Tag Archives: binge-worthy

Bridgerton: Is It Representation or Aesthetics?

Dear readers, now that the latest season has come to a close, it is now time to analyze Bridgerton’s beautiful families beyond Lady Whistledown’s juicy gossip and sordid details. Ultimately, It is up to us to see whether the beloved Netflix show is true as representative as it claims to be. The Sharma family were the talk of the ton (forgive my puns), but they are not the first instance of Shonda Rhimes’ unique incorporation of representation in her period drama; for that, we have to go back to season one.

While the popular rom-com never truly addresses if there was an equitable society in the British Regency era where people of color (POCs) were Lords and Dukes, there is a brief mention of a darker past in the first season. Especially, when Lady Danbury speaks about the King’s love for the Queen, it seemingly ends all the racism and hatred of the past without any consequences. While it is a loose premise to build a fictional world on, one can forgive the show for this as it leads to more diverse casting. But, that brings us to the first issue with Bridgerton—race-baiting.

Race-Baiting

When the first promotional material for the show was released, it heavily emphasized that the show would address racial issues with its unique storytelling. However, aside from the singular conversation mentioned before, the show fails to even mention race let alone incorporate it into its storyline. Some fans of the show claim that it was good that the show was race-blind. Including that giving POC’s different storylines that address their racial heritage or past would negate the message that all races are equal. But, failing to address racial differences is not equal or fair. It is erasing the complexity and nuances of the world we live in, enabling us to tell good stories.

The first season of Bridgerton also failed to include any of its POC cast in important storylines, with the exception of the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page. When POC characters have significant screen times, their stories are often clouded or infiltrated by their low socioeconomic status. For instance, Marina Thompson, played by Ruby Barker, is desperately searching for a husband to cover up her out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Colin Bridgerton, played by Luke Newton, eventually falls for her and proposes but on finding out about the truth of her deceptions. Unfortunately, he leaves her high and dry, which brings me to the second issue with the popular Netflix drama, its problematic association of skin color with purity.

Value Calls

If we look at all the POC characters in the show, each of them has either engaged in conversation with a non-POC character where they have played the role of the corrupter or experienced friend. Whether it’s the Duke’s conversation with Daphne about self-pleasure or Marina begrudgingly answering Penelope’s questions about sex, it may seem insignificant. Still, the show’s repeated instances of associating purity of thought and spirit with only their non-POC characters perpetuate negative stereotypes that believe or not exist in society even today and strengthen people’s implicit biases.

A New Era

 Finally, let’s dissect season two. When I heard that season two of Bridgerton would have an Indian female lead, I was definitely wary of the idea, especially given India’s colonial past with the British and the period in which Bridgerton takes place. However, Miss Kate Sharma, played by the brilliant Simone Ashley, captured my heart along with those of audiences around the world. While her accent could do with some work, she could incorporate her Indian identity into her character without making her Indianness all that her character was. Edwina called Kate didi, the Haldi ceremony, and Kate’s snide remarks about British tea (which she is completely right about!) all pay homage to Indian culture without forcefully and awkwardly introducing it into the storyline.

Season two of Bridgerton does make up for some of the issues of the first season, for example, the lower socioeconomic association with POC characters. The Sharma family’s dire socioeconomic situation is unnecessary, and the season once again fails to mention any actual race issues or bring it up at all. That being said it is unnecessary for a show with a multi-racial cast to discuss race, but Bridgerton displays race-baiting because it promises to discuss race but fails to do the same. That being said, season two of this show does paint a more promising picture, and while people have complained that the Sharma’s are not truly Indian, I don’t particularly share their sentiment. The Sharma’s may not display every aspect of their Indian culture. Still, if they did, it would distract from the show’s storyline,  which isn’t really the positive representation anyone needs. Kathani Sharma may be slightly controversial, but her sarcastic, dry humor, wit, competitive spirit, and independence do embody the desi nature that I, as an Indian, am particularly proud of. So for this singular instance of representation, I will begrudgingly give Bridgerton my nod of approval.

Featured Image By Francessca Conde

Inventing Anna Review: Is Anna a psychopath?

*Warning: This is not an actual diagnosis since I am not a medical professional, and this article is for entertainment purposes only*

She says she doesn’t have time for this and definitely doesn’t have time for you, but is she a sociopath or worse, a psychopath? Anna Delvey/Sorokin entranced us with her charm and daring spirit to take on New York’s elite but, does her callous disregard for other people’s emotions make her a psychopath? Join me as we analyze the criteria of psychopathy, as defined by the DSM-V, and see whether our favorite, accented scam artist displays any of these telling symptoms.

According to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), both sociopaths and psychopaths suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). However, APD is often confused with Avoidant Personality Disorder characterized by social inhibition and feelings of inadequacy. And if one were to diagnose Anna properly, she would most likely receive a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Including symptoms like impulsivity, pathological personality traits and an inability to form interpersonal relationships. But, for the sake of this article and the numerous references to Anna’s psychopathy in the show, let’s dive into whether or not Anna is a psychopath.

Psychopaths and sociopaths are very similar. However, they can show up on the same spectrum, with psychopathy on the more severe side of the spectrum. The main difference between the two is that sociopaths can form brief, fleeting interpersonal relationships and can feel emotions. 

Anna’s disregard for the law, pathological lying, impulsivity, irritability, and reckless disregard for others seem like incriminating evidence for her psychopath diagnosis. But, she also showed genuine affection for Neff and Chase at times. Her desperate need to be remembered and famous goes against a psychopath’s disregard for other people’s opinions.

Her lack of remorse, cruelty, and irresponsibility due to her lack of maturity indicates symptoms of psychopathy. However, one could argue that they were also the product of her upbringing and her desperate need to belong due to being scorned for her immigrant status and wanting to feel accepted.

Anna Delvey/ most people are complex and real. She has many layers to her, but don’t mistake that for her innocence. Psychopathy, or APD, is not a diagnosis that can be handed out lightly and can change a person’s punishment in a court of law. Does she display pathological personality traits? Yes. Could she potentially have another mental disorder? Yes. However, a Netflix reenactment is not an accurate representation of the many shades of grey in human society, and for that reason, Anna is not a psychopath.

Featured Image By Morgan Scruggs

Top 10 Underrated Gems on Netflix

Got decision fatigue? Here’s a list of underrated movies and TVshows from your fellow Longhorns to alleviate that fatigue and introduce you to some new favorites.

Kim’s Convenience

In need of a heartwarming show that will make you laugh until your sides hurt? This show portrays a Korean-Canadian family’s struggle to assimilate with the world around them without compromising their culture. The show captures a wide range of emotions from estrangement, generational guilt, and toxic masculinity while conveying peak comedy.

Courtesy of Polina Kovaleva 

A Simple Favor

Five words: Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. A Simple Favor is a psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes and have you hooked with its sarcastic humor and effortless storytelling. Lively and Kendrick perfectly fit the roles of Emily and Stephanie. While Henry Golding’s Sean Townsend somehow seems like the manipulator and the victim simultaneously. This movie will have you question every single detail about the case and all I can say is Gone Girl, who?

Young Royals

Looking for a more dramatic teen show? Young Royals may be the show for you. The show portrays the complexities of a young LGBTQIA person’s life with picturesque scenes and dark undertones. Through all the royal scandal, the show makes an important point about the last vestiges of royalty desperately clinging onto heterosexual views rather than the reality of the society they rule over.

Courtesy of Steve Johnson 

Sex Education

Moordale Secondary School seems like a fever dream with its rambunctious students, questionable teachers, and on-campus sex therapist. But Sex Education is truly one of the best Netflix original shows you will come across. Characters like Otis and Maeve are flawed yet fully fleshed out and seem real. Eric’s coming-out story is genuine and not forced or cheesy. Mr. Groff finding happiness after a lifetime of upholding societal expectations is truly inspiring. Most importantly the show de-stigmatizes sex and its activities without hyper-sexualizing its characters.

Fractured

Our worst nightmares are the product of our own imagination. This psychological thriller makes you question who is telling the truth, and you find yourself sympathizing with the protagonist, Ray, or is he the villain? The movie makes you go back and forth between the two versions of reality until the horrifying truth is made evident. A thriller truly worth watching that will keep you at the edge of your seat the whole time.

Courtesy of Michael Burrows 

Atelier

Get ready to step into the world of fashion with this beautiful and Get ready to step into the world of fashion with this beautiful and entertaining show. Atelier is the story of Mayuko Tokita finding her way into the fashion scene of Tokyo’s infamous Ginza district. If you loved The Devil Wears Prada and enjoyed watching glamour and style, this is the show for you.

Derry Girls

The Northern Ireland conflict of the 1990s is the last place you think of when looking for the setting of a feel-good coming of age story. Derry Girls captures the trials and tribulations of school dances, no-good tattletales, and boy troubles. The show is able to avoid cliches and captures its audience’s heart with its authenticity and humor.

She’s Gotta Have It 

This comedy is a fresh take on the struggling artist by replacing the whining pseudo-intellect with a young woman full of life. Furthermore, the show depicts sexuality without bias and portrays a pansexual without judgment or value-calls.

Courtesy of Tamanna Rumee 

AlRawabi School for Girls

Standing up to your high-school bully can be a pinnacle moment and the shifting point in your journey to find your confidence, but what happens when it goes wrong? This show examines the fine line between a victim and a bully. In the words of the director Tima Shomali, the female-led cast gives a “female perception on their issues.” The show carefully avoids the usual tropes of mean high school girls but rather goes deeper and questions the motivations behind being a bully and how your circumstances can turn you into a monster without realizing it.

To the Bone

Eating disorders are often mocked and used for cheap laughs in entertainment. To the Bone is raw in its depiction of how pervasive an eating disorder can be and how the disorder is not superficial or for attention. While To the Bone is not perfect in its depiction of mental illness it is a step in the right direction.

Featured Image Courtesy of cottonbro

Is it Good Representation or is it Conventional?: Sex Education Season 3 Review

Welcome back to Moordale Secondary! Back by popular demand, Sex Education Season three has received mixed reviews from both fans and critics alike. Here at UT, fans are split. One group of fans believe that the show has continued to push the boundaries of representation and have succeeded in accurately representing the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community, while the others find themselves disappointed in the show writers and their inability to break away from the mold that dictates LGBTQ+ character arcs and interactions in media. So, the question is: does this season of Sex Education accurately represent the LGBTQ+ community or just follow the conventional arcs for the sake of representation?

This season picks up after the summer of the last season and it’s safe to say a lot of things have changed—Maeve and Otis are no longer friends, Jean is pregnant, Headmaster Griff is no longer Headmaster and Ruby and Otis are now dating? This season introduces a whole host of new characters as well. Hope, playing the cool-teacher-gone-wrong, acts as the villain of the series, but the biggest win in terms of diversity is the introduction of Cal, a new non-binary student. The season takes a dramatic shift from the prior ones as it focuses more on the character arcs of its LGBTQ+ characters, the fan-favorite being Adam Groff.

Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 Episode 8

Adam begins the season in a relationship with the love of his life and ends it single and enrolled in a dog competition. If that didn’t catch you by surprise, nothing will. Adam and Eric are by far the most beloved couple on the show. Their banter is iconic and they complement each other so well. In fact, their chemistry is so strong that it made Eric leave his boyfriend, Rahim, in season two. But this season, despite having overcome a grocery list of obstacles, they break up. I may not be completely unbiased, but I’m not alone when I say this break-up hit deep. Not only did it seem uncharacteristic, but Eric was the one who initiated it after he cheated on Adam. He believed Adam wasn’t in touch with his sexuality enough to fully be in their relationship and to this I say: Are you kidding me? Adam Groff has had the most character growth in the show. He went from the high school bully to a kind and sensitive person who genuinely wanted to improve himself academically, find what he’s passionate about and be there for Eric as a partner. Eric, on the other hand, was undoubtedly the second worst character this season, which is disappointing given how great he was in the previous seasons.

Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 Episode 6

Not only has Eric now cheated on all the boyfriends he’s had, but he’s also done so under the belief that he’s right. This character flaw, unfortunately, perpetuates more than one harmful belief about gay relationships. Eric’s impulsivity when it comes to his relationships is so out-of-character that it paints a picture of gay relationships being inherently temporary and fragile. The writers proceed to almost erase Eric and Otis’ comradery which was what made Eric so lovable in the first place. Their friendship was an excellent representation of male platonic relationships that didn’t shy away from physicality and it was deeply missed this season.

The other prominent LGBTQ+ relationship on the show is the one between Ola and Lily.

Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 Episode 4

Luckily, the writers were able to avoid the stereotypes surrounding LGBTQ+ couples in this relationship. Ola and Lily are both dealing with their own crises this season, with Lily coming to terms with her inability to fit in and Ola severely missing her mother. Their relationship works because they see each other for who they are and overcome issues through communication. Lily and Ola beautifully demonstrate how even though relationships take work, they are more than worth it.

 Image courtesy Netflix; Sex Education Season 3 promo posters

Finally, Cal Bowman marks progress as the first non-binary character on the show. They make an impact by fighting against Hope’s insane rules and standing up for themselves despite being constantly berated for no reason other than their gender. Cal’s struggles not only are representative of some aspects of a non-binary person’s experience but they also evoke empathy in those unfamiliar with non-binary people. Many fans remarked that Cal’s struggles and arc helped them educate themselves and understand gender is a spectrum. Cal’s relationship with Jackson was crucial as it demonstrated how despite one’s best intentions and feelings, sexual orientation and gender are complex identities and not unidimensional. 

Overall, Sex Education is a show that is able to capture the complexities of characters’ personalities along with their identities. While it does have some flaws the show still manages to include diverse perspectives without making them look forced which in turn exposes audiences to new perspectives. Season 3 furthers the show’s narrative, introduces us to a whole host of new characters, covers complex topics of gender and sexual identity, all while keeping its audience entertained and that is a success indeed.

Featured Image Courtesy of Netflix Sex Education Promo Posters