Tag Archives: netflix

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

Things You May Have Missed Watching Netflix’s “Squid Game”

(Trigger Warning: Mention of suicide)

Recently, my sister’s fiancé, a software engineer, went on a business trip to Maryland. During a meeting, when everyone was introducing themselves, one of the other men in the meeting asked my sister’s fiancé what he likes to do in his free time. When he mentioned watching K-dramas, everyone else in the room immediately became engaged and these white collar men proceeded to talk about what K-dramas they like to watch. Of course, in the midst of the conversation, one of the shows that was mentioned was “Squid Game.”

Netflix’s “Squid Game is the platform’s most-watched series, harboring 111 million viewers within the first 17 days of its release. “Squid Game currently has one season with nine episodes, including a few episodes based on classic South Korean children’s games.

Despite its popularity, the English subtitles for the show are notorious for being done poorly. There are two English caption options, one being CC and one that just says “English.” The CC is for closed captions, and include sounds and other descriptors for those that are hard of hearing. There are also lots of references that many non-Koreans may be unfamiliar with from the show.

Here are seven things you may have missed while watching Netflix’s “Squid Game”:

  1. Ddakji (딱지): The game that was played in the subway with Gong Yoo’s character and Gi-hun is a traditional South Korean game typically played with paper tiles. The goal of the game is as shown in the show, and is often played in Korean variety shows. It can actually be quite difficult to flip the opposing tile over, but  overall, it’s a harmless game. Here’s a link if you’re curious on how to make the tiles and play for yourselves!
Hibiscus flower illustration by Valerie Adams

2. 무궁화 꽃 이 피었 습니다: The Korean version of ‘Red Light, Green Light’ (Mugunghwa kkochi piyot seumnida) literally translates into “the hibiscus flower bloomed.” The mugunghwa flower (aka hibiscus or the rose of sharon) happens to be South Korea’s national flower. The phrase might its origin from when the tagger would play in front of a hibiscus tree, which are small and very common in South Korea, and little kids would be the perfect size for the tree.

Suk Kuhn Oh, The Text Book (Younghee and Cheolsoo) Portfolio Cover

3. The creepy doll in the infamous “Red Light, Green Light” game is not just some random character created by the show. Often seen in Korean school books is Younghee, the name of the character. There is also a boy character named Cheolsoo who is seen alongside Younghee in these school books. 

Dalgona illustration by Valerie Adams

4. Dalgona (달고나): Also commonly referred to as bbobgi (뽑기), dalgona is the Korean version of a honeycomb toffee. Little kids buy dalgona from vendors and try to cut the shape out without breaking it. If they succeed, they get another dalgona for free! You may also recognize dalgona from the earlier quarantine trend of “dalgona coffee” where people would whip a one-to-one ratio of instant coffee and sugar together and put it atop a glass of milk.

5. When Sang-woo is sitting in the bathtub with his clothes on in episode two, next to him is a coal briquette burning, also known as “yeontan” in Korean. In Korea, these briquettes were often used for warming the room or as a replacement for firewood in cooking. This was a huge miss for non-Koreans, as smoking coal briquettes is a method of suicide in Korea.

6. The character Sae-byeok has a North Korean accent. Typically, accents in foreign languages are hard to distinguish by those unfamiliar with the language, so this small detail is missed by many international fans. Sae-byeok only allows her accent to come through when she speaks to her brother, but hides it when she’s speaking with the other characters.

7. Mi-nyeo’s use of language is actually a lot more vulgar than what the subtitles let on. Overall, Mi-nyeo’s character is butchered by the English subtitles. Lots of little things get translated into other phrases, such as in episode four when she says “What are you looking at?” but the subtitles say “Go away.” It waters down her aggressiveness and takes away from her character.

These are just seven references that may have gone over the heads of those unfamiliar with the Korean language or culture. Despite the disparities, millions of people around the world were able to enjoy a piece of media that was not in their native language or culture. The worldwide popularity of “Squid Game” is proof that media does not have to be in a person’s native language in order for them to enjoy it.

And if you, for some strange reason, decide to watch the show again, I hope the context gained from this list helps you enjoy and appreciate the show in a new way.

Featured image by Valerie Adams

Breaking Down Netflix’s Seaspiracy

With Earth Day approaching us, I decided the least thing I could do was to finally watch “Seaspiracy”, a Netflix documentary I kept seeing people promoting all over social media, commenting on how they never wanted to eat seafood again. Directed by environmentalist Ali Tabrizi, he investigates the threat overfishing brings to our oceans.

So I sat down to watch the documentary, not really thinking anything of it. Next thing I knew I was screaming “Noooo!” at the screen and arguing with my seafood-loving diet about what I would do.

Now, if you do not have time to watch a 90-minute documentary, or like me, do not want to watch and hear dolphins being killed, at least read some key takeaways from the film.

Protecting Sea Creatures Means Protecting Our Environment

“Seaspiracy” throws in many eye-opening statistics, including the fact that five million fish are captured per minute. Not only are fish important in the ocean’s food chains, but they are also vital in keeping corals alive. Marine plants alone absorb 20 times as much carbon as plants on land. The film also claims that if overfishing continues on with the same trajectory, oceans would be empty by 2048. While this exact year has been since stated as using outdated science since the documentary’s release, Tabrizi has made it clear that it does not matter which exact year our oceans are empty because the whole point he was trying to make was that our oceans will eventually be emptied.

Tabrizi points out that when whales and dolphins surface, the phytoplankton they fertilize absorb carbon dioxide. Phytoplankton are then eaten by zooplankton, which enables the carbon dioxide to sink further into the ocean. Basically, without whales and dolphins, we would be seeing much higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Seeing as the ocean stores 93% of the world’s carbon dioxide, it would make sense that we tried to take more care of it- but we don’t.

Aside from the fact that the ocean is the world’s largest carbon sink, another problem Tabrizi discovers is that even though we make a big deal out of plastics in our oceans, most of the material in the Pacific Garbage Patch, about 46% of it, is fishing equipment.

Bycatch

&

“Sustainability” Labels

Beyond just catching fish, nets also indirectly catch other animals such as sharks and dolphins, a term known as bycatch. Sometimes, animals caught as bycatch die before they can be released again and are simply thrown back into the ocean. The documentary shares that 50 million sharks are killed per year as bycatch.

Tabrizi wonders how fishing can be sustainable, so he interviews people working with the Dolphin Safe tuna labels and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) labels that are there to ensure their product was caught without causing harm to other wildlife. In a series of interview clips, Tabrizi captures a shocking truth behind these sustainability labels: those companies are exploiting the problem of overfishing, using labels claiming to help to make money. Since the release of “Seaspiracy” though, companies have come out to say their comments were taken out of context.

Shrimp Slavery

The most shocking aspect of the documentary though is the fact that shrimp people everywhere are consuming is coming from the hands of slave labor. Tabrizi interviews workers in the shrimp industry who have managed to escape, whose identities are hidden in fear of getting captured by authorities who are covering the whole industry up.

In an interview in Bangkok, an old worker shares his experiences on the ships, sharing that the workers were abused, hit with iron bars, threatened with guns, and splashed with scorching hot water to be awakened. Even worse, workers who were killed had their bodies disposed of in the freezer. This abuse leads to workers who jump overboard, who would rather be dead than be forced to work in these conditions.

Alternate Options

Of course, after exposing all of these horrible aspects of the fishing industry, Tabrizi provides us with alternatives to seafood. He points out that the omega 3 fatty acids everyone associates with fish are actually from algae cells, so we really don’t need the fish at all and could consume plant-based solutions instead. He also states that there are many dioxins and other filthy chemicals entering our bodies through fish.

While some of the statistics shown in the documentary may have been outdated or exaggerated, the director’s point definitely got to me. If we continue to overfish at the same rate, climate change will continue to get worse and we will continue to deplete our oceans.