The One With The Birth (1×23) Review

This is one of season one’s best episodes and one of its funniest. It also foreshadows/ is taken into account when it comes to several future events.

This episode offers the rare opportunity for all the main characters to have a shining moment since the writers allow the characters’ personalities to sing in every scene.

Picking up where last episode left off, Carol is in the hospital and all the friends are less than helpful.

Joey is a little squeamish and Monica makes the presumption that everyone wants to have a baby just because she does.

Carol and Susan are late because they wanted to stop by the gift shop and Phoebe arrives with a guitar because she has her priorities in order.

Susan and Ross begin bickering over who cares the most and who is the most helpful.

Rachel can’t stop flirting with Carol’s obstetrician, Monica can’t stop cooing over babies, Phoebe won’t stop singing inappropriate songs that do nothing for Ross’ nerves and Joey is more focussed on the basketball.

Joey gets into an argument with a pregnant Celtics fan, Lydia and Joey steps up when her contractions worsen.

Monica eyes some twins and becomes dishearted by her childbearing prospects. Chandler tries to comfort her by proposing the whole “if we are both single when we are 40” thing.

Monica reacts how people should react i.e. what is so unattractive about me that that would be the case.

I would also add “why do I need to be married when I am 40?” and “why am I better off settling in a passionless marriage than being single at 40?”.

Chandler points out that Rachel has daddy issues.

Lydia tries to push Joey away but he sticks around to argue basketball and be supportive.

Carol continues having contractions and the parenting trio start screaming about baby names. Carol becomes sick of Ross and Susan’s bickering and kicks them both out of the delivery room.

Phoebe takes them aside in a supply room to tell them both to get their shit together. Unfortunately, they all get locked in so neither is given a reason to calm down.

Joey continues being a unique birthing coach with nurse… Estelle?!

Joey helps deliver Lydia’s baby.

Rachel’s romantic interest doesn’t go anywhere because a) the guy talks weird and b) his work has made him less than enthusiastic about female anatomy.

Joey goes to check in on Lydia but her dead-beat stops by, giving Joey a reason to make a quiet goodbye.

Ross and Susan keep arguing over their place in the baby’s life – step-mother and single co-parent.

Phoebe makes a rather sweet and quirky comment about how loving their arguing is. Phoebe being basically an orphan sees the beauty in three people fighting over who loves an unborn child the most and this seems to put some sense into both Susan and Ross.

In an attempt to get them out of the room, Phoebe puts on Ben’s janitorial gear and pulls herself through the ventilation ducts. Just as this happens, a janitor opens the door.

Susan and Ross get to the delivery room just in time for Carol to yell at them for being late.

Baby boy Geller-Willick-Bunch is born and both Susan and Ross agree on Ben as the first name.

Like I said, this is a good episode. There is no stalling or long stretches without jokes or things happening.

Even though this is a plot-heavy episode with Ben’s birth and everything, this episode really goes out of its way to develop the characters and give each of them a chance to shine.

I’m going to take this character by character.

Rachel is funny even if she has the least amount of screentime. He flirting over Carol’ contractions is insensitive but hilarious.

Joey is awesome this episode and am I the only one who wanted to see more of Joey and Lydia together in any capacity? Pregnant women and mothers bring out the best side of Joey for some reason and it is a shame that it will be some time before we get to see protective Joey again.

Chandler and Monica are really great this episode… in every scene!

Chandler’s irreverence is always a great foil to Monica’s high-maintenance and their interactions this episode sooo good.

Chandler hanging up as Monica spirals on the phone and Chandler trying to comfort Monica but failing are both wonderful moments.

Phoebe has some of the best comedy moments this episode. From the song no parent wants to hear to the song about their imminent deaths in the closet etc. etc.

But this episode is mainly about Ross and Susan.

Both of them are fearing their place in Ben’s life. Ross is worried that he will be absent in Ben’s life and Susan is worried that she will be ignored because she is not a biological parent.

They both feel that the other’s presence diminishes their position in Ben’s life which is why their first agreement in naming Ben is such a major milestone in their relationship. It cements their roles as parents and leads to a more amicable relationship between the two.

So much happens this episode that I am not surprised it was almost the season finale.

On top of this episode being packed, it also ends plenty of chapters for several of the characters and plot points.

Carol’s pregnancy plot is over.

Ross’ pre-birth parenting anxieties are over.

Susan and Ross have ended their competition with each other.

It would have made total sense if the season had ended here if not for the fact that Rachel isn’t very prominent this episode.

Since season one has been mainly about Ross and Rachel’s character arcs, it only seems right that we end the season with them.

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The One With The Ick Factor (1×22) Review

My feelings on this episode have vastly changed over the years. My first impression was a bad one for one reason that I’ll get into later but aside from that, this is a fun little episode.

It is revealed that Rachel has been having erotic dreams about Chandler which pleases Chandler and irritates Ross for reasons.

I don’t see why. With dreams being dreams, I’m surprised Rachel didn’t say that the dream was about a winged Chandler who was also somehow her old geography teacher and they had sex in the coffee shop that was also Monica’s and Rachel’s apartment.

My point being that dreams are weird and outside of our control and Ross is an idiot.

Luckily Ross doesn’t have too much time to dwell on things since the baby is due any day now and he will be notified this by having his pager read 55JIMBO.

Phoebe takes up a temp position as Chandler’s secretary which Chandler ends up regretting because Phoebe informs him that nobody likes him thanks to his new promotion.

Monica is currently dating a college senior, Ethan and she has told him that she is 22 instead of 26.

The pager turns out to be a bad idea since he gets a lot of calls for an Andre at 55JUMBO.

Monica and Ethan are getting intimate when Ethan admits to being a virgin. They have sex and Monica admits to her real age.

Ethan takes it rather well since he is actually 17.

Rachel has yet another sexy dream but this time about Joey.

Chandler goes out of his way to try and get on the good side of his colleagues but nothing works.

Phoebe tells him that he is now their boss and he shouldn’t take it personally. They think he is a good boss but he is no longer on their level.

Ethan tries to pursue things but Monica breaks things off.

Chandler learns to accept the status quo and allows the colleagues to continue having a reason to make fun of him while working at their best.

One night, Ross overhears Rachel having a sexy dream about him and Ross is overjoyed.

I don’t know why. Either the dreams mean nothing and he shouldn’t care or the dreams mean something in which case, he is in competition for Rachels’ affections with both Chandler and Joey.

He doesn’t have time to understand this since he gets a page telling him that Carol is on the way to the hospital and Ross is about to be a father.

Ross panics as everyone gets ready to leave.

Before I get into my issues, I love that we get to spend more time with two of the best characters – Chandler and Phoebe.

Phoebe doesn’t sugar-coat and she doesn’t say anything indirectly so she is always a great addition for any character in denial or simply needs some sense knocked into them.

Chandler may have got the title of promotion but he was still acting like a subordinate. He needed to accept his new role in the office and that involved acting like a boss and not a friend. With Phoebe’s help, he comes to accept the new world order and his place in it.

This is also the first episode to have what will become the running gag of Chandler mis-accentuating words and phrases (could that BE more Chandler?).

This development in Chandler’s character leads to him treating his job with more maturity.

Speaking of maturity…

Let’s take a minor detour with some vague references to mild spoilers.

I initially found this episode uninspiring for one key reason – the age gap storyline.

Typically speaking, whenever large age gaps in relationships are tackled in entertainment, they are steeped in sexism.

It is almost expected that a male actor will be paired with a female love interest younger than he is (usually by quite a margin).

Pick any well-known actress’ career and examine the ages of their love interests. If you can’t be bothered, simple google it. There are graphs, pictures and posts all dedicated to comparing the age gaps in Emma Stone’s on-screen romantic partners.

And nobody except these creators of graphs, pictures and posts tends to bat an eye. You might get a comment from a secondary character but it usually doesn’t amount to more than an acknowledgment that the two characters aren’t the same age.

In comparison, a female lead with a younger male love interest will be THE STORY. It won’t be a minor, unspoken detail, it will be the plot of that story. The movie/ episode/ book will revolve around the fact that the woman is older.

Now, likely this reflects everyday life. When a man is dating a younger woman, he gets called nothing. When a woman dates a younger man, she is a cougar or a cradle robber. Women are shamed for finding romance in younger men.

Just to make things clear, I am not belittling relationships with age gaps. If two people are happy and in a consenting relationship then it’s none of my business or anyone else’s. It is merely how the relationships are presented that I take issue with.

And that was my main issue with Monica and Ethan this episode.

Deception and high school status aside since both actors were 31 and 27 at the time, the friends make of point of mentioning how he is “young” Ethan and they tease Monica about it.

On its own, this means nothing but tropes don’t live in isolation – they have a history and baggage that can greatly impact the audience’s perception.

Without giving too much away, I have less of an issue with the treatment of Monica’s relationship this episode because later relationships with a large age gap (regardless of whether the man or the woman is older) are treated in a similar fashion.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t issues with all of these relationships but I am thankful that sexism isn’t one of them.

And with that detour out of the way, let’s talk about Monica and Ethan.

Neither should have lied about their age (especially Ethan).

I think the main point about that storyline was to have some fun with the idea that people sometimes lie about their age when they begin a relationship and why you shouldn’t do it.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with an age gap in a relationship but when both individuals are in two different places in their life, then it becomes an issue.

Monica is a hard-working professional who wants to have a family in the not-too-distant future. Ethan hasn’t experienced life enough to know what he wants.

Monica wants something serious. Ethan just wants to have fun and that’s where the problem lies (that and the fact that Monica would have unknowingly committed a felony in several states).

As of right now, I don’t hate this episode. I don’t particularly love it.

I think its current main flaw is that it is a bit of a filler episode to have between Rachel’s character arc and Ross’ character arc.

So let’s move on to the latter…

The One With Fake Monica (1×21) Review

We haven’t spent much time with Monica this season.

Ross and Rachel have the main arcs of season one and so it is no surprise that they both have the most episodes dedicated to them as well as the most dramatic and memorable moments.

Chandler probably comes in third as by this point in the season we have explored both his romantic and professional life.

Joey and Phoebe are a bit underdeveloped but both were treated more as comic relief than actual characters for the first few seasons.

Monica is the outlier.

She has the most central role in the series – she is Ross’ sister, has known Chandler since high school, is roommates with Rachel, lives across the hall from Joey and spends a lot of time with Phoebe.

Monica has a close connection with every character. She is the glue of the series. You can remove other characters and things would still make sense. If you remove Monica, it is hard to explain how most of these characters would know each other, let alone be friends.

And yet… her role has been more secondary for most of season one. We have odd moments that have established her family dynamic, work aspirations and inconsequential relationships but they are usually alongside someone else and their more significant exploration of these aspects.

She is yet to have a juicy episode all to herself which is a shame because season two proves that more Monica is a good thing.

This episode hints at why…

Monica’s credit card is stolen so the women go on a mission to find the fraudster.

Monica becomes pissed that the thief has not only stolen her money but has been using the money to spend it on things Monica would like to do herself.

Joey asks for the friends to help him come up with a less ethnic-sounding stage name and my heart sank as I thought of all the POC who have done this for more racially charged reasons.

Chandler sarcastically suggests Joseph Stalin and Joey (not knowing much about Soviet dictators) takes his sarcasm seriously.

The thief turns out to be a charming, inspiring and adventurous human being so instead of reporting her to the police, the women befriend her (naturally).

I think when it comes to dancing, you are one of the three women (Rachel who can dance, Monica who can’t and it shows or Phoebe who can’t but doesn’t give a fuck). I am a Phoebe when it comes to dancing.

As this is going on, Marcel is humping everything in sight. It turns out Marcel has reached puberty and needs to be with other monkeys.

Monica and the women start hanging out with Fake Monica and Monica becomes inspired by her spontaneous and fearless spirit.

Ross begins applying to zoos, hoping that they will accept him but he doesn’t have much luck.

Joey has a much-needed history lesson at an audition that goes badly.

The only place willing to take Marcel is an animal fighting ring owner, luckily, Marcel gets accepted to the San Diego Zoo.

Monica continues auditioning for musicals, going to parties where she knows no one and getting drunk.

Fake Monica is arrested and Monica goes to visit her to confess who she really is. Monica thanks Fake Monica for bringing her out of her comfort zone.

The friends have a touching farewell until Marcel humps Ross’ leg.

Having learned his lesson (but not really), Joey goes to his next audition as Holden McGroin.

My first thoughts when the writers introduced Marcel was – WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

I thought the writers must be really detached from the common folk to think that monkeys were common pets. I mean it couldn’t have been easy to have a monkey on set and yet the writers had Marcel in multiple episodes for reasons that made no sense to me until The One Where the Monkey Gets Away.

In that review, I mentioned that Marcel is treated as Ross’ child or at the very least, the child equivalent of training wheels to prepare for the real thing.

Ross gets Marcel shortly after finding out that Carol is pregnant and Marcel leaves just as Carol is coming to the end of her pregnancy.

Ross talks about issues he has had with Marcel as if they are the result of teenaged angst and in this episode, zoos are talked about in the same way as further education with terms like “safety zoos” and “party zoos”.

Marcel leaving is like a child moving out of the house and Ross interactions with Marcel serve as proof that Ross is ready to be a parent.

I still think a monkey was a strange choice as a child substitute but I do appreciate the symbolism.

Now that none Monica stuff is out of the way, let’s talk about Monica (fake and real).

What we do know about Monica is that she is a very controlling person. She likes things to be clean, planned and ordered. She strives for perfection which is why she can’t just have fun when she messes up in tap class.

This episode allowed Monica to explore her wild side a bit while also reminding her of the consequences if she were to overindulge.

The plot doesn’t offer the most groundbreaking character development so much as a baby step (tap step that is) in the right direction.

Monica’s controlling nature will always be a facet of her personality and it does take a lot of time and the right people to help her take more risks and learn to relax a little more.

I had to get to season two before I really began to love Monica but the last few episodes of season one did offer a little tease of what we could expect from her in the future.

M.A.D. (1×20) Review

TW: This review contains references and discussions of sexual violence (including rape, harassment, assault and revenge porn) – please read with care if you have experienced any of these directly or indirectly

 

Mutually Assured Destruction is a war tactic where both parties are involved in a stalemate to avoid both parties losing. Basically, nothing happens and if one of the parties attacks, everyone loses.

This episode was way ahead of its time! Just the other episode, Norris was talking about being one of the first homes with wireless internet so who could have known how the internet would play into the prominence of revenge porn and online harassment.

I love how watching Veronica Mars makes me feel like the writers went around the room naming taboo topics and deciding who would write the episode on it.

A Veronica Mars staple and one of the most commendable things about the show is how it approaches sexual violence (and the fact that it approaches it at all).

This season alone, we have talked about rape (multiple times), slut-shaming, victim-blaming, not believing/ silencing survivors, harassment and this episode, we delve into the ugly subject of revenge porn.

We don’t start off quite that heavy.

Veronica’s car is broken down and gets spotted by Logan, Dick and Beaver (Dick’s brother). Dick and Beaver do their best to mock Veronica but Logan tries intervening. Veronica expertly picks up his slack to avoid giving the game away while also fixing her car and doing some non-verbal flirting.

Despite the whole thing lasting under a minute, it is one of the best moments in the show because of how Veronica Veronica is in this scene – witty, resourceful, sharp and a complete boss!

Neptune student, Carmen Ruiz, is trying to break up with her boyfriend, Tad Wilson, for sensible reasons in a respectable and compassionate way. Tad is upset but accepts that their relationship has come to an end–

Hahahaha. Yeah, nope! He is a complete ass and shows Carmen a video of her drunkenly doing suggestive things that she doesn’t remember doing.

A couple of things:

Carmen’s breakup was probably the best you could expect a break-up to be. She explained her feelings clearly, she didn’t get petty, defensive or aggressive and she had every right to break-up with him. She didn’t place blame and she didn’t give him any false hope of getting back together.

Tad, on the other hand, a) should have accepted that a relationship is a mutual thing (if one person doesn’t want to be in it then that’s it), b) should have taken some time to himself if he was feeling sensitive about it, c) shouldn’t have tried to emotionally blackmail Carmen and when that failed, go for straight-up blackmail.

We don’t know how explicit the video is so I am not sure how far into bad this is (i.e. revenge porn) but I am going to state it as such for the rest of the review for the sake of clarity.

So Tad’s first instinct when to his longterm girlfriend decided to break-up with him was to blackmail her into staying with them. That is disgusting!

Based on his reaction and the fact that he had the video saved on his phone, I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that this was premeditated – he saw the break-up coming and rather than coming to terms with it, aim to be a better person or end things with her first (that is the petty option), he decided to used his saved video to force the person he claims to care about to stay in their relationship.

Veronica agrees to help Carmen retrieve the phone but Veronica has a make-out break with Logan before getting things started.

Logan seems a little ashamed of how Dick and co. treated Veronica earlier and Veronica seems to be a little smitten (we haven’t seen Veronica offer anyone else one of her get-out-of-jail-free slips) so character growth for both.

Veronica purposefully gets her disposable phone and Tad’s phones confiscated so that when she picks her phone up, she can grab Tad’s phone.

I love how at this point in the series, something weird happens and everyone assumes that Veronica has a plan in motion. Tad doesn’t worry that his phone is lost or accidentally taken. He knows exactly what has happened.

Keith notices that there is a cash reward for finding Duncan so Keith and Veronica set about getting the money with Veronica’s info on Duncan’s hiding info.

Carmen stops by Mars Investigations to smash Tad’s phone but not long after, Veronica receives the video to let both of them know that he has another copy (he’s probably pissed about having his phone broken for no reason then).

Mac is hired to help Veronica track down Duncan.

Tad and Carmen get back together under duress (Tad is apparently delusional about Carmen’s ability to forgive and forget).

Tad decides to express some homophobic harassment so you have yet another reason to hate him.

The harassment also serves as a reminder that during the time of this episode Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was in effect.

For those of you who don’t know what that is… a rule in the US military used to be that LGBT+ people could join the military but if they confirmed or expressed their sexuality or gender identity, they would be discharged (in other words, gay people could risk their lives for a country that didn’t accept and appreciate them).

Veronica and Carmen set about finding blackmail material of their own so that Carmen can live her life away from the creep.

Weevil informs Veronica that Duncan bought a car before leaving in the hopes that he can get in on the cash reward when the Marses inevitably find Duncan.

Meanwhile, Logan and Veronica are enjoying their secret rendezvouses. They get in another makeout session before being interrupted by Aaron. Veronica goes to the bathroom while Dick and Beaver come to hang out. Aaron immediately understands the situation and in his most supportive and sensitive moment yet, Aaron doesn’t rat out Veronica and Logan’s relationship and helps sneak Veronica out of the house before driving her home.

In all seriousness, this scene genuinely took me by surprise and I found it rather moving. Aaron has been talking about being a better father to Logan and Trina and turning over a new leaf but I believed that as much as Logan did. So far, he has talked the talk so to actually see him try and be a decent human being/ parent was rather touching and made me wonder if maybe Aaron could change.

I mean… who is this stranger asking about Logan’s well-being and thanking Veronica for looking out for him?

Carmen and Tad have a date at the boardwalk where they take cutesy couple photos, get Tad a tattoo and discuss taking some drugs on prom night. Tad buys some drugs off Seth (the guy he harassed earlier) and Veronica takes misleading pictures.

Later, Tad and Carmen have a conversation that is almost too convenient if I am being picky.

Meanwhile, Keith gets a lead on Duncan’s car in Tijuana.

Veronica asks Mac to create a Teth/ Sad (whatever their couple name would be – Sad seems fitting) appreciation website, complete with photoshopped images and an edited phone conversation.

Veronica and Carmen show Tad the website and threaten to send it to the Naval Academy which would ruin Tad’s career plans if he doesn’t delete the video and accept the break-up.

Also, Tad gets his broken phone back.

Logan invites Veronica on a date… like a date date. While Logan is being cute, he mentions something about Veronica’s parents in the papers.

Veronica notices an ad seeking Lianne Mars in regards to a legal matter – likely a divorce.

Veronica tries fixing things for everyone (or maybe just keeping her family together for herself). She tracks Keith down in the hopes of persuading him to do something but him happy dancing with Alicia complicates things.

At school the next day, Veronica and Carmen learn that Tad released the video despite basic human decency.

Veronica suggests that Carmen sends the email since Tad sent the video but Carmen refuses.

Carmen is a better person than I.

Veronica interrupts some people enjoying the video and notices that the background details indicate that the night Carmen doesn’t remember is also the night Veronica doesn’t remember anything. Mac is able to confirm the date of the video as the same date that Veronica was raped (at the same party). Mac also manages to find Duncan’s potential alias.

Keith comes clean about his situation with Lianne and Alicia.

Clarence Wiedman confronts Alicia about her relationship with Keith, the company’s history with him and the fact that Wallace was used to plant a bug on Clarence’s assistant’s desk.

Throughout the episode, there has been mention that Weevil liked and may still like Carmen. He is also one of the few people to react like a decent human being when the video is released. That tied with the fact that Tad is found almost naked, duct-taped to a flag pole with SCUM written on his chest, makes it pretty obvious how and why Tad got himself into this situation (even without the verbal confirmation).

Veronica offers to get Tad down if he tells her about the roofies he had on the night of Shelly Pomroy’s party. He says that Logan gave him GHB. Veronica rewards his honesty by revealing the Seth love-heart tattoo on his shoulder.

At their date, Logan waits alone.

Non-heavy stuff out of the way first (but there isn’t much).

This episode has some of the best acting in the entire series. Bell and Dohring had great chemistry as enemies and it seems to be even better as secret lovers. Dohring was great playing an asshole but he plays sensitivity and apprehensive intimacy (is that a term?) in such an endearing way.

And after hit after hit after hit, I was so happy to see what little moments of bliss Veronica could have (and Bell could sell to us so expertly).

Sorry, guys. That’s really all I got of the non-triggering stuff – consider this your additional trigger warning:

We’ll get to the final revelation in a bit but for now, let’s talk about rape culture (because I’ve clearly not been having enough fun today).

Rape culture refers to an environment that promotes, encourages, undermines, maintains sexual violence.

This can involve anything from refusing to punish rapists all the way to some school dress codes.

If a school allows a male student to wear something that a female student cannot because “it might be distracting” to male students and members of the faculty – THAT IS RAPE CULTURE.

The idea that women’s bodies are objects that can “tempt” men to act violently is at the core of victim-blaming (a rape culture staple).

The main theme among all rape culture “logic” is that the victims are held accountable so the perpetrators never are.

Which brings us to Carmen, Tad and Veronica.

Throughout the entire episode Tad constantly uses victim blaming as an excuse for his hideous actions. He says that Veronica and Carmen are forcing his hand so he has no choice but to create revenge porn. He blames Veronica for his problems with Carmen. He blames everyone but himself.

Never trust someone who says “you made them” do something!

Tad drugged his girlfriend, took footage of her under the influence, blackmailed her into staying with him then turned the footage into revenge porn when he didn’t get his way – at no point in these scenarios is anyone but Tad at fault.

My head-cannon is that Tad is spending the rest of his life locked up and kept far away from society.

Moving on to a bit of a sensitive topic (for fans of Logan – this whole section is sensitive in general)…

If we are talking about accountability, we need to talk about Logan and the responsibility he plays in what happened to Carmen.

I’m not going to go into what happened to Veronica because we don’t know all the facts yet (well… I do because I’ve watched all the episodes so many times but I’m keeping these reviews as spoiler-free of future episodes as possible).

Assuming that Tad isn’t lying that he got the GHB from Logan, then does Logan have any part in what happened to Carmen (the drugging, not the revenge porn)?

GHB, for the uninformed, is gamma-hydroxybutyrate. It is a sedative that can be used in medicine to treat insomnia and narcolepsy. It is also used illegally as a party drug (because most drugs can and will be turned into a party drug by someone). And it has also been used as a date-rape drug.

All of this is to say that handing someone GHB isn’t the same thing as condoning sexual violence against your girlfriend. I see it more like a store assistant selling someone a chainsaw – it isn’t necessarily used to hurt anybody but it should be handled with care.

Since we don’t know the full story surrounding Logan, Tad and the GHB, there isn’t a clear-cut answer… and even knowing the full story wouldn’t provide any clear-cut answers for most people.

I just thought I’d throw the question out there because the next few episodes demand a discussion.

Overall, this is a great episode… a daring episode.

The episode not only mentions things like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and revenge porn but the story focuses on them and both were risky subject matters.

At the time of the writing, filming and airing of the episode, DADT was still heavily enforced and people generally didn’t like the subject being brought up (in case the name wasn’t a giveaway).

And revenge porn is still legal in some US states! It is also a pain to research so I can’t tell you if Carmen would have been able to file charges against Tad in 2005 (likely not considering how the internet in 2005 wasn’t the internet we know now) which is insane. Since Tad says he’s leaving soon and Carmen isn’t, it could be that Tad is 18 and Carmen is 16/ 17 which would also make what he did child pornography.

It is heartbreaking that despite the prevalence of revenge porn since the episode first aired, the subject is rarely discussed or represented where the weight of the crime is shown.

If anyone is interested in a story about revenge porn with a comedic protagonist, I highly recommend The Exact Opposite of Okay and A Girl Named Shameless by Laura Steven (they are great – thank me later).

But at least we have Veronica Mars (now, if you excuse me, I have to binge-watch the new season!).

The One With The Evil Orthodontist (1×20) Review

Last episode involved Rachel pondering over whether or not she made the right decision when she climbed out of that bathroom window on her wedding day. And as I mentioned in that episode’s review, this episode answers Rachel’s question in an entertaining friend-type manner.

As the friends are having their regular spy on Ugly Naked Guy, they spot a fellow spy and freak out.

Chandler went on a really great first date but is reluctant to show that he actually cares for her after just one date so he is being needlessly aloof to avoid looking needy.

Picking up where last episode left off, Rachel has gone on a date with Barry and she wonders if she still has feelings for him.

She tries breaking up with him since he is still engaged but they end up having sex in Barry’s office.

Adultery aside, why would you have sex in an orthodontist’s office? Sharp objects, the smell of disinfectant and detailed pictures of teeth on the wall. No thanks.

Chandler is still going crazy about the woman he likes who won’t call him back.

Rachel gets a call from Mindy and Rachel freaks out, thinking that Mindy might have found out about Rachel and Barry.

Side-note: little things like the friends moving their legs as Rachel paces while on the phone is why this show is so great. The cast feels like friends because in-between the friendship building moments, every cast member reacts to what the others are doing.

Chandler finally talks to the woman but she quickly hangs up so she can get rid of the person on the other line.

Rachel meets up with Mindy while she is working (is her boss fine with her catching up with people instead of taking orders?). Mindy asks Rachel to be her maid of honor because apparently, Mindy has no other friends and doesn’t see why it would be weird to have her soon-to-be husband’s ex be part of the wedding party.

Mindy breaks down and confesses that she thinks Barry is cheating on her because Barry cheated on Rachel with Mindy while they were engaged. Remind me again why either of these people was with this guy?

Chandler accidentally turns off his phone which is why he hasn’t heard anything back from his date.

Joey tracks down the spy and starts yelling at Sidney Marks (the spy) until he finds out that she is a woman. Monica urges him to keep yelling but Joey gets complimented into backing down. Monica then takes the reins and also gets complimented into backing down.

Rachel admits her affair with Barry to Mindy. They storm over to Barry’s office to break-up with him. Barry does a pathetic plea which doesn’t work on Rachel but does on Mindy.

Rachel feels confident that she made the right decision.

Joey’s constant objectification of female sexuality hasn’t aged well.

Chandler’s date finally shows up to tell Chandler that she got his number wrong and couldn’t contact him.

Chandler appreciates her tracking him down at the coffee house but he doesn’t want a second date because she seems too eager.

Now all the subplots this episode are pretty pointless. The spy isn’t mentioned after this episode and should have just been a cold open gag.

Chandler already had a passing mention in a previous episode about his unwillingness to have his romantic interests know that he cares so we don’t learn anything new from this episode.

That being said, I don’t think any of them detract from the good in this episode. I love Rachel’s arc and I love the cast this episode.

The little moments where nothing happens and it is just the cast working off each other’s chemistry is all great stuff.

This feels like the first episode where everyone has officially become close friends. Other episodes may have had nicer and larger moments but the small details of Phoebe helping Ross with the crossword and Monica teasing Chandler are all stuff that ground the show in a sense of realism. I believe these guys are friends.

As for the Rachel-related subplots…

The episode allows Rachel to see a what-if scenario of her life.

To Rachel, Mindy represents the path not taken – a woman who grew up with Rachel, lives the same life Rachel did, up to and including, marrying a cheating orthodontist out of convenience and stability.

Mindy is what Rachel could and would have been if she had stayed with Barry – a vapid, friendless lesser half of a cowardly man with a knack for lying.

Mindy also serves as a point of comparison for the audience.

At the end of the episode, Barry’s pathetic attempt at an apology is enough to convince Mindy to stay with him but it doesn’t work on Rachel.

Rachel has grown into her own person. She no longer wants to settle for ease and comfort, she wants to take risks and go after what she wants.

And now that Rachel has some reassurance in her choices, she now has the ability to move from strength to strength.

This marks the first milestone in Rachel’s character arc for the series.

She’s had her doubts, confronted them and now it is on to the next milestone.

Rachel might have the best character arc in the show and definitely the most relatable one so it is always great to watch episode’s like this because they feel so satisfying and only cement your investment in her character.

I can’t wait to get into next season! There will be a lot to talk about with Rachel.

But we still have four more episodes to finish off season one…

The One Where The Monkey Gets Away (1×19) Review

Even though this a stand-alone episode, this and the next episode really are one complete thought.

It is as if this episode asks a question and the following episode answers it.

Rachel is still a bad waitress as confirmed in the cold open.

She also finds out that Barry is marrying Mindy (i.e. her ex is marrying her ex-best-friend). She seems shocked and has a few doubts over whether she made the right choice that started this whole series off.

All she wants in a relationship is the security of Barry and the passion of Paolo but she can’t seem to find any balance.

Rachel is monkey-sitting for Ross and at one point, Marcel craps in one of Monica’s shoes (the left black shoe) so she goes to take it outside and leaves the door open.

Marcel makes a break for it and Rachel gathers the others to help find him before Ross finds out.

Meanwhile, Ross is planning on using Rachel’s monkey-sitting as an opening for expressing his feelings. This isn’t an opportune time and Ross is no longer in the mood once Rachel tells him the truth.

Monica and Phoebe come across Mr. Heckles on their search for Marcel. I love how dumb his character is. It shouldn’t work because he has one main joke but the delivery and reactions are always great to watch.

Ross’ anger increases when he finds out that Rachel contacted animal control which is a no-no since Ross isn’t supposed to have a wild animal as a pet (shocking).

A bitter animal control personnel by the name of Luisa turns out to be a former acquaintance of Monica and Rachel who is annoyed that they ignored her at school (very mature).

Luisa doesn’t listen to Rachel’s plea to ignore Marcel’s illegal status out of spite and she goes on the hunt.

As the race to find Marcel goes on, Chandler and Joey creepily hit on some women, Phoebe, Monica and Luisa find Marcel in the basement. Phoebe takes a tranq dart for Marcel in the butt.

Ross and Rachel continue to argue. With both being in the wrong. Rachel lost Marcel and should accept the consequences and respect Ross’ feelings but Ross should also accept that Rachel didn’t intend to do anything wrong and has done everything in her power to fix things.

This is a common pattern between the two of them.

They eventually find a tutued Marcel with Mr. Heckles by following a banana delivery person to his apartment.

Unfortunately, Luisa also finds him and recaptures him in a cage.

Rachel makes one last plea to appeal to Luisa’s sympathetic nature but when that fails, she threatens to report Luisa to her superiors about Phoebe’s numb ass.

Ross forgives Rachel and tries to pick things up where he wanted them to go.

He almost gets somewhere but Barry bursts in to tell Rachel that he can’t marry Mindy because he still loves Rachel.

Ross and Rachel just can’t catch a break.

The episode ends with Phoebe regaining feeling in her ass.

I love that the ending of the episode feels like a parody/ homage to the soap Rachel was watching earlier with Barry’s grand and unexpected entrance and everyone’s over-the-top reactions.

Now, this episode is about two main questions:

Will Ross and Rachel make a good couple? And did Rachel make the right decision in leaving Barry at the altar?

Having never left, stayed or done anything remotely near an altar, I don’t have much to go on but I can assume that it probably feels like jumping out of a plane without knowing if you have a parachute.

It is a massive decision that isn’t easily undone. Most people would have some questions if Rachel changed her mind and showed up at the chapel an hour later like nothing had happened.

It was a very brave decision and a very terrifying decision given her situation.

She had no life skills. She’d never held a job. She had never been independent and all her friends were in some way connected to the life she wanted to leave behind.

Leaving someone at the alter would be hard enough if you were financially stable, with a strong support system and a plan but all Rachel had was an epiphany and a nagging feeling that she wanted something more out of life than to be the wife of an orthodontist.

And while I can’t relate to leaving someone at the altar, I can relate to making big, irreversible, scary choices.

The kind of choices you think about making for ages and finally make on a whim because you need to make things happen fast otherwise you’ll obsess over it for even longer.

The kind of choices you make that immediately fill you with relief and crushing regret as you wonder if you have ever made a good decision in your life.

Those kinds!

Doubts are natural, especially when the alternatives decisions had easier/ more manageable consequences.

Rachel probably would feel more certain of her decision if she was working in a job she was actually good at and loved, in a relationship that had what she felt was missing with Barry and making enough money to keep her happy but she isn’t.

This episode asks the question but we will have to wait until next time to get the answer on whether or not she is better off now.

We’ll also have to wait a while to get an answer on Ross and Rachel (as in Ross AND Rachel) but this episode does raise some concerns.

Something I will get into more later is how Marcel is symbolically Ross’ child (which makes it a bit weird when people make penis-related jokes).

In The One with the Two Parts, Ross’ response to Marcel swallowing a scrabble tile helps to calm Ross’ anxieties about parenthood.

He gets Marcel shortly after he finds out that Carol is pregnant and Marcel’s more mischievous actions are treated like teenage rebellions.

With that symbolism explained, Ross asking Rachel to monkey-sit seems like a test to see if Rachel would fit into Ross’ life once his son is born.

Marcel’s escape seems like a visual example of why you shouldn’t leave a baby alone when you go out to throw away dirty diapers.

With that said, the writers seem to be hinting at some issues that might come up if Ross and Rachel were to start dating at this point in the series.

Ross idolizes Rachel to the point where she can never reach his expectations. She is always somehow disappointing him or not doing exactly what he wants. Then there is the fact that Rachel doesn’t know about Ross’ feelings because he keeps them to himself so she has a hard time understanding where he is coming from.

As for Rachel, she is only just learning how to be an adult. She isn’t ready for any major commitments or responsibilities. She is still learning how to take care of herself, let alone a monkey and all that it represents.

And the way both of them react to the others’ shortcomings doesn’t exactly scream stable relationship.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The ABCs of LGBT: Gays

So, I’ve been doing the ABCs of LGBT and we are onto the gays… because I couldn’t find a C topic to discuss in the format I wanted to do so the ABCs are temporarily the ABGs.

Talking about gay men will be a bit weird because the world gay men experience is one of extremes – depending on what area you look at, gay men can either enjoy the top perks or the harshest punishment.

 

Definition:

Gay – a gay man is someone masculine aligned who is attracted to masculine aligned individuals

Gay can be an umbrella term for all members of the LGBT+ community. It also was and still is used as a slur to harass LGBT+ members.

 

History:

Homosexuality is nothing new (as shocking as that may sound). There is evidence of male same-sex relationships across different cultures and time periods going back centuries.

And while today there is a lot of stigma around gay meaning a girly man, it used to be that homosexuality wasn’t a sign of femininity. In ancient Greece, gay relationships were a sign of masculinity. I guess the logic was that only a manly man can handle a man (or something like that).

Since this isn’t a post purely about the history of homosexuality, I will skip the how and why this changed and skip to the part where things got shit.

The 20th century was a monumental period for gay rights in the best and worst way possible.

During Hitler’s reign, he not only came after Jews but also POC, disabled people and homosexuals. Gay men would be marked with an inverted pink triangle (their badge of shame) so they could be identified in concentration camps. The symbol also applied to bisexual men and transgender women.

Not long after WWII ended, homosexuality was added as a mental disorder to the DSM (official mental disorder manual basically).

Speaking about America specifically, Prohibition unintentionally benefited the growing gay community since it moved speakeasies underground along with other “immoral activities”. The growth in the number of gay bars annoyed the homophobes (naturally) so harassment, hate crimes and tension began to rise which lead to several riots and then the big one – Stonewall.

The pink triangle was eventually reclaimed as a gay rights symbol (somehow) roundabout the time of the AIDs epidemic.

The AIDs crisis is a complex subject that deserves its own post but in short – it was originally called GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) because people assumed that only gay people suffered from it. This assumption was damaging in many ways because a) it does not exclusively impact gay people, b) referring to it as a “gay disease” only adds to the idea that being gay is a something bad that only leads to bad things and c) when people think your sexuality is a “lifestyle choice” that will likely lead to your death, all sympathy goes out the window.

Skipping ahead to today, many countries have gay marriage, laws against LGBT+ discrimination, we have better education and representation in and outside of entertainment than ever before… but we still have ways to go.

 

Facts and Figures:

Gay men consistently make up the largest sector in the LGBT+ community across the world and despite this, gay men are one of the most regulated sectors of the LGBT+ community with laws across the world about sexual activity, age of consent, civil unions, marriages and basic legal status.

It definitely has the most diverse reactions of all the LGBT+ sectors with some countries allowing gay men the right to marry, adopt, be free from discrimination, etc. while other countries consider homosexuality a crime.

 

Stigmas and Stereotypes:

  • Gay men are lesser than straight men
  • All gay men are effeminate and not good at anything deemed as masculine
  • All gay men are camp
  • Gay men are accessories for straight women (e.g. the gay best friend)
  • There is a “man” and a “woman” in the relationship
  • Gay men are really loud and extroverted
  • Gay men are overtly sexual
  • Gay men are predatorial
  • Gay men are drama queens/ divas
  • Gay men are attracted to all men
  • Gay men are only interested in anal sex
  • Gay men are a threat to masculinity
  • Being gay is a “lifestyle choice”
  • Homosexuality is a bad influence on children
  • Gay men cannot be good parents
  • Gay men can easily be spotted because a person’s sexuality is obvious and straight people have “gaydars”

 

Real-Life Gays:

  • Elton John (singer)
  • Ian McKellen (actor)
  • Daniel Howell (YouTuber)
  • Eugene Lee Yang (YouTuber, actor)
  • Neil Patrick Harris (actor)
  • Patrick Ness (writer)
  • Justin Simien (writer, producer, director)
  • Stephen Fry (actor, writer)
  • RuPaul Charles (drag queen)
  • Graham Norton (presenter)

 

Fictional Representation:

Lionel Higgins, Silvio Room, Wesley Alvarez (Dear White People), Raymond Holt and Kevin Cozner (Brooklyn 99), Cyrus Beene and James Novak (Scandal), Jared (The Rest of Us Live Here), Simon Spier (Simon vs. The Homosapien Agenda), Patrick (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Wallace Wells and Stephen Stills (Scott Pilgrim Series), Chiron Harris (Moonlight), Titus Andromedon (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Wylan Van Eck (Six of Crows)

Gay representation, in general, is hands-down the most well-represented sector of the LGBT+ community (at least in the Western world). Gay characters have been popping up before lesbian and bi characters (not very well but present). It has got to the point where if there is LGBT+ representation in entertainment, I automatically assume that it will be a gay man over any other member of the LGBT+ community.

That isn’t a negative criticism so much as a basic observation. Gay men get the spotlight and are the perceived pioneers of the LGBT+ community when it comes to entertainment. While people are still fighting for there to be any asexual and non-binary representation or for there to be more nuanced and authentic transgender and bisexual representations, gay characters have already got their head-start.

In recent years, shows like Queer Eye and RuPaul’s Drag Race have been catapulted into the mainstream, books like Simon vs. The Homosapien Agenda have become bestsellers and movies like Moonlight have won best picture. That level of quality, range and consistency across all entertainment is far less common for every other sector of the community. While lesbians may have The L Word and Carol, lesbian characters are hard to find in the literary world and none of these examples are anywhere near as popular as their gay counterparts.

That being said, we could still do a lot better.

While gay men are getting more attention in the fictional and real world, most of the spotlight is on men who are cisgender, able-bodied, white and attractive. It gives the impression that people only care about gay men as long as they are aesthetically pleasing.

We still need to get to a place where gay doesn’t apply to one specific type of person but any person who finds that the label resonates with their sexual identity.

 

Life Outside The LGBT+ Community:

Gay rights are weird to talk about because while gay men are arguably one of the more privileged members of the LGBT+ community, every advantage seems to have an equal and opposite reaction.

Gay men may not face female objectification or the undermining of their sexuality as much as lesbians and bisexuals but gay men experience hate crimes at a disturbing rate (not that there isn’t a non-disturbing rate for hate crimes).

And if hate crimes aren’t enough to make you feel uncomfortable, there are still plenty of countries where gay men cannot get married… there are still countries where two gay men holding hands can be enough cause to behead both men.

If you want to solely talk about the Western world, I highly recommend watching Daniel Howell’s and Eugene Lee Yang’s coming out videos for two very different takes on what coming out means to them (and also Phil Lester who released his video after I had already finished this post).

To criminally simplify things, the main issue gay men face is that some people see “gay man” as an oxymoron – you can’t be both a man and gay. This conflict tends to escalate when you add racial identities to the mix.

And all of this is ultimately connected to TOXIC MASCULINITY.

I could write a whole essay about toxic masculinity (in fact, I am right now) but to avoid a massive tangent, I’ll try and keep things brief.

Male homosexuality is seen as feminine and feminity is seen as a threat to the macho image of what it means to be a man.

Or in lesser words:

Gay man = woman = the worst thing ever = end of days.

It doesn’t seem accidental that the parts of the world less concerned with rigid gender constraints tend to be more proactive in LGBT+ rights.

 

Life Inside The LGBT+ Community:

Pretty great. If I had to create a hierarchy or LGBT pecking order, gay men would be indisputably the top of the pyramid.

Sure, there is always gonna be some internal conflict due to people wanting more representation but for the most part, gay men are what people think of when they think of the gay community. The L in LGBT may come first but in reality, the G is in the lead.

Like I said, somewhat equal and opposite reactions. Life outside the community tends to be worse than some other sectors so its as if the community itself overcorrected with the compensation.

 

Why LGBT+ Education Matters:

While gay men certainly have their privilege, it isn’t always obvious when you talk to them. From heartbreaking coming out stories to constant struggles, I have heard enough to wonder how they can have things so good but also so bad.

In creating these posts, there is usually a stand-out theme that emerges as I do my research and make my notes for each sector – asexual and intersex are invisible, bisexuality isn’t taken seriously, etc. – for gay men, the biggest problem was clear every time I would start asking my friends questions. Male sexuality is soooo inter-twined with male identity that separating the two seems impossible and bending the mold seems like heresy and it just shouldn’t be that way.

I shouldn’t have to be telling my friends that it is ok to be gay. That should be something they have known since the first time they had feelings for a boy.

Did you know that gay conversion therapy is still legal in the UK?

Did you know that most countries have some sort of stipulation regarding men who have sex with men giving blood?

Depending on the country, it can be off limits or (more commonly) a waiting period.

Any blood that is donated is screened and tested (regardless of sexual orientation) for STDs, blood disorders, drug use, health, etc. so sexual orientation should have no place in whether or not someone can give blood and with so many countries in need of more blood donors, we shouldn’t be ruling someone out because they like to sleep with men.

I’m not saying that inclusive education will fix all of this but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will make things better.

Hot Dogs (1×19) Review

Hot Dogs contains maybe the best Veronica moment (failing that, at least a moment that should be in any top 10 badass Veronica list).

I don’t really like the plot of this episode but I love everything else – moments between the plot, the set-up for future episodes, the build-up of everything. We are reaching season one’s crescendo and things have only been getting better and better.

Veronica is tutoring Weevil and he tries discussing Duncan disappearance – the main gossip being that he ran away because Veronica accused him of killing Lilly.

It is nice seeing how Veronica and Weevil’s relationship has progressed. They usually only interact for business reasons (shady or legitimate) but this is the first time we see the two doing what normal friends do.

On the other side of Neptune, a student called Mandy has lost her dog, Chester.

The next day, Logan and Veronica have an awkward talk where they discuss Duncan’s disappearance while their subtext discusses their kiss from the last episode.

Veronica takes pity on Mandy and agrees to help her find her dog.

Wallace informs Veronica that Weevil broke into the Kane house/ Lilly’s bedroom which seems suspicious. Veronica goes to visit Weevil to ask why he was in Lilly’s room. He was only found with some cash, condoms and a pen so it is unlikely that he stole something and who knows what he was going to do in there if he wasn’t interrupted. He claims to have been trying to steal back a ring he gave to Lilly. Considering he chose a strange time to do it, Veronica doesn’t seem convinced.

Meanwhile, Trina is busy trying to convince Aaron to come out of retirement for her boyfriend’s movie which no luck.

The Echolls all gather to hear Lynn’s will – it does not include Trina and Aaron but Logan gets $115,000 plus assets.

On a visit to the pound, a fellow classmate (and fellow Veronica fan), Hans, tells Mandy and Veronica that Chester has not been found.

With Logan now rich, Trina sucks up to him so she can pay her boyfriend back.

Mandy’s missing dog gives some school bullies more material to work with which sucks for Mandy but is great for everyone else because we get to see Veronica stand up for Mandy and then demand that Mandy do the same. Everyone should aspire to be Veronica in this scene.

Hans calls Veronica to let her know that Chester was found at the side of the road.

Case closed?

The next day, Veronica notices a strange number of missing dog posters on the boardwalk. Veronica creates a theory that the dogs with expensive rewards get their dogs returned and the others aren’t so lucky.

Celeste stops by Mars Investigations for her regular dose of Mars blaming. Veronica bluffs and claims that she will tell her what she knows about Duncan if the Kane’s drop any charges against Weevil.

Meanwhile, Logan learns that Trina is being domestically abused by her new boyfriend. I like how even though the two despise each other, the moment Logan sees the bruises, he stops the teasing and immediately becomes protective.

Veronica posts a fake dog notice to help bait the dog-nappers.

Veronica gets a call about her fake lost dog and Backup attacks the guy who “found” the dog so she can place a tracker on him. This leads Veronica to a bunch of Spanish speaking pawns who are used to make the dog trades on behalf of the dog-nappers.

Veronica finds a van matching the pawns descriptions – it belongs to Hans.

The prison rape joke is not appreciated and is kinda confusing in a show that goes out of its way to combat rape culture.

Celeste seems to have agreed to Veronica’s terms since Weevil is out and about.

Logan comes to Veronica for help tracking down Trina’s boyfriend which is a bit pointless since Aaron has just invited him over for some food and movie talk.

Logan’s reactions to Veronica working her magic is so cute.

The night starts off fairly normal but something about Aaron’s large steak knife, the lighting and the line delivery makes the audience feel… off.

Aaron seems a little more interested in cooking than in hearing the boyfriend’s movie pitch but other than that, everything seems fine until Aaron begins talking about how his mother used to cover the bruises she got from his father.

Aaron suddenly loses his shit and beats the boyfriend to a pulp while Dean Martin’s That’s Amore is playing. Veronica and Logan arrive in time to see things end. The two of them escort the boyfriend to his car.

Logan questions Veronica about Lilly and Weevil and he seems to be a lot calmer about things compared to The Girl Next Door when it was last brought up.

Since that episode, a lot has happened though – the mess with Lynn, Aaron supposed “new leaf”, Veronica’s support – enough for him to have some perspective and appreciate what he had with Lilly and not what he didn’t.

Logan and Veronica kiss again and seem eager to continue while still also confused over what the fuck is going on.

All this talk of secret relationships reminds Veronica of a spy pen Lilly used to have that carried notes.

Veronica comes clean to Leo about her whatever with Logan and they both agree to remain on good terms and stay friends. He even gets an official search for the sketchy pound.

At the pound, they find all the “lost” dogs (including Shakes and Lola, Kristen Bell’s dogs). Some tasing from Mandy convinces Hans to tell Mandy that Chester isn’t dead but has been sold. Mandy manages to get Chester back so all is right with the world.

Veronica asks Leo what kind of pen was on Weevil when he was arrested – it was the spy pen. It seems unlikely that the Kanes would cover-up Weevil’s murder but the need to steal a spy pen seems sketchy.

Keith appears to be taking a paternity test without Veronica’s knowledge. If only he sifted through their shredder, he could save himself so much time.

The missing dog storyline is not bad but it isn’t nearly as compelling as the rest of the storylines. I do love dogs and Veronica’s demand for empowerment so it has that going for it.

I’ll save all the Lilly Kane murder elements for later reviews so I can spend the rest of this review focusing on the Echolls.

Trina is pushed to the side a little too much for my liking. I understand why. Her domestic violence isn’t so much about her as much as it is about Logan and Aaron which makes me really happy because I love character development but I also feel really icky because should domestic violence be used as a plot device?

And minor spoilers, this situation is never mentioned again. Did she go back to the boyfriend? Has she healed and grown? We don’t know?

I guess part of that has to do with finding the time and money to schedule Alyson Hannigan on the show but still.

Let’s move on to Aaron.

As cathartic as it is to see Aaron beat the shit out of someone deserving, there are some important things to remember and notice in his confrontation scene.

The scene is probably the best in the episode because everything works seamlessly and says so much. From the lighting to the music choice, everything is perfect.

The song that plays is That’s Amore (amore = love) which feels like this scene is an insight into Aaron – he is beating up the boyfriend because he loves Trina. The upbeat nature of the song also makes me think that Aaron views the situation as something joyous – a victory, the boyfriend will now stay away from Trina or risking another beating from Aaron. If you had something more melancholy playing, you might get the impression that this was a serious situation or Aaron was conflicted over what he should with the boyfriend but the song combined with his smile makes me think that Aaron doesn’t see anything wrong with assaulting a man in the name of “love”. He doesn’t seem worried about facing any consequences – personal or legal.

I say “love” because his reaction to Trina’s abuse is telling. He sees that his daughter is being attacked and he doesn’t bother asking if she is ok or to talk to her about things. He doesn’t contact the police. He doesn’t tell the boyfriend to stay away.

His first instinct is to solve the problem with violence and as he is beating the boyfriend, he doesn’t once check on Trina or listen to her as she asks him to stop. Trina is not why he is doing this.

In comparison, you have Logan and sure, he seems to have some violent intentions but the are several notable differences.

For starters, he sees the bruises and asks Trina if she is ok and who hurt her. It is only when Trina refuses to let Logan in that he goes to outside help. We can’t know if Logan would have done the same thing as Aaron (he definitely would have) but regardless, he showed restraint and he showed his priorities. Trina came first and his instinct was motivated by protection – not whatever motivated Aaron to act the way he did.

On a slightly unrelated note, Veronica and Logan’s relationship seems to be taking another step closer to something. Not because they made out again (but that is part of it). Logan yet again takes another personal case to Veronica and this time he does it a lot sooner and with a lot less secrecy. It could be that the way Veronica handled the Lynn case tells Logan that Veronica is reliable and can act with discretion. It could also be that Logan remembers how supportive Veronica was when the Lynn case turned messy.

That is all my way of saying that the character moments do make-up for the narrative shortcomings in my eyes. And most of the issues I have are minor.

The episode once again has great lighting, intriguing plots that play out like games of chess and an array of characters that are so entertaining to watch.

This episode also has a bunch of hidden details that make me smile. I’ve mentioned Kristen Bell’s dogs but we also see Mandy reading Forever by Judy Blume.

This feels like a rather relevant reference for this episode – the story revolves around a teen romance between two individuals who thought their relationship would last forever but ultimately it was fleeting (sorry, spoilers). Logan’s attitude at the end of the episode feels like the book is a reference to Logan and Lilly’s relationship – forever until it wasn’t (just slightly more morbid than the book’s ending).

And when an episode of a TV show has you smiling because its literary references are layered, you know you’ve done good.

Can you tell I’m excited about the new season cos I am!

But for the next few weeks, I’ll have to make do with rewatches (I’m not complaining in the slightest).

The ABCs of LGBT: Bisexuals & More

For those of you who missed my previous post, it went something like:

Homophobia sucks… blah, blah… we need LGBT+ inclusive education… blah, blah… the basics of asexuality that everyone should know.

I was a lot more important than this summary is making it sound but you should really read it to find out.

As we continue to learn the ABCs of LGBT, we should talk about the middling sexualities… the ambisexuals… the middle ground in the sexual spectrum.

Full disclosure, this is my own sexual identity so this post will likely be a lot more in-depth and personal than some of my other ones but I will try to make it clear my level of expertise (and ignorance) for each essay.

 

First, some definitions

Bisexual – The oldest of these definitions refers to an individual who can be attracted to both men and women (although, in later years, some would class it as an attraction to a person’s own gender and genders not aligned with them)

Omnisexual – An individual who can be attracted to all genders

Pansexual – An individual who can be attracted to all genders because gender isn’t what determines their attraction to someone (another word for this is “gender blind”)

Polysexual – An individual who can be attracted to multiple but not all genders (i.e men and women, women and non-binary, etc.)

Queer – A label-less label for anyone who prefers not to specify their sexual and romantic preferences

Unlike other sexualities and gender identities, there are quite a few names to choose from and some are as widely common as others.

For a brief bit of history, queer was and still is a gay slur to mean wrong or off in some way (in the same way that gay was and still is used as a gay slur to some people).

When the LGBT movement as we know it first came about, you just had three groups – lesbian, gay and bi.

Over the years, some found the terms bisexual limiting or even exclusive as it implies that there are only two genders/ sexes which isolates anyone who is intersex, non-binary or trans.

In response to this, other terms such as pansexual and omnisexual (meaning all, not two) and polysexual (meaning many) came about to create a solution.

And as years have gone on, the term queer has been reclaimed within parts of the LGBT community in much the same way that other slurs and insults have been reclaimed within other communities. And as with other slurs-turned-words-of-empowerment, it is generally acknowledged that the word is off limits to people outside of the community.

All of this can make things kinda confusing.

I am in the community and I find it confusing so I understand why the names and definitions can take some getting used to or feel a little daunting to people.

I personally would identify myself as queer but I have dated people who find that term offensive or even brings up painful memories of bullying and harassment. I also have straight friends and I don’t feel comfortable with them using such an emotionally charged word without knowing exactly what it means to certain individuals.

So, I call myself queer but I refer to myself as pansexual just as often and if anyone ever identifies me as something similar, I won’t argue or correct them.

I find the label doesn’t really matter to me as much as it does to everyone else (but more on that later).

For the sake of clarity and saving myself the time and effort needed to copy and paste all the names, I will be using bisexual as a general term to mean “attracted to more than one gender”.

 

Facts and Figures

The exact number of individuals who identify as sexually fluid is hard to say exactly due to stigma, social pressure, different nomenclature and LGBT+ rights across countries and cultures. The figures vary A LOT. If I had to guess based on all the studies I’ve read, sexually fluid individuals take up roughly 5% of the general population.

For anyone struggling to understand how bisexuality works, think of it this way:

If someone is bilingual (Spanish and German), they are still bilingual when they speak Spanish and they are still bilingual if they live in Germany and exclusively speak German for a long length of time.

Or think of it another way.

I am ambidextrous. If I write with my right hand, I am still ambidextrous. If I paint with my left hand, I am still ambidextrous. Some people are left-handed, some people are right-handed, just because the world likes to exist in a binary way, doesn’t deny the existence of ambidextrous individuals.

 

Stigmas and Stereotypes

  • Bisexuals are greedy
  • Bisexuals are attracted to everyone
  • Bisexuals can’t choose
  • Bisexuals are all polyamorous
  • Bisexual women are going through a phase
  • Bisexual men are on a stepping stone to coming out fully as gay
  • Bisexuals are not gay enough for gay people, too gay for straights
  • Bisexual is a trendy sexual identity
  • Bisexuals are attention seekers
  • Bisexuals are attracted to both sexes equally/ all genders equally
  • Bisexual is not a valid sexual orientation
  • Bisexuals are all hyper-sexual people
  • Bisexuals are all unfaithful because their sexuality makes them more promiscuous
  • Bisexuals are mentally disabled
  • Bisexuals are taken more seriously in certain relationships but not others
  • Bisexuals are suddenly gay in same-sex relationships and straight when in opposite-sex relationships

 

Real-Life Bis, Pans, Polys, Omnis, Queers and Co.

  • Tayler Bennett (rapper)
  • Margaret Cho (comedian, actress, writer)
  • Nyle DiMarco (model, actor and Deaf activist)
  • Emma González (activist)
  • Demi Lovato (singer, actress)
  • Joe Lycett (comedian)
  • Andy Mientus (actor, singer, composer)
  • Frank Ocean (rapper)
  • Anna Paquin (actress)
  • Lilly Singh (YouTuber, actress, TV host)

 

Fictional Representations

Lisbeth Slander (The Millennium Trilogy), Deadpool (Deadpool), Nina Zenik and Jesper Fahey (Six of Crows), Delphine Cormier (Orphan Black), Captain Jack Harkness (Doctor Who and Torchwood), Inara Serra (Firefly and Serenity), Eleanor Shellstrop (The Good Place), Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn 99), Mary Agnes McNue (Godless), Nico Minoru (Runaways)

A lot of what I have to say about bisexual representation will be mentioned later but there is still plenty to talk about.

First thing’s first, BI-ERASURE!

In short, bi-erasure is the denial, avoidance or inability to portray bisexuality.

It can involve characters who are presumed to be straight being seen with a character of the same sex and the immediate assumption is that the character is gay instead of bi.

It can also be one-off same-sex relationships never being mentioned or acknowledged once they have ended.

Or even just clearly bisexual characters refusing to claim themselves as bisexual. You get a lot of “I don’t like to label things”, “I’m confused”, “I don’t like women… I just like a woman”.

It works off the stigma that you can either be gay or straight because no matter what form it takes, the end result is that bisexuality is removed from the discussion of sexual orientation.

It is as common as it is annoying.

The opposite of bi-erasure is bisexual queer-baiting and as bi-erasure becomes less common, the popularity of queer-baiting seems to not be slowing down anytime soon.

A number of straight characters have been declared “bisexual” behind the scenes in an attempt to garner a more progressive or queer audience without losing the chance of a more conservative audience.

I went into a bit more in the Buffy review, New Moon Rising.

In short, queer-baiting of any kind means profiting off LGBT+ culture while refusing to better LGBT+ representation.

You see queer-baiting on a larger scale all throughout Pride Month where cooperations are quick to put a rainbow filter on their social media accounts but don’t do anything to benefit the LGBT+ community as a whole.

Bisexual representation is getting better at a rate far faster than other sectors of the LGBT+ communities but when bisexual characters are accompanied with lazy writing, it seems like bisexuality is seen as the “easy choice” for staving off progressive criticisms which is why bisexual stereotypes are still all over the place like bisexuals portrayed as manipulative, aggressive, dangerous individuals who lead straight people astray.

Not to mention that they still die more needlessly than straight characters… because you’ve gotta have a gay character die.

 

Sexism and Bisexuality

The main thing to understand when it comes to bisexuality is that most of the issues, stigma and stereotype comes from sexism (most things do).

Bisexual men are treated as gay* as in gay (but not fully out of the closet/ not fully comfortable admitting it/ too afraid to say it). There is no flexibility.

In contrast, bisexual women are exclusively flexible. Their sexuality is temperamental and fleeting.

Both are insulting since one suggests that men must be inflexible and the other suggests that women aren’t serious about their sexuality.

As different as both stigmas are, they both work under the assumption that regardless of sexuality, everyone will end up with a man i.e. men are the only ideal partner.

It all feeds into this idea that men are superior and anything feminine is inferior.

 

Life Outside The LGBT Community

A lot of issues bisexuals face overlap with gay and lesbian issues so I will save those issues for their posts.

Specifics issues involving biphobia include people dismissing bisexuality, mocking terms and definitions.

There is a lot of overlap with other forms of discrimination such as sexism, racism, ableism, classism, etc.

Female bisexuality tends to only get attention if it relates to pleasing men – female sexuality is rarely treated as something that exists independent of anything else. Bisexuality is often intertwined with female objectification.

Because of this, bisexuality is “more tolerated” as a female sexual orientation than as a male one.

This is likely one of the reasons there is such a difference between the numbers of male and female bisexuals. Women are more likely to report themselves as bisexuals rather than lesbians while men are more likely to report themselves as gay rather than bisexuals.

And as usual, non-binary individuals are not thought of at all.

 

Life Inside the LGBT Community

Like I mentioned before, bisexuals tend to be seen as too gay for straight people and too straight for gay people.

Some members believe that when bisexuals are in a “straight relationship” they have no place at LGBT+ specific events such as Pride and LGBT+ protests.

It is understandable to an extent because being in a straight-passing relationship does come with some added privilege but some of the prejudice from other sectors in the LGBT+ community is unwarranted.

The stigma around bisexuality isn’t exclusive to outside the LGBT+ community.

The presumption that bisexuality makes someone more likely to cheat and deceive can make same-sex relationships as difficult as opposite-sex relationships when a bisexual is dating a straight or gay person.

 

Why Education Matters

Being queer means living in two worlds and as with anything that allows you to peak into different realities, all the hate and bigotry also comes with some perspective.

Being queer makes me an expert in spotting homophobia.

It is both sad and telling to see how people treat you differently depending on the relationship I am in.

I’ve seen people who are always eager to ask me when I am going to get married and have babies when I have been dating a man for under a month but as soon as I date a woman, these same chatty people suddenly turn silent.

I can hold hands with a man and nobody bats an eye but holding hands with a woman feels “risky”. I feel lucky if I come away from the experience with just a few stares from strangers.

Bisexuality means seeing biphobia in action.

That on top of all the stigma associated with bisexuality doesn’t make it surprising that bisexuals have the lowest reported health levels among gays, straights, lesbians and bisexuals (McCaig, 2015) – who knew my referencing skills would come in handy again.

The best explanation for this is that bisexuals don’t want to face judgment for their perceived promiscuity.

This is likely why a 2013 study found that 42% of bisexuals tell their primary health care provider that they are gay or lesbian before identifying as bisexual.

Because discrimination and ignorance don’t just impact psychological health but physiological health as well.

LGBT+ education is such a simple gesture that could make a monumental difference to the lives of so many people – straight and gay alike.

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