{May 19, 2012}   Really Slimfast… Really?

 At 5’2, 140 pounds, I was tired of being the chubby girl and getting made fun of for having a booty. I’d had enough. Slim-Fast® helped the weight fly off! Sometimes I gain 5 pounds here and there, but I instantly go back on the Slim-Fast® 3•2•1 Plan,TM and the weight is gone in a flash.

I am writing about this because I get tired of this image we (Americans, media, fellow women, etc.)  put out their that skinny-mini is best. Yes, we should be at a healthy weight, but doesn’t that apply to both ends of the spectrum? I worry about the message we send when someone who is only a few pounds above BMI (Body Mass Index) feels the need to lose 30lbs because she has curves ( I mean she literally only need to lose 4lbs to within her proper BMI number. I mean God forbid a girl have a butt. It’s superficial to me.

I was going through old photos of me at a time when I too was a size two (ha ha). I would like to lose weight, but I don’t want to be that small again, I looked anorexic and ghastly. Maybe its cultural, maybe I was always taught to appreciate my body, but I didn’t like how prominent my collar bone was, or how easily accessible my ribs and pelvis bones were. Honestly, I don’t think it was a healthy weight, but because of the society we live in I was constantly being complimented on the weight loss, by some people… I actually had a few men (black men 🙂 ) tell me I’d loss too much weight. I felt compelled to stay “attractively” underweight for several years, not even because I liked it, but because that was what acceptable was. And it was difficult. It was so hard to maintain that weight because my body was desperately trying to be at an appropriate weight. When I read the comment:

Sometimes I gain 5 pounds here and there, but I instantly go back on the Slim-Fast® 3•2•1 Plan,TM and the weight is gone in a flash.

I wanted to scream, “Maybe your body is trying to tell you something!” I too had to repeatedly cut off calories to maintain my weight. That doesn’t seem right. Yet, if you put that woman’s picture up (someone who is slightly underweight) against someone else who is slightly overweight the reaction is completely different. What encouraged me to end my diet roller coaster was reading how some of the same health problems that plague the obese, plague the anorexic (I don’t think I was anorexic, but I was making poor health choices in order to maintain a number on my clothing labels). Now I just strive for healthy.

I think we all have a similar story with society at some point, or we will eventually. It bothers me that a company that supposedly promotes healthy female body images would post a testimonial that encourages a mindset that says. “any curvature of the body should be dieted away.”


1) Revenge

I hate it. I love it. Who are we kidding, I can’t get enough of it. The story line is wrought with twists and turns. I watch every episode wondering what the new cliff hanger is going to be… and yet. Yet, it’s almost too much. You’re telling me that Daddy Dearest was able to anticipate the motives, thoughts, and actions of people twenty years in advance in order to properly prepare his daughter for revenge? Am I to believe that this little pampered girl, spent some time in foster care and juvie and all of sudden is cunning and wily enough to take down all of these sophisticated businessmen, and women, who have made it a way of life to be deceitful. I think not. I think not.

Though I love the storyline, I don’t tune in every week. I HULU (yes, I’ve turned it into a verb) the show about once every other week. I need time to digest the new cliff hanger, and shocking information revealed. I also need time to stomach the over acting. It’s no surprise that many of the lead actors hail from soap operas, teen dramas, and other overacting-type shows (Everwood, Brothers & Sisters,  Roswell, Gossip Girl, etc.) and former models (Gabriel Mann aka Nolan Ross) . In fact, my favorite characters are the most trained, though I didn’t know it when I developed an affinity for them: Madeline Stowe, who plays Victoria Grayson. Madeline Stowe has some training from the University of Southern California in film and cinema. However, she has appeared in a number of episodes and TV movies over the course of a quarter century. I often think that some of the better actors are the ones who have had the opportunity to play a myriad of characters. Stowe is definitely one of those people. This is really the first time she has been a series regular in a television series. I hope she doesn’t get stuck in a rut and basically lose the ability to change with each role (i.e. Tom Cruise — but that’s a different post).

The other character I enjoy is Ashley Davenport played by Ashley Madekwe. It was no surprise to me, when I learned that she was classically trained at the Brit School of Performing Arts (an extremely prestigious performing arts academy, notable alumni are Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, and Kate Nash) and is an alumni of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Iwan Rheon, from Misfits, also studied with LAMDA. I should also note that Josh Bowman is also a British trained actor. While none of the lead male characters are reason enough for me tune in, I think Bowman’s character, Daniel Grayson, is my favorite of the men… go figure.

Side Note:My absolute favorite of the male characters is Courtney B. Vance, but he isn’t a regular nor a lead.

Hence, once again, I continue watching, mostly for the performances of specific actors, or in this case actresses… and the twists. I think I’m waiting to see how ridiculous the show can get.

2) The Vampire Diaries

I’m late on the vampire front. I wasn’t really a Twilight fan (Gasp). I only recently got into Anne Rice, who is the better of all the vampire writers, (recently being 10 years ago when Aaliyah was Queen of the Damned)… Almost 25 years too late. However, I stumbled onto the Vampire Diaries, because I woke up in the middle of the night and caught an episode. I spent almost a week catching up on the season. Once I started I couldn’t stop!

For a teen drama, I find myself not rolling my eyes nearly as much as I thought I would. Some of the initial appeal was Nina Dobrev. I admit it, the Degrassi connection was there. The whole savior of the world story line is a little much and very cliché (Side note: I think it says something about our youth driven liberal culture that seems to reject religion, yet is constantly recreating the Judeo-Christian storyline). Also, the actors are somewhat melodramatic. One thing I enjoyed was the brooding sexual tension between Damon and Elena, come to find out their dating in real life… Oh I get it. That’s just real sexual tension. LOL!

Paul Wesley, plays Stefan Salvatore, I like him well enough but he lacks facial expressions. For someone who got his start in soap opera’s (Guiding Light) he hasn’t really mastered non-verbal acting. I mean sure he has the intense brooding stare down, but you can even switch that up. If I wasn’t listening to the dialogue I would have no clue about what is happening with him and that is a shame. To be honest it  kind of bugs me. Most of his intense stares in the beginning just came off as stalker-ish and creepy. I’m not sure a girl like Elena would have fallen for a guy who so obviously wears eyeliner. Overall, I don’t have any deep criticisms of the show mostly because it doesn’t try to be anything but what it is. A teen drama. Really, it made the list because I have some continuity questions and questions bug me (… that and my pure shame at enjoying such an obvious teen drama compels me to put it on the list to save face).

a) If vampires can hear so well how come simple things like stepping outside or turning on a blender can interfere with their bat sonar hearing?  On the same note, why are they still surprised by people who come around the corner or ease drop on them from behind a wall or in another room? They can’t hear  them breathing?

b) Why was Elijah (Episode Title: Rose)  able to tell that Elena was the doppelgänger by sniffing her and realizing that she was human? Why were the Salvatore brothers unable to smell that Katherine wasn’t human and therefore, was not Elena?

c) Also related to Kathrine, why didn’t anyone notice the hair change? Curls like that take time, you just saw her a few minutes ago, wouldn’t you notice different hair? Also, why didn’t anyone set up a code word, how hard would that have been?

d) Why are all the witches Black? Are the writers trying to say something? I get many have been related to Bonny, and the writers didn’t have enough imagination to think that a Black witch could have White relatives, especially when her lineage intertwines with the American Slave Era  (two words: Thomas Jefferson or Sally Hemming… It happens).

e) Why was Caroline’s transition to a vampire so quick when everyone else seemed to evolve slowly overtime? I mean she woke up craving blood… Who does that?

f) When Katherine was in the tomb, how come it took both Damon and Stefan to move the rock that covered the entryway, when Caroline was able to open it without much struggle by herself, when Elena went to see Katherine? If they are older and stronger shouldn’t it have only take one of them?

There are more continuity questions, but those are the one’s that really bugged me.

Overall though, I keep coming back for the cliff hangers. I love them. It’s funny, when CW cut The Game for more teeny boppy shows I was through with the network. Seriously, I didn’t watch the channel for almost two years, but now they are my guilty pleasure… ssshhh… don’t tell anyone.

1) Body of Proof –

From the very first episode I got the impression that this show was going to be one of those series that featured a arrogant, cocky, personality who has no realistic reason for being cocky and yet never finds redemption. I am into episode 20 and I have not seen evidence to the contrary. First, the lead character Megan Hunt, killed a patient while performing neurosurgery with a nerve condition that caused her hand to shake. Her husband left her and took full custody of their daughter. This didn’t even make sense. What judge in their right mind would take custody away from a parent for medical malpractice? If it was that serious she would have been facing criminal charges and jail time. Rarely, if ever is a person’s professional mistakes used as a determinate in custody matters, especially if it’s the mother in question (hard fact, there is a different standard for women in custody cases). However, even with the loss of a relationship with her daughter she never shows remorse and she never even considers the fact that she is wrong.

Beyond my disdain for the main character, the writing takes awkward turns. It’s only a matter of time before the show goes under because there is nothing in the writing that makes you want to connect with the characters. The only show that has ever been able to successfully pull off a profession-focused storyline without involving the personal lives of the characters is the Law and Order series and this AIN’T that series. No where close. This show fluctuates between focusing the story on the in office relationships and shining a spotlight on the personal lives. It doesn’t work. Because of the schizophrenic storyline focus the audience doesn’t have a chance to become attached to any portion of the characters’ lives. At the beginning of the season they came close to creating a bond by showing the home life of Megan’s daughter, Lacy, with the ex-husband. Yet the writers removed him with a random job offer in California that he eventually didn’t take anyways. Yet somehow Megan still took custody of Lacey.

With that relationship scenario destroyed, the writers created a romance between Megan’s partner, Peter, and driver for the medical examiner’s office named Dani. That relationship showed potential to ignite the show and create an investment. Yet Dani died in a random epidemic that took up two episodes and was completely unrealistic. Megan, the neurosurgeon, all of a sudden became a pathologist and outdid the most skilled pathologists in the country because she did a pathology internship once upon a time. Let me tell you that alone is unrealistic. The amount of time it takes to garner medical credentials and specialties of any sort takes an entire career. Yet in this show Dr. Hunt not only is a neurosurgeon she also has above average knowledge in other specialties that would rarely overlap with neurology. Those two episodes were probably intended to boost ratings but they were a nail in the coffin for me. The magnitude of the epidemic that they supposedly suppressed would have changed the title wave of the country and yet afterwards it’s business as usual.

So why do I keep watching? Honestly they have actors I enjoy so I keep watching hoping the show will find it’s groove. But I can tell there is no chemistry on set.

Just yesterday I was catching up on my Bones. Talk about a show that has jumped the shark during it’s time. But I keep watching. Why? Because they took the time  to develop the characters and make me invested in them. There is also a clear chemistry on the set. How many shows have it’s original core cast after all these years? I mean yes, the interns have switched so many times the shear inconsistency has become apart of the storyline, but the characters we care about remain. Even Dr. Soroyan. She’s not an original, but she has become a fixture (by the way, I think they could have done so much more with her character). Even she has an established place on the show. Body of Proof missed these vital steps in it’s first season. There is too much movement in the line up and not enough depth in the characters. Maybe I’ll finish the season out, just to see if they can get their footing 😉

2) Tracy Ullman’s State of the Union – It’s not that I actually can’t stand this show, it’s just that I don’t think it achieved what it was supposed to achieve. Now some may think this is a mute point because it isn’t even on the air anymore, but the entire series is on HULU, which is becoming a primary source of entertainment media for people, so it deserves mentioning.

The humor is British in many ways, meaning it vacillates between slapstick and dry humor, yet the topics are American. The show probably would have been more effective had an American comedienne been at the helm because no one likes being laughed at by an outsider. The writing wasn’t always great, but it’s never awful which is an amazing feat for a comedy sketch show. It’s extremely difficult to be funny ALL of the time.

That being said, I am in love with Tracy Ullman. She is officially on my list of unsung artists. At this very moment I can’t think of another comedic artist with a comparable combination of wit, talent, and range. I didn’t laugh out loud with every joke (actually with most of the jokes), but I watched in awe the entire first season. I was simply impressed with Ullman. How she could take on the persona of so many varied personalities and celebrities and actually do them justice just amazed me. That woman is extremely talented! She went from Arianna Huffington to David Beckum to Black TSA employee (my favorite) and portrayed them all with poise. They were all entertaining. I’m not going to lie, I appreciated the sistah girl character. I thought she was funny without being offensive and that is rare breed when white people mimick/emmulate black people.

Also her satire is also poignant. The writing raises questions about America’s value system and how we represent ourselves to the world. That alone is reason enough to watch her show.

3) Secret Life of the American Teenager

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before by I have graduate level training in media and communication, thus my fascination. When I watched the first few episodes of Secret Life I recognized immediately that it was entertainment education programming. What that means is that the intent of the show is to convey a specific message on a specific topic week after week. In the case of this show, sexual health. So the first season was filled with PSA -type monologues and diatribes about abstinence and safe sex. In order for the show to be officially deemed entertainment education it has to hit certain facts and warnings, it can’t just mention a topic and move on. Thus, I forgave the sometimes corny storyline, because there was a point.

I would say after season 2 the show can no longer truly count as entertainment education, but now is just a teenage soap opera. However, the story lines and the acting, believe it or not have actually gotten worse. Every week, I am in awe that I actually watch this dribble. To the show’s credit they are using real teenagers to portray the roles, but this is no Degrassi. It’s apparent that they hired a bunch of models to act, which just doesn’t work. The story lines are pathetic, I am pretty sure they have undid almost every lesson they tried to instill during the first season. I blame the executives!

I saw the actor who plays Jake in a guest role on another show and I was floored by how much I did NOT hate him. On the Secret Life, I cringe every time opens his mouth. I can’t stand that kid as an actor. Now after realizing that he may not be as bad as I thought (he’s still not good though), I have refocused my blame to the directors and writers of the show. They are clueless on the conversations of teenagers and they make the parents look like idiots. I mean really, what kind of derilects do you have running this town? No wonder the kids are getting pregnant.

My biggest issue with the show is that they make pregnancy seem like the worst thing out there. I mean it is awful, but sex has so many other consequences like, I don’t know, AIDS. I think it sends the wrong message to teens. They may be on the lookout to protect themselves from pregnancy, and never consider that they could get a life changing disease. I mean, teenagers, even logically thinking teenagers, think that they are invincible. Pregnancy almost seems romantic, so it’s not that scary. But a disease, now that should be warned about, because teens are convinced it won’t happen to them.

et cetera