Master of None, Italian drift

Reviews, Tv Series

If you watched Master of None you may have noticed there is a hint of Italian (both language and culture), and  most of all in the second season, where basically Italian viewers who do not speak English almost do not even need subtitles for part of the episodes of the series. Almost. Because there’s always that old issue about Italians not speaking English, and “talking moving their hands” all the time, showing that sign, you know, that way of sticking the fingers of one hand together as if they had to do some shadow puppets show or something… so they all (right?) need to be guided in watching a tv show or a movie. Sure.

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Watch this scene here 

Ok, I have to be honest. More than an Alternative Review this will eventually appear like a rant or so, and you will see why if you’ll keep on reading. Apart from the clichés, which is something that I cannot really stand in cinematography and co. (Italians, pizza, pasta, mandolino, to be explicit), I am not actually appreciating all this trying to make tv-series more “exotic” by introducing the Italian “on call” who gives that hint of… what? Italianism? (Yeah, making up new words has always been a prerogative of mine so let me be!) Romance? Stereotypical view of a foreign (or not so foreign) culture? I mean, Aziz Ansari, could you explain to me why you too thought it was necessary to borrow the art of making pasta for your show? How about the art of basket weaving we inherited from indigenous people? Or the heavenly -for those who do not actually work in the field, considering it is exhausting and hard, in each and every sense- cinnamon peeling from Sri Lanka? I don’t now, these are just the first two “typical” things that pop into my head but then again, who am I to suggest anything?

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I am just saying… even Shonda Rhimes felt the need to introduce Stefania Spampinato to Grey’s Anatomy, as the eccentric doctor who is specialized in female orgasm and its effects on the human brain, so… why? What pushes directors, screenwriters and whoever gives ideas on these shows, to say: << oh hey, let’s introduce a character who will be Italian, or of Italian descent maybe but it HAS TO speak Italian, and see what the public says? I’m sure they’ll love it.>> Yeah, no. Not really, although I’ll keep on watching your show. But that’s certainly not the main reason why I am doing it.

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Going back to Master of None in the specific, if you haven’t seen the seasons, please do. It did win awards after all, and it is multicultural (on several levels) so give it a try. But please, please, do not do it just because most part of season two is set in Italy and << Aw, it really reminded me of when I was studying abroad and I miss it>> or << Aw, it totally depicts a portrait of Italy I never experienced in that shit hole of my small hometown (Pardon my French, you know me though!)>> so… am I right? Ok.

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Master of None is set in the Big Apple. You scored already. We’re in New York, we see what is going on today, the time of social networks, of futile relationships and the fear of a very uncertain future. Aziz Ansari, the creator, plays also the role of Dev Shah, a guy in his thirties who wants to be an actor but struggles to have parts that actually satisfy his needs. While he works now and then for small acting roles, he simply lives his life with friends, he goes to random dates and has (interesting) tv watching sessions (go, go binge watchers!). Nothing too heavy, nothing too mental to be understood or processed, the first season passes by smoothly, and you probably liked the fact that, indeed, it was a nice easy series to be watched on weekends. Nothing to be binge watched, unless you’re the bingewatching queen, then you’ll have to watch both seasons in a whole weekend. Said and done. Thanks. You’re welcome.

MV5BMTIwNzk5MjE5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODU2NTIzMQ@@._V1_UY317_CR51,0,214,317_AL_The second season is the one that everyone is praising for Aziz’s choice of setting it in Italy, at least for the first two episodes, and eventually bringing Italy to the US through Francesca (now seriously? How cliché is this name? As if all Italian women were named Francesca, come on!!!) and the titles of the episodes together with the soundtrack which keep on representing the culture of the “”il Tricolore“. Dev goes to Italy to learn the art of making pasta (roll eyes!) and he experiences the typical (as assumed by the outsiders) Italian lifestyle. Aziz tries to speak Italian as well: funny, you get some points on that too. Still cliché-y though (Yes, I made that up too!). In Modena Dev will meet Francesca, played by the super Italian Alessandra Mastronardi and for every girl’s sake we will also see Riccardo Scamarcio playing Francesca’s boyfriend. Meh. Why meh? Well, the girl eventually goes to New York (no spoiler alert yet, don’t sweat it!) but what has never been clear to me is: was she really in love with Dev or did she simply like the idea of having a love affair in a foreign Country, in a city she loved and far from the Italian routine? Eh, I wonder. I would love to talk more about this Italian haunting presence in today’s serials but I’d rather leave this A\R like this, so that you can simply message me your thoughts and then we can chat about it. I will not even touch the recent news about Ansari being charged of sexual offense so do not expect this article to say more about it.

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Master of None

Genre: they want to call it “comedy drama”
Created by: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
Starring: Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Eric Wareheim, Kelvin Yu, Lena Waithe, Alessandra Mastronardi
Watched onNetflix 
Two Seasons, Twenty Episodes binge watched in: One weekend

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As we said earlier, it is the story of Dev, a guy, originally from India, who lives in New York with an entourage of international friends: Rachel, a “white” funny-crazy girl who wants to be free and independent; Arnold, a Jewish guy who shows off his childish tendencies; Denise, an Afroamerican gay girl, very smart and direct; Brian, an Asian guy who takes life easily and without worrying too much; Benjamin, the only one who got married and he’s not even happy about it, apparently. Although we know of Dev’s friends for the relationship he has with them, we never know about their lives in details. It is Dev our main character and focus of the series. They are necessary though, as it is thanks to the experiences he has with them that he reflects, he acts and contemplate about his life and the way he approaches it. It is a story full of stereotypes, to make people laugh (maybe?) and realize that most of the times we act because influenced by these clichés indeed. It shouldn’t surprise me that Francesca, as well, is portrayed in the most common way someone describes a citizen of Italy. Nevertheless, while the others are just part of the frame, it seems that this Italian hint was necessary to underline maybe a message that, to me, remains unknown. Whether or not it were actually -necessary – to add another character to the series we do not know. I guess I’ll have to ask Aziz. Meanwhile, watch it and let’s see what you guys think of all this ranting… well, chit-chatting maybe.

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HTGAWM’s Annalise Keating and #metoo

Reviews, Tv Series

The reason I am here tonight is simple: after many years I realize I am not special, I am not “the unlucky one”, I am not different, I am not the only one, I am not #guilty. Since the Weinstein case came out on the news a few weeks ago, memories from the past -that never goes away- start playing in my head every time I stop to read about the testimonies of these women who, one by one, are finally denouncing the abuses and the sexual assaults they have been victim of, either in the past or in the current years.

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I had the same feeling when, thanks to my savior –the music-, I coped with adolescence and its aftereffects, becoming aware of the sad reality that sees many of us undergo mistreatments and abuses, accepting that “a trouble shared is a trouble halved”, and that we are all in this together. Still, whilst the sense of impotence and helplessness you get by feeling wronged by the world, the human existence and the mortal condition belong to boys and girls indiscriminately, it appears that what is going on right now is a massive uprising of female voices that, for many (too many) years, have been silenced. Muted by fear, by abusers, by society itself.

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Among the ones tweeting and sharing their “me too” message to make the world aware of a problem that has been smearing this sick sad society for centuries, there are not only women though. The oppressed, whether females, males, straight or gay, eventually felt they were strong enough and ready to speak up. There was no need to explain in detail, you only had to say “me too”, as if we were in school, the teacher asked a question and we had to raise our hands. Well, thank you Alyssa Milano for calling out to us victims of this broken system via social-media. Most of all, thank you Tarana Burke -credited by Alyssa, for creating this movement, more than 10 years ago, and that only now is coming to surface. Back then, Tarana wanted to help young women of color who were survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation, and who were not heard or believed. Today, everyone can be heard, we hope.

The picture is getting clearer, isn’t it? If you have been watching How to get away with murder these past few years, you can’t help but think of Annalise Keating, the protagonist of another great TV-show born from the magical mind of Shonda Rhimes. Let’s first have a look at the plot of the series:

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How to get away with murder

Genre: they want to call it “legal thriller drama”
Created byPeter Nowalk
StarringViola DavisBilly BrownAlfred EnochKatie FindlayJack FalaheeMatt McGorryAja Naomi KingKarla SouzaCharlie WeberLiza WeilConrad Ricamora
Watched on: Hulu and TV (FOX Italy)
Four Seasons, Sixty Episodes (48 aired so far) watched in: religious schedule of #TGIT.

Annalise Keating is a great lawyer, the best apparently, from what we understand, and also a Professor of Law at Middleton University in Philadelphia. Beyond her most trusted collaborators Frank and Bonnie, she picks five students to intern for her: Wes, Connor, Michaela, Asher, and Laurel. They work together to solve crimes that, through both flashbacks and flash-forwards, seem to be all related to one big homicide in which they are all involved: Sam, Annalise’s husband has been murdered because of his affair with Lila, a student at Middleton, who was killed before Sam, by someone unknown. One of the suspects, Rebecca, is a girl with whom Wes falls in love, and who turns everything into a big chaotic mess. Oh, Rebecca dies as well. Trust me, this is no spoiler alert as the rabbit hole has not even been crossed yet. By the end of season three, in fact, everything is literally screwed up and season four, which started almost three weeks ago, promises nothing but more troubles.

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Going back to Annalise and the “me too” movement, it first needs to be said that sensitive topics in the TV-show are obviously present (it is a crime drama after all), rape is condemned, although kept hidden for years, and sexual assault can be analyzed following several procedures, but it is not up to me, right now, to go deep into this kind of digression.

We need to focus on Annalise, and in particular, her relationship with her mother. The most intense moment in the whole series, from my point of view, is in the episode where the mother appears in the show, and the spectator can finally connect a few dots of the complicated story behind who Annalise, called Anna Mae by her mother, really is. The two women seem to have a weird bond: a strong mother and a strong daughter, who is eventually weak and misunderstood, start talking about their past, with Anna Mae accusing her mother of ignoring the sexual abuses she suffered because of her uncle. This is revealed by the touching scene when Annalise shouts “Did you know what he did to me?” until her mom starts listing the names, through the history of rape in their family, of those who did it to her and her sister, with a teacher and a reverend included. What strikes the most, and what hurts like a stab wound right between the back of your shoulders is hearing her words when she adds “Men take things! They’ve been taking things from women since the beginning of time, and it ain’t no reason to talk about it and get all messy everywhere. Certainly no reason to go to a head shrink or for help.” Wrong. It is and it was necessary to say it. To denounce it. To protect those who will come after, because no more people have to become victims. No more.

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Annalise’s self-worth, just like every victim’s confidence, was permanently scarred. Knowing her mother and her aunt had been violated did not make things easier, sharing the pain does not make it go away and it certainly does not cancel what caused the pain in the first place. Yet, by the end of the episode we realize that yes, silence has been reigning upon the family for years, the truth has been neglected for the quiet life, but eventually Annalise’s mother took care of her daughter’s abuser her own way: she burned the house while the uncle was drunk asleep on the couch, making it appear as if the fire started because of his cigarette falling. Being bright and kind of manipulative seems to be genetic in this family, although even the most dreadful action  is done for the greater good, sacrificing a person’s freedom for the sake of someone else’s life.

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Is it real then? Sexual harassment has been going on since the beginning of time so there is no need to make such a big deal out of it? Isn’t this like saying that if something has always been done that way, then there is no need to change it, although it is kind of obvious that it is deeply and terribly wrong? Eh, just think about it. Not a day, one.single.day passes by without having us (yes, I call myself in) molested, although we learned to just “accept” it, and move on. You walk down the street and that person approaches you “Hey pretty…” and you start walking faster to keep the distance. You stop at the traffic light waiting for the green light to cross, nobody is walking near you, and those people in their car start honking, at you, because there is no one else around; while they’re shouting obnoxious words you try to give them the evil stare, but they’re already mimicking oral sex right before your eyes. This to name just a few, of those moments that cannot be defined as “rare”, when you just “let it happen” because there is nothing that you can do. Sometimes you try to react, you shout back at these beasts, you show them the finger, always fearing a reaction, picturing yourself running because they could get mad or even overexcited because of what may seem like a fearless woman. Those other times though, you just shut up, with your blood boiling inside because you know that you can’t beat the pack if they attack, while going back from class, alone, on a Venetian day in spring, along a narrow calle that skirts the canal where four big men are unloading a boat. One points at you, so you look down: “ughhh, on that one I’d lie for hours pushing and pushing and pushing until she begs to stop”.

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Again, these are just a little part of the verbal assaults that we have to deal with since when we are born, with -let me say unfortunately for the time being-, a vagina. I won’t go over the actual physical assaults (and I am addressing only female victims for the sake of time and space in here, so allow me to focus on vagina owners for now) because those, as Annalise shows us, leave a mark on you that will never go away, and if you too can’t help but shed a tear while listening to Pink singing “that’s when dickhead put his hands on me” in U + UR hand during your morning run, giving a start to a list of flashbacks, well, just know that although this won’t change the past, you’re not the only one, you’re not alone, it is not your fault, you’re not wrong, you are a survivor.

See? I told you my reviews would be kind of alternative! All things considered, TV-series are fiction, but there is some truth in every fictional story.

 

 

Thanksgiving and #GilmoreGirls

Haircut Madness, Reviews, Tv Series

Oh well, oh well. While watching the brand new episodes of the Netflix exclusive season of Gilmore Girls I had so many thoughts popping in my head I actually considered writing them all down not to forget anything, but as always I just did not. No wonder. Let me try to catch my train of thoughts a little anyway.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-20-52-08It started last night, right after my “alternative” Thanksgiving dinner: my landlords invited me for Rosh Hashanah this past October and they wanted to have me celebrate with them for Thanksgiving as well, so I could not say no. These things usually get me nervous but as always I put my daily façade and I just cope with the feeling until those first few glasses of wine set it for the rest of the night. Sounds more like an alcoholic talk but trust me, it is not what it seems. I know this is what everybody says, but honestly? Who cares? The best part was actually when my mind was just rambling on getting my inner voice upset, and I was just zoning in and out laughing at more or less funny jokes we started reading on line, from “Yo mama is…” to “Trump…”. Fun times. Even funnier was that, when I had to say goodbye, I only had to open the door leading to the basement, and just go down the stairs. Once I was all undressed and I got my make up removed, I just started binging on Netflix movies when a brand new and cooler party started upstairs. I think the adults just spent a couple more hours sipping some wine while listening to music, songs going from Jeff Buckley‘s, to Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed… I honestly have to say I was kind of jealous. I would have done the same with the right company, so I just pictured myself in the future, in my own house (rented, of course) which is a big deal considering we may not be here tomorrow. Yeah, no. No drama, just saying.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-20-51-24I have to confess again, while putting my sweatpants and sweatshirt on, I accidentally looked at myself in the mirror, recalling I do not look like the person my memory still remembers. I cannot understand why I am having such a hard time getting used to the no-longer-new look. I still do not like it though. I guess I never will. While wasting time watching some movies, I had the chance to communicate with some people, not everybody was going wild till late at night after all, and it just made me feel more normal, if normal is a good way to feel anyway. Then oh yeah, I remembered. I just could not wait for a Netflix series to be finally on. I grew up watching #GilmoreGirls, I basically memorized every line because I watched and re-watched those episodes a thousand times, over and over just because I liked it. That is it! There has been people labelling it as a stupid tv-show, others saying they loved it, others simply did not watch it…and I mean, isn’t it always like that? I will always find someone to either agree or disagree with, so I just stopped justifying myself for having different tastes than others, in whatever field they might be.

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What captures me and I think most of all human beings in general, is the way we eventually end up relating to this or that character, or the story, or we simply sympathize for a situation, a memory that for some reasons gets attached to a scene, an episode, an actor or actress, and we cannot stop watching the show, the movie, the series… Having a sequel after so many years got me emotional too. I know I know, this is shocking, I was impressed too, but hey, I guess I have to stick to this human mortal condition for now, so obviously I have to have emotions, somehow.

Gilmore Girls, A Year in The Life

Genre: they want to call it “family-comedy drama”
Created by: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Starring: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Melissa McCarthy, Keiko Agena, Yanic Truesdale, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Liza Weil, Jared Padalecki, Milo Ventimiglia, Sean Gunn, David Sutcliffe, Chris Eigeman, Matt Czuchry
Watched on: Netflix and TV (Previous seasons)
Seven Seasons, One-hundred and fifty-three Episodes watched in: years, like for real LAST SEASON, or better sequel of four two-hour(ish) episodes binge watched in an afternoon. DUH.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-20-43-34I have watched all of the four episodes that Netflix had on. All the available ones. There are no more left to watch, and of course the last episode had to end the way it ended. My teeth are still grinding from anger. Why Amy Sherman Palladino? Why? Did you go to school with freaking Shonda Rhimes? I mean, if you all women in the film industry just want to drive us all spectators crazy, well go ahead, you are actually doing a pretty good job, just do not mess with us that much!!! This basically should make you guess how I am feeling right now! I am already going cold turkey (and any reference to Thanksgiving right now is totally unintentional) and I want to know what will happen next. Although, I know this is not going to happen soon, so all I can do is …imagine. Story of my life. Imagining things that will never happen, or that I would like to happen but then… of course they won’t, also having conversations that do not exist in real life but they are real in that parallel universe where everything is still screwed up a little, but definitely more interesting and exciting. Whatever.  I tried to stand up every once in a while pausing the streaming for a few minutes, just because I recalled one of the guests last night, talking about how those Apple Watches tell you to move because you have been sitting for too long. I laughed so hard. Seriously, one episode is at least 80 minutes long so sitting on my butt for six hours straight would have been awkward. Is it just me or when you stand after a long while that you have been sitting somewhere, you feel taller? I had this odd perception right after standing and taking a few steps! I was feeling weirdly taller. It goes away, but I felt the same way a few times before and it just makes me chuckle. I guess it is not just time to be relative, uh?

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screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-20-42-13Ha! It is also hilarious that the voice in my head (reading these words right now) is actually one of the characters I have just been watching. I have been told I looked like her before, since when the tv show actually started. One of my friends back home has me on her contacts list as Lorelei (although on the tv show it is spelt Lorelai) and another one still calls me that since high school. Should not even sound too silly that I actually own a picture signed by the actress because when I was still young and full of dreams I believed in the power of writing letters, like real letters. So I was very young, I wrote letters to celebrities, yes, and this is simply who I was. My young hearted spirit still recalls the nice feeling in getting screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-20-40-52those letters back with autographed pictures, or vhs gifted to me because I wrote this or that band a letter. Oh young and innocent Lor, where art thou?

…and I cannot help but think of the last time I heard someone say: you can be anyone you want to be, you can do anything. Just go for it. And I miss those talks, really, but it does not matter anymore. I will just have to keep going as I am doing now after the last scene of the last episode I just watched. It is bitter. Now wait, for real, it sucks. As it does not depend on me though, I will just stick to this feeling, get some fattening sugary junk food, get uglier, remembering when I had long hair, Gilmore Girls A Year in the Life was not out yet, and I could still write actual letters, mailing them to actual people, getting to see actual mail men delivering envelopes to that crazy little monster living in a small town near Venice. The island, not the beach. Peace out.