Scandal (ABC)

 Image    

    I love the end of February. It’s almost better than Christmas. All of my favorite shows that took a break for the holiday season finally made their return, and I was extremely grateful. One show in particular that I am happy is back on the air is none other than Scandal. This show is the bee’s knees and is another great example of Shonda Rhimes’ incredible imagination and writing talent.

      Scandal stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a crisis manager, or fixer, in Washington D.C. She has built a career managing political campaigns and fixing scandals of politicians and other important people in the city. The big twist, or a major ironic hook, in the series is that Pope herself is having an affair with Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (played by Tony Goldwyn), the president of the United States. 

Image

 

President Grant is best described as a combination of Presidents Reagan and Clinton, in my opinion. Before he became president he was governor of California, and is also a Republican, just like Reagan. He is like Clinton in the sense that he cheats on his wife Mellie (no disrespect to President Clinton) and his wife is a former lawyer and former partner at a law firm like Hillary.

     Mellie’s storyline is a great one. For a while it was easy to dismiss Mellie as Fitz’s annoying and meddling wife, but before the winter break we were all given insight into Mellie’s life. She worked so hard to become senior partner at a law firm, only to give all of that up for her husband’s political career. Her career title suddenly became “supportive wife.” She was then sexually assaulted by Fitz’s father and the show alluded to the fact that one of her sons may actually be Fitz’s brother, and not his son.

Image

 

The show ended in December with Fitz’s vice president, Sally Langston, murdering her husband, whom she had discovered was gay and was having an affair with another man. The president’s chief of staff, Cyrus Beene, helped Sally cover up the murder by getting a doctor to declare the cause of death due to “natural causes.” The show picked back up this season with Sally announcing that she would not be running with Fitz as his vice president for his reelection campaign. Instead she would be running for the presidency as well, but as an independent.

ImageImage

 

That is as much as I can say without completely ruining the show for anyone who is not completely caught up. The show has several characters, each one with their own story lines. I would definitely recommend this show to anyone who is a fan of Shonda Rhimes’ other shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice). I would also recommend it to anyone who is a fan of political dramas like The West Wing.

   For those of you fellow Gladiators, or Scandal fans, here is a buzzfeed quiz. Find out which Scandal character you are! I got Olivia Pope, which I am super happy about because I have identified with her since the first episode!  

  http://www.buzzfeed.com/emilyorley/which-scandal-character-are-you   

Bates Motel (A&E)

Image

 

      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.

Image

 

Image

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.

Image

 

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. 

Image

 

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)

Image

 

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)

Image

 

      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. 

Image

       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? 

Image

       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. 

The Millionaire Matchmaker (Bravo)

  Image    

   I have been watching The Millionaire Matchmaker since it premiered on Bravo in 2008. Since then I have seen Patti change her physical appearance as well as find a match of her own. The show is currently on its seventh season, and so much has changed.

       Let’s talk about the obvious changes. Patti has new assistants this season. They are not as charming and lovable as her previous assistants, and Patti does not seem to like them as much either. In the previous seasons fans fell in love with Destin and Rachel, Patti’s quirky and gothic assistants. The two assistants had a son and got married. We basically got to see their relationship evolve on screen. 

Image

      When asked about where Destin and Rachel were this season, Patti said that they were pursuing their dreams and career goals. Their replacements are Marisa, David, and Justin. There is no doubt that the three of them are more attractive than Destin and Rachel, but they are terribly boring. They do not say or do anything interesting. In fact, the most interesting thing that happened with the new assistants so far this season was when Justin broke Patti’s rules and gave his phone number to one of the girls Patti recruited for a millionaire. When he was scolded, Justin just sat there and stared blankly. It was an opportunity for some drama, for the assistants to show some personality, but nothing happened. 

Image

 

      The clientele this season is different from the previous seasons. Almost every episode this season has featured clients who are television personalities or celebrities. There was Rosie from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Stefan from Top Chef, Don Swayze, and a number of others. In previous seasons the millionaires were almost always entrepreneurs. The addition of all these television personalities makes the show feel fake and almost scripted. Why is a millionaire celebrity having such a hard time finding a boyfriend/girlfriend? It’s making the show feel a lot less believable. 

Image

 

     The people Patti is choosing to bring to the millionaire mixers are also a lot different from previous seasons. She blames the lower quality of the individuals on her assistants because they are responsible for recruiting potential mates for the millionaires. In previous years the potential mates had to meet a list of qualifications. They had to be attractive, educated with a career, and age appropriate for the millionaires. This season there have been a lot of actress/models who make it to the mixers. There have been some professionals at the mixers, but those individuals are few and far between.

     I still love the show, and I will continue to watch it, but I’m not a fan of this new format. I hope the show improves as this season goes on.

 

 

The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo)

    Image

      I have been a proud viewer of The Real Housewives of Atlanta since the first season. The show is currently on its sixth season and so much has changed since the show first premiered.

     The only original housewife from the first season is NeNe Leakes.  For a long time NeNe was definitely one of my favorite housewives on the show. She was sassy, she told it like it was, and she was not afraid of what anyone had to say. Fast-forward to the sixth season and NeNe is still that way, but she has changed and is now a bit of a bully.

    The past few episodes of this season showed NeNe calling her costar and friend Cynthia Bailey a bad mother for allowing her thirteen-year-old daughter to date, causing Cynthia to burst into tears. NeNe also called costar Porsha Stewart a bad friend in that same episode in front of all the other women.

     Since appearing on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, NeNe has guest starred on the show “Glee” and even starred on the NBC sitcom “The New Normal.” During her time in Hollywood NeNe stayed out of all the housewife drama, but since the cancellation of “The New Normal,” it appears as though she has nothing better to do than to start drama. She acts like a bit of a diva; it is as though she thinks she is better than the other housewives because she is a ‘celebrity’ or an ‘actress.’

      I want the old NeNe back! I miss her one-liners and her refusal to get involved in all the petty drama between the housewives. Season 6 NeNe is by far my least favorite housewife. She crossed a line with me when she criticized Cynthia’s parenting. NeNe had no idea what the situation was, but she felt the need to comment and make her friend cry.

Image

      In addition to NeNe, another character on the show that has been bothering me this season is Cynthia’s husband Peter Thomas. He was not featured a lot in previous seasons, but this season he has been showing up on screen a lot more. Peter can be a nice guy, and romantic when he wants to be, but there are certain things that he says that raise red flags with me.

     In season 3, Cynthia’s family tried to stop her and Peter’s marriage because they did not think he was a good guy. I never understood why the family was so opposed to Peter, but fast-forward to season 6, and I can see why.

     When Cynthia’s sister came to visit, Peter made it clear that he did not want her there. He and Cynthia got into so many arguments and Peter kept raising his voice at his wife even when she asked him to stop. Cynthia’s excuse was that Peter was not normally that mean, and that her sister’s visit was changing the group dynamic and causing problems between in her marriage.

     When Cynthia had uterine fibroids and was bed ridden and anemic, Peter complained that she was being lazy and was becoming overweight. After Cynthia had her surgery and was no longer suffering from the effects of the fibroids, she explained that Peter just did not understand the seriousness of the situation, and that once he knew he became very supportive.

      Peter’s behavior seemed a little off to me these past few episodes and Cynthia’s constant need to explain her husband’s behavior also made me raise my eyebrows. She did not seem secure in her relationship to me. She seemed almost afraid of standing up to her husband. She kept saying that she understood his point of view even when he was being irrational.

Image    

 

 

The Following

       I came across “The Following” on Netflix. I was looking for a new show to watch when I stumbled upon this show. I read the description and decided to give the show a try. After the first episode of I was hooked and I proceeded to spend my entire day watching all fifteen episodes of the first season.

      “The Following” is about a serial killer named Joe Carroll who is obsessed with the work of Edgar Allan Poe. In the very first episode he escapes from prison and goes on a mission to kill the one victim who was able to survive his attacks. It is then revealed that the victim’s neighbors are Joe’s followers. They were placed there by Joe to get close to the victim and deliver her to Joe when he escaped. As the season goes on, the audience learns that Joe has about 100 followers who are ready to kill and do his bidding.

     Kevin Bacon stars as Ryan Hardy, the FBI agent responsible for capturing Joe back in 2004. He returns when Joe escapes from prison and is tasked with recapturing Joe and saving Joe’s ex-wife and son from his followers.

     “The Following” is suspenseful and gory. The bloodshed is a little difficult to watch at times. The first half of season one was great, but as the show went on I began to question why so many people, some of them respectable members of society, would choose to follow a serial killer and become serial killers themselves. Psychology should have been explored more in the show because the second half of the season did not seem plausible. It would have been beneficial to explain why so many people were susceptible to Joe’s charm.

      Another thing that bothered me about the show was that so many main characters were killed off. As soon as you fell in love with a character, they were gone. It would have been nice if the writers of the show let more of them survive, or if they only killed off minor characters.

     Overall I enjoyed the show. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the early seasons of “Dexter.” It doesn’t quite have the same dark humor as “Dexter,” but it is an excellent show with some of the same themes.