I started a Youtube channel!

Misc, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

Hi!

I know I have been MIA and inconsistent on this blog for a while now. But I realized my love for blogging has been waning these past 2 years. I realized this when I found out that I was taking more than 2 weeks just to finish a blog post and everytime I would come back to it, I would have this feeling of dread. I’ve wanted to make videos for so many years but always excused it because I didn’t have the right equipment, the right timing, the right setup, etc. but I finally took the plunge because I’ve been making too many excuses and it was starting to bother me. Plus, I needed some place for all my thoughts to go instead of bottling it up and having it bounce around in my head without throwing it at someone and starting discussions that I love. Anyways, I’d love it if you could check it out, it’s a review of Pan’s Labryinth!

 

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2017 Reading Statistics and Recap

Misc

2017 is coming to an end! This means a spur of the mandatory end of the year posts that will be coming up on this blog. This will be third year posting my reading statistics for the year. I did one in 2015 and one last year for 2016. It was really interesting comparing how different my reading year compared to the last two years.

Books Read: 59 (excluding essays I’ve read)

This is actually terrible considering I read 126 books not including short stories in 2015 and 110 books/other formats in 2016. I literally read about half of what I did last year.

This is approximately 20,588 pages with the average being 326 pages a book.

9 rereads!! (3 rereads last year)

This was a big improvement so yay!

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I read way more books written by female authors this year. I never know what to make of this statistic. I do tend to gravitate towards books written by female authors through no intentional reasoning. This year, a lot of my rereads were also from female authors like JK Rowling and Jenny Han so that contributed to this bias. I did not read any books coauthored by both a male and female author this year nor did I read a book that had a gender identity other than male or female.

Once gain, no surprise. I think this was an improvement from last year though and I’m starting to realize more and more that nonfiction is a category that I really like to read. The problem is being in the right mood for it.

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It was a realistic contemporary type of year. I think this probably marks the first year in a while, if ever, that I have read more contemporary books than fantasy or science fiction. I definitely fell off the bandwagon with fantasy this year mostly because I just could not click with any fantasy books I tried to read. I was so tired of the old fantasy tropes, bland worldbuilding, and sexist tendencies that I just discontinued fantasy altogether. It also did not help that fantasies tend to be pretty long and I wanted books that I could finish more quickly. You can actually the gradual buildup over the years of my preference for contemporary over other genres. I think this preference relies heavily on what is happening in my own life. I try to find books that emulate my own life as a source of learning but also comfort. Also, YA romantic contemporaries are just really fun to read when you’re stressed out and just want to turn your brain off. I’m quite sad that my literary fiction and classics repertoire was severely lacking this year. I definitely was less exposed to creative and nuanced writing as a result. My poetry game stepped up though which was one of my goals for 2017 but I think after this year, it’ll start to deteriorate. Poetry will just never be my thing.

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I’m so happy I read more nonfiction than I did last year. I’m hoping to get that number to at least 20 percent every year. I always learn a lot about subjects I don’t know about or I gain more depth in the subjects I’m already knowledgeable about when I’m reading nonfiction so I like to read a variety.

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I know this is a very visually frustrating chart but it accurately summarizes how my ratings went this year. I’m as harsh as ever on my ratings with most of the books I read being 3 stars or below. There are handful of 3.5 stars and slightly more 4 star reads. 4 star reads are considered very good in my opinion. There’s a lone 4.5 star read like last year. And of course, in order for it to be a 5 star read, it basically has to be my next favorite book. I did not have any of those this year unfortunately.

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I read a lot more YA this year than last year and that’s mostly because I found YA books so much easier to read and sink into in the second half of the year. I did end up reading more adult books and that’s perfectly fine. I, in fact, prefer it to be that way. I think the amount of NA and middle grade books has remained the same. I would like to read more middle grade especially fantasy ones but the NA count is perfectly fine the way it is.

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I’m a little disappointed in this one just because I made it my goal this year to read more poetry, short stories, and novellas. I did broaden my short story collection reading slightly more although it only scratched the surface. Of course, novels are always going to be the most. I definitely cut down on the graphic novels I read this year. I was not up to date in the world of graphic novels. I think this was because the form did not interest me this year and there weren’t any particular ones I wanted desperately to read. I do wish I had taken the time to record all the essays I read this year, my favorite of which is “The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf; however, I am happy that I dipped more into reading essays this year.

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I’m honestly not sure if I’m going to include this category in my statistics report next year because there are so many factors that go into this stat. First of all, I counted the ethnicity of the author but that was difficult because do I count their ethnicity or their nationality or both. Do I count the ethnicities of the characters? If so, all the characters? Just the main two characters? It’s just very hard to quantify. I wanted to keep track of this stat because I wanted to read as diversely as possible. This chart also does not take into account diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity, translations, mental health, and disabilities. Maybe next year, I’ll make a column for own voices books? I don’t know, I need help for this one.

Extra Statistics

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I think my average # of pages read this year was lower than last year. I tended to read books around the 250-400 page mark which is actually the perfect # of pages that I can read in 1-2 days. I just did not have the patience for long books this year. It is what it is but I rather not make it a habit. I don’t like the idea of not reading long books just because they are long. I think I just liked the feeling of accomplishment of finishing a book rather than taking the time to read a long book if that makes sense.

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I think my mentality towards the second half of the year in terms of reading was that I felt guilty about not reading as much one month and then I strove to read more the next month. But of course, there was a visible difference in how much I read from March onwards. There are several factors at play here. For one, I just was not enjoying anything I was reading this year (I’m not sure why). Two, I got a full time job and it’s actually really hard to read when you do have that. And third, I had more moments where I felt like watching TV and youtube instead of reading. The problem is I always want to read. I think the biggest thing was not finding anything I was enjoying because the ones I did enjoy I would finish in a day. I got so used to reading at least 5+ books a month that this year has been totally jarring in that sense.

 

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This was actually really surprising because I thought I had DNFed more books which makes me think that I did not record every book I DNFed. In reality, that “yes” column will never be 0 because I will always want to try books that are presumable radically different than what I usually read. Inevitably, some of those will not be to my taste but I do like trying them out. I think the goal is to not fall into the habit of picking up books I know I will not like especially when I give in to the hype train.

Did I meet my goals? (2017 Reading Resolutions post)

Read 70 books. Umm….nope. I’m laughing at what I wrote on the resolutions post.

 

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2016 me clearly did not anticipate what 2017 had in store for her..

Read more types of literature such as essay and short story collections. Check…to an extent but still, I made progress with this goal.

Finding more books on my own instead of taking recommendations on booktube. Check. A lot of my recommendations have been coming from Goodreads. I’ve come to accept, however, that I will always get recommendations from booktube. Isn’t that one of the purposes of Booktube after all?

Read more underrated books. No…most of the books I’ve read have had more than 3000 ratings. I don’t think I’m that sad about this to be honest.

Read as diversely as possible (in format, in content, in perspective). Check..but not as much as I thought I would.

Looking back at how well (badly) I did in terms of meeting my reading goals this year, I’m going to be making severe changes to my 2018 reading goals.

And that is a wrap on my 2017 reading year! I think this is the first year I’ve so severely overestimated how much I could read. In fact, for a large portion of the year, I did not feel like reading opting to watch youtube or watch TV instead. It is what it is but I am as motivated as ever to read. I just need to find a better balance of goals knowing how my daily life is now.

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Quote to Self #4: On Self Esteem

Misc, Miscellaneous, Quote to Self, Uncategorized

I’ve recently become fond of the essay format and read an especially well written one, “On Self Respect” by Joan Didion and it inspired a musing of sorts:

I try not to talk about my self esteem. Mostly because I think it’s obvious on me. It hangs there like an undeniably obnoxious sweater. People can see it. As recently as a year ago, when they joked with me, they must have seen the quick hurt on my face and quickly tried to assuage my fears and I think to myself, is it that obvious? I wilted under the slightest criticism. Everything I did was a test of my competence and any failure fed this monster of self doubt. I stuttered over words and had no conviction in what I said even if I wholeheartedly believed what I was saying. I wasn’t afraid to speak, but I was afraid to speak. And trying to understand my sense of self felt like grasping at straws.

Self esteem has always been a tedious and insidious thing for me. I have never known a time when I didn’t have low self esteem until maybe 3 years ago when I saw an inkling of who I could be without that crushing self hate and doubt. It started slowly, first believing that my opinions were worthy of being voiced. Of course, there are still many days when I don’t want to develop it, when I feel almost safe in my self pity and berating of myself. And there are just days when the criticisms of past and present threaten to overwhelm me. And for years, I didn’t know that the little criticisms that always pervaded my brain had a subtle but invisible effect on me so I constantly felt this heavy burden on me that I didn’t know was even there.  That every time I told myself I couldn’t do it or every time I mentally degraded myself for not doing it as well as I thought I should have done it, I was slowly but surely eating myself away. But I thought I couldn’t do it because I was not smart enough or just not enough. 

That enoughness is what I kept pursuing. This feeling of being good enough. Whatever that meant and I was sure when I found it I would know what it meant. But foolishly, I kept trudging through trying desperately to find this imaginary line. During this quest to find, when I fell, I fell hard and told myself I deserved to fall. And when I was happy, I didn’t think i deserved this happiness, because I don’t know, it was just because I was me and that was that. And being me just was not good enough. Not interesting enough. Not funny enough. Not enough of anything.  Maybe if I tried to be more social, I can be funnier. Maybe if I tried this, I could be less awkward. Maybe if I studied harder, I would be less stupid. And without realizing I started to associate my self esteem with what I did instead of who I was. When I didn’t perform as well on an ochem test as my peers, I grew bitter and angry. When I couldn’t think of a snappy comeback to a funny joke, I thought about it for days. When I was at a loss for words or when I failed to think of something my friends had but I hadn’t, I angrily thought I was stupid. I felt like a fake person who was “trying to cross a border with borrowed credentials”. And then despairingly, I thought maybe there would always be a disconnect between who I am and who I wanted to be.

If we do not respect ourselves…we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out–since our self image is untenable–their false notion of us.

I don’t know what specifically changed this year but I realized how intense the problem was but I was tired of it just inching forward. I wanted something more drastic to change. When before I sought that feeling of being enough, now I was more desperate to find an inner peace within myself.

Of course, when I am in doubt about anything or need any kind of help, I always consult the internet first. I read dozens of essays, books, and articles on self esteem in the hopes that I would find an answer.

And I think I found part of the answer in the pages of the internet and started to apply it. I started consistently journaling about the things I liked about myself no matter how corny I felt. I started repeating daily affirmations to myself everyday. I started to push myself to speak as honestly and as clearly as I could. I started thinking about other people and tried to give back more than being self absorbed all the time. I started to believe in the best outcomes instead of the worst. But there are two important things about building self esteem that I’ve learned are the most important. The first is to forgive yourself.

It’s a foreign concept–forgiveness. It demanded that I gave myself the time and space to grow and learn without crushing myself. But it makes the world. Instead now when I make a mistake or did something I didn’t really like, I forgave myself, told myself how I could improve and moved on. There’s a lot of comfort knowing that whatever I can’t change about my situation, each day starts clean and making improvements has no start or stop timeline.

The second factor was knowing that there is no give or take in this universe. Just because I had one good day does not mean the day after will be bad or maybe it will be. And just because an amazingly wonderful thing happened to me does not mean I have to sacrifice something to maintain that gift. Believing this helped me believe in the best possible outcomes for myself. To start focusing on what can happen rather than what cannot. And of course with that came the conviction that I deserved this happiness.

You never know how important self esteem is until you have it. As Joan Didion so perfectly describes in her essay, “to have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth…is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love, and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference”.

I might have more moments of self despair and feeling as though I lack so much than is warranted from an average person. In fact, I had that moment today as a friend was delivering delicious, custard and strawberry filled croissants to me. I spent an inordinate amount of time annoyed at myself for not saying things I should have. The old me would have spent several more inordinate days thinking about what I should have done. The newish me spent a few, agonizing minutes.  But as I finish this post, I realize I am who I am and even so, tomorrow, there is always time for improvement. I got this.

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The source of my inspiration and all the quotes in this post (including the header): Joan Didion’s, “On Self-Respect“. Parts of it is racist and slightly off putting but her musings on self esteem resonated a lot with me.

 

My Dreamcrate!

Misc, Uncategorized

Loot Crate is a monthly subscription service that specializes in goodies for gamers and geeks. They put together a project where fans can talk about their dream crate or what they’d like if they could design their own box. This is a dreamcrate so everything is fair game but I decided to make it more realistic because it would be nice if nice things were affordable. So I decided to revolve my box around the theme of Wonder. I was thinking about Wonder Woman and how much I love the concept of wonder: of being excited about the world, of exploration and discovery and learning new things. I mean it is kind of what drew me to the character in the first place, how despite how much of the degradation and rot that she saw in the world through her long, immortal life, I still liked that she still found something in it worth saving. So here is what I would like in my box.

So of course to celebrate Wonder Woman and in the spirit of previous Lootcrate boxes, I obviously want the box to be decorated as Themyscira. I love the this concept of Paradise and the lush nature of the island.

Image result for wonder woman themyscira

Themyscira from 2009 Animated Wonder Woman

Image result for wonder woman themyscira

From the new movie Wonder Woman coming out in June 2017..Also wouldn’t it be awesome if movie tickets for Wonder Woman could be included?

I love art prints to hang up so I chose gorgeous watercolor print. It would be nice if it came with the frame too. I just think it would look awesome on any desk or wall.

Wonder Woman print, Wonder Woman watercolor print, Wonder Woman Poster, Superhero print, DC comics, Marvel print, wall art, Kids decor -519

Buy it here

But I also really enjoyed the Vintage pop art design on Etsy where a print of Wonder Woman is placed on a piece of newspaper page. Again, it would look really good framed.

Wonder Woman Print - Wonder Woman wall art - Vintage pop art  - Retro Super Hero Art - Dictionary print art

Buy it here

Moving on from Wonder Woman, what better represents the theme of wonder than the Star Trek franchise?

“Space… The final frontier… These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds… To seek out new life; new civilisations… To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

I love this concept of exploration and discovery and the idea of camaraderie over conquest. I would love a decal of the USS Enterprise and the logo.

Star Trek Decal Vinyl Sticker, Starfleet decal, Trekkie, Decal for Vehicle, Laptop, Tablet

You can put this vinyl decal on your phone, car, laptop or tablet.

Speaking of new worlds, some of the best games I’ve played have dealt directly with this concept. I’ve never seen a plush before in a Lootcrate and honestly is there anything better than a Pokemon plush?? I like the pokeball plush a lot.

It’s big enough to cuddle; it’s a really good icebreaker, and it’s perfect for a low-key game of catch when you’re bored.

And moving back to the old school, I’ve always loved the fusion of Final Fantasy and Disney characters exploring different worlds in the Disney canon in Kingdom Hearts.

What better merch for Kingdom hearts than a keychain of Sora’s keyblade like this one.

I wanted to put in something from a not-so-big fandom even though the fandom is actually kind of big. Like Star Trek, Voltron: Legendary Defender deals with the idea of exploring new worlds in space but also this overarcing theme of an ensemble doing things together. As I’m watching the show, I also notice how much the characters learn a little bit from each culture and planet they visit.

Voltron: Legendary Defender Button Set - 5 Paladins of Voltron - Shiro, Lance, Pidge Gunderson, Hunk, Keith Pins

These pins are so adorable.

Also stickers because why not.

Voltron Sticker Sheets

Buy these adorable stickers here.

or even a shirt because that’s how much I love this show.

I also noticed that Lootcrate likes to include posters in their crate. Since my theme is all about Wonder, I thought a poster of Summoner’s Rift from League of Legends would be really fitting. LoL is not just about the strategy and tactics, it’s also about the awesome graphic and art design especially of the landscape itself. A decent-sized poster would probably help with strategizing as well.

Summoner’s Rift from LoL

So that is my Dreamcrate! Please feel free to post up your own Dreamcrate post. You have 100% creative license because it is a Dreamcrate obviously. Lootcrate will be highlighting some Dreamcrates throughout their social accounts.

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New Year, New Me?

Misc, Uncategorized

personal1

If 2016 was about anything, it was about the most dreaded word in my life, right behind death (jk) and that’s pat. I don’t think I’ve ever been a very patient person and when I feel like I’m lagging behind, I fall into acts of desperation until I do get it and then when I do I wonder why I’ve been rushing all along and by then I’ve thought of an alternative that would’ve fit me better #thestruggleissoreal. pat2 has gotten even harder for me this year. While I was in my final classes of uni, I felt impatient. After I graduated in June, I felt impatient. When I got a job in August as a tutor I felt impatient. When I was with my dad at his doctor’s appointment, I felt pat3. But what I was impatient for, I couldn’t tell you. And it finally hit me. I was waiting to be…somewhere. It was just this weird feeling of restlessness and feeling that I’m not where I’m suppose to be in my life or I should have been there by now but I haven’t. But I realized I was putting pat4 into end goals. Even now as I write this, I’m already planning on applying to PA programs this year and it feel as though that will be the end all be all even though and that everything will be fine once I get there even though I know that it is not.

Somewhere along the way, I caught on to this waiting game and I waited productively. If I’m always struggling to achieve something, I might as well enjoy the journey.

But here I am, 2016 wasn’t all bad as I’d like to think, I finally got a pat5, I’m interviewing for another pat6 I really want before I apply, I have amazing pat7 (both irl and in the blogosphere) who must have a lot of patience if I’m their friend (lol) and I still have so many things I want to do and I’m coming to 2017 hoping that I’ll get to them.

In 2016, I met my goal of pat8 more which has kind of changed my life and I’m hoping to work out at least three times a week this year. I also accomplished most of the goals I set for 2016 (albeit there weren’t that many) including taking Anatomy during my gap year and eating less junk food when I’m snacking.

This year, I hope to continue that. As always, I’m hoping I’ll seize any opportunity coming my way, have a little patience with myself, and here’s to a better year!

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This year I found that setting read1 for myself like read classics by these authors or reading at least 10 sequels is read2 in any way because I just tend to read whatever the hell I want. What does work however is giving myself read3 like reading diversely and I find that I always keep these in mind when I go to the library or when I’m picking what to read next. So my read4 are:

  • Read 70 books. (I always safely surpass this no matter what kind of year it is for me, so I’m sticking with 70 books)
  • Read more types of literature such as essay and short story collections.
  • So many of the books I read are recommendations I find from Booktube or other blogs. I want to find more books on my own whether through searching through Goodreads or other places besides blogs and Youtube.
  • Read more underrated books. (by underrated I mean around 3000 or less ratings on Goodreads). I find myself not really clicking with a lot of hyped books and I find that my interests are kind of niche sometimes so why not seek out books that always fly under the radar?
  • Read as diversely as possible (in format, in content, and in perspective)

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Sometimes maintaining my blog in 2016 was frustrating in the sense that I sometimes I felt as though I tried really hard on a blog post but end up with only four people liking it whereas on a post I spent much less time, I would get way more likes. People like what people like and it’s just the nature of the blogging beast. I just want to remind myself that blogging should be first and foremost about my thoughts and opinions. I still love blogging with my entire heart and I’m more blog2 than ever to write in the coming year. One thing I am changing though and you will probably have noticed this if you’ve been following my blog for the last couple of months, my blog has turned into this mishmash of blogging about books but more and more often I’ll write about what I’m watching. What I had originally planned was for this blog to be 90% books and 10% everything else. But I realized I want it to be more of an equal balance, more like 60% books and 40% movies/TV. So in 2017, you’re going to see more reviews and discussions on the things I’m blog3 (in fact I’m already planning on doing a Sherlock Season 4 discussion post ;). I’m really excited for this change and I hope you will be too :). In 2017, I would also love to do more blog4 post. I sometimes feel like I wrap up everything I read and watch in a huge post and give special attention to my favorites but I’d like to give more attention to the ones in between. I also would love to do more discussion posts. As you might have noticed, I started doing some blog5 on my blog and that will continue into the next couple of months. I’m always looking to improve my blog6 on my headers and banners so in 2017, I’m hoping to learn more about graphic design. I usually use photos on the internet to supply the image for my banner and header but I’m really hoping to incorporate more personal book pictures into my posts.

Wow, this post took more out of me than I thought. I’m just going to go drink my strawberry smoothie now and read and start The Crown tonight. 2017, I’m putting my faith in you! And to all of you reading, I sincerely hope you have a wonderful and amazing 2017 full of opportunity, love and fun. 

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A Rant about the Election 2016

Misc, Uncategorized

A few days ago, I watched the new Wonder Woman trailer and I was filled with hope at the future.

And then Tuesday rolled around and, surprise bitches, Donald Trump was elected president and the US regressed at least 50 years. Hooray welcome to the ’50’s where life is great for everyone except women, black people, Latinos, Muslims, LGBT+ people, etc. etc.

This election has made me so incredibly frustrated and angry for many reasons, one of which can be summed up in a TIME article I read,

The 2016 election is a referendum on what women can be–and what men can get away with.

It is sadly still a truth. That the bigoted, racist, misogynistic, and most importantly uninformed words of Trump were more important and apparently more trustworthy than anything Hillary Clinton could say. Trump has slandered and tossed political correctness and human decency into the air and he’s obviously been congratulated on it given that he’s uhm been elected president. While I was watching the election coverage yesterday, a reporter asked a Trump female supporter why she was voting for Trump and she said because “he says it like it is” which is ironic considering that he lies about 50% of the time. The reporter then pressed her on this talking about the misogynistic things he’s said and she replied to something along the lines of “you just have to sort out the weeds” to which I say I shouldn’t have to try and decipher what the next president of the United States is trying to say.

Another thing I was annoyed at is the fact that because Trump is such a radical person and shits on the the very idea of democracy, it somehow makes him THE person to fix the shit the US is in. You know who else was like that, oh that’s right, Hitler. Hitler was charismatic and seemed to know the very solution to solving the depression. Who cares about the fact that he was so obsessed with the Aryan race?  And just because you have fervent convictions about the way things are run does make you any more likely to fix anything. Politics is not about finding a problem and waving a wand and boom the problem is fixed. It’s a lot less glamorous than that. It’s about compromise, stalemate, priorities and finding ways to tell the average American person about politics when the average American person is inherently distrustful or not knowledgeable about politics in the first place.

For example, every politician old and new is going to say he/she is going to say he/she will lower taxes for the people. Does that ever happen? Not really. It sounds appealing and politicians know the people like to hear that but the truth is there is no way of getting around to lowering taxes because we need it for our public services.

But you know what the most annoying thing about this election was? The fact that we all heard what we wanted to hear. Trump supporters saw him as a dark horse who would fix this broken country. They were not going to see anything else. Clinton supporters obviously saw something different. People were voting for third party candidates just to prove that they didn’t like either of the main candidates. But America made excuses for whichever candidate they supported without even keeping an open mind, convinced that we were right about who were picking. And look we’re still suffering.

The things that Trump has said are disheartening to put it lightly, no let’s not put it lightly, the things he’s said are unforgivable but it also inspires me to continue using this platform–however little it is–to speak out for feminism and minority rights and everything in between because I will not let it slide. I thought America was suppose to be different, that even though it had its faults, that we could rise above the -isms of the world. This election proves that we haven’t but honestly I think we’ve regressed so far as of Tuesday that the only path now is forward? Lol..who am I kidding. America is fucked. BUT we should continue to speak out and progress will slowly inch forward.

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My Week in TV Comedy

Misc, Uncategorized

I love watching TV comedy and fall TV is coming up with new shows and returning ones so I decide to test watch a bunch of new comedies and some returning ones for each day of the week of September 19th. All synopses I’ve provided are from Wikipedia. And here are my thoughts, which ones I’ll keep watching, and which ones I’m dropping.

Monday

the-8

*The premiere aired on Monday, the 19th but regular showings are on Thursdays.

The Good Place is an interesting concept and from what I’ve seen of the first three episodes, the worldbuilding is very vibrant, compelling, and slightly whimiscal even though it has the potential for a lot of loopholes of the same caliber as Once Upon a Time because there are no rules. The Good Place is essentially a heaven where literally anything can happen. You can see how that might lead to a lot of convenient plot solutions. The characters could use a loooooot of work. The first episode comprised of Eleanor learning how not to be selfish anymore and this arc has been done sooo many times before and this show didn’t do anything refreshing for this arc and I find the characters continue to be as bland going into the third episode. And I’m surprised considering that the creator of this show is Mike Schur who created Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine Nine. So when I found that, he was the only reason why I’m holding out on this show so hopefully it picks up soon. Also, I continue to appreciate the vast diversity of characters (in terms of race) that Schur includes without making race jokes all the time.

Verdict: Keep watching (for one or two more episodes, but if it doesn’t pick up, I’m dropping)

the-1

And speaking of Brooklyn Nine Nine, it returned for its fourth season last Tuesday. I think B99 lost a little bit of its humor in the last season but it did pick up near the end and I think it went into the premiere really strong especially because the strongest relationship in the show is the one between Captain Holt and Jake Peralta. If you love Parks and Rec, check out this show. It’s well worth it.

Verdict: Keep Watching (of course)

the-2

When I first heard about this show, I jumped on it right away because a) childish Gambino was on the show and b) Childish Gambino was on the show. However I think the humor and the plotlines are a little lost on me. I think there’s just a lot of subtext that I don’t understand. But this is a show that could potentially be a great satire and Donald Glover is an excellent actor.

Verdict: Dropping (might catch up later)

Wednesday

the-3

I have so many family sitcoms that I thought I would be bored of this. After watching it, I feel like it’s sort of like a second cousin to The Middle. And even though, it hit a lot of the same notes as other family sitcoms like first crushes, dealing with neighbors etc. etc., it has a lot of potential for character. The first few episodes were unsure about how to handle some of the family members and I want to see more from them. I’m glad the casting directors actually casted a child with cerebral palsy to play a character with cerebral palsy and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the family dynamics. The humor is your standard family sitcom humor although a lot of wasn’t funny to me (probably because of the acting).

Verdict: Keep Watching

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I have had my qualms with Modern Family especially in the most recent seasons because they kept falling on the same jokes and what once were refreshing storylines grew tiresome and just too safe which is sad to say for a show that was once heralded for being progressive. But there’s something about the acting performances and the more nuanced messages (like the most recent episode) that it sends about our daily lives that are different from other mainstream family sitcoms that keeps me watching. Also I just really like Haley and Andy.

Verdict: Keep Watching (with some hesitations)

the-5I just literally finished watching the most recent episode and this show just keeps on giving me more extremely pleasant surprises. I have since made peace with the fact that this show is not the funniest out there (at least for me). It’s packed with too many obscure references I don’t get and the dialogue a little too verbatim and scripted for the delivery to be funny. BUT. But it more than compensates for that with its impeccable storylines. It subverts and upends so many romantic comedy formulas and makes them so refreshing and new but still sweet and well..romantic. These characters are some of the nastiest out there in TV but you feel for them anyway and the producers and directors are also not afraid to explore topics like depression and PTSD even in a comedy that never crosses over into dark humor. It maintains its lightheartedness all throughout. And best of all, these topics are neither brushed over nor oversimplified. All in 20 minutes. This show has my heart and I highly recommend.

Verdict: Keep watching (duh)

Thursday

the-6

This show also has a piece of my heart. It clearly has an agenda as a progressive show but unlike Modern Family, it is actually successful in making a conversation. It’s also one of the most hilarious and feel-good shows out there right now. Even people I know who usually hate comedy because they “don’t get the jokes” love Superstore because we’ve all been to the store so the jokes are so relatable. These characters are some of the most lovable out there, endearing and eccentric ones reminiscent of Parks and Rec and The Office, ones that you just want the best for because they care for each other even if they don’t show it.

Verdict: Keep watching (obviously)

Friday

the-7

There wasn’t any new or returning comedy that premiered on Friday so I decided to watch Transparent. Transparent feels a lot more like drama than comedy sometimes so the humor is biting, more dark. That’s combined with almost soap-opera type drama that never feels over the top with its melancholic tone and careful pacing. But even from the first episode, the main story surrounding our main character, Mort, and his transition to being a woman, feels endearing and heartbreaking all at once. There also seems to be a kind of trend on TV right now where all the characters are unlikeable so all her three children are really selfish and they’re not as endearing, more amusing to watch as they get into more and more shit.

Verdict: Keep Watching

Some comedies on my “to watch”:

Veep

Fargo

Let me know if you’ve seen any of these or what fall TV comedies you are excited for! =)

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Discussion: The D-word, Diversity

Book Discussion, Misc, Uncategorized

There seems to be some rekindling of this issue in recent weeks. And I used to think it was obvious why we needed diversity. We want to see ourselves represented in the media and because our world does not consist of just white cisgendered males. But lately I’ve been seeing this trend where when someone reads a book or watches something with a diverse cImage result for star trek uhura zoe saldanaharacter, the character is somehow endlessly praised just for being “diverse”. But diversity comes with a lot of stipulations than just simply inserting a “diverse” character. Take, for example,
Uhura (Zoe Saldana) from the new reboot Star Trek who is the only recurring woman of color in this series. In every single interview, Zoe is lauded for being a woman of color and being a role model to little black girls as if the color of her skin is her only merit never mind the fact that she might be a good actress or anything. But the sad thing is even though we have come many, many years from the original Star Trek when seeing a black woman on screen was revolutionary, we haven’t come that far. She does not have much to do in these movies other than being the obligated “badass” woman.

Image result for peggy carterAnd that’s kind of my problem with the way diversity is being interpreted now. It seeks to alienate and make that story the only story. In Captain America, Peggy Carter is really the only important female character in the entire movie. So people see her as a beacon of feminism and badassery even though she doesn’t even have that much to do in the movie. And the only thing we see when we see her is that she’s a woman and she’s here to represent all womankind whereas there are numerous male characters in the movie that are defined by their traits and not be seen as just a man. So Carter has to be everything. She has to be strong, intelligent, fierce, vulnerable, and feminine. The dangers of a single story as feminist and literary writer Chimamanda Agozi Adichie would say.

I also use to say that diversity is important because we have to be inclusive of other types of people in all different walks of life but in our daily lives, we may be inclusive but we also practice segregation. On school campuses, there are things like Chinese Student Association or VSA or Asian Peer Mentors that may not technically exclude other people but subconsciously does. We seek diversity but we also seek community among people that are similar to us so that we feel less alone.

 

And then there is also of course the continuing trend of using diversity as a sort of moral weapon. I watched Bre Fauchuex’s video on her problem with diversity. She had a lot ofImage result for empire of storms points that I don’t agree with but she does make a good point about others. She mentions that people have been attacking authors like Victoria Schwab for not including people of color in her books. I’ve been seeing this around as well on Tumblr and Twitter where people were accusing Sarah J Maas of not including queer characters and people of color in her books which I don’t really understand because Sarah J Maas is not the first nor the last author to not include “diverse” people in her books and yet I don’t see people hating on Brandon Sanderson for not being diverse in his books. But I think it should be noted that the meer fact that we are attacking authors on this issue is because we need more diversity and more accurate diversity in the first place but I think we should address the issue differently rather than sending hate.

Nevertheless I do still believe in diversity wholeheartedly but I want to advise using the word more effectively and meaningfully.

*Some questions I pondered while making this post but didn’t know how to discuss:

If diversity is supposed to represent the real world, how realistic is it suppose to be? How much diversity is “realistic”?

Why do we not criticize literature from China, Japan, Senegal for not being diverse, for not featuring people of other ethnicities and races but we do with American or Western literature?

So we keep talking about diversity but can we do? What can we do to do better? To be active in applying diversity? Here are my suggestions that I try to personally apply.  

  1. Consume diversely, but more importantly, wisely.

Don’t just read a book featuring an Muslim American for #diversathon and say “hey, I read a book featuring a Muslim protagonist”, pat yourself on the shoulder for being a moral person, and then be done. Don’t treat it as a checklist and learn something from it. Does the author have anything to say about the culture that’s different? What is a cultural value that’s different than others? From your own? Is it even making a statement? Or is it just a protagonist that just so happens to be x, y, and z (because we definitely need those too)? Don’t be like that person that says I read To Kill a Mockingbird and say I cannot be a racist.

If we should be looking at a person’s character instead of the color of their skin, or their gender or whatever as fantasy author Robin Hobb says, then why not be diverse? The very fact that we need a diversathon is a little annoying to me personally because it’s just a week-long event. Shouldn’t we be reading diversely all the time?

2. Forgive and critique.

Nobody thinks they’re being ignorant until they are told they are. But we should not be afraid to learn from them. And if you are a consumer, the one critiquing these works, you will only anger and alienate people if you bash them and make them even less likely to listen to you. Do not make an attack on ignorance an attack on the person. We all have our ingrained prejudices that we cannot undo; we can only strive to do better. Today, everyone is afraid of offending someone and that’s because we are so quick to judge and hate. Instead forgive and critique.

3. Do not make one person the sole representative of their race/gender/sexual orientation etc.

Image result for wonder woman gal gadotWhy can Wonder Woman only be a role model to little girls? Why is Lupita Nyongo only a role model to black girls? Nobody’s story should represent the entirety of a peoples’ experience because that leads to generalization and stereotypes. In fact, this is the reason why we still have work to do in terms of diversity. We have a plethora of amazing male superheroes and not so amazing male superheroes but we only have one Muslim superheroine (Ms. Marvel). Some readers have said that her parents are stereotypes of Muslim tradition, others disagree but if we had more Muslim superheroes

4. And the most important to me, seek out media that is different from your own viewpoint and be aware.

If you’re not a Christian, read Christian fiction even if you might not agree. If you are or even if you’re not Asian, watch Fresh off the Boat. If you’re not black, watch Black-ish. And so on and so forth. Because we want diversity so we can see our stories represented, but we want other people to know how dangerous a single story can be, that we are more than our stereotypes and that we should not generalized.

Image result for fresh off the boatImage result for blackish

It’s the reason why Muslim Americans are now being segregated out of restaurants because of the pure fact that they are believed to be terrorists. Generalization at its finest. If we take the time to appreciate other people’s stories that are maybe vastly different than our own, maybe we realize that our differences are only the fact that we are afraid of what we don’t know. And maybe then, the argument of “writing what you know” can be obsolete.

I read some lovely posts on diversity this week that say things so much more eloquently than I do and that inspired me to write this post:

Marlon James (author of A History of Seven Killings): ‘Why I’m (Almost) Done Talking About Diversity’

CW over @ReadThinkPonder: My Problem With the World Diverse and Misrepresentation vs. No Representation

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Discussion: Is Age Just a Number?

Book Discussion, Misc, Uncategorized

I finally convinced my sister to read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and she came home one day after reading it and she asked me “Did you know Kaz was 17?”

Subconsciously I probably did. Out loud, it just sounded weird. He is the head of a renowned gang and is suppose to commit a heist of one of the most secure prisons in the Grisha world which is a pretty heavy burden for a 17 year old if I do say so. I think in my head, he was around my age (22) although I inadvertently make a lot of YA protagonists my age in my head especially in YA fantasy and scifi because if I’m to be honest, I sometimes think YA protagonists are a little young in proportion to the things they have to do. This is more in regards to YA fantasy because in YA contemporary, the protagonist is usually dealing with real life problems while in high school. If any older, it would just be New Adult, more or less, although there are obviously exceptions.

Because I was curious as to the number of protagonists belonged to which age category, I made a little infographic sampling a number of YA books and the ages of the main protagonists, their age on the left and their pictures on the right.

 

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Some disclaimers:

*Books chosen pretty much randomly out of the YA books. This is a very small sample of YA SFF out there and is not an extensive representation of the genre as a whole. I know I’ve forgotten a lot, books like Shadow and Bone trilogy, Bitter Kingdom trilogy, Clockwork Princess, Twilight etc. etc.

*Included only YA fantasy and scifi

*All pictures from Google images. 

*All ages found on their respective Wikias. There may be some discrepancies.

First of all, I think it’s worth noting that these people–kids–essentially have pretty intense responsibilities and have already gone through a lot in life. Sharzhad already has her best friend killed and has already found her true love. June has a freaking government position basically while the other officials are adults if I’m not mistaken. Katniss is the face of a revolution. Caelaena is considered the best assassin in the land. And of course, Harry defeats Voldemort at the old, old age of 17. 17.

Image result for harry defeating voldemort

That’s pretty crazy if you think about it. I understand in fantasy that usually kids grow up faster than usual because the world they live in is usually very harsh like in An Ember in the Ashes. But still it makes me wonder why these ages were even chosen. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Caelaena to be a little older in order to really be the best assassin in the land. Sixteen is definitely the most popular age in YA which is understandable especially if you live in America. Even Veronica Roth once mentioned that she chose to make Tris 16 because it’s sort of a coming of age age, an age where everything changes and you are faced with a lot of decisions. But what does it say when the peak of your experiences in life happen in your teenage years?

I suppose in many ways I find it unbelievable because of my own experience. I mean I didn’t know what the heck I was doing when I was 16. I was young and very naive. I suppose the age debate in YA can go both ways. It’s true that I could have found some good role models who have a greater maturity level (for the most part) and are faced with life and death situations that I don’t have to think about but could still help me with my own decisions. Also, the sense of power and control that we have as teens isn’t very much so to see these protagonists take control of their lives and discover who they are is very gratifying. On the other hand, what is up with all these kids that apparently rule the world and all the adults are just really dumb entities that are just there.

It’s also worth noting, even though I don’t know what to make of it, that most of the female protagonists are on the younger end of the age spectrum, most being 16 and 17 with none that I can think of being 20 and older and still be considered to be YA. Most of the male protagonists are on the older end of the spectrum. Making this infographic also made me realize how odd some of the relationship age differences are. For example, Cress is 16 but she’s in a relationship with Thorne who is 20. And most weird is probably Rose who is 17 but becomes romantically involved with Dimitri who is um, 24 (lol).

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*copied again so you don’t have to keep scrolling up to peruse the graph

The teen years are very different from your 20’s and in my opinion should not be interchangeable but oftentimes, when there are YA adaptations turned into movies, Image result for four and tris divergentthe actors are usually a lot older than their supposed age in the books and sometimes the characters’ ages are even changed in order to correlate more with the actors’ ages. For example, Four is suppose to be 18 in the books but he’s 24 in the movies, a significant age gap. Percy Jackson, played by Logan Lerman, was suppose to be 12 in the books but changed to 16. I’m not sure how old Clary Fray is suppose to be but the actress playing her in Shadowhunters is 20 and the actor playing Jace is 26 which is at least 3 years older than they should be. Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar children asa butterfieldThe show looks like a bunch of 20 year olds hanging out instead of teens. And most recently, Jacob from Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is suppose to be 16 but he’s played by the lovely
Asa Butterfield who is 19 (although to be fair, Asa looks really young). I understand that there’s a bunch of schooling issues that go on with child actors but one wonders what it would be like if they had cast actors that were the correct age or would it have  been too jarring to see?

I suppose it all comes down to realism for me. Some characters could be 16 but are very mature. I think what is off-putting to me was the fact that a lot of the characters surrounding these very young protagonists are actually adults. It’s realistic to me when it comes to Harry Potter because he always has guidance from the more experienced people around him and you can feel what a burden he has at such a young age while dealing the usual “teenage stuff” like crushes, homework, and first kisses; although I do admit it’s a very first-world teenage experience. In many ways, I could interchange these protagonists’ age to something older because their experience is not specific to the teen years like Harry’s is. Scarlet could very well be a 25-year-old instead of an 18-year-old who goes off with Cinder and company to defeat Levana. But what do I know? I mean there are 16 year olds who have gone to the Olympics and have been to war so maybe I’m just too narrow-minded to get out of my own experience.

Image result for shrugs gif

I know that this post literally gave no answers to the questions I posed. But I want to know what you think about age in YA.

  • Are these YA protagonists too young to be saving their worlds?
  • How do you feel about the age gaps and the ratios of girls and boys on the age spectrum?
  • Are some of these ages realistic to the story?
  • I didn’t mention this in the post because it’s too broad a topic but what are your thoughts on the uneven amount of violence versus the relatively chaste sexuality of YA protagonists? Is it an age thing? Societal?

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What I’ve Been Watching: June/July/August

Misc, Uncategorized, What I've Been Watching

Yeah, I’ve watched a few things these past few months. Once again, I’ve listed the order I’m reviewing/ranting about them down in the list below. The bolded ones are my favorites out of the bunch and I’ve included trailers for each one. Without further ado, let me share them with you =)

Movies                                              

Horror

  • The Ring
  • Mirrors
  • Occulus

Science Fiction

  • The Force Awakens
  • Mockingjay
  • Star Trek
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Star Trek Beyond

Historical

  • The Duchess

TV

Science Fiction

  • Mr. Robot
  • Stranger Things
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender (cartoon)

Realistic

  • It’s Okay That’s Love (Kdrama)
  • Unreal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ring

This was a decent horror movie but I don’t understand why it’s considered a classic. There were some scary moments (omg the part when the girl climbs out of the TV..*shudders*) but the storyline especially the backstory behind the videotape wasn’t really that compelling to me.

 

 

 


Mirrors

 

My thoughts: This actually might be the worst horror movie I’ve seen in my life. People told me to watch it just for the scene where the girl in the bathtub peels off her face with her bare hands but the special effects were so bad that I just laughed. There was no sense of character, plot, or logic. In this one part, the security guard goes into the abandoned house and he’s looking at the mirror and for some reason, a random bird flies out of a bush inside this decrepit, old building. Please, director. You’re not scaring anyone and you know it. This movie was a hot mess; please stay away from it with a ten-foot pole.


Oculus

 

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I haven’t finished this movie and I don’t really care anymore. It was just a little boring. I stopped halfway through and at that point they were still setting up the scare. It is one of the smarter horror films though that doesn’t rely on jump scares to frighten and actually has a compelling storyline.

 

 


Mockingjay

 

I actually liked it more than I thought I would and I discuss why here.


The Force Awakens

Ummmmmm, I was slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I completely adored the action scenes especially the one at the end with Rey. I love that a woman is the main protagonist of such an iconic series (how many times in blockbuster movies do you see women going through the hero’s journey?) It was almost jarring to see a woman being part of big prophecies that are usually reserved for underdog heroes (usually white males). Love C3PO and the return of Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and Hans. What I didn’t like is the fact that the character development was a little off especially for Finn and at the end, SPOILER Hans died and everyone was like ok, moving on now.

Star Trek (2009)

Rewatching this movie after watching Star Trek Beyond really shows how much these characters have grown. I really loved the plot in this one and the development of the crew’s relationships along with its trademark humor. This movie definitely has a focus on Kirk and Spock. I know that the first two movies don’t stick all that much to the original but I think they stand really well on their own. Aside from the lack of female presence, I completely adore these movies as far as blockbusters go. They have just the right balance of scifi opera fun with smart and poignant character relationships and moments.


Star Trek Into Darkness

  • My favorite of the trilogy so far
  • I did wish they had casted a POC for Khan because that was what he was but Benedict Cumberbatch is a magnificent actor albeit a little too dramatic at times. But he actually makes a challenging opponent.
  • The scene with Carol Marcus still makes me cringe so hard and it’s so blatantly gratuitous that I’m wondering what the writers were even thinking at that part.
  • The ending where Kirk is risking his life always makes me emotional *sigh* I just love Kirk and Spock’s relationship
  • I love the chase scene between Spock and Khan

Star Trek Beyond

  • The action scenes really shine esp the ones on the ship (I mean what did I expect from The Fast and Furious director)
  • I completely adore the relationship between Bones and Spock
  • I seriously wish Uhura had more to do than just say pretty things; it’s a disrespect to her character
  • I love the addition of Jaylah but her story arc was done by the middle of the movie and then she was just pointless after that smh so much potential

 

 


The Duchess

I don’t think you can go wrong when Keira Knightley stars in a period piece even if the hairstyles are so freaking ridiculous haha. Her acting in this one is brilliant per usual and the storyline is heartbreaking. I’m actually quite surprised at how complex the person she was arranged to be married with was. Clearly, the audience was not meant to like him but he shows a depth that could have been swept under the rug. Another surprising thing was that this movie is actually quite a nod to feminism which was cool. The ending was a little unsatisfying for me mostly because I just wanted her character to be happy…


TV

Science Fiction

Mr. Robot

Currently on: Season 2, ep 2

Mr. Robot is sort of a cross between Fight Club and American Psycho. It might be a show about hacking but it’s predominantly interested in the human psyche and social commentary: our reliance on technology and societal constraints. The social commentary can get annoyingly heavy handed in my opinion and simplifies the issue way too much which is ironic since this is a pretty complex show in terms of character. It’s definitely not your average digestible drama with a linear, fast plotline and easily labeled characters which is really refreshing. It’s slow and oftentimes confusing (imo) because it alternates a lot between the Elliot’s state of mind and what is actually happening. I’m in love with Rami Malek’s acting. You really can’t keep your eyes off him (the things he does with his eyes). In addition to brilliant acting, the cinematography is uniquely stylized and its electronic score is to die for.


Stranger Things

The hype is definitely deserved for this show. It’s an 80’s inspired supernatural show with horror elements that’s very reminiscent of things like ET, Stand by Me, The Goonies, Super 8 (coincidentally my favorite movie ever), and Stephen King novels. In fact I’m starting to think that ’80’s parents don’t know where their kids are half the time, that all ’80’s boys really like Dungeons and Dragons and that ’80s high school kids were actually separated into the loners and the popular kids. But it does enough things differently that make it stand out. The mystery aspect (what is this weird demon thing and where the fuck is Will) is consistently engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat. The acting is so well done and I love the chemistry between the group ensemble. The themes of friendship and loyalty between the characters are heartwarming and really make you care. There’s also a few truly creepy scenes that were really exciting. Btw my header came from the lovely makeitstranger.com logo generator.


Voltron

I adored this so much that I did a full review of it here.


Realistic

It’s Okay That’s Love

On the lovely recommendation of Summer over @xingsings, I decided to watch this kdrama. Her review does it way more justice than I do so you should check it out. I must say the strength in this drama lies in its character chemistry, both between the main characters and the side characters. And it’s so refreshing to see a kdrama embrace female sexuality more. It reminded me a lot of It’s Kind of a Funny Thing by Ned Vizzini where it explores mental illness in a humorous and endearing way (albeit at times really inaccurate) and it has a little romantic subplot between our two main characters who have mental illnesses. It definitely leans more towards the vibrant and optimistic side of things than the dark but it doesn’t skimp on the dark emotion especially near the end.


Unreal

This show was such a pleasant surprise. Never in my life did I think I would like a show about a fictional version of The Bachelor. But I love it. The characters are despicable but utterly compelling, especially the two main ones whose relationship resembles Walter’s and Jesse’s from Breaking Bad. The writing is top-notch and the drama doesn’t hold any punches. It just gets more and more dramatic and intense as each episode goes on but never in a way that I felt was unbelievable or shocking just to be shocking. The ways in which Quinn and Rachel manipulate the show and the contestants is so disgusting but so clever at the same time, you can’t help but see how it unfolds. It was also a very unique satire on reality TV and the way that women tear each other apart.

Which ones have you seen? What did you think of them? Are you planning on watching on any of these? I would love to hear your thoughts! =)

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