Sunday, November 20, 2011

How Majoring in History Almost Stole Christmas

"Get the biggest aluminum tree you can find, Charlie Brown,
maybe painted pink."
When I got to college, I noticed that my Christmas seasons were getting a little dimmer.  I spent the lead-up to Christmas studying for finals, writing papers, and generally hiding in the library or Union Tap Room.  After Thanksgiving, I had my Christmas music playlist on constantly, but the Charlie Brown soundtrack can only put you in the spirit so much when you're facing multiple exams.  By the time I got on my plane to Boston, I had just started to relax, and then within days Christmas was over.

In the past two years, though, I noticed that there were other factors that were stealing my Christmas season away.  I studied twentieth century American history and while I loved my classes and there are a lot of uplifting stories in that time period, there are also quite a bit that, for lack of a better phrase, just bring you down.  After each lecture of my Cold War era class, I would come home and tell my roommates, "Yep, today was about atomic bombs"or "Yeah, we talked about the rise and fall of labor unions" or "Lecture today was about the Vietnam War.  I'm going to take a nap.  For a while."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Women on TV Part III: Kindergarten, Columbia, and Metro News 1

I have loved How I Met Your Mother since my friend Hope introduced me to the first season on DVD during winter break freshman year of college.  I love the characters, the dating rules, and the writing.  I liked the way the show was so well planned that stories referenced in season one reappeared in later episodes.  As time went on, however, I started noticing that characters were changing in ways that I didn’t always like.  As they met new challenges and crises, Marshall, Lily, Ted, Robin and Barney had to learn to grow up and let some dreams go while clinging to others.  While Marshall and Ted have gotten to achieve their dreams, the women on How I Met Your Mother both have not achieved the goals they set out in season one and have changed significantly since those first episodes. 

For those who aren't familiar with the show, it is currently in its seventh season.  Ted Mosby is telling his children how he met their mother, starting from the day his best friends Lily and Marshall got engaged until... whatever happens a season from now (hopefully - I love the show, but come on!).  There's a lot of show to discuss, and I'm going through major plot arcs quickly to make my points.  If you want to have a better understanding of the plot lines in the past several years, here is a more detailed summary.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Women on TV Part II: Knope in 2012

This post should be no surprise.  The first woman I think of when I consider strong female characters is played by one of the two women I have wished I could be since I started watching Saturday Night Live in seventh grade: Amy Poehler.  (The other is Tina Fey.) 

Leslie Knope - Parks and Recreation

Often, female characters can be career focused at the expense of their personal lives.  Think of Shirley Schmidt of Boston Legal or Megan Hunt of Body of Proof.  Even Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, who may appear on this series later, spends all her time at work.  Others, like Pam Beasley of The Office or Lily Aldrin of How I Met Your Mother, give up their dream jobs for more practical careers and then their story lines turn to pregnancy and motherhood in later seasons, as if writers don't know what else to do with them.  Leslie Knope is a strong female character because she's as career driven as Shirley Schmidt, but she has friendships as strong as Lily Aldrin.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Women on TV Part I: My Problem with Pam

Sophomore year of college I took a class on Sex and Sexuality in US Pop Culture.  For my final paper, I wrote about depictions of single white women in film throughout the twentieth century.  Since then it has been nearly impossible for me to watch movies or TV shows without analyzing the characters, if only to myself.  (After watching He's Just Not That Into You with my mom and sister, I learned that maybe analyzing out loud is not as much fun for other people as it is for me.)  I watch a few TV series regularly and in the past couple years I've been disappointed in the women on some of my favorite shows.  I have strong female role models - my mom, sisters, friends and teachers - but I still like to see great female characters in fiction.

The Office gives receptionist Pam Beasley a strong story arc for the first four seasons.  Pam slowly gains self-esteem and begins to speak her mind and demand more out of her relationships.  She finally decides to pursue art seriously and enrolls in a summer graphic design program in New York City.  From the first season through the fourth, Pam grows from a woman waiting for her fiancé to finally set their wedding date to a woman who tries to achieve some of her dreams.