My Recent Watchlist

My reading and writing have suffered so much this past week. I was really busy with both personal fun things and professional hard things, and I just haven’t really had the extra mental energy. So I have to add my last book for this month onto next month’s list. Which is fine, because I have extra room and was going to start adding more books anyway. I’m hoping after I take my pharmacy tech exam I’ll find it easier to read again, though that does also make me worry that if I decide to try pharmacy school it will mean the end of fun-reading again. Sigh. It took me so long to re-learn casual reading.

I have been watching more TV than usual. That’s right about at my current level of mental energy, and there have been a lot of exciting things to watch. It also makes good background noise for doing other work, while I can’t really read other things while I study. Still following Supergirl and Riverdale, but I also saw some really cool references to Legion that caught my attention and watched all those, season 3 of Grace & Frankie was released Friday and I watched it all in two days, and I finally got around to Community and am most of the way through season 1. I’ll probably do a full review of Grace & Frankie later this week, but I’ll talk about those other two now. With quotes!

Legion

DAVID: Do you want to be my girlfriend?
SYD: Ok. But don’t touch me.
DAVID: Ok.
SYD: Yeah?
DAVID: Yeah.
SYD: Ok. Find me at dinner.

This bit was shared in an asexual group on Facebook and I immediately wanted to know what it was from and start watching. Finding that it was from this X-Men universe show about a character I read in one issue of a comic from the 90s once and had no real interest in following was a bit of a surprise. Even more surprising was that I like it. A lot. I think it might be the best superhero show yet.

It is mostly not about this cute non-physical romance. They’re kind of messed up, really, although the start of their relationship is pretty great and I do like that David respects her limits. Apart from that, though, I find their relationship pretty boring and think it moves too fast. Maybe there’s off-screen bonding that explains how attached they get so fast, but the way it’s actually shown feels really weird and makes me think Syd’s just one of David’s delusions. That would explain a lot but also open up wayyy more questions…much like many of the other reveals in this series! So we’ll see. But I think it’s probably just slightly clumsy storytelling.

Much more interesting is David’s relationship with himself and his (sometimes literal) demons. I’m very caught up in the drama to the point that it’s actually maybe a little addictive, in the same way people talk about “internet addiction” where it’s not actually the thing itself but what it does to your brain. (I know that’s what all addiction is, I just mean it’s indirect, not a literal chemical dependency.)

When I binged the first 5 episodes and then had to wait days for the next one to go up on Hulu, that wait was agonizing. I thought about it all day long, every day. I even started watching Fargo to get my drama fix since it’s made by some of the same people, even though it’s very much not my kind of show and I kind of don’t like what the fact that I like it might say about me. (At least with Fargo I’m definitely on the “these guys need to get caught” side and rooting for the right people, I’m way more conflicted about David.)

There are many fascinating characters and great actors in this. Cary and Kerry are my favorites, but Aubrey Plaza’s performance is brilliant and wonderful and often the most fun part of an episode. There’s lots to love here, if you can handle some gore and want to risk getting sucked into the drama.

Community

JEFF: What’s the deal with the hot girl from Spanish class? I can’t find a road in there.
ABED: Well I only talked to her once while she was borrowing a pencil, but her name is Britta, she’s 28, birthday in October, she has two older brothers and one of them works with children who have a disorder I might want to look up. Oh, and she thinks she’s gonna flunk tomorrow’s test, so she really needs to focus. So she’s sorry if that makes her seem cold.
JEFF: Hold crap. Abed. I see your value now.
ABED: That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

People have been recommending this to me for sooo long and I don’t even know why it’s taken me till now to finally check it out. It’s great! For all people have been saying Sheldon’s “just like me” for so long, here’s Abed who’s actually like me, but also like Sheldon, but in ways that are celebrated as part of what makes people unique rather than treated as the butt of the joke. Yay! All the characters in Community are weird and flawed but that’s part of what makes them who they are and those flaws are shown in loving ways.

With a lot of what counts as autistic representation (in my personal opinion) there’s either a reluctance to name it or a tendency to turn the character into a caricature of a bunch of stereotypical autistic traits. Or in the case of Big Bang Theory and Sheldon, both. Ugh, BBT.

Community doesn’t do this. That Abed is likely autistic is mentioned in his opening dialogue, is explicitly named by the end of the first episode, and frequently raised again without judgment. It’s not perfect. One of the characters misunderstands the word “tardiness” and apologizes to Abed for its use. Another character does some dramatic shushing when someone almost mentions autism. In the first example, the joke is clearly on the person apologizing and everyone else seems to know he’s being obnoxious. It’s still pretty screwy and I would like it examined more, but it doesn’t bother me much. The second one bothers me more because, like with the same character’s homophobia, no one challenges it at all. The person who almost said “autism” (the horror!) changes the track of her sentence, making it seem like there’s actually something wrong with using the word or with suggesting he has a disability. Huge step backward from that fantastic first episode!

But I still have hope for the series. Overall, I enjoy it a lot and in particular its nods to geek culture. I like that characters’ strengths and weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin and that people are accepted and even celebrated for their whole selves. And I love the idea of creating an instant community, no matter how unrealistic. That people can care for each other and help each other grow even if you have almost nothing in common.

The discussion theme for my church this month is “covenant,” and for a religion that’s built on that (UU) there has been a surprising amount of difficulty figuring out what it means. It’s a slippery word and I’m still not sure I understand, but I think this show sums up the goal of it. And they do it without any official agreement or uniting interest. They aren’t friends, they’re explicitly a community that chooses to be together and look out for each other even though none of them would have anything to do with each other in their everyday lives. I’ve never seen that actually happen in life, but I want it and I hold out hope for it.

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