Tag Archives: entertainment

Art Series: Reflecting on the “Gothic” Genre

It seems a fascination with the uncanny, skin-crawling sensations of the gothic narrative has led to this genre’s continuation and success throughout the centuries. First characterized by Horace Walpole’s novel, “Castle of Otranto,” published in 1764, the gothic genre is recognizable through the portrayal of medieval architecture or opulent modern architecture; ‘madness’ and the fear, confusion, or desperation mental illness can contribute to; sexual sin, often depicted through incest or sexual violence; supernatural aspects, including specters and monsters; and lastly, evil intentioned (usually) men of power and societal rank.

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Often depicted in a Victorian-esque narrative, gender roles play a key part in the haunting storylines, with women usually portrayed as victims of a brutal, masculine threat to either their bodies or minds. This is not always the case, though, and as this genre evolved, the threats to sanity and personhood have been able to become less strictly gendered, but usually still containing components of dominance, submission and resistance within the relationships. usually colliding with the horror genre through these varying elements, the two are oftentimes conflated. Though these two work together nicely, the gothic is distinct in the sense of terror or great unease it creates, along with a confusion of good and evil–seen notably in Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein’s Monster”. The complications of the gothic narrative that cannot be so easily simplified into categories of right, wrong, good or bad make this genre all the more intriguing. 

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In popular culture, the gothic can be seen within two of my favorite shows, “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor”. These stories are both set in large secluded mansions and the question of what is real and what is not is often at play for the characters within the stories. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” draws from aspects of Henry James’ “The Turn of The Screw”, a gothic novella written in 1898; stepping further back into history, the well known novel of Charlotte Bronte’s, “Jane Eyre,” published in 1847, also shares aspects of the gothic narrative. The character of Bertha is depicted as a madwoman, a danger to society and also as an unknown phantom haunting Thorfeild. The fear and even disgust of mental illness that Rochester portrays is typical for this genre, due to the idea that there is something inherently sinister surrounding a lost mind. Jane, surrounded by mysterious sounds and an older, wealthy, yet secretive and moody ‘bachelor’ who desires her, finds herself very much within a gothic story. A novel published later, in 1966, by Jean Rhys, titled “Wide Sargasso Sea,” reimagines the character of Bertha in Jane Eyre. Antoinette–which we find out is Bertha’s true name–is the main character in this novel that revolves around shameful secrets; implications of mental illness; sexual sin related to lust; and the ‘other’ characterized not by supernatural occurrences but by cultural and racial differences seen as threats to ‘civilized’ (white) life. Prominent in this novel is also the power struggle between Rochester and Antoinette having to do with presumptions of gender roles based on masculine dominance and feminie passivity. All these shared elements are–I would dare say–common in everyday life; it seems aspects of the gothic genre through the form of secrets, sin, and power struggles pervade both fiction and reality.

This genre is so intertwined with our entertainment and culture, yet, can seem to be elusive or niche. Taking part in novels, films, and TV shows, the gothic can often be an undercurrent to more prominent genres of perhaps horror, fantasy, or historical fiction. Elusive or not, this adjective does seem to fit nicely with the mysterious genre it encompasses. 

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Ariana Evolution: From Teen Nickelodeon Star to Pop Icon

After eight years of her first single “The Way” featuring Mac Miller, released on March 25, 2013, Ariana Grande has become the epitome of pop music of the last decade. Shedding her peppy Nickelodeon Cat Valentine role, Grande has stepped into her thigh-high boots and gathers attention from everyone as the vocalist of our generation.

Featured Illustration by Valerie Aldana

          Grande did not step into this role overnight, though. Grande has experimented with different styles, whether through her music or clothing, to best express herself and reflect on her experiences. Each era has without a doubt been iconic for fans all over the world.

Starting her career at only 15 years old in the Broadway musical “13”, Grande then moved on to star as Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s “Victorious” when she was 16. Her character, Cat Valentine, was a fan-favorite and went on to have her own show “Sam & Cat”, alongside iCarly’s Jennette McCurdy. Playing the super sweet red-headed character for four years as a teen, Grande felt as though she had to hide behind her Nickelodeon image. She went on to release her first single, “Put Your Hearts Up” in 2011, which Graned later disowned because of its inauthenticity and tween sound. In an interview with Zach Sang, Grande explained that the single and music video, which was her with her red hair dancing around in a hot pink dress, was not her style, and instead, a very much Cat Valentine-esque single.

With her now brown hair in her famous half-up, half-down do, wearing super high heels and girly skirts, Grande was entering a new era. On September 3, 2013, Grande released her debut album, which took inspiration from urban pop from the late 1990s. Having been able to let go of her false persona to who she truly was, Grande named the album “Yours Truly”, signing it as she would a love letter.

In a time of her sky-high ponytail and cat ears around one year later, Grande released her sophomore album, “My Everything”, on August 25, 2014, where she experimented with new sounds. Having some of the biggest hits of 2014 including “Bang Bang (featuring Nicki Minaj and Jessie J)”, “Problem (featuring Iggy Azalea)”, and “Break Free (featuring Zedd)”, Grande was becoming a dominant player in the world of music. She played with different styles from 90s R&B in “Problem” to EDM in “Break Free” and to slower sentimental songs such as Harry Styles’ penned, “Just A Little Bit of Your Heart”.

Courtesy of WallpaperAccess

An even greater force came when “Dangerous Woman” released on May 20, 2016. Grande traded in her cat ears for bunny ears, perhaps symbolic of the no longer present Cat Valentine character. With the album cover featuring her latex bunny mask, signature ponytail, and her first Parental Advisory label, the music itself showed Grande’s more sensual and mature side. In a live chat before releasing her album, Graned explained her different route to this new music saying, “To me, a dangerous woman is someone who’s not afraid to take a stand, be herself, and to be honest.”

During the European leg of the “Dangerous Woman” tour on May 22, 2017, tragedy struck in the Manchester Arena. While the show was ending, a suicide bomber set off an explosion, killing more than 22 people, and wounding 59. With a young fanbase, children were among those affected. Mourning the lives of those loved ones, Grande set up a benefit concert in Manchester, the One Love Manchester concert on June 4, 2017, raising millions of dollars for those affected.

Courtesy of Grande’s Twitter

In a way to brighten up the darker event of the previous year, Grande released “Sweetener”, her fourth album, on August 17, 2018. Her album cover hints at the positivity of her lyrics, with it being her first album cover in color. In addition, Grande debuted her silver hair in this era, in contrast to her usual darker brown ponytail. “Sweetener” was a beautiful response to dealing with her trauma and for Grande to show how music heals her and others. In a sound taking you to a dreamlike state, Grande showcased her lower register, instead of her previous sound of showing off the crazy tricks her voice can pull off in her more radio/pop songs. “Sweetener” was about caring less about her range and more about the lyrical content and showing a sweeter and more mature side of her. As happens in life, Grande seemed to be at the height of her happiness during this time, singing songs like “No Tears Left to Cry”, and naming a song after her then-fiance, Pete Davidson. Of course, things don’t usually go as we wish they did.

Courtesy of Grande’s Twitter

On September 7, 2018, singer Mac Miller passed away from an overdose. Miller and Grande had met years before when Grande was 19 and had become close friends, which then blossomed into a romantic relationship in 2016. They both appeared on each other’s songs and continuously showed their love for each other on social media. Though they broke up in May 2018, both remained on good terms with each other. Quickly after their breakup, though, Grande began dating Davidson, and in a flurry of news of this new relationship, Grande and Davidson got engaged in June of that same year. The news of Miller’s overdose 2 months later left his fans pointing fingers at her to blame, claiming she abandoned him for Davidson.

With the whirlwind of traumatic events Grande went through in a single year, from the Manchester bombing to her former love Miller passing away, to her calling off her engagement to Davidson, Grande was at her lowest point, grieving and traumatized. As a musician, Grande turned to songwriting to heal herself, and hence, “Thank U, Next” was created, her most personal and honest album. Working in an environment of a supportive group of friends who flew in to support her, Grande was able to pull herself out of the dark and take the best out of the horrible situations and turn it into one of her most successful albums to date.

Courtesy of Grande’s Twitter

The “thank u, next” single was dropped in a surprise on November 3, 2018; it quickly shot to fame because of Grande being completely honest, using real names of exes, and being grateful for lessons learned from failed relationships. In this powerful song, Grande gave women confidence everywhere to learn to love themselves. The music video for “thank u, next” alone racked up more than 55 million views in 24 hours, breaking YouTube records, and featuring celebrities ranging from the Kardashians to Jennifer Coolidge. The full album was then released on February 8, 2019, breaking even more records because of the powerful message behind it: Grande reminded fans to embrace their mistakes and what they learn from them.

Courtesy of Grande’s Twitter

Closing up with her latest album, “Positions”, released October 30, 2020, Grande shows how she now rather prefers releasing music on her own terms, without sticking to certain expectations. In contrast to her more pop-sounding music, Positions veers more towards R&B. While “Positions” might not have had as big of an impact as “Sweetener” & “Thank U, Next”, her lyrics and raw voice in “Positions” beautifully resonate with the process of healing and learning how to love again. “Positions” was the production of Grande’s new chapter of a healed version of herself and a way for her to make fans smile during the craziness of 2020.

With just eight years of Grande making music, she has become a key figure in music. She takes her life experiences and turns them into an escape for fans everywhere, giving us music for every occasion with over 100 songs in her discography. As Nicki Minaj says in the “Side to Side” collaboration, “Ariana runs pop. Don’t believe her? Go ahead and look up “Biggest pop star in the world”.

Twilight: A Questionable 2020 Revisit

A movie about a girl falling in love with a vampire? Great concept for a 13-year-old. But the execution of it starts to become questionable when you’re older. So what do you do when you have too much time on your hands? Rewatch your favorite movie from middle school, of course!

Here’s a comprehensive list of everything I find questionable about Twilight.

Incest?

Source: Summit Entertainment

Everyone in the Cullen family is both couples…and siblings?

When both Bella and the audience get introduced to the Cullen clan. They’re described in pairs, as in you know, couples. 

Which at first glance isn’t weird at all, but just like it’s pointed out in the movie, they’re supposed to be adopted siblings. So, without any context of their vampirism, it is kind of weird for a family to be full of couples that are also technically siblings. Big yikes.

Rosalie and Emmett, Alice and Jasper, but then there’s one. 

The man, the myth, the legend… Edward Cullen.

Toxic Relationship

Source: Summit Entertainment

Bella and Edward’s first interaction was the foundation of a kind of toxic relationship

We see that Bella has some sort of immediate effect on Edward when she walks into the room.

Of course, as the audience, we know that it’s Edward’s bloodthirst, but to Bella, it probably just seems really weird and probably somewhat offensive. 

Imagine being a 17-year-old girl and seeing one of the hottest guys in school act as if you smell repulsive. Not too great on the good ol’ self-esteem.

A few days pass and this time, Edward seems much more normal (normal for him, at least).

The two even have a conversation! Well, more like Bella defending herself after Edward said he would do all the work in their lab.

But that’s still something.

So of course, Bella is a bit confused as to why this guy is so back and forth. (So would I, to be honest.) Which is why my next point probably confuses the poor girl the most.

Gaslighting

Source: Summit Entertainment

Bella is just trying to leave school (like all are when in high school), she’s by her car when all of a sudden, a car’s tires start slipping on ice and comes hurtling toward Bella. Edward uses his vampire speed to get to the other side of the parking lot to save Bella from being crushed.

Of course, this is a huge deal since Bella would’ve definitely been dead if it hadn’t been for Edward. 

As she’s leaving the hospital, she sees Edward and his family convening and whispering to one another.

Then, when Bella confronts Edward, he gaslights her.

He basically tells Bella that he was next to her and many other excuses like adrenaline rushes. But, Bella doesn’t let this slide easily and stands her ground (as she should!). 

Bella starts prioritizing Edward over (literally) everyone else

Source: Summit Entertainment

As the movie progresses, it seems as though Edward is just attempting to scare or intimidate Bella so that she doesn’t want to get closer to him.

Even though by being stand-offish, he’s causing her to do exactly what he doesn’t want her to do. I mean, if somebody outwardly seems to dislike you, wouldn’t you want to know, too?

Bella even goes as far as deceiving Jacob, her childhood friend, by flirting with him to get more information on the Cullen family. Bella isn’t a saint when it comes to deceit and manipulation either.

Bella almost gets assaulted and we just… brush it off?

Source: Summit Entertainment

Arriving at the dress shop, Bella and the girls end up being cat-called by a group of guys on the street.

Although their reactions are very minimal aside from saying how gross it is, there is more emphasis on this a few scenes further ahead.  But, in a year like 2020 after huge movements like #MeToo, this would’ve been a really big deal but for 2008, sweeping it under the rug was a sad but accurate truth.

Once Bella leaves to go look for a bookstore, she accidentally stays out a bit late due to what I guess was not keeping track of time.

As always, men disappoint, but it was even worse this time!

The same men who cat-called Bella and her friends in the dress shop just so happen to find Bella walking alone and follow her. She then gets cornered by the rest of the group of men and starts getting surrounded by all of them.

Guess what’s next?

Well if it isn’t Edward! Here to save Bella from these disgusting men. 

This is where I go to my next point.

Stalking

Source: Summit Entertainment

Edward (with his vampire eyes and face) scares off the group of scummy men and takes Bella away from the scene.

During their weird dinner after an even weirder encounter, Bella questions Edward about how he was able to know she was in trouble. 

Although Edward simply replies that he didn’t know, Bella further questions if he followed her. He tries to evade the accusation by saying he feels protective of her which just further cements the fact that he was, in a way, following Bella. 

I don’t know about Bella, but this screams stalker to me. Talk about a red flag.

This then dissolves into Edward succumbing to Bella and telling her that he can read people’s minds, except hers. 

Nice try there, bud. But it’s still weird that you were following this girl (that he barely knows, mind you) around without her knowing.

What happened in 2008 that made teenagers think like this?

Furthermore, Bella’s just cool with dating her stalker?

Bella’s just trying to have a normal conversation with her mom when out of NOWHERE Edward pops into Bella’s room. Weird, but maybe it’s the first time right?

WRONG. Edward confesses to having been watching Bella sleep for months now. 

I’m sorry, did I hear that clearly? MONTHS?

This is a huge thing that I realized when rewatching that I had turned a blind eye to for years. Edward knew Bella for only a couple of days or weeks before he started WATCHING HER SLEEP?

Source: Summit Entertainment

Are we just supposed to be okay with this? If Edward wasn’t described as perfect and magnificent as he is, he’s literally just a creepy stalker. RED FLAG, BELLA.

Anyway, moving on.

Bella confronts Edward and he’s just, cool with it? 

Source: Summit Entertainment

The next day, they go into the woods together to talk about the previous night. On a side note, the way that they walked into the woods together probably looked like they were going to do a lot more than just talk if you were just a random student who noticed them.

Somehow, the film goes from Edward wanting to intimidate Bella from liking him to them essentially becoming a couple and going to school with each other? Seems a bit weird to me.

Nobody at this school minds their own business

Source: Summit Entertainment

So like, they’re dating now that Bella found out Edward’s secret? 

The SECOND they step out of the car together, every single student pays attention to them. While it’s a bit of an overkill to have EVERY student stare at them, it probably would be big news at a small school that the undateable hot guy is with the new girl in school. But this type of attention is something else.

Edward was READY to sacrifice Bella’s dad

Source: Summit Entertainment

I get that not everyone gets along with their in-laws but this going too far. 

Edward was willing to leave with Bella immediately for her safety which is fine but while also risking Charlie’s safety due to Bella’s scent leading James (the vampire trying to kill to their home.

I would question WHY Edward was willing to risk Bella’s father to save Bella.

That seems a bit suspicious to me, but the movie just kind of brushed it off.

Lazy vampirism

Source: Summit Entertainment

James is just using human tactics.

He decided to undermine everyone and directly threaten Bella using her mom and once she arrives, he films her?

I get that the continuity of it all is an interesting way to make his position as the antagonist stronger but it just seems wrong.

Also, it seems to me that James kind of uses the same tactics that a normal person would such as using an important person or object as leverage to meet and probably kill their victim.

This went from vampires chasing after each other to targeting the weak human by using one of, if not, the most important person in their lives to convince them to come and potentially get murdered.

Bella wants to get turned into a vampire just out in the open? At prom?

Source: Summit Entertainment

Our last few scenes are from the Forks High School prom. More specifically, Bella and Edward going to prom.

The two of them dancing is probably one of the more romantic scenes. Until, of course, one of them (I’m looking at you, Bella) ruins it by bringing up the incident. 

My main question is why was Bella so ready to just get bitten then and there at their prom? Don’t you at least want some privacy when you’re being turned, Bella? 

Of course, Edward doesn’t actually do anything since he, as he keeps saying throughout the movie, doesn’t want to “ruin” Bella’s life. 

It’s kind of ironic but sweet (I guess) that the one who’s supposed to want to kill the other is also the one who doesn’t want to do it while the other one is begging to get turned into a vampire. To each their own, I guess.

Ending thoughts

Source: Summit Entertainment

There’s a lot that goes on throughout this movie, both good and bad. When I was watching this for the first time when I was 13, I definitely saw more good than bad, that’s for sure. But, it brings up the question of how differently we can interpret the same movies a few years down the road. I definitely would’ve never guessed that I would have this many critiques when I was first discovering the Twilight saga. 

This just goes to show that what may appear to be fine, even now, can be drastically different once we grow more within our experiences. We tend to expect more out of what entertained us when we were younger, whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure. But, I do know that I personally saw tons of red flags throughout this movie and the main couple within it. 

Is it Bella’s fault that she didn’t see these red flags, to begin with? Or is it the fault of the audience for not speaking up for what was questionable even back then? 

Who knows.

But, I guess red flags through rose-colored glasses just end up looking like flags. Whether it’s Bella wearing the rose-colored glasses or us as the audience, that’s up to each of us to decide.

Featured image courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

20 travel movies to get you through quarantine

Got cabin fever? Take a fictional trip and live vicariously through these movies. While most of us are staying at home when possible, it doesn’t have to feel that way. Here’s a list of movies to watch when you need that extra dose of travel and adventure without actually leaving the house.

Crazy Rich Asians 

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Youtube

What its about: Join Rachel Chu and her fiance as they travel from New York to Singapore to visit his family. With a star-studded cast, immaculate costumes and setting, over the top drama, and the adventure of a lifetime, you can say less!

What a Girl Wants

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and Google Play

What its about: An early 2000s rom com with Amanda Bynes on a journey to find her estranged British father, gain a sense of identity, and find love and adventure along the way. 

Black Panther

Where you can watch it; Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s aout: Okay, we all know Wakanda isn’t even a real place, but don’t we wish it was? Join T’Challa and his journey to becoming leader of Wakanda and exploring his purpose as the Black Panther

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: This is a Hindi film so yes, you’ll be reading subtitles, but it’s worth it! Its about three best friends who go on a bachelor party trip to Spain. This movie is full of love, laughter, personal growth, and some fire music you’ll definitely want to dance to.

Sisterhood of the Travelling pants

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Youtube

What its about: Okay, I used to think this movie was corny too, but rewatching it as an adult, it’s such a touching film with an authentic portrayal of girlhood and coming of age. Not to mention, Lena’s trip to Greece is such a dream vacation. 

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: An absolute c l a s s i c. You may not be able to study abroad this semester, but at least you can live vicariously through Lizzie McGuire as she lives a double life during her summer trip to Italy.

Parasite

Where you can watch it: Hulu, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: This movie isn’t as light hearted as the other movies on this list, but is still an excellent film that chronicles wealth disparity in South Korea and very much deserved the Oscar for “Best International Film”.

Spiderman Far From Home

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Amazon Prime, Starz, and Hulu

What it’s about: Zendaya. That’s all the reason you need to watch this movie. But if that’s not enough you also have your friendly neighborhood spiderman and the gang going on adventures in europe!

Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: A young Anne Hathaway andChris Pine go from enemies to lovers as they  challenge antiquated royalty laws in the beloved state of Genovia… need I say more?

Desperados

Where you can watch it: Netflix

What it’s about: A woman in her 30s, on the brink of her life falling apart, goes on a trip to Mexico with her friends to delete a drunk email she sent to her boyfriend. If you’re a fan of New Girl, you’ll love seeing Nasim Pedrad and Lamorne Morris in this movie. Not to mention, the drone shots of the beaches in Mexico were breathtaking.

Tigertail

Where you can watch it: Netflix

What it’s about: Tigertail highlights the generational divide between a Taiwanese immigrant father and his first generation American daughter. In this movie, you’re taken back and forth between the father’s youth in Taiwan, his immigrant journey to America, and his current life after his children have grown and started their own families. 

Monte Carlo

Where you can watch it: Hulu, HBO, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Another underrated feature, Monte Carlo has a similar storyline to the Lizzie Mcguire movie but is a bit more realistic. In this feel-good movie, three girls go on a trip to Paris and find love, adventure, closure, and purpose.

Lion

Where you can watch it: Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Based on the autobiography of Saroo Brierly, a man who was lost from his family in India as a child, was adopted by an Australian couple, and sets out to find his family years later as an adult. The story is gripping, emotional, and really comes alive with the amazing Dev Patel’s portrayal of Saroo.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: An 1980s classic with Harrison Ford, go on an archaeological adventure with Indiana Jones!

Cheetah Girls 2

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: The Cheetah Girls, an American ICON of the early 2000s and a sequel that didn’t disappoint! Their trip to Barcelona was full of BOPS, adventures, and friendship.

Love Rosie

Where you can watch it: Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Lily Collins and Sam Claflin excel in a film set in the UK and Boston which tells the story of Alex and Rosie, lifelong friends, who spend their lives searching for their true love: each other.

The Hangover

Where you can watch it: Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: Another 2000s classic. Combining Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, with Zach Galifianakis, and introducing Ken Jeong onto the comedy scene produced an iconic comedy about a bachelor trip gone wild.

The Karate Kid

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime

What it’s about: The original and the remake are both amazing and either are worth the watch. But if you’re a fan of Jackie chan, Jaden Smith, the song “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber, and you’d rather take the journey from Detroit to Beijing (instead of New Jersey to California in the original), then the 2010 remake is the one for you.

Queen of Katwe

Where you can watch it: Disney+, Youtube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime 

What it’s about: This biopic showcases Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess player, and her amazing journey becoming an international chess champion. We love to see it! (Of course, we also love to see Lupita Nyong’o) 

Nacho libre

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Youtube

What it’s about: Another underrated childhood movie with Jack Black playing an aspiring luchador while working as a cook at a church in Mexico. And I promise you, there’s tons of jokes that probably went over your head as a kid.

Super. Dysfunctional. Representation.: The Women of “The Umbrella Academy”

Why I love “The Umbrella Academy” but not the way it treats women

Illustration by Serena Rodriguez

**WARNING! This post contains spoilers for the first season of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.” Reader discretion advised.**

Christ on a cracker! Gerard Way fans rejoice because “The Umbrella Academy” is set to premiere its second season on July 31. The Netflix original show received an outpouring of fan love upon its initial release last February. 

“The Umbrella Academy” is smart, funny and full of action. What it is lacking is positive female representation. All the women in this show are either killed off or their roles are determined by the men around them.

The show follows an adoptive family made up of seven siblings, each equipped with their own unique superpowers. Number One has super strength, Number Two can hold his breath indefinitely and is very skilled in close-quarter combat, Number Three can alter reality with a simple lie, and so on and so forth. At the center of the family is the harsh, foreboding father figure, Sir Reginald Hargreeves. He brought the siblings together and exploited their powers without giving them the love one usually receives from a father. 

Being a single father is no easy task, even for a rich British man. So, Reginald created a mother figure for the seven children: Grace (played by Jordan Claire Robbins). Grace is a smiling, doting robot…literally, she’s a robot. She cooks, cleans and plays the role of “mother” perfectly. A perfect foil for Reginald’s stern demeanor. And the beginning of a very troubling pattern in the “Umbrella Academy” array of characters.

Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) – Source: IMDb

When Number Seven (her real name is Vanya and she is played by the incredible Ellen Page) was younger, her powers made her completely unmanageable. Reginald tried to introduce her to a multitude of nannies/”mothers” but she destroyed all of them. The only one that stuck? Grace, the blank-staring 50s-style housewife whose only purpose is to listen to her man (her creator, mind you) and take care of her children.

This is not an attack on mothers or wives; I’m addressing a harmful stereotype that has perpetuated for decades. A stereotype that’s troublesome to see in one of the most popular shows released in the past few years. I would hope there would be more dimensional roles for women at this point. 

I would also hope women of color wouldn’t be seen as expendable in this day and age. But writers let me down all the time. Helen Cho (played by Emily Piggford) was the first chair in the orchestra Vanya was auditioning for. She was barely seen in the show before she was killed off and her body was left to rot in an attic. Cho felt like a plot device rather than an actual character. We were briefly introduced to her and then she was used for furthering Vanya’s journey. It makes you wonder why the writers chose to use a woman of color as a character destined for tragedy.

Helen Cho (Emily Piggford) – Source: IMDb

Then there’s Detective Eudora Patch (played by Ashley Madekwe). I really liked her. She was intelligent, independent and she was not afraid to put Diego (Number Two) in his place. It was a bit irritating that one of her main purposes was to be Diego’s love interest but Diego is my favorite Hargreeves so I, personally, was not too bothered by it. I wanted him to be happy. 

Patch was looking into strange murders around town that seemed to be linked to the Hargreeves family. This fateful investigation led to Patch’s untimely death. She was shot after finding the show’s two antagonists in a motel. Patch went from a strong female character to being another woman of color killed off for plot progression.

detective

While the scene where Diego cries over her body serves as a great moment for the audience to sympathize with the second Hargreeves, it is incredibly frustrating that Patch died for seemingly no reason. Patch didn’t have to die but, unfortunately, women of color are apparently still seen as dispensable in media.

As previously mentioned, there were two main antagonists for “The Umbrella Academy”’s first season: Hazel and Cha-Cha. They were assassins sent to kill Number Five, the sassy youngest sibling whose history is too intricate to get into right now. (Just watch the show, they explain it better than I ever will.) Cha-Cha was played by the incomparable Mary J. Blige. She was strong, ruthless and seemingly indestructible. That is until Hazel falls in love with a local waitress. Once Hazel becomes distracted, Cha-Cha becomes enraged. Despite their mission to kill Number Five, she vows to kill the couple, punishing them because Hazel abandoned his job. 

She is focused on getting the job done, which I can respect. What bothers me is that it is heavily implied that Cha-Cha has romantic feelings for Hazel and that’s part of the reason she loses her shit. If Cha-Cha were a real person, not a fictional television character, she would probably ditch her lovey-dovey partner and get the job done herself. But, no. She’s a woman in a television show so her entire persona is dependent on the man she’s with. The man she probably has feelings for. To quote Miranda Priestly: groundbreaking.

Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) – Source: IMDb

Another, perhaps unsuspecting, antagonist of the show is Vanya. Vanya’s character troubled me in two ways and neither of them had anything to do with the fact that she was a villain. In fact, I think the world needs more female villains. First, Vanya is completely undermined for most of the season. She supposedly “doesn’t have any powers” but it was actually Reginald repressing her powers with medicine since she was a child because she was too strong. (Again…watch the show if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, because she has “no powers,” everyone treats her like she doesn’t exist. They speak down to her, think she has no spine and generally gaslight her into silent submission. It is a horrid routine that many women are all too familiar with.

Vanya meets Leonard. Leonard is a dick. He is the second issue I have with Vanya’s characterization. Throughout the season, Vanya doesn’t have the confidence to stand up for herself. Leonard gives her that confidence through his “love” and “support,” which, of course, we find out is all a ploy to weaponize Vanya and get revenge on the Hargreeves for an age-old grudge Leonard has. Men really ain’t shit, huh? (Kidding…sorta.) Anyway, I wanted Vanya to find strength within herself. I always want women to find strength within themselves. I’m tired of men ostensibly handing it to them or helping them achieve it. We are perfectly capable of doing it ourselves and I want to see that reflected in the content we consume.

Vanya Hargreeves (Ellen Page) – Source: IMDb

Finally, we get to the most atrocious act of them all. One of the strongest Hargreeves is Number Three (her real name is Allison and she’s played by Emmy Raver-Lampman), the sibling who can alter reality by saying the words “I heard a rumor…”. Allison also has this weird romance with Number One (whose real name is Luther and whom I have a strong dislike for) but that’s not my biggest grievance, although it is a grievance. Allison was flawed, this is true, but I was also very fond of her. She was a strong leader, a loving sister and someone who had gone a little mad with power. I thought she was a well-rounded character. Which obviously meant to the writers that she had to silenced. Literally. Towards the end of the season, Allison had a falling out with Vanya as she began coming into her powers. In the skirmish, Vanya accidentally slashed Allison’s throat. For a terrifying moment, we were left wondering if Allison was even alive. 

Allison thankfully survived the ordeal but she was left mute. Her vocal cords must have been severed by the blow. (I don’t know how anatomy works or if that’s even possible, but it happened.) The one Hargreeves constantly using her voice to stand up for herself and others was quelled by violence. Not to mention the fact that Allison is yet another woman of color harmed within the show. It’s very upsetting to see but at least she wasn’t killed off, I guess? It sucks that I have to say that.

Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) – Source: Netflix

Ellen Page, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Mary J. freaking Blige. The cast was brimming with talented women and they were all let down by poor writing/character development. I’m not the first one to notice the unfortunate trend of female representation in “The Umbrella Academy” and I hope I’m not the last. Here’s to hoping the new season brings positive change.