Tag: reality tv

Survivor Second Chances

survivor second chanceI recently did a post on the current season of Survivor called Survivor 30 Being Annoyed and Abuse.In the post I talked about how mean spirited the season has ended up particularly centering around a woman named Shirin who was verbally assaulted by a fellow castmate named Will in a personal attack that hasn’t been seen on the show before. I was feeling pretty down but found something I could take away from all the conflict.  I realized how I can rationalize doing hurtful things to people because their personality is annoying to me which really isn’t a good reason when you think about it.

So I took something away from it and I am curious to see how it all ends (hope for Mike!).

second chancesLuckily Survivor didn’t leave us all depressed with season 30 for long.  They announced season 31 is going to be called Survivor Second Chances and they are doing something they’ve never done before.  They have nominated 32 players, 16 women, 16 men who have all played the game once before.  Some of these are old time players from seasons 1 and 2 and others are from the current season 31 including Shirin (hurray!).  I’m so excited to see any of these 20 back again but it has been like Christmas for Survivor fans to hear the campaigning and try to decide what people to vote for.

My favorite podcaster over at RHAP has been working overtime to interview as many of the contestants as possible and these are thorough 45 to an hour long interviews which again is like a holiday for fans.  We get to hear all about their original seasons plus what they would do differently.  We can even provide ideas and suggestions for the upcoming season something that has always been impossible (we usually don’t know the cast until it has already filmed!).  So if you are fan of the show it has been a real treat.

To listen to Rob’s interviews go to http://robhasawebsite.com/category/survivor/survivor-second-chance/

The graphic above shows the people I have decided to vote for.  I looked at it as if I was a casting director and what mixture of personalities and types would I want on the show.  That’s why I have some strong personalities like Troyzan and Abi, some thinkers like Spencer and Stephen, some challenge beasts like Terry and Tasha and some who will play with real heart like Kelly and Woo.  The rest are just people that I like a lot and am curious to see what they do.  Whoever gets picked it is going to be a ton of fun to see, as I don’t dislike any of them.

I tried to pick people that I think will be positive while still being competitive.  Even if there are some feisty one’s I think the one’s I picked keep it to the game and know it is all in good fun.  If it is mean like this season and misogynistic I will be very sad. Let’s play hard but have a good time while in the game guys and girls!

Feel free to follow my ballot and vote every day at http://www.cbs.com/shows/survivor/second-chance/

Are any of you voting?  Who do you like?  Please let me know!

blogiversary

On a side note today is my 7 year blogiversary!  That’s 7 years writing my silly thoughts about life.  I should do something more important but I’m saving that for post 1,000 which is 2 posts away. Wow!

Survivor 30 Being Annoyed and Abuse

Hey guys I thought I would share something I’ve been thinking about with the latest season of Survivor dubbed Survivor Worlds Apart.  In most ways this has been my least favorite season I’ve ever watched.  It’s just been so unpleasant with people behaving more like bitter real housewives or jilted love interests on The Bachelor than people playing a game. The one plus is it has gotten me thinking about human nature and the age old question- are we innately good or bad?

shirinMost of the drama has centered around a woman named Shirin Oskool who I met in NYC (or her cousin…) and was a delight. She is a an executive over at Yahoo and was put on the white collar tribe (castmates were divided based on their jobs this season).

Well, evidently Shirin is a little bit annoying.  It was never explained what exactly she did that was so annoying except she is a huge fangirl of the show and was always talking about it and she got naked at the beginning of the season so that her clothes could get cleaned.

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I’m sure the cast would list off a bunch of things she did which are annoying.  But I don’t think that actually matters.  Being annoying is a human trait and is the fault of the person being annoyed.  Yes we can reign it in but it’s not like lying or stealing.  It’s being annoying.  It’s not a human weakness or sin.

what about bob

Think about the movie What About Bob.  The whole point of that movie is that Bob is so annoying to the Richard Dryfus character but he is completely oblivious.  He has no idea he is being annoying.  Dryfus’ reaction is human but it is his problem not Bob’s that he is allowing another human being to get under his skin to such a degree.

Unfortunately human nature does not always exhibit self control.  It is perhaps when we are around someone who we find annoying that the worst of human nature comes out just like it did with the Dr and Bob.  I love how it is described by good old Joe Fox in one of my favorite movies You’ve Got Mail.

you've got mail

If you can’t read it here’s what he says ‘Have you ever become the worst version of yourself?  That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts- your arrogance, your spite, your condescension – has sprung open?  Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on you zing them. ‘ Hello, it’s Mr Nasty’…”

But the problem with this season’s Joe Fox characters is they used the fact they were annoyed to go beyond a zinger to a systematic belittlement of another human being.  The Pandora’s Box was opened and it apparently was never closed as their apologies have been weak at best.  They have and will claim villain edit but the scenes have been long and repeated so many times it is tough for me to feel they were overly manipulated.  The show no matter the edit cannot actually put words in your mouth.  They don’t change you saying another person has no soul or all women just want to be nodded too and some should be slapped.

survivor dan

Here’s some of the things that happened in the last few weeks.  Shirin was told by Dan that she deserved to be slapped.  That she was an idiot.  Another time he was completely demeaning to another female on the tribe Sierra saying “there are 2 ways to listen in the world.  You can listen like a guy or like a girl.  When you listen like a girl you empathize. You just nod your head and agree..”

Yes because all women want to be treated like dogs who are nodded at without any thought or consideration.

But if only it ended there.

Dan continued to be an extremely judgmental and insufferable character. Like I said he said Shirin should be slapped hard, which in my book is never ok ever even if you are joking. Dont make that joke especially on national tv.

S30_Will_503112_640x360But then we get to Will and boy did the Pandora’s Box spring open for him.  Evidently he had been concerned that Shirin is not religious and would frequently tell her she has ‘no soul’.  This is said by enough of the exit interviews to make me believe it.

On the show we hadn’t heard that much from Will and then there was a moment where at the auction he did not get his letter from home but he did get a supply of food only he would know about.  He stupidly decides to share the food with the camp.  3 of the tribe wonder if that’s all the food there was and Will starts out rightfully upset at people questioning his gift (even though it was a stupid move to make in the game).

But despite it being 3 people who questioned his gift he begins to rail on Shirin.  He says she has no soul and that nobody will ever love her and that she’s a terrible human being.

Now there have been blowups on Survivor.  Pandora’s Box has been opened many times you might say.  After all the most iconic moment of the first season was a woman comparing another woman to a rat and saying she would not help her if she was dying on the side of the road.

But this was one of the longest tirades we’ve had since Brandon Hantz flipped out at Phillip but even Brandon was upset about things in the game not accusing Phillip of being a terrible human being outside the game.

He really crossed a line for me when he said that Shirin brought the abuse of her past on herself and that she played the victim.  How do you play the victim when you are an actual victim? Her father is or was in jail for the domestic abuse.  It was that bad. A victim of domestic abuse is usually manipulated into believing they are responsible for how they are being treated. That’s why they often stay with the abuser.

And what was the excuse behind this kind of belittlement?  Well, the only thing I’ve heard is that she was annoying.  Again, being annoying is not a character failing.  If that was the case than we would all be terrible people.  Every one of us is annoying to another person.

Just the other day I was with a new group of people and this woman rubbed me the wrong way.  She wasn’t doing anything wrong but was just loud and fairly dominating in her opinions. The more I listened to her the more annoyed I got till I wanted to zing her but I didn’t. The thing is…

I WAS THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM. 

She was just talking the ways she talks and I found it annoying.

The especially disturbing part of Will’s behavior is evidently he justified his behavior because Shirin is agnostic and ‘has no soul’.  That flies in the face of everything I know about Christianity.  Jesus after all spent time with gentiles, sinners and tax collectors.  People were shocked because ‘the whole have no need of a physician’.

The whole thing has been kind of upsetting but it has also caused me to think about my own life and when do I rationalize the poor treatment of others because I find them annoying.  I know it happens more than I would like to admit.  We all do it but hopefully we don’t lose control the way Will did.

I realize they are under extreme conditions on the show.  I can only relate it to my mission where I was surrounded by strangers and couldn’t contact home except for weekly letters.  I had one time where I was with a companion who I did not get along with.  Instead of getting angry like Will or patronizing like Dan I cried a lot and was so emotionally wrung out by the end of transfers one of the sisters pulled me aside and said ‘you look like you need a hug’.  I’m pretty sure I would be that way on Survivor.  I would be a lot like Dawn Mehan in Survivor Caramoan who cried a lot but played the best game she could.

survivor mike

The good thing in all of this is there was one person who stepped in and came to her defense.  Who didn’t let her being ‘annoying’ stand in the way of stopping bullying and attacks- Survivor Mike Holloway.

Shirin said “Shoutout to Jenn, Sierra, Hali — and Michael Anthony Loving Holloway, who showed me that real men and real human beings step in and help each other out when someone’s being attacked. Real people are loving and say, “Forget this game for a million dollars. I’m a human being. These people are human beings. We need to do the human thing in this situation.”

If you think back to What About Bob everyone else is completely charmed by Bob and I suppose that’s an important thing to remember.  For every Pandora’s Box that is opened with all the “hate spite and greed’ that is unleashed there are those like Mike who will do the right thing even to a person they find annoying.

It’s really made me think about how I use the ‘she’s annoying’ excuse in my own life and how I can do a better job at focusing on my spirit instead of how iritiating another person may or may not be. I don’t know if that makes sense but it is just something I’ve been thinking about.

In the end

IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY AND ABUSE ANNOYING WOMEN (or men or children or anybody else).

So this is why I love Survivor because even in a season that I hate with 2 terrible people and some who did nothing there is still something about human nature and behavior I can take from it and we’ll see who comes out on top.  It won’t be Shirin but crossing fingers for Mike.

Wouldn’t that be a happy ending.

Here’s Shirin’s thoughts on the game

And here she is talking about the blow up.

What Collar Am I? Survivor 30

Survivor-Season-30-logo-500x310So you guys know I am a big Survivor nut.  It’s such an entertaining show and a fascinating look at human nature and the way we interact with one another.  What alienates people from one another, gives power, forms bonds, and why they make certain choices never gets old and they are now on season 30!  I have seen most of the early seasons and later seasons and playing catch up on the middle (still got Fiji, Palau, Guatemala, Cook Islands and Pearl Islands and a few others to watch).

What’s amazing is given the similar rules of the game each winner has been different and used a different strategy. It makes it a fascinating show to watch. You just don’t know who is going to win.

My favorite season recently was season 28 Survivor Cagayan because of the fantastic casting and one of the most engaging winners the show has ever had- Tony Vlachos.  He was building spy shacks, voting off his friends, running around the island and all the while remaining incredibly likable.  It was so great to watch.

Season 30 is coming up and this time they are dividing the contestants into 3 tribes of 6 just like in Cagayan (I believe this is the 4th 3 tribe seasons).  Cagayan was also a 3 tribes and it was separated into Beauty, Braun and Brains, which at first I had an issue with because I felt they were objectifying everyone, putting a label on.  However, it ended up being kind of a wash because there were people on all the tribes who fit all the descriptions so it didn’t end up meaning much.

What’s got me thinking is season 30 has taken a similar approach of labeling the 3 tribes but instead of appearance they are going with careers- white collar, blue collar, and no collar.

Kind of an interesting concept for the show don’t you think?  What tribe would you be put on?  Their definition of collars according to Jeff Probst is a little wonky with white collar “making the rules”, blue collar “following the rules”, and no collar “breaking the rules”.  I don’t know anyone else who would describe it that way but it’s Jeff Probst and he can do whatever he wants when it comes to Survivor (especially after season 29 which was a royal snoozefest…).

So given that further definition what tribe would you be on?  I would definitely be on white collar because I have a computer job and I am part of a religion with a lot of rules (although I don’t really make them?).  That said, I also have little pieces of no collar in me.  I work from home, don’t have a boss and the idea of working in a cubicle ever again makes me want to jump off a cliff.

all collars
Survivor 30 cast

I feel like most people these days are a mixture of all the collars.  What do you think?  Now with computers, social media and the internet doesn’t everyone have to be pretty savvy?  The days of a large blue collar class of unskilled factory workers and farmers just doesn’t exist much anymore.  Even if you are in the service sectors like working as a hairdresser you need a website and facebook page to promote your business or you will get slaughtered.  Farmers have to be able to use complicated machinery, same with what factory workers are left in America.  It is by no means simple, mindless work of yesteryear.

Do you think this has any effect on our culture as a whole the fact we are collarless?  I could see some ways it is a good thing and other ways it might force people into a type of work that is outside their nature.  In previous societies there may have been more choices for such people?   Does that lead to a whole bunch of depressed blue collar and no collar types who are wedged into white collar?  I know the worst time of my life was when I was stuck in cubicle hell every day, never seeing the outside, entering data all day- and I was probably considered one of the lucky one’s with a decent job.

On the other hand perhaps with careers becoming similar there is less class division amongst the 99%.  After all, is it really a big deal these days to marry someone who has a different career path than you like it might have been the past? (At this point anyone would be glad for me to just get married!)..   I don’t think so as long as you can support a family and have similar values.  Perhaps we are becoming a little less judgmental based on jobs because they aren’t that different (or at least have more in common than they used too?).

I don’t know.  I certainly don’t feel any smarter or better than those with technical skills because I have an MBA.  It’s just a different set of skills but still using a lot of the same stuff I use everyday. In fact, they are probably better than me at more things than I am better than them (if that makes sense…).

Or perhaps the whole idea of self-identifying with your career isn’t as important as it used to be?  Maybe our jobs are more of a fluid thing and we will all have periods wearing many collars?  I have been hard core white collar in several jobs including as a missionary.  Now I’m white with a little dusting of no collar.  If I get married and stay home with my kids I guess that is blue collar?  I don’t know what collar are stay at home Moms? I’ve worked in food service so that was my blue collar and I was a teaching assistant in college and I’m not sure what collar teachers are?

Now that I have a job I love I do self-identify with it more than my old job but for about a decade people would ask me to introduce myself and my career was one of the last things I would mention.  Honestly I think I would say survivor fan before accounting clerk.  It just wasn’t how I saw myself.  I might have mentioned work from home.  I still would be inclined to say ‘I’m collar I would rather be swimming”

Are you that way?  Is your job a means to an end or something that is a big part of who you are?  Would you see yourself as part of a larger working group, wearing a collar if you will?

Anyway, what do you think?  Do you ever watch Survivor and do you think this sounds like a good twist?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

As the new season is starting check out Rob Has a Podcast for great post show debate and commentary by former Survivor Rob Cesternino.  I love it!

The Wicked Stepmother

Missy

As you all know I’m a big Survivor fan and part of the reason I love the show is while it is fabricated and packaged as entertainment, it is also an interesting window into human nature.  We see the way people behave when eating 100 calories a day, pushed to extremes and how they interact when forced to make choices that service themselves and the group.  That is fascinating to me.  The power structures, social customs, group theory and patterns that develop are interesting and the fact that every winner has been different is a testament to the show.  There is no one way to guarantee a win because what is effective in a game amongst one group may not be in another.

For me season 29 was a disappointment.  This is partly because I loved the previous season 28 so much.  We had so many dynamic personalities in Cagayan that made it fascinating (and hilarious) to watch.  This season San Juan Del Sur I never bonded with anyone (or hated anyone).

But it had its appeal and curiosity factor as every season does.  And one of the interesting threads was a mother daughter pair named Missy and Baylor.  Missy was announced on the show in her introduction that she had been married and divorced 3 times.  I’m not sure why this was such a big deal?  Surely there have been Survivor men who have been married that many times and it was never brought up?

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From the beginning it seemed like the show was disdainful of Missy for her marriages even though I didn’t really see her doing much worthy of that disdain.  Certainly in the world of Survivor villains she was very thin gruel (and if they had the footage we would have seen it!).  She did protect her daughter (who I also didn’t ever see proof that she was that bad) but I didn’t think much more than any other person protected their loved one in the game.

She may have been a real jerk but this was not proven in the footage I saw, even the extended footage outside of the show.  There was really only one spat Missy had with Reed where he called Baylor a brat and there was a brief exchange. But again in the world of Survivor it was nothing. I could probably think of about 100 players who have been more obnoxious and villainous in their seasons.

The reason I bring all this up is in the finale Reed, a Broadway actor, got up in his jury speech and obliterated Missy as not only a bad mother but ‘a wicked stepmother’.  Here’s the speech:

So he defines the wicked stepmother as ‘the eccentric woman who comes in and makes demands on everyone for the things to which she feels so entitled”.  Again, that may have been Missy but it was not shown in the edit of the show and I believe if it entitled behavior was there it would have been shown.

Missy was the one who made the rice and they had to barter to get more (a Survivor first) but Reed was a beneficiary of more rice so you think he would be grateful for that?  So she didn’t like her daughter being called a brat on national tv?  That makes her a wicked stepmother.  Again, in the world of Survivor villains she was so not wicked.  For instance, Kass from Cagayan was way more critical, entitled, condescending and judgmental.

It really bothered me to see a woman criticized for playing the exact same game that many men have played, especially after she refused to give up after an ankle injury.  You think the show would have treated her as a hero (they don’t have control over jury speeches but still the tone the last 3 episodes was very Missy critical and yet I never was convinced she was doing anything that bad).

The reason why I mention all of this (because I know most of you don’t watch the show) is because I think it is emblematic of our societies strange view of maternal instinct, motherhood, femininity and womanhood.

survivor-caramoan-dawn-meehanThis is not the first time a Survivor Mom has been raked over the coals.  The worst time was Dawn Mehan in Survivor Carmoan who was forced to take out her dental implants and apologize to a fellow contestant (something men who have backstabbed people have never been asked to do).  People were very tough on Dawn because they felt she had betrayed them.  She was the Mother on the island and then had used that relationship to manipulate her own spot in the game.

Again if a Father figure had done the same thing like a Bob Crowley or Tom Westman it would be seen as great game play but not for a mother. We just expect mothers and ‘mother figures’ to behave in a particular way, which is decidedly unfair as all women are not the same and not all maternal instinct manifests itself in the same way.

Dawn was also very emotional which did not help her game but I kind of get that too.I would probably also be very emotional if I was hungry, tired and away from loved ones. I think her emotional state only made people hate her more.  Missy showed that even if Dawn had not been a cry baby she would still have been looked at as a bad mother for simply playing the game as the ‘mother figure’. Dawn received incredible backlash after the season including death threats and the most vile of insults forcing her to take down her social media all together. Other people have played the game poorly and not received such backlash but other people were not a mother of 6 children. It’s just a different playing field.

survivor-caramoan-dawn-meehan-promises-a-tear-free-season-this-time-around1

Over at Entertainment Weekly Melissa Maerz has a great article called ‘Survivor’: Why that ‘wicked stepmother’ speech enraged me’. 

She says:

” I have no beef with mothers defining themselves as mothers. I’m a mother, too, and proud of it. It’s the question of who is branding women that way, and why, that makes me uneasy”

And then she says

“the term is “rife with contradictions”: “On TV and in movies and in modern fiction, mothers are frequently portrayed as protective yet focused on the trivial, wise yet neurotic, sexy yet sexless, monumentally important but deeply silly,” she writes. Worse yet, we villainize mothers for failing to live up to the standards set by the latter-day Donna Reeds we see on screen, even though those contradictions make those standards impossible.

Mothers can be anything, we’re told, as long as they’re both that thing and its opposite, and as long they’re not any one thing too much

Going back to the broader sociological discussion (again why I like Survivor) do we put Mothers and motherhood on too high a pedestal?  Do we expect women to be perfect and to never be self-serving or make mistakes? I kind of think we might. Most of us would have a much harder time forgiving an insult from a mother than a father.  Why? I guess because our fathers typically don’t raise us and teach us what is right and wrong (even in extreme patriarchal societies Mothers do most of the teaching and caring of children).

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Perhaps because Mothers are our consolation and sanctuary from the world they are put on the pedestal, almost more a saintly role intervening in our behalf against the evils that surround us than a real person?  I guess in some ways that is a good thing but it seems part of growing up is seeing your parents as flawed creatures who did their best but made mistakes too.  I think that’s why Reed’s speech felt so off-putting and immature to some of us. She was doing the best she could under tough circumstances but clearly she was not the motherly figure he expected her to be.

It was interesting in exit interviews yesterday Baylor said she felt her Mom was bullied. She said normally she was the one going to her Mom for comfort from the meanness of the world but this time it was her Mother receiving it and her doing the comforting.  In that respect perhaps it was a healthy experience for her. Again helping her see her Mom as a real person and not just her role as a mother.

I guess I get annoyed when anyone tries to put me in a mold and I feel that is what happened here.  Missy did not fit the mold of what Reed and others see as a ‘mother’ so that made her wicked despite showing little to no actual villainous behavior.

If I have children or participate in child rearing activities I do not want to be pressured to behave in some socially acceptable way.  I want to be me and the best mother I can be for me. Luckily I do not have people voting on my mothering like Missy did but it makes me sad we are so closeminded in 2014 in what behaviors are befitting a woman and womanhood.

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Wasn’t the whole point of feminism to allow women to be themselves, to be whatever they wanted to be? Why does that not include a wide spectrum of mothering styles and personalities? Why must we have one way and if you are different you are wicked and wrong? I guess that’s what bothered me the most about Reed’s speech it said to me ‘there is only one way for a mother to behave and you did not act as you should’.

Melissa Maerz ends her article with a challenge to Survivor and to all of us to throw off the Motherly stereotypes and see people for who they are not an idealized vision of who the perfect mother should be:

“Maybe it’s not Survivor‘s fault that Reed has such a twisted view of motherhood. Even so, it’s time for the show to stop devoting so much airtime—including a big chunk of the reunion—to rehashing unfair stereotypes. And it’s time for Survivor‘s host, Jeff Probst, to stop defending them…

Just because she has a daughter doesn’t mean that Missy has to be a great role model in the game—though, in my mind, she is one.”

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I couldn’t agree more. In a boring season she was a fighter and certainly deserved better than to be attacked and lambasted as a villain for her best efforts to win a game.  It just shows how much more work we have to do to break down gender stereotypes and accept people as people not classifications. It will never go away completely but we can do better.  We must do better.

(At least it is good to see many in the cast come to Missy’s defense.  Reed was trying to perform to the TV audience and was probably purposefully dramatic and over-the-top but it certainly didn’t win him any points in my book but I am not a reality tv producer looking for drama…)

Amazing Race Around the World

amazing race canada

So I’ve had a lot of down time lately…literally.  Fortunately my knee is healing right on schedule and I feel confident it will continue to do so.  Still only so much a girl can do when confined to 2 rooms for most of the day.

Of course I have been doing my Disney challenge which if you haven’t followed the blog it has turned out great!  I’m in the slog of the package films from the 40s but I bet you don’t know much about them so it will be fun for you (probably more fun to read my reviews than for me to watch them…)

australia vs new zealand2

Another thing I’ve enjoyed is finally watching the Amazing Race Canada and Amazing Race Australia vs New Zealand.  They are completely awesome!  So much better than the last 4 or five seasons of Amazing Race US.  Especially the last season where the challenges were too backyard carnival, no travel drama, too few cities and thoroughly whiny winners. (If I had to hear ‘we are so old’ or ‘Wa wa, they U-turned us’ I think I would have screamed).

Honestly the premiere of Amazing Race Canada was better than the finale of Amazing Race US.  I hope TAR US you are taking notes!  The host is great for Amazing Race Canada and they have an eclectic group.  On both the Ausie and the Canada cast I don’t feel the casting was as gimmicky as the US casting has gotten.

amazing race canada2

Now there is always the bickering couple, blonde girls, child/father, alpha-males, reality tv couple, newlyweds.  It’s become so predictable but in these international versions they have blondes but they are smart and actually good at the game.  In Canada they are hockey players and they have oddly been very good at every challenge except playing hockey…They are more than the color of their hair.

I particularly like the cast for the Australia vs New Zealand because the country loyalty adds a layer of strategy which is interesting.  Suddenly a team you might U-turn because they are strong you don’t because they are for your country.  We will see how long that lasts but so far been great.

australia vs new zealand

For both casts they do some challenges at home but it doesn’t matter a bit.  You are still getting to know a culture and doing fun challenges.  I guess for me it is foreign where they are showing but I still think they are good challenges that have been very physical but fun.

Anyway, there are lots of ways to watch both shows.  Look on youtube or watch on the shows websites.

These international versions are reminding me why I liked the show to begin with.  It’s pretty amazing!

 

Survivor Dream Cast

So you guys know I love me some Survivor.  I don’t know if any of you are fans but I couldn’t sleep so I decided to work on my editing skills and put together this little video of my Survivor Dream Cast.   These are not necessarily the best players, just the people I like.

Do you watch the show?  There are a lot of old seasons on hulu plus and amazon on demand so go back and watch them.  It is fascinating and a lot of fun.  It’s the kind of TV you want to talk about, so if you are a fan let me know.

 

1. Cirie
2. Tyson
3. Boston Rob
4. Rob Cesternino
5. Cochran
6. Parvati
7. Sophie
8. Stephen F
9. Kim Spradlin
10. Richard Hatch
11. Todd H
12. Ethan
13. Ozzy
14. Coach
15. Jerri
16. Corinne
17. Aras
18. Rupert
19. Tony
20. Sandra

 

Fall 2013 TV Review

Network-logos

Anyone who knows me knows I love television and yet I don’t think that has gotten quite the treatment on the blog that it deserves.  I have written a lot about books and movies but not as much about TV.

The funny thing about me and TV is that neither of my parents watch it at all.  There is not one show that my parents watch on a regular basis or have ever devotedly watched.  Even the siblings I grew up with (Megan and Ben) are not huge TV people.  Aside from the Simpsons there wasn’t anything we were big fans of (and yes I have like 12 seasons of the Simpsons on DVD.  Not sure why that surprises people but it does).

Why do you think that is?  Why would I be such a fan of TV from an early age when I had almost no exposure?  I suppose part of it is my friends watched a lot of TV so I picked up some of it from them.  I also have a bit of a lazy streak in me and I’ve always liked TV as a way to unwind.  A movie is more of an investment where television is 30 minutes to 1 hour (less with the magic of DVR).

TV is also a longer commitment so you get to know the characters better and I’ve always been a lover of layered characters.  Even silly shows like Boy Meets World provided relatable personalities that grew up with me (literally when I started high school Corey and Topanga did, college, etc).

Anyway, so I’ve watched a lot of the premiere’s and new shows for the Fall 2013 line up and here are my initial thoughts

New Shows (this seems to be the year of the return of the sitcom where last year was the ‘we want to be Mad Men dramas):

Mom- Anna Feris,  Allison Janney are a mother daughter team of misfits.  Kind of a recycle of Reba with a bit more bite.  I thought the pilot was promising but the second episode not as much.  We’ll see.  Good casting.  Love Janney in just about anything.  Has lead in of How I Met Your Mother so that could help it.  B

The Crazy One’s- Robin Williams, Sarah Michele Gellar- father, daughter ad executives (that seems to be the big fall back career for Hollywood when they need a blah job for its characters).  Didn’t think it was funny and Gellar looks old and haggard.  Whoever does her makeup isn’t doing her any favors.  Robin Williams does the same schtick he has done since Mrs.  Doubtfire.  D

Dads- So bad.  Corny.  Nothing was funny.  Sons and their competitive annoying Dads (seems to also be a theme this year child and obnoxious parents).  F

Super Fun Night- Rebel Wilson stars as a buisnesswoman who has just gotten a big promotion, but parties with her girlfriends to keep her motivated at work.  It is a cliched premise but I laughed a lot.  It hasn’t gotten great reviews so probably won’t last long but I thought it was really funny.  Dialogue is sharp.  The banter between the girlfriends was natural.  Watch it America A+

Back in the Game- James Caan is a former baseball player who’s daughter comes back to live with him and ends up coaching the little league baseball team of her son with her Dad’s help.  Basically the same kind of banter that was in King of Queens or Everybody Loves Raymond.  A real dud.  It makes the crucial mistake of taking itself seriously.  F

Devious Maids- Kind of entertaining for a soap opera.  Good performances although some latina cliches (how many times can they say hot salsa or hot mama in one show?) Still, if you are in for some drama and can’t watch telenovelas without english subtitles check it out B-

Returning Shows-

Middle- Still my favorite show on TV.  I think the writing is funny.  I love the child actors.  I love that it is about Indiana and they get the details right.  I love that the couple aren’t constantly bickering.  I love that there isn’t always a moral at the end of every episode (had enough of that with Modern Family).  I just love it!  A+

Modern Family- Speaking of the before mentioned show its back and returning to its boring, cliched ways.  I’m so sick of the women on this show.  They are all such types.  Now Cam and Mitch are getting married which could be funny but everyone I know is over this show.  It isn’t modern and worse it isn’t funny D

Simpsons- The premiere episode was a spoof on Homeland and as I’ve never seen Homeland I didn’t really get it.  It still looks great and the even on a sub-par episode the nostalgia alone is enough to get some votes.  25 years I’ve been watching that show . 25 years!  B-

Drop Dead Diva- (This was actually a summer season but I didn’t mention on the blog and it is a great show! I love the leads.  I love the return of old Jane (Although they got rid of her way too fast). They need to bring Fred back . New angels have all been bad.  Was totally on team Owen until he was a petty jerk all season.  Go Grayson! The cases are so stupid but they are really just angles to get to the juicy developments with the characters.  A

How I Met Your Mother- I was very skeptical of a 9th season for this show but it was renewed and I’m glad.  The first couple of episodes have been really funny and sweet.  I’m glad we get a whole season getting to know the mother and seeing how she meshes with Ted (although they haven’t met just yet).  All the characters are returning to their original warmth and the plot has become simpler I think this entire season is focused on Barney and Robins wedding.  We will see how it ends.  A-

Big Bang Theory- In premiere episodes Leonard comes back from sea and hides from Sheldon to spend time with Penny.  Very funny.  Rajesh can now talk to girls so that should be funny and I’m going to make 2 predictions- Sheldon has long island iced teas and things progress with Amy and Bernadette gets pregnant.  I think both of those would be really funny.  Still, really funny start to season. A

Downton Abbey- And yes, I am watching the UK stream online and it is great!  Matthew is gone, Mary is reeling, O’brien is also gone but a new hire has a previous connection to Mr. Branson now Lord Branson husband to the late Sybill.  Edith is coverting with a married publisher.  Lady Violette is keeping everyone honest and change is happening all around them.  Fashion is noticeably different this season..  Love the addition of Lady Shackleton.  She’s going to give Lady Violette a run for her money.  B+

Mindy Project- Anytime Morgan is on screen I laugh and luckily he is on screen a lot.  The cameo with James Franco was funny.  Wish he could have been fulltime cast because it was good.  Bummed Casey is getting the heave-ho so fast after Haiti but it had to happen.  Clearly the producers want Danny and Mindy to get together but they will probably drag that out over 8 seasons.  Still I laughed a lot at the first 2 episodes.  A-

Reality Shows-

This is my favorite category this season

Survivor 27: Blood vs Water- I was very skeptical when I heard about the latest twist.  10 returning players and their family members are battling it out for a million dollars.  I think its a little lame when they’ve had now 2 all star seasons in a row (well basically 2 fans vs favorites in a row).  However, the family angle has proven to be better than I expected.  What makes it interesting is that there is a new layer at tribal council.  For instance, when the team voted out Rachel it wasn’t because of her strategy or her skill/lack of skill in challenges- it was because they wanted Tyson, her boyfriend, out of the other tribe.

What I don’t like about the new season is the return of redemption island.  Didn’t Boston Rob’s epic season basically prove that was a dumb idea?  It doesn’t work.  The person who makes it back on redemption island will get voted off every time.  Think about who would want to face a scrappy redemption island winner at the final tribal?  Plus, it is anti-climactic to have people not really be leaving the game after tribal council.

My pick to win it all- I’m going with Tyson.  He doesn’t have the burden of family early on, can be more strategic, he’s great at challenges and is likable guy that a jury will want to vote for.

Could you guys believe the whole Colton fiasco tongiht?  What a wimp!  I mean did he think survivor would be so different this go around?  What on earth?   He kind of pulled a Brandon Hantz and knew he was on the outs and quit.  That is so lame and Probst said that he faked the appendectomy on One World.  I guess the producers brought him back to create drama but please.  Quitters are so lame.

Still, very entertaining season so far.  A

The Voice- Christina and Ceelo return and I’ve lost interest for some reason.  The contestants just aren’t doing it for me and I would rather watch HIMYM and Dancing with the stars on Monday, so I’m done with this show.  Plus, I can’t remember a single name from last season.  Clearly they didn’t make an impact.  D

Amazing Race- new season started this Sunday and it is looking interesting.  There honestly isn’t a team that I’m really pulling for.  At first I thought the Afghans were going to do well but they’ve made some pretty dumbheaded mistakes.  I couldn’t believe how many people didn’t read the clues all the way in Chili.  Come on!

Boy girl teams usually have the best chance so I think Tim and Marie or Nichole and Travis could do very well.  I love seeing the different cultures, challenges and characters.  Still the show I would most like to be on.  I think my brother and I would be a fun match up because we are so different.  A+

Dancing with the stars- this season is pretty entertaining. Diverse stars from Bill Nye to snookie. Lots of high scores early on. Leaves little room for improvement. Only Monday episodes this season which is very smart A

Project Runway- An interesting and quite volatile cast (how many meltdowns can one cast have!).  So far I haven’t been blown away by anyone but I think Braden will probably win.  There hasn’t been a great season since Christian Siriano won.  C

I guess those are the biggies.  The Foodnetwork I give a C.  The old shows like Chopped are still good but new shows like Cutthroat Kitchen have been lame.  They are clearly running out of ideas.  Nothing on Bravo has interested me for many years and I do not like much on premium cable.  I am told the season finale of Dexter was a big disappointment but never watched the show.  I did watch some of the season of Mad Men that just finished and it was depressing.  Don Draper is just a despicable human being and so is everyone else on that show.  I admit I’m curious to see how it ends but not that curious.

I also have tried to watch Breaking Bad 3 times and each time I get to episode 3 and start to squirm.  Too violent and cynical for my tastes.  So you all enjoy it and I’ll stick to my lighter fare.

What shows do you like this year?  What about returning shows?  I am disappointed Bunheads doesn’t appear to have been renewed.  I liked that show.   Oh well.  That’s Hollywood for ya!

Please share in the comments section what you think of reality tv, comedy or anything else.  Also please share if there is something I missed which you enjoyed.    I would love your feedback.

Thanks!   (anyone seen Orange is the new Black?  What do you think? I’m leary to try netflix again after what they did to my arrested development.  Egads.)

fall preview

Fat Stigma- Biggest Loser

(Spoiler…this will be probably be the most controversial post I’ve ever done. Oh well.  Hopefully it will make you think)

Find this barbaric? horrible? demeaning?  Think we’ve come so far? Think we are so much more civilized now?

Don’t be too sure…

Barely clothed fat people on display for all to gawk at and criticize…look familiar? At least the fat lady wasn’t criticized for losing 22 lbs instead of 32…

Put all the glossy tags on it you want, exploitation is still exploitation.   People on the Biggest Loser are treated as a loser if they are heavy and they are not being set up for life-long HEALTH but only quick, 10 week weight loss success.

One example is “Kai Hibbard who lost 118 pounds on the show. She later blogged that she ate only asparagus, endured colonics and went through 6-hour stretches in a sauna to dehydrate herself enough to lose 19 pounds for the season finale. She jokingly said the entire weight rebounded to her rear end almost immediately.

“I left with a very poor mental body image, I found myself loathing what I looked like the more weight I dropped because of the pressure on me. And I found myself doing things like considering coffee a meal. And because of the mentality that I was surrounded with, and the pressure that was given at that show, it was considered acceptable to behave that way.”

Hibbard claims that contestants on the show were pressured to exercise even when severely injured, and to diet by dehydration. She says they were also told to ignore the advice of nutritionists and listen to the show’s trainers.”

Feel so inspired anymore? Let’s watch people starve themselves, fun!

I agree with this blog by Pat Barone CPCC, PCC entitled Why I Hate the Biggest Loser

“The contestants are being used. Yes, they might make a little money (Did not the world’s fatest mother make money? Does that somehow make it right?). They might rent some weight loss on the scale. But I’m already seeing a lot of them on Twitter talking about regain. I’m sure they didn’t know the truth before they started.

They let their desperation get to them. And nothing good is ever created out of desperation. The big winners here are the show’s producers and network. They’re making big bucks. Why should they care about the legacy of regained weight and broken bodies they leave behind them?”

I also agree with Barone about the negative effects of competition on weight loss:

“The truth is, contests can bring out the competitive streak in people but it cannot be maintained for very long. If you are a competitive type, use it elsewhere in life. When it comes to your body, be simple and healthy and keep moving.”

I have seen this over the past 2 years time and time again.  I work hard and have success but somehow it still feels like failure because it doesn’t match up with somebody else I know who has lost double, in half the time.  Particularly when I used to watch any diet themed show instead of feeling motivated I felt terrible. What  a horrible person I must be to still be over weight?  I must have to starve myself because pushing to the point of exhaustion obviously isn’t working…

But it is working.  I have made huge strides even though I have not lost much weight this year.  If I was going on scale alone I would be off the show darn quick; however, I am no longer a diabetic risk, my measurements have all improved, my self confidence and energy have gotten better and I have created a whole new life of swimming.

In my opinion shows like the Biggest Loser help to reinforce idiot opinions like the infamous Maura Kelly from Marie Claire (who I have quoted several times on this blog) who believes that if only fat people would “psych themselves up for the long process of slimming down” this pesky problem of obesity would go away.

Maura Kelly was just obnoxious enough to say what many people believe- that weight loss is purely a matter of will power and that those who fail are ‘boob tube’ watchers who are in the same league with heroine addicts and meth users:

“I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.”

To the Maura Kelly’s out there how would you like to give up every minute of your free time, feel pain on a daily basis, be ostracized from social situations and parties, all the while defending yourself as a vibrant worthwhile person, and finally to be outright mocked because of a health struggle you face?

Someone I love used to think it was funny to video tape fat people at public events and laugh at the way they ‘waddled around’. Is this not the same as those who gawked at the world’s fattest mother?  Is gawking in the safety of our home somehow better than purchasing a ticket to view in person?

Thankfully I have tons of support as well but it is a tough road. Make no mistake about it- while my life expectancy may have been shorter a few years ago, it certainly has not gotten easier or less challenging.

Overweight people have many good qualities.  Why not help them to overcome a health challenge like we would any other disease or difficulty?  Why? Because that can’t be done in a 10 week film schedule.

Can’t you see that diet shows like the Biggest Loser fan the flame fat stigma and prejudice? Idiots like Maura Kelly are allowed to perpetuate their bigotry but even worse they are lauded for their benevolence to these poor fat people.  At least Kelly was so outright in her views that she received backlash.  Most people carefully couch their condescension in the guise of ‘the battle against obesity’. Really dig down deep there is a disgust of fatness and fat people at the core.

In the 1800’s there was a woman named Sara Baartman who was dragged around as a literal freak show because of her large behind (as well as other female anatomy).  (today she’d be a Kardashian…just saying). People gawked and mocked and even came to view her preserved remains because of their large size (she died at only 25).

Again, we think we are so much more civilized today and perhaps we don’t go so far but the motivations can often be the same…There can be a perverse human pleasure in seeing others fail but this  is not reality (and I say that being a reality TV fan in some cases- for instance,Amazing Race) and it is certainly not sympathetic.  I’m so tired of weight being used as a judge of someone’s character.  Its not!

On the Biggest Loser we see:

“the on-screen manipulation of them, which is sometimes brutal to watch (like our fascination with watching a train wreck) – but you don’t see the offscreen “revving up” process that happens right before they shoot. Manipulation is cheap, dirty and disrespectful. I don’t like to witness it. “

Barone says it well

“Losing weight just means the number on the scale changes.(What I would give if the world understood this, especially men) And that can be extremely unhealthy. Millions of people have mastered losing weight. They just haven’t mastered the regain phase that comes right on the heels of “losing weight.”

Obviously, I have no problem with people losing fat, but the American focus on losing weight is out of control and causing weight regain with ever increasing speed. (New studies report yo-yoing is more dangerous to overall health than staying heavy.)”

I agree.  This has been something I’ve wanted to say for some time but because of my many friends who love the show I have been hesitant.  With this season starting once again I just couldn’t hold my tongue any longer. I’m tired of having to defend myself because of my weight and feeling guilt for what seems to be such slow success.

I’m tired of living up to some image shown on TV- both the false success and the shameful beginning.  I am tired of feeling ashamed of my weight.  I am where I am and if that makes me a loser in the minds of NBC or Maura Kelly so be it. Good riddens!

Sing Off: Vocal Point

As I mentioned in my fall TV review I have gotten totally hooked on this season of The Sing Off.  It is an acapella singing competition where the singers have to be everything- the band, accompaniment, leads, everything with their voices.  This is the third season of the show but I had never watched it before but this season they got a new judge- my favorite Sara Barielles.

They also got my old favorite Vocal Point- a BYU institution for 20 years.  I used to love going to Acapellafest on campus each year and hearing Vocal Point among other talented local acapella groups.  Now they have made it on to the show, the Sing Off on NBC.  Each one of their performances (with possibly the exception of hip-hop week) has been great! They are fun, energetic and can’t help but make you smile.

In my opinion I think they are much better than any of the other groups.  Certainly more entertaining!  Petnatonix is looking strong but I prefer Vocal Point.  The truth is I am completely partial to anything BYU.  Just like with the American Olympic team, I want us to win everything!  The thing I wish I could tell people is there are tons of groups like Vocal Point in Utah (they had an entire Acapellafest every year if that tells you something!).

There is so much musical talent at BYU.  All the choirs, musical theater, acapella, battle of the bands are great!  I feel privileged to be an alumni of such an awesome school with so many honorable, wonderful people.  I am sure every school has their bad apples but so many of the BYU graduates I have interacted with over the years have been awesome, outstanding individuals.  (we also have created a few good football and basketball players over the years!)

Plus, how terrific is it that they have group prayer and express their faith on national TV?  So great!

This was from the most recent episode:

Singing Elvis! (I swear they get the best song choices each week).

My favorite of all their performances.  I was swooning along with Sara!

Footloose! Kick off your Sunday shoes (ironic for a BYU group!)

I never thought I would like a Justin Bieber song but I just love this!

If you haven’t gotten into it watch the Sing Off on Monday evenings.  (It broke into my Monday slot. That took some work!).  My only criticism is all the judges are so nice.  It can be a bit startling when they vote someone off because they have just said all these nice things about them.

Still, I love it!