Teaching Tolerance: ABC Family’s “The Fosters”

Published 12/11/13 by:

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During the summer of 2013, ABC Family did something that none of us expected: it created a show that developed dialogue about family definitions, political standpoints, and how love should really conquer all. ABC Family’s (relatively) new show, “The Fosters”, follows the daily obstacles and triumphs of a family led by a bi-racial couple who happen to both be women. This double-matriarch household also has some other atypical characteristics: four out of their five children are adopted, and two of them are Hispanic. If you’re counting, this means that the Foster household encompasses one gay marriage, and three different races/ethnicities. I also think it’s worth mentioning that the mothers both work in fields that serve the people: Lena is a vice principal at a charter school, while Stef is a police officer. On the surface, this is a show about a very diverse family trying to lead their children successfully day by day. On the grander scale, this show is harboring feelings of tolerance in an audience that may not be aware of their own opinions. In other words: ABC Family’s viewership just became a bit more open-minded. Why? Because they’ve humanized what a modern family looks like and put them in situations that most of us have also had to dig ourselves out of. It also helps that everyone is adorable.

 

The show is returning for its second season on January 13, 2014, and I’m making every effort to convince people to watch it as a catalyst for important conversations that may have otherwise been avoided. The days of handing your daughters a book about getting their period are over. You now have glamorous television shows (willing to take risks) to turn to as an introduction to some difficult topics. Take advantage of “The Fosters”!

 

Topics Covered In the First Season:

Rape, abortion, bi-racial marriage, lesbian marriage, illegal immigration, rumor-spreading, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, Quinceaneras, ethical responsibility in educational practices, ethical responsibility when fostering children, religious oppression, lying, teenage drinking, teenage sex, drunk driving, runaways, gifted children, and the role of law enforcement in a community.**

 

**That list is staggering when you consider that the first season was only 10 episodes long. You may be thinking after perusing the list above that this show is overly dramatic, or displaying teenagers in the most extreme scenarios in order to provoke conversations and trend on twitter, but you would be very wrong. The show’s integrity and craft is above anything I’ve seen on ABC Family, and its ability to be simultaneously genuine and controversial is an achievement worth applauding.

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Emmy Round-Up 2013: The Fashion Epidemic

Published 9/23/13 by:

I have never been petite. So finding clothes that actually fit and allow me to breathe has been a consistent life struggle. Add onto my issues the fact that I’m 5’8” (mostly legs) and you’ll realize that shopping for pants, skirts and dresses can be a real treat. Despite my own fashion woes, I love to cheer and jeer others’ fashion risks. Awards shows are a real achilles heel of mine, and since I have pretty much convinced myself that these actors I see weekly on my TV are my friends, I feel as though I can accurately pinpoint when they look like dog poo, and when they look so damn fine I have to sigh. Last night was TV’s biggest night: The Primetime Emmy Awards. I’m going to recap my fashion hits and misses below, and please beware: in my universe Connie Britton aka Tami Taylor can do no wrong.

 

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LOVE IT: Zooey Deschanel wearing a sea foam blue. The dress hugs in all the right places. Her hair is totally Jackie O. I love the long oval shaped slit right in the center of the dress making her not have to wear a necklace.

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LOVE IT: Julia Louis-Dreyfus was stunning last night. Not only did she take home an Emmy for best lead comedic actress on Veep, but she rocked champagne colored sequins doing it.

 

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LOVE IT: Anna Gunn found the dress with the best neckline in Hollywood. She’s stunning in this black lacy – girlish pink combo. I was mesmerized.

 

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TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH IT: Connie Britton is a goddess. She has the hair of an angel, and I could listen to her say y’all all day. I have never loved any of her red carpet looks UNTIL NOW. Aqua and gold velvety deliciousness? Check. Colors that compliment her golden hair and blue eyes? Check. Give her all the awards already.

 

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FASHION FAIL: Poor Julie Bowen. She was looking for something with texture (I think?) and ended up looking like someone lassoed her at the knees. The color is nice at least!

 

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FASHION FAIL: Lena Dunham always goes for the raccoon smokey eye. Which is fine. Except for when she pairs it with a loud, ill-fitting dress that looks like a 1960s tablecloth, or something you would find at Delia’s. She’s an attractive girl, and this did not showcase that, at all.

 

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FASHION FAIL: Heidi Klum. The color of the dress and the sequining is beautiful, but the collar on it looks like she’s being choked. The entire structure of the dress made her look like she was being strangled. So upsetting for someone who deserves to always be on the best dressed list.

 

Who did y’all envy last night? Who made you turn the channel?

 

 

 

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Better Than Revenge?

Published 9/17/13 by:

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If you’re ever looking for some conversation starters, or in my case, writer’s notebook prompts, I can’t recommend SoulPancake enough. The people engaging with SoulPancake are having meaningful conversations ON THE INTERNET. What an alarmingly good idea! Last spring I was perusing past posts from their site, and I highlighted a few open-ended questions that did not leave my thoughts easily or quickly. The one that startled me and elicited the most emotion was the question: Have you ever performed an act of revenge? As someone who watches copious amounts of television, I’m not immune or oblivious as to how much revenge sells. It’s a major theme in a lot of shows, but most recently in ABC’s “Revenge”, ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”, and FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” (although the tough guys like to call it retribution).  This made me start to wonder about how American society perceives revenge. Are we celebrating it by watching these shows? Are people watching these shows instead of executing their own vengeful endeavors? Or are these shows inspiring folks to seek revenge?

In my own life I have had many fantasies of revenge, but only one came to fruition. My high school had long red lockers. On the top of each red locker was a rectangular cubby.  In your long locker there was a hitch that you hit to propel your cubby open. The cubby was the most useful part of the locker because, for the most part, it was at eye level. This is where most kids stored their books, reserving the long section for hanging their backpacks and jackets. The only terrible thing about this process was that your locker neighbors were so close to you that you couldn’t really have your cubbies open simultaneously. I was sandwiched in-between the same two students all four years of high school. My boy locker-mate was a total gentleman, and sometimes held my books for me as I juggled my life. My girl locker-mate commandeered the entire area and barely acknowledged my existence, or need to access my belongings. You can imagine how irritated I was as we entered our last semester of high school. Did I ever confront her about it? Not really, although I did utter an aggressive “excuse me” once in a while. When I look back I can’t believe I didn’t just rationally converse with her about timing, negotiating space, and my frustrations. When you’re fifteen, you’re just not rational yet. So what did I do my senior year, after fantasizing about tripping her with her enormously large L.L. Bean backpack? I did a cruel thing. One Friday morning I waited until she was bent over grabbing something, and hit the hitch on my top cubby. It clicked, unlatched, and propelled open just as she came back up to search her own cubby. The red metal rectangle whacked her right in the eyebrow. It was a glorious moment of retaliation. It lasted for a second. It lasted until she cursed, checked her eyebrow for blood and then asked me “how bad is it?”

That’s right. She asked me, her vengeful locker-mate, whether her eyebrow was passable for the judgmental hallways of our high school. My moment of retaliation instantly turned to one of regret and guilt. I felt crappy for the rest of the day. The move, while calculated and well-executed didn’t help me get over my lack of locker respect for four years. It didn’t make me feel like the triumphant winner I thought it would. I felt like garbage. Then I worried she’d find out that it was intentional. Then I chided myself for thinking I had anything to gain from locker slapping her. She never found out (as far as I know). And now, with my ten year high school reunion just two months away, I find myself coming up with more revenge-filled fantasies – ones that include snotty girls being overweight, know-it-alls being unemployed, and jocks with beer guts. Then I think back to my locker booby trap. Perhaps dazzling them with my teacher tales would be better than revenge, because it wouldn’t solicit guilt, worry or momentary triumph. Maybe I’m a grown up, after all.

 

 

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