This Is Us Episodes 2 & 3: Call Your Dad

By: M.K. Killen

Episode 2 of This Is Us explores the emotional trauma of alcoholism and the vulnerability people feel when they know someone is looking up to them.  Episode 3 followed up with unresolved trauma from the death of a loved one, particularly a father figure.

This Is Us has consistently done a great job at validating nontraditional families, sticking to the theme that no one is perfect—even the people who seem like it.  The past two weeks they tackled the father figure.

As they delved into the depths of Jack’s alcoholism and the strain it put on his familial relationship, the writers also managed to build up a stronger sense of family.  Jack says he can’t do it on his own, and in one of the most touching moments of the season thus far, admits his failures to his daughter Kate.

A man who in all ways seems perfect, who is immortalized in his children’s memories, this moment of weakness in Jack was powerful.  A father never wants to disappoint his children, to show them he’s not the perfect role model, but that’s not how life works: people make mistakes, people have personal struggles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Randall tries to account for and calculate everything in life.  His ridiculously type A personality that pushed him into a breakdown last season, is driving him to make changes this season.  Randall’s new role as Mr. Mom, paired with his excitement about bringing a new child into the house is adorable.

His fear for his own family by changing the dynamic—and his own thoroughly considered plans—when Beth suggests fostering an older child is equally moving.

Viewers can see how growing up with a Jack as a father, truly shaped Randall as both a father and a husband.

In episode 3, we get a glimpse into Kate and Kevin’s opposing methods of coping with their father’s death—Kate speaks about him all the time, and Kevin avoids the subject at all costs.  We also see how Randall’s biological father, Walter, influenced his grandchildren and will leave a lasting impact on their new foster daughter, Deja, even after his death.

While the This Is Us cast continues to grow, the looming reveal of Jack’s death casts a shadow over new characters.  With Kevin’s emotional breakdown after the realization he repressed all emotions after his father’s death, viewers can tell discussion of Jack’s death is imminent.

The lesson we can take away is, dead or alive, perfect or perfectly imperfect, if your memories are overall good or bad, you owe a lot to your dad.

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This Is Us: New Season, Same Problems

[Photo Courtesy of NBC]

By: M.K. Killen

Season two of “This Is Us” premiered Sept. 26, and began in the same fashion as last season: the triplets’ birthday.  Watching each character grow over the past year left fans with a lot of questions and the season premiere did more to pique their curiosity than satisfy it.

The opening sequence was quite powerful.  A poem by William, Randall’s biological father, is punctuated by scenes from both past and present.

The triplets struggle to come to terms with their parents’ decision to take time apart.

Randall, exuding his self-proclaimed baby fever, is thriving in his new role as Mr. Mom, while Beth seems to struggle in silence.

Kate prepares for a musical audition with her biggest fan Toby there to give her encouragement.

Kevin lives the glamorous, albeit lonely, life of an LA actor while his ex-wife turned girlfriend waits back in New York.

Randall’s struggle with adoption and self-identity, while relevant, is recurring and takes a back burner to some of the other developments this episode made.

Continue reading “This Is Us: New Season, Same Problems”

I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…

Photo courtesy of FX.com

By: M.K. Killen

Season four of FXX’s “You’re The Worst” kicked off Sept. 6, 2017, 10 months after the season three finale which dropped two consecutive bombshells on fans.  The first three seasons of the anti-romantic romantic comedy follow the budding relationship of two unlucky-in-love and all around terrible people Jimmy and Gretchen.

The seemingly self-aware narrative deals with the sordid lives of millennials in Los Angeles, who often serve as their own antagonists.

Covering themes like monogamy, domestic abuse, PTSD, clinical depression and the mystery of the human condition, the show makes use of the dark comedy popularized on the network by “Louie” and “Fargo.”  Though “You’re The Worst” is arguably more tame, it still contains scenes that cross the line from black comedy into just plain morose and bizarre.

Continue reading “I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…”

Students share Netflix favorites as new seasons added

[Image retrieved from whatsonnetflix.com]

By Dalton Lord

It’s a new season, but it’s not just a different sight outdoors. New shows are premiering on television, and new seasons of veteran shows are as well. It’s also the time when Netflix brings new series and seasons to its lineup.

Seeing as how not everyone can watch prime-time shows at night, students log on to Netflix and binge a show whenever they’re available. The students at St. Bonaventure University shared what they like to watch on Netflix.

Continue reading “Students share Netflix favorites as new seasons added”

Beyonce captivates audience with Lemonade

[image courtesy of hypebeast.com]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

Fans might think Beyoncé effortlessly handles life’s curveballs because, well, she’s Beyoncé.  But her new, highly secretive album Lemonade is visual and sonic proof that’s not the case. Even further, her latest artistic effort shatters the typical boundaries of pop music—utilizing striking visuals to accentuate an already powerful message.

Opening with the prophetic words, “The past and the present merge to meet us here…What am I doing my love,” Lemonade’s official trailer left fans unexplainably disturbed, intrigued and downright confused. The promotional video itself didn’t include an excess of Bey-focused shots; rather, it put the attention on art—with starkly contrasted visuals of peace and tranquility, juxtaposed to utter chaos and destruction.

Continue reading “Beyonce captivates audience with Lemonade”

Banks-Palin fiasco calls for racial dialogue

[image courtesy of rollingstone.com]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

Rapper Azealia Banks is most commonly known for her foul mouth, which she has excused by calling her verbal daggers a part of her “crass, New-York-City sense of humor.”  I’d have some serious questions for anyone who would accept such a poor excuse for vulgarities; regardless, it is likely Banks supporters would agree the 24-year-old rapper’s taken things a bit too far this time.

After a March 31 Newslo article’s release, jokingly telling that former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin said blacks “accepted [slavery] willingly,” Banks took to Twitter, voicing her thoughts on the statement.

Unfortunately for Palin, Banks’ comments were nothing short of humiliating.  Even worse for Banks, the comedy-based article was falsified.  That’s right, Palin never made the remarks in the first place, despite Banks’ all-too-real comebacks.

Continue reading “Banks-Palin fiasco calls for racial dialogue”

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Review

[image courtesy of imdb.com]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

If you ask Gus Portokalos, Windex can fix anything.  Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than Windex to fix My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.

The sequel to the 2002 box office hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding stormed U.S. theaters on March 25, ringing in a smorgasbord of long-time Greek Wedding fans and newcomers to the Joel Zwick classic.

As expected, the Kirk Jones follow-up continued the larger-than-life Portokalo family’s story, resurrecting some of the first installment’s signature jokes—and deteriorating cast acting abilities.

Unfortunately, Greek Wedding 2‘s “comedy Bundt cake” tasted bland, juxtaposed to the original film, because of its commonplace, reunion movie set-up.

Not surprisingly, the film’s characters haven’t changed much coming into Greek Wedding 2: Toula’s still awkward (and regretfully working at Dancing Zorba’s), just as Ian’s suaveness hasn’t died down; Maria still runs the house—even if Gus doesn’t think so—and Aunt Voula is as sex-charged as ever. And there’s no shortage of prideful Greek history lessons on Gus’ behalf, too. In reality, there aren’t any jaw-droppers in the character’s 14-year progressions—with the exception of Angelo’s coming out.

The biggest, and possibly only, bombshell of the film was the elderly side of its dual, romance plot.

Greek Wedding 2 mainly focuses on Toula’s daughter, Paris, who’s landed herself in a similar situation to that of her pushover mother—grappling with her Greek identity and fighting against Gus’ persistence in helping her find a “nice, Greek boyfriend.”  Paris, an introverted high school senior, is beginning the college application process, trying to dream big while her family dreams of keeping her close to home.  Regardless, Paris’ prospect is New York University and she’s determined to push past her unavoidable familial embarrassment—which, as we saw in the first installment, turns into an appreciation for her Greek heritage.

On the other hand, though, a good chunk of the plot is focused on Gus and Maria’s relationship, troubled by differing opinions regarding the failed signing of their invalid, multi-decade-old marriage license. In typical Gus fashion, the family patriarch passes off their lacking marital status, but Maria demands that she gets a proper, Greek wedding experience. Needless to say, Maria—the “neck” to Gus’ “head”—gets her way.

Even if the elderly couple’s marriage was just a ploy to live out the film’s name, it was still the film creators’ most successful move; the couple’s marriage allowed for the introduction of Gus’ long-lost brother—no less hot-headed than he—and some familial wedding drama.  As her parents make their way to the altar, and the post-vow Baklava, Toula finally puts her own happiness first—adding some Voula-esque sex drive into her growingly monotonous relationship.

From the family’s elders’ attempts to understand modern technology—a sure headache on Toula’s part—to the recycling of Greek Wedding’s most-quoted-jokes, Greek Wedding 2 served an agreeable blend of modern nuances among traditional humor.  Even if it’s not a deservedly acclaimed addition to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, Greek Wedding 2 was a “good enough” follow-up, deserving of a muted “Opa!”

Iggy Azalea further damages reputation with new album

[image courtesy of celebuzz.com]

By:  Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

 

Iggy Azalea has released a promotional single off her forthcoming album Digital Distortion, ironically reminding everyone why her A-list team is constantly diminishing.

“Team,” supported by borderline EDM beats, derives the majority of its power from commanding sounds, removed from Azalea’s lyricism.  As far as Azalea’s artistry on the track goes, the 25-year-old singer provided what everyone had expected: a “good enough” track.  Sonically, the song can’t be shamed.  It warrants more than just a lackadaisical foot tap or lethargic head bob because it’s undeniably aggressive—in that self-assured, Nicki Minaj sort of way (although, Minaj might not appreciate that comparison).

While its dance-inducing nature might deem it a successful comeback effort—after Azalea’s rough, 2015 career roadblocks—the track’s lyricism and lyric video pose a whole new set of issues for the Australia native.  And those roadblocks seem all-too-familiar for Azalea, who’s known to attract public disdain and media criticism.

Opening with five female dancers in the utmost intimidating poses, the technically impressive video jumps right into all the crumping and twerking that lines the nearly four-minute-long piece.

As far as the choreography goes, the video’s impressive. Featuring denim-clad male and female hip hop dancers, it breeds visual excellence all around.  The marrying of the dancer’s loose clothing and jagged movements exaggerate the already impactful choreography; they hit every mark effortlessly, affording an occasional cocky snarl or hair flip.

Despite the song and video’s invigorating sounds and visuals, there’s a concerning dynamic to the efforts, which were meant to resurrect Azalea’s career after she made some questionable, public race and sexual orientation-related remarks: it bleeds cultural appropriation.

We’ve seen these types of dance-focused videos everywhere lately: Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Beyonce’s “Formation” and Rihanna’s “Work.” While Yonce and RiRi might have participated in the video’s choreography, it’s worth noting that Bieber didn’t.

With that being said, there stands one dividing point between the 22-year-old, Canada-native and Azalea: the success “Sorry” acquired wasn’t rooted in references to another’s culture.  While the single’s video might have displayed a few questionable twerks, it featured white dancers, without any uncomfortable mentioning of a group’s experiences or cultural norms—which Bieber is likely unversed in.

Not only did Azalea feature mainly dancers of color in her video, she also references dutty whining, a form of Jamaican head dance, singing, “Jamaican club – I’m stayin’ on the grind/ Dutty whine, don’t step on, this land mine!”  It’s a subtle statement, wedged between a reference to her financial standings and the Spanish phrase “ven aqui, andele.”

While Azalea’s Jamaican reference might not have carried any intent of cultural appropriation, the reality is that she’s used another’s cultural expressions as a means for acquiring “street cred,” something most would acknowledge benefits a rapper’s career. She’s not celebrating Jamaican culture. Rather, she’s promoting herself.

After the release of her 2011, Kendrick Lamar remix  “D.R.UG.S.,”Azalea was under fire for her racially insensitive line, “When the relay starts, I’m a runaway slave … Master, hitting on the past gotta spit it like a pastor.”  It’s an unsettling lyric, regardless of one’s race or in-depth understanding of the history behind the concept.  Azalea, intentions aside, used the deaths of countless men and women—persecuted due to an uncontrollable, genetic factor—to complete a dull rhyme.  Needless to say, a bit more creativity on Azalea’s part might have made the word-selection-process a bit easier.

In blunt terms, the line shows a lack of ethics on the “Fancy” singer’s part, valuing a catchy line over a directly offensive remark.

Considering her “D.R.U.G.S.” reference in conjunction to her mentioning of dutty whining, it seems Azalea doesn’t understand cultural boundaries, whether she’s borrowing from another’s dance style or softening a pained historic event

Only one line later, Azalea sings, “Ven aqui, andele,” meaning “Come on, hurry” in Spanish.  At face value, the line is harmless.  Considering an insensitive 2011 tweet, posted by Azalea, though, it speaks of Azalea’s cultural ignorance.  Tweeting, “Is it wrong I feel happy to hear southern accents again & not mexican ones? F*ck it. I am,” Azalea made her feelings on Mexican language—and presumably culture—abundantly clear.  Her tweet reverberates intolerance.

On the track, Azalea uses the Spanish language to finish another rhyme. Ironically, the singer seems supportive of the Spanish language when it benefits her career, but she comfortably voiced her annoyance with its accompanying accent only five years prior.  It’s a self-serving move, one of the many that have yielded Azalea a multitude of professional second chances.

Azalea has agreeably posted her racial standpoints on Twitter, allowing them to even shine through in her released tracks and mainstream interviews.  As loud as her past racial statements have been, echoing complete apathy, “Team” serves a message more blunt than ever before: it’s all about image.

Much like the common person, who isn’t broadcasted on a global scale and whose every verbalization isn’t critiqued, Azalea has made questionable remarks.  With that being said, it was expected she’d learn from her professional stumbling blocks going forward. As a well-known performer, with a net worth of nearly $6 million, Azalea had the resources to get outside, uninvolved opinions on her content before its release.  Had she taken the time to hear from listeners of color, she may have been impassioned by the unwarranted ignorance these sort of disparages breed.

No matter how upbeat “Team” may be, its cultural references serve as regressive statements—one that adds to the egoistic borrowing of one’s culture over its well-bred celebration.