Bates Motel (A&E)

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      At first I was unsure about this show. A&E is perhaps best known for its reality television shows like Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars. When I heard that they had a scripted television drama my first thought was, “no thanks!” Then came the time when I finished binge watching House of Cards on Netflix and I desperately needed something else to watch while I ate dinner. Bates Motel appeared in my ‘recommended’ list on Netflix. Netflix predicted that I would give the show 4 out of 5 stars, so I gave the show a try. I finished the entire first season in a few days.

      The show is meant to be a modern day prequel to the Hitchcock film Psycho. It stares Freddie Highmore as a young Norman Bates. You may recognize Freddie as Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or as the kid in August Rush. Freddie is now all grown up and he plays a young man who blacks out and commits murders.

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Vera Farmiga stars as Norman’s mother, Norma Bates. Their relationship is a strange one. They are both a little too protective of one another, and extremely close. The fact that Norman was named after his mother is probably an indicator that they are very similar personality wise. Norma does not have blackouts, but she is a murderer just like her son. The first episode starts off with Norman’s father dying and Norma buying a motel and moving herself and Norman to a different state.

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Max Thieriot stars as Dylan, Norman’s older half brother. He is the voice of reason in the family. He is quick to point out that things don’t seem quite right. He is incredibly suspicious of his mother, and when he found out that Norman’s father died, he was quick to assume that Norma had killed him. 

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The show is quickly approaching its second season, which will premiere on A&E on March 3rd. Here is an article that quickly recaps what happens in season one, just so you are caught up before watching season two:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/aetv/things-you-should-know-before-watching-season-2-of-bates

 

House of Cards (Netflix)

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This week we’re taking a break from the Bravo reality TV shows and we’re talking about a Netflix original!

      The Emmy award winning series House of Cards returned for its second season this Valentine’s Day. The show can only be viewed on Netflix, which led to a lot of talk this past Emmy season.

       Emmys are typically awarded to television shows, but House of Cards is technically not on television and can only be streamed online. The fact that it was nominated for an Emmy led a lot of people to ask the question, what does that say about how people are watching TV nowadays? Today, a lot of people watch shows online. So I propose the question, should shows that can only be viewed online be eligible for Emmy nominations? I personally think the Emmys need to adapt to the times, but let me know what you think in the comments!

      I loved season one of House of Cards, so I have been (not so) patiently waiting a year for the second season to return. The show is adapted from a British show of the same name that was premiered by the BBC in 1990, and is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Richard III.

          The current/American version takes place in Washington, DC and it stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a congressman who is denied the position of secretary of state and who plots and manipulates his way into the position of vice president. His wife, who is played by Robin Wright, is just as manipulative as her husband, and she helps him scheme and get what he wants. Here’s the trailer for season one: 

         The show has everything you would need in a drama in order to keep an audience glued to its computer screens—sex, lies, drug use, murder and scandal. Season two has considerably less drug use, but once audiences are hooked after watching season one, loosing one of those elements is not a big deal. 

        Season two is definitely more politics heavy, but just as scandalous, if not more so. The first episode is a shocker, and left me with my jaw dropped. There are definitely a lot of things happening this season that no one can see coming. Frank has a lot of power and a lot more influence this time around in his new position, so it means that he can cause even more harm than he did before. It also means that if anyone were to ever expose him or his wife, the two of them would both fall dramatically. 

Here is the trailer for season 2: 

 

Top Chef New Orleans (Bravo)

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      This week was the season finale of Top Chef New Orleans. As a food enthusiast and someone who loves to cook, it should come as no surprise that I have seen every episode of Top Chef since season one. This week’s episode was no exception. I was glued to my television as I watched the final dinner service of this season.

       For the final battle we saw Nicholas Elmi take on Nina Compton and go on to win the title of Top Chef. Audiences, including myself, were shocked to see Nicholas win. Nina had won the most challenges out of any other contestant. Week after week we saw Nina impress the judges with both her culinary technique and her flavors on the plate. However, during the finale Nina made a few errors that cost her the title of Top Chef. 

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       Nina’s errors were not major. In fact, Nicholas also made a few errors and the judges were deadlocked on who should be the winner of the competition. The judges went back and forth and tried to decide who had the best dish for each course. When that resulted in a tie, they tried to determine who had the worst dish of the night. They were unable to unanimously agree on whether Nicholas, or Nina, had served the worst dish. It is unclear how the judges reached their final decision, but at the end of the episode Nicholas was announced the winner of Top Chef New Orleans.

       In an episode earlier this season Nicholas competed in a Quickfire challenge where he won immunity for the elimination challenge that week. That week’s elimination challenge was a team challenge, and Nicholas made the worst dish out of anyone on both teams. His dish was so bad that it landed his team on the bottom and on the elimination chopping block. Because Nicholas had immunity, he could not be eliminated, which meant that he was safe even though his dish was the sole reason his team was on the bottom. The judges were forced to eliminate Stephanie Cmar, who made a fantastic dish. If Nicholas had not won immunity that episode, he would have been eliminated that week, and who knows who would have went on to win the title of Top Chef? 

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       Nina’s loss reminded me of other reality show competitions where the winner is determined by a panel of judges. In some of those shows the judges are instructed to eliminate people week by week and to declare winners week by week as well. This means that if a contestant was amazing several weeks in a row, but performed terribly one week, they could very possibly get eliminated that week. This is what happened to Nina. She did amazingly every single week, but in the final episode, Nicholas had a better day and that is why he won. The judges were deciding on a winner based on the performance that day. 

      On “Watch What Happens Live,” Bravo’s late night tv show, Nina and Nicholas were guests. They answered questions from callers and responded to comments about this season of Top Chef. Nina won the award for fan favorite, and went home with ten thousand dollars. It is not as much as Nicholas’ $125,000 for winning the show, but she did not go home empty-handed.