New Black, but it shows human dynamics in hard situations, it shows how prison can push people to display the worst of them. It is a show worth watching, even if season 4 will probably break your heart after blessing you with its breathtaking beauty. The cast only gets better and better, some amazing actors giving us their best performance – Socratis Otto playing a wonderful Maxine, Danielle Cormack rocking her role as Bea Smith, Kate Jenkinson stealing a lot of hearts with Allie’s blue eyes, Pamela Rabe offering one of the best performances in the show as Joan – .

 It’s a show I highly advise you to watch, it took me a while to actually watch it after I heard about it and I surely don’t regret binge-watching 3 seasons to catch up with season 4 before the finale. It also made me fall in love even more with Australian accent, I don’t even know why I find it so sexy.

 Now, enough of reading this article, go watch the show and come back to comment!