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On Cable, Long Live the Anti-Hero March 29, 2010

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Originally posted at SpliceToday. Comment there!

When The Sopranos concluded in 2007, a number of media critics signalled “the end of an era” where television shows looked for complicated “heros,” or “anti-heros,” to helm television dramas. Of course, many more critics credited The Sopranos with the revival of  serialized, “quality television,” television as cinema, full of complex characters and morally ambiguous plot lines; this remains true today.

More than ever, the anti-hero, in specific Tony Soprano-esque ways, is very much alive.

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Television and Abortion: Two Shows, Two Different Paths January 22, 2010

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to Racialicious for reposting this!

Two broadcast television series this week featured prominent narratives on teenage pregnancy and abortion. A rare coincidence, indeed — or perhaps not, giving it’s the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In Private Practice (“Best Laid Plans“), a rich black family’s 15-year-old daughter, Maya, gets pregnant and grapples with having the procedure. In Friday Night Lights (“I Can’t“), Becky, a minor but regular character, is a working class sophomore in high school also dealing with the same issue, albeit with much less parental guidance (her single mother).

Both shows, in my opinion, feature good storytelling and try to do justice to this difficult issue, in ways that suggest networks are finally moving forward on an issue still most famously explored in 1972 in an episode of Maude (later again on Roseanne).

Television (film too) is infamous for its silence on abortion. If a character gets pregnant, it’s an easy bet she’ll have it. So ironclad is the pregnancy rule it ruins all the drama from the plot point. Pregnancy = baby. Major characters rarely even discuss it (Sex and the City, season 4 did); “abortion women” leave shows quickly. Even adoption is rarely broached. So both Friday Night Lights and Private Practice deserve credit for even using the “A” word, several times, and actually dealing with the issue head-on.

The shows take two different paths. Yes, unbelievably, on broadcast television, a character actually goes through with the procedure.

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Best TV of the Decade! (Top Three, For Me) December 19, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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I normally dislike “best of” lists. I don’t read them and dislike writing them. But I’m writing a chapter for a book on a very solid television series, and I thought: I have to give this some praise.

So instead of doing a “Top 10″ I decided to keep it simple. My top three television series of the 00’s. (UPDATE: Here’s a great compilation of “best of” TV lists by Chris Becker…Thanks for linking to mine).

Warning: Not on this list: The Sopranos, The West Wing, Mad Men, Lost, 24, Six Feet Under, Battlestar Galactica, The Office, The Comeback, and probably a dozen other critical darlings. There was too much solid television this decade to be comprehensive. The following shows are not only emotionally meaningful to me — my television habit matured in the aughts — but also revolutionized, in my opinion, what we think of as “television.”

In general, these are three shows, which, I think, proved television is in fact better at storytelling than film.

Here we go!

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“Kindred,” A Spirited Web Series On A Mission November 29, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Living Single and Girlfriends exist today in nostalgia, firmly in the annals of television history but only occasionally as a rerun on a niche network.

Who are their children? Certainly cable networks have tried to pick up the torch by giving Jada Pinkett Smith, Jill Scott and Sherri Shepherd their own shows, each of which (HawthoRNe, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and Sherri) have had varying levels of success, most of it good.

But television currently lacks a show by and for “sistas.” Enter SistaPAC productions. The five-year old independent production company, having explored theatre and short film, has released what may be their most ambitious effort yet, a web series: Kindred.

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“Sons of Anarchy” Proves Cable Deeper, More Provocative Than Broadcast November 23, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Originally posted at Ronebreak. Please comment there!

The penultimate episode of Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesday at 10PM, with a 90-minute season finale the following week. You can catch up on episodes at Hulu or iTunes, or you can check Sidereel for more options.

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It takes The Sopranos and adds neo-Nazis. It grafts onto Hamlet a throng of motorcycles. Sons of Anarchy, FX’s drama about a California motorcycle gang, is among the best and highest rated shows on cable, so why haven’t you been watching it?

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“Chick” Gives Women (and Women of Color) a Story of Freedom, Empowerment November 3, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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"Chick" is debuting on Koldcast and RowdyOrbit.

More than three years into her relationship, Kai Soremekun had a knife before her, her boyfriend’s hand on the handle. The emotional abuse had gone too far, and she needed to get out.

“I had such a low self-worth at that point,” Soremekun told me. “When I finally got out, I spent a lot of time realizing how that happened.”

That process of soul-searching led to several different scripts, most of which were tough-girl narratives stemming more from her anger than from a fully matured artistic sensibility. They were “more a self-healing tool than something I should make,” she said.

Eventually she wrote a story of empowerment with the right tone and plot. The result is Chick, a new web series Soremekun self-financed premiering today on web series network Koldcast.tv and RowdyOrbit, a new site distributing web series by and about people of color.

In the series, Lisa leaves her loser boyfriend to pursue loftier dreams. She hears about a secret academy that trains superheroes, and the story progresses from there. While obviously a narrative of female empowerment, Soremekun does not want to scare off men; she wanted to story to have multiple layers.

Full post at Ronebreak. The first episode of Chick went live today at Koldcast.

More from my interview with creator Kai Soremekun after the jump. (more…)

Reckless Speculation: Are Women’s Shows Doing Worse This Fall? October 26, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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UPDATE: TVbtN’s Bill Gorman quickly explained why the numbers look this way. Thanks, Bill!

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So TVbytheNumbers, the best TV blog on the Internets, has published a chart on the returning fall shows that aren’t doing so well, and the few that are (Fox is up, the rest are flat or down). Below is what he has (original here).

Notice anything? I did. Shows I would consider primarily women’s shows are way down (highlighted, in a playful bit of hyperbole, in pink) and shows aimed at or starring men (in exaggerated blue). Perhaps I’m being too reductive, take a look for yourself:

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PRINT: What Makes You So Special? October 1, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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This is the rare post that isn’t really televisual; instead: print! I’m being a little bit provocative here and pushing my argument a little far to make a point. ORIGINAL at SpliceToday.

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Long ago women’s magazines booked almost exclusively models for covers. They were simply more beautiful than anyone else. Everyone forgave this because these women were special, even if genetically. Then sometime in the late 1980s and early 1990s, celebrity became more important than beauty. Celebrities were special because not only were they beautiful but talented as well, either at managing their careers, in acting or singing.

Now, every time I go to CVS or a bookstore and look at the magazines, I wonder what makes the cover girls so special. Lauren Conrad, Jessica Simpson, and the Kardashian sisters are repeat offenders, but even stars who work only occasionally like Jessica Biel and Halle Berry make it onto the covers of prestige magazines like BazaarElle, and Cosmopolitan and, the worst offenders, gossip zines like US WeeklyPeople, and Star.

My beef: these women don’t work! On the rare occasion I do see a working actress featured on a magazine cover, I ask myself: does she have a movie or TV show coming out? Is she producing or directing anything of note? I check IMDB. Sometimes I find a project here or there, many times I don’t. Instead, they are reality stars leading dull lives and somehow getting recognized for it. Or they are actresses who haven’t made a decent movie or TV show in a long time and get covers because women simply like them.

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