Category Archives: television

Socially Conscious Comedy Part I: 3 Important Feminist Issues That Amy Schumer Humorously Highlights

I realize Amy Schumer isn’t for everyone. She’s pretty crude, and some of her sketches shift suddenly from funny to uncomfortable.

She also hasn’t done the greatest job approaching intersectionalism through her humour. While she humbly apologized for racially inappropriate jokes that she made in the past, she recently missed the mark again with race jokes in her movie, Trainwreck. That said, I think Schumer offers some fantastic socially conscious comedy. She’s created a niche as a funny feminism, and has drawn attention to some really important women’s issues through her jokes. Below, I’ve outlined a few of the difficult issues that Schumer addresses on her show.

1) Rape

Rape is never funny. However, the way Western society often responds to rape is an absolute joke. Schumer has perfected the socially conscious ‘rape joke’, not by downplaying the seriousness of the violent crime, but by mocking the ridiculous social circumstances that allow rape to go unpunished.

In “A Very Realistic Video Game”, Schumer draws attention to the way female military officers rarely see justice after being assaulted by a fellow officer.

Similarly, her sketch titled “Football Town Nights” looks at the way athletes’ celebrity status has led entire towns to defend young rapists as though they were victims rather than perpetrators .

2) Internalized Misogyny

There are a lot of ways women police ourselves. We try not to be too cocky, or too naggy, or too loud and obnoxious, or too vain. We are taught to police these behaviours because they will make us less likeable, less dateable, or an embarrassment for our significant others.

Sketches like, “I’m Sorry” or “Compliments” draw attention to the pressure women feel to act coy, even in situations where their male counterpart would be encouraged to be confident.

Meanwhile, “I Have a Boyfriend” and “Hello Mi’Lady” highlight the way women can be manipulated into accepting unwanted advances, since ignoring or rejecting them is considered “bitchy” or “cruel”.

3) Unrealistic Beauty Standards

Schumer regularly takes on unrealistic beauty standards, especially those that target female celebrities.

Her parodic music video, “You don’t need make-up,” mocks (most) men’s misconception of what ‘natural beauty’ actually looks like.

Meanwhile, “Schumerenka vs. Everett” highlights the way women are expected to sustain a certain type of look, even in the athletic world. This is a problem recently highlighted by a racist/sexist New York Times article that framed Serena Williams as masculine, and even animalistic for her physical strength

With her recent rise to celebrity status, Schumer has also experienced her fair share of body shaming. At her first audition, for example, she was told to “either lose weight or gain a bunch of weight” in order to secure a role as either “the fat friend or the romantic lead.” She has also been targeted by Twitter trolls for being “too fat”. Recently, she dedicated an entire episode to these trolls, by having men on her show debate if she was actually hot enough to be on TV.

Rape, misogyny and beauty standards aren’t just ‘lady problems’, they are societal problems. These issues matter, and I’m glad Amy Schumer is drawing attention to them via her show. I’m also glad Schumer approaches these issues with a sense of humour. Humour has a powerful way of helping us self-examine ourselves, and think more deeply about problems we might have dismissed if they hadn’t made us laugh.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s Unbelievable Dong Nguyen

dongSo after four months of dragging my feet I finally got around to watching
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix exclusive show I had been meaning to check out if only to join in the conversation that Em Liu over at Fiction Diversity started surrounding the character of Dong Nguyen, played by Ki Hong Lee. Before I really get into things it has come to my attention that I can be negative, so allow me to preface this post with a list [CAUTION: spoilers from here onwards]:

1. I liked [and continue to like] Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It not only succeeds, but soars on the merits of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s comedy as well as Ellie Kemper’s unbridled performance.

2.  I’m grateful a character like Dong Nguyen exists. Asian characters are rare enough on TV, let alone as romantic leads [something we desperately need].

3. I wish nothing but the best for Ki Hong Lee and have absolutely nothing against the guy. Similar to how I feel about Austin Falk on 2 Broke Girls my criticisms of a character do not affect my opinions about the actor portraying them. I think it’s great that he made #4 on People‘s 2014 Sexiest Man Alive list and hope it’s the first milestone of many.

I also want to mention that Em, whose article I linked to up above, has primarily approached Dong Nguyen as a character who subverts, instead of embodies, stereotypes. That’s ultimately not something I’m going to be delving into. Instead what I’d like to address is how Dong holds up as a believable Asian character, specifically as a Vietnamese person, and how this reflects on the show’s creators. Continue reading

When Life Gives You Don Lemon II: The Lemoning

Don Lemon.

Our more dedicated readers will remember we wrote about the CNN news anchor back in November, and by “wrote about him”, I of course mean “launched into a detailed tirade about what an spineless, amoral sleazebag the guy is“.

Yeah, we weren’t gentle with that one…

Now as we’ve said before, there’s plenty of folks out in the news who lack integrity. Those folks- your Piers Morgans, your Glenn Becks, your Keith Olbermanns- are plenty nasty, don’t get me wrong, but they’re at least motivated by some agenda. You can generally count on ’em to focus their bile in a precise direction or at specific targets.

No such luxury with Don Lemon.

Don Lemon- as he himself would tell you- isn’t tied down to any one perspective or set of politics. One day, he’s speculating to whether or not a black hole was the cause of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Or one day, he’s asking one of Cosby’s alleged rape victims why she didn’t just bite the guy’s penis. Or he’s endorsing the patently racist and unconstitutional practice of “stop-and-frisk”, and telling folks they have to choose between dignity and security. There’s really no rhyme or reason to it. The dude’s got the earnestness of Walter Cronkite and the journalistic ethics of the Daily Mirror.

You stay classy, Great Britain…

Continue reading

Compulsory Comic-Con Blog Post About Race [And Archie Comics!]

The amount that’s going on today, let alone just this week, has been overwhelming. From the Pan Am Games starting tonight here in Toronto [which we only care about more than you do because it directly affects inconveniences our lives] to, as mentioned in the title, the second day of Comic-Con International in San Diego to the Confederate Flag being taken down from the South Carolina Capitol grounds.

I need to take a short paragraph just to state how immensely important this is for America, and the only reason I’m not covering it today is because I don’t want add what few drops I have to offer to an already overflowing new cycle. That being said, for any who are further interested in the topic of the Confederate flag and all it stands for I have a few articles that are over 150 years old for you to look over. Enjoy.

To get to the actual content of this post allow me to inform everyone that I am all about Archie Comics. I dug them before middle school, when my dad bought me sixty or so assorted digests and double digests at a garage sale, and I love them now years after having misplaced every single one. To put that more simply I have been into tales about a group of all-American teenagers before and after my actual teen years. Considering the fact that they’ve been around for almost three quarters of a century the titular Archie and the other residents of Riverdale have managed to perform the not unimpressive feat of telling timeless stories that appeal to generation after generation.

The thing is, a rolling stone gathers no moss and all that.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the publisher’s Chief Creative Officer, has been making strides to ensure that the world doesn’t forget about Archie Andrews. Non-comics-obsessives may not be aware of Afterlife With Archie, a series that he is writing himself which features the dead rising and the gang doing what they have to not to get eaten. Art by the immensely talented Franco Francavilla [who also illustrated the cover on the right] aside it’s good, with conventional tropes being carried out by characters we know like the backs of our hands. Crossovers with other franchises include GleePredator, and, somehow, Sharknado. Anywhere teens could potentially be found has the potential to host Betty, Jughead, Dilton, and the rest of them- Continue reading

Gordon’s TV Recommendations: Summer 2015

Well boys and girls, it’s that time again.

10:20 on a warm Las Vegas night, with yours truly sitting in bed, laptop at hand, and with absolutely nothing to write about.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

The great state of Nevada is presently attempting to blow nearly a million dollars building an execution chamber (seeing as how a grand total of zero people have even been executed in the past decade). While there still seems to be some conflicting reports on whether or not the funds have actually been approved, I’m going to go ahead and leave this little petition right here to get that money spent on literally anything else:

No New Execution Chamber for Nevada 

But that’s all I’ll say about that.

Folks, you know my stance on the death penalty. At this point, I don’t know that there’s anything left for me to say about it.

Let me instead talk about something flippin’ pleasant for a change.

Now folks, while we here at this blog have adopted the term “Culture War Reporters”, I imagine that over the past few years it’s been made pretty clear that we have our own agenda here. And for the record, I’ve got no guilt saying that. Part of why we’re here is to promote that which we find noble, true, and constructive, which is my cue to crowbar in my picks for the best tv of the year.

Rick and Morty

Returning for a second season on July 26th, Rick and Morty is the animated sci-fi comedy brainchild of Dan Harmon, creator of Community. And just with his ill-fated original project, Rick & Morty has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. And while part of me is still nervous about a similar Community style burnout, Harmon and his crew may very well have found their venue. Following the adventures of Morty and his mad scientist uncle, the show delivers us disjointed, surreal, madcap episode after madcap episode, with enough elastic reality for the stories to get as crazy as possible without ever really feeling like they’re losing their original charm. And as dark as the show gets (and we’re talking about some pretty black humor right here), Harmon still manages to insert a substantial amount of depth and surprising thoughtfulness to balance things out. You’ve got about a month folks- go get caught up. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls And the Interview with Federico Dordei, Part 2 – Behind the Scenes at Stage 21

feddor copyThree days ago I posted the first half of my interview with actor Federico Dordei, which largely concerned how his character ended up departing 2 Broke Girls. In the second we talked about how the regular cast handles criticism, the future of multicamera sitcoms, and how in the end absolutely everything is up to Michael Patrick King.

Just like last time, my questions and comments are in bold, with his responses as regular text.

So in a lot of my reviews I often hold the writers’ room accountable for any jokes that I feel go a little bit too far-

Michael Patrick King has the final say. There’s even a picture of him on set that says “Godfather”! [laughs]


There’s a pyramid on the wall of photos and his at the very top and says “Godfather” on it.

Every episode one writer comes up with an idea. So one writer goes to the writers’ room with the thing he wrote and then all together the writers pitch in to make it something that Michael Patrick King will like. He also supervises the whole thing saying I don’t like this or I don’t like that. So the completed work is a mix between what the writers wants and what he wants.

For every multicam show the creator has the ultimate say, and he’s a writer, too.

I do know that he’ll be credited for writing full episodes from time to time, like last week’s season finale.

One episode that he wrote I wasn’t very happy with. I remember someone in the audience told me “Great job!” and I said “What do you mean? I had no funny lines!”

Maybe that also did not ring well with him… [laughs]

But when it comes to the writers for the most part they’re great. I once told one of them they wrote a great episode and he said “No, no, no. It’s not just me.” They give credit to everyone, never taking credit for the whole thing. Continue reading

Two Things Forgiveness Should Never Mean (i.e. Learning from the Duggars)

On May 19th In Touch Weekly published an article alleging that when Josh Duggar was a teenager, he molested five underage girls, including several of his sisters.

I didn’t want to write about the Duggars, but I felt compelled to. I wanted to write about this case because I am a Christian, so I understand a lot of the rhetoric of forgiveness that the Duggars and their supporters have used to explain their stance towards the eldest son. However, I am also a feminist, and I have seen the effects of sexual violence on the lives of people I love. So for this post, I want to explain why the Duggar’s act of forgiveness doesn’t make me angry, instead, it is the decisions they made along with that gift of forgiveness that have left me in disbelief.

We Need Forgiveness More Than We Realize

Those of you who know me in person have probably chatted with me about Christianity. I’ve struggled with it a lot over the last few years, and considered throwing the label out the window altogether. However, there are a few things that keep pulling me back to the faith I grew up in. One of these things is the tenant of forgiveness.

You have probably all heard some kind of variation of the quote I included above. While most of these sayings have essentially become cliches, I honestly believe the act of forgiveness can help wounded individuals in their journey of healing. In my own life, I’ve had experiences that could have easily led me to foster an intense bitterness towards certain individuals. The theology I grew up with helped me to understand those individuals as damaged people, which made it much easier to move on from those events.

The tenant of forgiveness extends far beyond the Christian faith. Forgiveness is a valued aspect of most world religions, and is even recognized by doctors and psychologists as a key part of healing. However, there are certain aspects about the Duggar case that undermine their appeal to forgiveness. Continue reading