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There were a lot of trailers an promos this week. Let’s take a look.
Each week, Monique will sound off on the current episode of Star Trek: Discovery. For more, read Monique’s Star Trek: Discovery recaps at SlashFilm. These mini-rants will contain SPOILERS–You’re warned.
I think this week’s episode, “The Wolf Inside,” goes up there as one of the best-written episodes of this season of Star Trek: Discovery. There was so much packed into this episode, from the continuation of the Stamets-Culber relationship, to the introduction of some bada$$ Andorians and Tellarites, to Jason Isaacs losing his American accent through parts of his Lorca lines (which was amusing if you caught it, because it was hard to tell if he was legit forgetting to sound American or still trying to use Lorca’s fake Scottish–“Scotty”, if you will–accent from before). Of course, with a title like “The Wolf Inside,” Tyler was the central character. Well, Tyler and Voq. And of course, where Tyler’s concerned, Michael’s not far behind.
So what do I have to say about this episode when it comes to Michael and Tyler’s relationship? Simply that I’m intrigued by everything that’s happened. I feel like it sounds clinical for me to say “intrigued” when Michael was nearly killed by Tyler-turned-Voq and Michael then did turnabout and nearly killed Tyler!Voq by sending him out into space, just so Discovery Prime could beam him aboard for detention (and to acquire the crucial files Michael hid in Tyler’s pocket). But from a writer’s perspective and from a fan of exciting television, I am highly invested to see where this goes. I also feel like regardless of what happens between Michael and Tyler, I won’t be let down.
I’m sure some are reading this trying to figure out how I can say this, when I’m one of the main people saying black women should have prominent love lives on television without the risk of something detrimental happening. If we go by the bare bones of what’s happening–Michael’s relationship is now put in jeopardy, with all signs pointing to a sacrifice of some sort needing to be made–then it looks like we’re getting the same script, different cast. But honestly, I feel like there’s so much more that’s happening here, and the fact that the writers are pushing each character beyond archetypal boundaries makes this story highly fascinating.
Let me break down exactly what I’m talking about:
This romance is less about Michael’s development and more about Tyler’s
It only occurred to me in this episode that the importance of Michael and Tyler’s relationship doesn’t rely on how this romance affects Michael. This romance is all about how it informs Tyler and forces him to mature.
As I wrote in my SlashFilm recap this week, Tyler is a man whose life is informed by those around him, particularly by women.
“…[W]hile Michael is a tether for Tyler, L’Rell is a tether for Voq. As we know, Voq only started waking up after he was in L’Rell’s presence. What’s interesting is that both Tyler and Voq are both the passive parties in their relationships. I’m not saying either one is less “manly,” as it were; in fact, I find it more endearing that they have the capacity to defer to the women in their lives for guidance. But I will say this: whoever Tyler is at the moment, he’ll have to choose who he wants to be in the future. One future has L’Rell and Klingon domination, the other has Michael and a peaceful Federation of Planets. L’Rell and Michael can’t make this decision for him — he’s going to have to choose.”
This is not to say that there’s something wrong with a man who relies on or defers to women as counsel. On the contrary–a man who can recognize the importance of women has more going for him positively than not. As an uncommon point of comparison, look at how Black Panther‘s T’Challa seems both supported and emboldened by the women in his life. Just looking at the trailers, you can see how T’Challa is empowered by the women in his life.
On the flip side, though Tyler seems unhealthily dependent on those he views are stronger than him to define how he should live and what he should do. It just so happens that many of the people he views as being stronger than him are women. Again, seeing a male character recognize the importance of women is cool and very much-needed in these #MeToo times. But Tyler and Voq also manage to subvert their relationships with women; instead of gaining empowerment from them, they wrongly cast them as personal caretakers; L’Rell and Michael don’t just provide Voq and Tyler with love and support; oftentimes they have to do the emotional and tactical heavy lifting.
To be clear, my point of view doesn’t include how Tyler handles his PTSD; Tyler and Voq’s habit of leeching onto stronger counterparts can be seen in earlier episodes. Looking back on Voq’s interactions with L’Rell, L’Rell would always take charge of Voq’s plans, instructing him on how to get his goals achieved. Voq came to rely on L’Rell not just as a right hand and not just even as a significant other, but as a conduit for his own feelings of independence. Without L’Rell, he’s just a Klingon riddled with self-doubt. To some extent, Voq even latched onto T’Kuvma, and in a way, he’s still takes from T’Kuvma in terms of developing an outward, acceptable identity.
Tyler has done the same thing with Michael. Whereas Michael needed him to tell her the truth about his mental situation, he lied. Instead, he continued his pattern of dependence, mining her for her strength and confidence, just like how Voq did with L’Rell. During the times we see the intimate moments between Michael and Tyler, the emotional interplay exists on two different levels. For Michael, she’s viewing the relationship as a mutually supportive one. On the whole, Tyler views their relationship like this, too. But what Tyler isn’t cognizant of is that he’s also running on a different wavelength than Michael. It’s more evident the more Tyler becomes mentally unstable, but it’s becoming clearer that Tyler doesn’t just rely on Michael as, in his words, a “tether.” He also relies on her to do his emotional dirty work for him. He wants her to determine who he should be. Even in regular, real life relationships, that’s too much for one person to handle.
There is a term for someone who sucks up someone else’s emotional energy: psychic vampire. I don’t think Tyler or even Voq latch onto others in their circle maliciously. Yeah, I know Voq is an actual villain, but when it comes to how he engages in relationships, I don’t think he realizes he leeches onto people.
In real life, most psychic vampires don’t realize they do it. More than likely, most of us have been a psychic vampire at some point in time. It’s surprisingly not that hard. But from my own experience, I’ve found that what drives people (including myself at one point) to psychic vampirism is severe self-doubt and low-to-no self-confidence. That lack of confidence can come from a myriad of things, but what can get people out of that vampiric mindset is to 1) become aware of what they do and who they latch onto when they feel self-doubt, anger and/or fear and how they might selfishly twist relationships to meet their ends and 2) develop new habits that foster more self-confidence and less self-doubt.
Both Tyler and Voq are people who have no self-confidence. They’re people who rely on others to fill the holes where their self-confidence and self-reliance should be. Voq was struggling before because of his state as an outcast within Klingon society, but now, after his transformation and his alter-ego’s PTSD and sexual trauma, Voq/Tyler’s mind is more confused than ever before. But somehow, Tyler has to figure out how to come out of this a whole person. This test that Tyler is now under is one that will not only decide the fate of the Federation, but is also one that will call on Tyler to find that confident place within himself to make his own choices. No one else can save Tyler from this but himself–it’s going to come down to him forcing himself to be defiant in the direction he wants his life to go. He has to realize that his life relies solely on what he wants for himself, not what L’Rell or Michael want for him.
Tyler’s arc is tailor-made for today
With all of that said, I want to make it exceptionally clear that I don’t think Tyler is “weak” or somehow less of a man, especially where women are concerned. Tyler subverts the kind of Captain Kirk bravado we’re accustomed to, and his passivity is something we rarely see in male characters on screen. I do think, though, that he inadvertently misuses the women in his life, and his fallacies make Tyler’s arc extremely important in this #MeToo time, in which we’re all rethinking how we view masculinity, femininity, and the interactions between the two. If we take Voq out of this, Tyler is, for me, the kind of leading man we should see more often. It would do us some good to see a leading man who isn’t always guns blazing, but is one who struggles with feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, and even the very human fear of weakness. At the same time, we also see a man who doesn’t realize that he doesn’t do the greatest job of taking care of he women in his life emotionally. All of this culminates into a layered story of personal growth.
As Shazad Latif told SyFy’s Swapna Krishna:
“Me and Sonequa, we always wanted to push it. Because you meet Tyler and he’s this guy who’s going through this trauma and we’ve seen that story many times. It’s amazing to explore, but we wanted to see him … With him and Michael Burnham, she’s always very strong. She’s the strong one and she’s the one looking after him, and he’s weak around her and he’s vulnerable around her, in the bedroom, in the hallway.
I wanted to make sure that that was clear because, to show a man’s vulnerability and weakness and show that you can still be a man and vice versa, that Sonequa is a very strong female character — it was very important to us in the scenes that we played that and we showed that. It’s nice to play the inner turmoil and suffering and weakness of the man as well, rather than being this classic sort of rogue action hero. There’s more to it than that.
Because when you first see him, he is playing that, we’re playing that sort of archetype. He’s this guy coming from the ship, he’s getting his job and ‘Aha! He’s a classic American hero,’ but really he’s crumbling, and it’s very beautiful to watch.”
I think Tyler’s current problem of fighting the Klingon within is highly salient to our current discussions about what manhood means and what it should look like. Like Tyler, each man is going to have to figure out what type of man they want to be. They can’t rely on others to convince them to be one way or the other; they’ll have to search within themselves and assess their values and then live by them.
That’s basically all Tyler is doing, but in a much more cosmic way–he’s never had to think about what truly matters to him until now. When he was Klingon, he wanted power to force his kind to bow to him. He wanted to rule the entire universe all so he could be accepted by others. All the while, he’s never accepted himself. Meanwhile, Tyler wants to be human and live by the Federation for Michael–it’s not clear if he, at this point in time, cares about the Federation for any other reason. Seeing Tyler’s journey towards self-acceptance, clarity, and peace is going to be turbulent, for sure, but I also feel it’s going to be highly rewarding.
Michael always rises up above trope
As I’ve written last week, I’ve had some misgivings about where the series is headed after Culber’s death. But after seeing the continuation of the Culber-Stamets storyline, plus Wilson Cruz’s own promise that we haven’t seen the last of their love story, has put me tentatively at ease. Interestingly enough, how the writers are handling Michael’s characterization has also put me at ease with where the series is headed, since I now feel that all of the characters, especially Michael, will get deserving ends to their arcs.
Yes, Michael could be at risk for having a relationship go down the tubes. But at this point, it’s way more fruitful to talk about how the characters are organically evolving rather than keep a tally. As I wrote in my Season 2 finale recap of Into the Badlands for Black Girl Nerds, I discuss how Veil’s death doesn’t preclude that black women can’t die in their shows; what matters is how their characters have organically arrived at such a devastating conclusion. If it isn’t earned, then that’s when the characters fall into trope.
“Let’s take out the racial component for a second because the devil’s advocate rebuttal to Veil’s death would be that Black women characters have just as much of a chance to die as white women characters do. In a democratically-written show, this is very true. However, if we take out the racial component, we’re still left with another woman who had to die for there to be “emotional depth.” Couldn’t there have been emotional depth built with her still living? I understand that the writing team probably wanted this season to be one where Sunny comes face to face with the types of horrors his life of clipping can bring, but there could have been other ways for him to deal with those demons other than Veil dying, right?
…The fridging of Veil reiterates how much of a misstep this is for a show that has been praised for its commitment to telling stories a different way. Throughout two seasons, there hadn’t been an egregious fridging of any woman. If anything, we’ve seen the fridging of a man—Ryder—at the expense of Jade’s emotional growth, a remarkable gender role reversal. But Veil is the first woman to receive this extensive treatment, all to further Sunny’s hero’s journey as well as the building anticipation of reaching Azra. And again, she’s also a woman of color, whereas all of the other women who have been able to survive are white (or, in the case of Baroness Chau, Asian). If we’re going to fridge women, did the only fridged woman have to also be a woman of color? Let’s be equal in our annihilation of female characterization, at the very least.”
The same can be said for black women who end up alone on screen. It all comes down to how they’ve organically arrived to that new chapter in their lives, regardless of any racial or social politics that surround the character. If this were just a case of Voq waking up and saying, “I’m bouncing for L’Rell, bye,” and there was no more exploration of anything, that’d be one thing. But it’s another when 1) Tyler/Voq is in a state of mental and physical duress–he’s a man trapped inside another’s body, and the minds of both Tyler and Voq are at war, with Tyler feeling the effects of PTSD and sexual trauma and 2) both sides of Tyler and Voq love two different people. While Voq relies on L’Rell as his reminder of his Klingon self, Tyler relies on Michael to keep him human. There’s a lot going on here, and the complexities of it save the entire exercise from stereotype.
Overall, I feel like Star Trek: Discovery just might have one of the most explosive episodes ever, and I’m not just talking about space battles. I’ll admit that dramatic changes, such as Culber’s death last week, are scary. They can make viewers and critics like me doubt a show’s direction. Some of that doubt is earned–too often, we’ve seen when big gambles don’t pay off. But it seems like with Discovery, the gambles just might do more than merely “pay off”–they might propel the show towards even greater heights. We’ll have to see how true this prediction is once the season is over.
With Star Trek: Discovery around the corner, I’m reviewing some of the things I hope we find out in the second half of the season.
1. The Ash Tyler/Voq mystery will finally be put to rest
I’ve written extensively about this in my SlashFilm Star Trek: Discovery recaps, but I personally think that the “Tyler is Voq” theory is past its prime because what’s the most important thing now is how will Tyler overcome the trauma he’s endured at the hands of L’Rell. Whether he’s really Voq inside is no relevance since Tyler can’t remember his former life and his bond with L’Rell anyways. Meanwhile, even though L’Rell might know everything, she’s removed Voq’s ability to consent to anything. So, sorry to say this L’Rell fans, but your girl’s a rapist.
What can I say about Tyler’s graphic nightmare? First of all, it was horrific. What’s even more horrific is that Tyler’s dreams could get worse now that L’Rell is actually on board. Second, the amount of abuse Tyler suffered — and the anger towards the Klingons he’s amassed because of it — negates any credence a “Voq overtakes the Discovery as Tyler” theory. We saw how he instantly went into shock at the sight of L’Rell when he and Michael were aboard the Ship of the Dead. At this point, all Tyler wants is peace, and if anything, the hypothetical scenario of him learning he’s actually a Klingon could make him want to kill L’Rell and all Klingons even more.
How could he go from tortured soul to the newly risen Klingon leader between now and the end of the first season in 2018? With how he’s acted around the Klingons, plus him saying he’s found peace with Michael, it seems like Tyler is with the good guys, regardless of who he is underneath. In short: Tyler or Voq isn’t doing anything to Discovery except save it when push comes to shove. Once the Discovery gets what they want out of L’Rell, he’s either going to take her down or it’ll be a battle between L’Rell and Michael over Tyler. As we have seen from Michael’s fight with Kol and her slaying of T’Kuvma, she’s good at taking down Klingons.
This opinion backs up what I originally wrote about Tyler’s situation in the “Choose Your Pain” recap:
The insinuation that Tyler has been raped repeatedly by the Klingon captain was so subtle in the dialogue between Tyler and Lorca that it’s easy to look past it, or even excuse it away as Tyler purposefully using his sex appeal to his advantage. But the way he swings at the Klingon captain tells a different story. He’s trying to throw back some of the pain she’s caused him.
Tyler’s victimhood might also go unrecognized by some viewers due to how much our society’s view of toxic masculinity keeps us from seeing men as sexual assault victims, especially when it’s at the hands of a woman. Male victims are often scorned or seen as weak. Just look to last week [at the time of writing this review], when Terry Crews revealed he had been sexually assaulted by a powerful Hollywood executive. While Crews received tons of support, there were also people — many of them men — wondering why he didn’t say anything and why he, as a man, didn’t do anything, particularly since his assailant was another man. Some people assumed Crews couldn’t be a victim just because he’s a burly man (that’s not counting the racial implications there are to this assumption).
While women are often wrongly stereotyped as “asking for it,” male victims are also stereotyped in the same way. Somehow, it’s always painted as the victim’s fault — not the perpetrator’s — for their own assault. Even worse for men is when other men might congratulate male victims for “getting lucky” if their assailant happened to be a woman. I haven’t seen much on the internet in the way of actually recognizing Tyler’s trauma — I’ve only seen one person tweet about wanting the show to explore Tyler’s PTSD. I’ve also seen a person say Tyler ended “a relationship” with the Klingon captain? This was no relationship. Hopefully, Discovery will explore this further. After all, Star Trek has always been about using science fiction to tackle real world social, moral, and ethical questions and quandaries. It’s only right for the new show to dig deep here.
At any rate, it’s not going to achieve what some fans hope it does, which is invalidate Tyler’s relationship with Michael. Speaking of:
2. Michael and Tyler’s relationship gets taken to the next level
It’d appear that these two are already getting more serious than I initially thought they would by midseason; maybe I’m just used to shows from the ‘90s that take at least three seasons for a romance to actually get off of first base. But I’m quite excited at the prospect of a big relationship for Michael. It can only help define both her and Tyler grow in a myriad of ways.
I’d also like to bring up something that’s been poking me for a while, and that’s the paranoia I have surrounding some fans steadfastly against Michael having any romantic relationships. Perhaps I’m wrongly lumping some fans in with the fans who are so focused on Tyler being Voq just so they can trample on Tyler and Michael’s relationship. But the conflation of “Michael shouldn’t be with anyone” with “Tyler has to be Voq because of his relationship with Michael” annoys me. With some fans, these two sentiments work in tandem, and having lived through the Sleepy Hollow drama regarding Abbie and Ichabod’s OBVIOUS relationship and the show’s insistence on working against said relationship, plus the Into the Badlands drama with Veil’s death and my subsequent chat with EP Al Gough, my hackles are up. I’m ready to guard this relationship until the canon says otherwise. And even then, I might defend this relationship. That’s my position and I’m sticking to it.
3. More focus on the other bridge crew members
The first half of the season was to establish Michael’s story. Perhaps all of this season will be a complete beginning and end to Michael’s first chapter. But I’d like for the rest of this season and subsequent seasons to focus on the other crew members as well as Michael.
We’ve already had Saru’s character exploration episode; I’m now ready for us to get into what’s behind Owosekun, Rhys, and Bryce. I especially want to know the stories behind Airiam, the augmented human (or alien?) who mysteriously never speaks, and Detmer, who now sports ocular and cranial implants due to her injuries from the Battle of the Binary Stars.
If we were in a “standard” Star Trek series, I wouldn’t worry about if we’d ever learn more about these characters, because on every Star Trek series up until Discovery, entire episodes would be set aside to explore smaller characters, such as the Voyager episode “Warhead” featuring Ensign Harry Kim as its major character. With Discovery, the lay of the land is different. But I do hope that element of prior series remains and is explored at some point in Discovery’s lifespan.
4. More Georgiou
My biggest gripe with Discovery thus far is how little time we spent with Georgiou. With a great talent like Michelle Yeoh, it makes more sense for Discovery to feature her as much as possible. I would love to see more flashbacks with her, or maybe some alternate universe episodes featuring a still-living Georgiou. I just want Georgiou back, point blank. I’m quite sure I’m not alone in that. It has been confirmed that we’d see more of Georgiou, so that’s a bit of news we can hang our hat on.
What do you hope gets addressed during the back half of Discovery’s first season? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
In what’s become an annual tradition, Haikus with Hotties has released its 2018 calendar full of–you guessed it–hotties.
The calendar, created by writer Ada Tseng and features good-looking Asian dudes from all sectors of the media industry, is meant both as a play on the “beefcake” calendar as well as an important socio-political statement.
“Haikus With Hotties is a calendar series that highlights the attractive and talented Asian men in media that often don’t get as much attention as they deserve,” states the Haikus with Hotties website.
The lack of attention stems from stereotypes Asian men are still dogged by, such as being nerdy, feminine, and goofy, much like Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. (The “Long Duk Dong effect” was also tackled in a 2016 episode of Fresh off the Boat, in which Randall Park’s Louis Huang is afraid that he’s doing the Chinese equivalent of “cooning” as the recurring guest of a local news show.) But the stereotypes inherent in Long Duk Dong stem from decades of racist propaganda created by the U.S. from the 1800s onwards to create fear about Asian immigrants. The same stereotypes were used in World War II propaganda to keep America focused on defeating the Axis Powers, which included Japan. Between the 1800s to the 1940s, and certainly in the years after the war ended, these stereotypes have become part of the problem that keeps America from reaching its full potential as a democracy.
Those stereotypes once again became the subject of current events in January 2017, when Steve Harvey made a series of offensive jokes about Asian men and their supposed unattractiveness. To combat the stereotypes, Haikus with Hotties gifted Harvey a calendar.
Steve Harvey found his rant against Asian men really funny. The internet did not. pic.twitter.com/hpuemv4UCE
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 16, 2017
If you still don’t get what’s being written here, just take a look at the Breakfast at Tiffany‘s character Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney), an older version of the same stereotypes Long Duk Dong represents (and yellowface on top of it), in comparison to actor/model Godfrey Gao in the summer 2015 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Men Thailand.
See how ridiculous these stereotypes are?
South Asian men also suffer from the same stereotypes, but now those stereotypes are also laced with Islamophobia. Still, the reality outweighs the stereotypes once you open your eyes to the truth. Take for instance another ’80s character, Short Circuit’s Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens), yet another role in which a white man is portraying an ethnic character, coupled with an extreme accent and gestures, and Dev Patel–who should be starring in tons of romantic comedies right now–from InStyle Magazine’s 2016 Oscar coverage for Lion.
Again, the reality outweighs the stereotype.
With that said, check out some of the images from the new 2018 calendar. This year, Iron Fist fan favorite and new Into the Badlands cast member Lewis Tan is featured, as well as Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu, queer/trans comedian, actor and writer and D’Lo, and Pretty Dudes star Yoshi Sudarso (pictured below with his brother, Power Rangers Hyperforce actor Peter Sudarso), among many more.
Want to see the rest? Check out Haikus with Hotties’ website and order your 2018 calendar!
I have several things I’d like to spout about when it comes to CBS’ Star Trek: Discovery. In fact, I’ve already spouted some of my opinions over at SlashFilm. But what I’m focusing on right now is a section from my review in which I tackle the death of a major character.
From this point on, there will be spoilers, so leave or face the consequences.
Alright, if you’ve read below the horizontal line, you’ve either seen the first two episodes–the second one in particular–or you don’t care about spoilers. Either way, I’m divulging my opinions on the first major death of the year, Captain Phillipa Georgiou.
Georgiou, played by veteran actor Michelle Yeoh, basically has the same arc as Captain Pike in the Star Trek reboot film series, particularly Star Trek Into Darkness, which had him die to further both Kirk and Spock’s emotional growth. Did Pike need to die for this to happen? I don’t think so. Granted, I’m averse to killing characters anyways, but I don’t think the story really needed Pike as a casualty to move the story along. Similarly, I don’t think the second episode of Star Trek: Discovery warranted Georgiou to give her life in the line of duty just for Michael Burnham to really feel the sting of her actions (actions that were in the hopes of saving everyone, but still, they were treasonous).
The main reason I’m concerned about Yeoh’s death is that it plays on some of the same themes as the death of Veil from Into the Badlands. To quote myself from my SlashFilm review:
If there’s one negative, it’s the fact that Georgiou dies in the second episode. On the one hand, this provides Burnham’s story with more emotional weight since Burnham probably feels like Georgiou’s death is her fault. However, for Asian viewers, Georgiou’s death might feel like a setback. I write this because a black woman’s death on TV often feels like a setback for black female characters as a whole.
Take for instance Into the Badlands, one of the most inclusive shows on TV. Even with the show’s “wokeness,” as it were, to the issues that can occur with stereotypical portrayals, the series still committed the crime of killing a prominent black female character — Veil, Sunny’s wife-to-be and mother of his child — solely to propel Sunny’s emotional arc as the show heads into its third season. Many black female viewers were heated about this, since it seemed like Veil sacrificed herself even though her safety was literally steps away. Her death was even more hurtful since it came after having her tortured for the whole season.
It’s not so much the act of killing a character that’s upsetting — if a character has to die for the story, then that’s something to take into account. But killing a character that represents an underserved market is something that always has to be taken seriously. From my own talk with Into the Badlands EP Al Gough, I learned that Veil’s death was heavily discussed and argued over in the writer’s room. But what might have not been taken into the account was the fact that Veil was the only woman of color in a prominent position on the show. Killing her has now left a huge void in a show that has been buoyed in part by viewers who are, in fact, women of color. A similar outrage might happen with Georgiou’s death. She might be one two women of color in this first two episodes, but she’s also the only woman of Asian descent in a prominent role on this show. Killing her in just the second episode might ring as a slap in the face to Asian viewers, particularly Asian women. Again, like Into the Badlands, I don’t think Star Trek: Discovery means any harm. However, Georgiou’s death is something that is bound to send shockwaves throughout a community that has already fought against whitewashing in a big way in recent years, especially in 2017.
As a writer (even a writer who doesn’t like writing death), I understand that death has a purpose in a show, particularly when it’s done well. This might be a random example, but I think a great way death has been examined on a show is when Mr. Hooper died on Sesame Street. (I’m also dating myself since I can remember Mr. Hooper.) The actor who played Mr. Hooper, Will Lee, died in real life, and this provided the children’s show the unique challenge of addressing mortality to its young audience. Without getting into a tangent about how children’s shows fail to address big issues like this in today’s time of padded playsets and participation trophies, Sesame Street utilized a real life tragedy and turned it into one of the finest and most sensitive moments on television, compassionately teaching children about the inevitability of death and how to deal with life’s unanswerable questions, while also showing how to grieve and remember the memory of a loved one.
It’s a lot for a children’s show to handle, even one like Sesame Street, which regularly tackled real world issues due to Jim Henson’s insistence that the show be treated as something both kids and their parents can watch and gain something from. But Sesame Street showed how it can be done with tact and respect. For writers, it shows how to make a character’s death impactful and actually mean something. Will Georgiou’s death mean something other than a potentially lazy way of injecting more pathos into an already pathos-laden situation? I hope so. I know it’ll be referenced later in the season, but let’s hope that Georgiou’s death will have some serious weight and make a large impact on Burnham’s development.
In short, my point in my Black Girl Nerds article about Veil’s death mirrors how I feel about Georgiou’s death:
Let’s take out the racial component for a second because the devil’s advocate rebuttal to Veil’s death would be that Black women characters have just as much of a chance to die as white women characters do. In a democratically-written show, this is very true. However, if we take out the racial component, we’re still left with another woman who had to die for there to be “emotional depth.” Couldn’t there have been emotional depth built with her still living?
Just switch around the races and my sentiment is basically the same. Couldn’t there have still been emotional depth with Georgiou still alive?
Georgiou’s death isn’t the only surprise death from the second episode–the major Klingon threat, T’Kuvma (American Gods‘ Chris Obi), also bites the dust in a way that seems ill-advised for a show that still has several episodes left to prove itself. According to the Star Trek: Discovery brass, they have a tightly-wound plan in place that connects the first episode to the last in a very specific way. But regardless of the plan, Georgiou’s death will have a ripple effect, and not just in Burnham’s storyline, but in the viewership as well, particularly Asian viewers.
Now, I’m not an Asian woman, so maybe I’m only speculating. But if I see shades of Veil and, frankly, Sleepy Hollow’s Abbie in another female character of color, then I feel like I should say something.
What did you think about Georgiou’s death? Did you think it was egregious, or do you think it was sound storytelling? Sound off below!
You may or may not have noticed a slight change-up in how I use my Twitter accounts, particularly @moniqueblognet (FOLLOW ME there and at @COLORwebmag if you haven’t already!). There’s a reason for that–I’m writing media reviews EVERYWHERE!
For every time I’m writing something on this website, I’m usually writing two to three (or more) times that for other sites as well. In short, if I haven’t talked about something here, I’ve probably talked about it elsewhere. (Hey, I didn’t get that film critic shoutout from Pajiba for nothing–I work more than you know.)
So if you’ve been wondering where to find all of my recent work, here’s the definitive (yet constantly growing) list.
MAGIC: THE GATHERING
Amonkhet Art Review by Mike Linneman (featuring my contribution on colorism in art)
http://www.tor.com/search-page/?s=monique+jones (Includes Luke Cage recaps, articles on Star Wars, Samurai Jack, Magic: The Gathering, Harry Potter. More articles coming soon.)
COMIC BOOK RESOURCES
http://www.cbr.com/author/mjon/ (Includes articles about movie, merchandise, and comic book news–this is a constantly updating link.)
BLACK GIRL NERDS
https://blackgirlnerds.com/?s=Monique+Jones (Includes Sleepy Hollow recaps and articles, articles about various topics affecting black female blerdom and representation, including Into the Badlands, Mulan, Riverdale, blerd self-acceptance, Murder on the Orient Express, etc. This list will continually grow.)
(This list will continually grow.)
http://www.slashfilm.com/author/monique-jones/ (Includes my feature on black women representation in Wonder Woman, plus more coming down the pike)
NERDS OF COLOR
https://thenerdsofcolor.org/author/moniquej1988/ (Includes articles on Ghost in the Shell, The Walking Dead, Power Rangers, Riverdale, Moonlight, Magic: The Gathering, Star Wars, DC, Marvel, etc. This list will continually grow.)
With a move that was a shock to many fans, WGN America cancelled its flagship scripted program Underground.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network cancelled the hit program because of a new direction.
In the wake of parent commpany Tribune Media’s $3.9 billion planned acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group, the cable network’s future as a destination for high-end scripted originals is over. And that includes the pricey and critically lauded slave drama produced by Sony Pictures Television[.]
‘Despite Underground being a terrific and important series, it no longer fits with our new direction and we have reached the difficult decision not to renew it for a third season. We are tremendously proud of this landmark series that captured the zeitgeist and made an impact on television in a way never before seen on the medium,’ Tribune Media president and CEO Peter Kern said Tuesday in a statement.
He continued: ‘We thank the incomparable creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and the great John Legend, along with the talented creative team and cast who brought the unsung American heroes of the Underground Railroad to life. We are grateful to the loyal fans of Underground and our partners at Sony Pictures Television. It is our hope that this remarkable show finds another home and continues its stories of courage, determination and freedom.’
It should be noted that BET and OWN, two networks that seem like they’d be chomping at the bit to get Underground, have passed on the show, citing cost concerns.
EP John Legend said this on Twitter in regards to the show’s cancellation:
“WGN America has been bought and is going in a different direction strategically. We will find a new home for Underground! Content wins. We’re not reliant on a particular network to make great content. We’re so proud of our show and the audience that supported!”
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 30, 2017
Content wins. We're not reliant on a particular network to make great content. We're so proud of our show and the audience that supported!
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 30, 2017
Legend also added a word of caution about the Sinclair Broadcast group, which All Hip Hop describes as a “conservative mediaa company that is purchasing local televisions tations across the country.”
“Be wary of Sinclair though,” wrote Legend. “They’re trying to make local stations mini Fox Newses, but more to the right.”
Be wary of Sinclair though. They're trying to make local stations mini Fox Newses, but more to the right.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 30, 2017
Feel free to drop some hints to the networks/streaming services you want to pick up #Underground. Show them who will be watching!
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 30, 2017
Co-creator Misha Green has also written on Twitter her commitment to finding a new network for the show.
“We appreciate the outpouring of fan support,” she wrote. “…[W]e’re determined to find a new network for #Underground.”
— Misha Green (@MishaGreen) May 31, 2017
As Misha alluded in her tweet, the fans have expressed their outrage at Underground’s cancellation, developing the hashtags #RenewUnderground and #PickupUnderground.
— BlackGirlNerds🏳️🌈 (@BlackGirlNerds) May 30, 2017
— An Asian on Occasion (@GermanCityGirl) May 30, 2017
— Rebecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) May 30, 2017
BET and OWN, I'm surprised and disappointed in you for passing on Underground. Are biopics & Iyanla all we can have? 🙄 #RenewUnderground
— covfefe & cream (@nira_resists) May 31, 2017
— Jade✨ (@InspiringJade3) May 31, 2017
BET: "we got y'all"
Also BET: pic.twitter.com/SbAsrS1nzn
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) May 31, 2017
— t.r. wexler (@LetsTurnDayGlo) May 31, 2017
Personally, I was expecting something like this to shake out in regards to Underground‘s cancellation. I’d read some stuff earlier this year about WGN’s potential acquisition, and after the network’s other highest rated show Outsiders this year for much of the same reason as Underground, I could see that the writing was on the wall.
However, I say this with heaviness. I have a personal connection to this show, seeing how it was one of the shows I recapped in its first season while I was a member of the now-defunct Entertainment Weekly Community Blog. Through that, I was able to speak to Alano Miller, who plays Cato, as well as make inroads with the PR team for the show. It was a lot of fun to be able to recap a show that spoke to me and my people’s struggles in this country and add my perspective to the conversation. (Being a black southerner, you’d better believe I have a lot of perspective to give.)
While I know it’s not my fault that the show has been cancelled, I wish I could have been able to give it more shine in its second season. Without getting into the nitty gritty, I’ve had quite a rough 10-12 months personally, and to be honest, my mind is just now getting back to some sense of normalcy. A lot of the turmoil prevented me from getting into the series this season, as well as the seasons of other shows I’ve wanted to cover. Also, I’d read that there was a storyline about spousal abuse, and even though Underground is a show that can trigger a multitude of hard-to-deal-with emotions, seeing on-screen abuse is one of the things I try to avoid, despite it being a topic that needs to be discussed on Underground in regards to how, in the historical context of slavery and segregation, several black men unleashed their anger and frustration at being emasculated by white men on their wives. Critics have their personal limits as well, and abuse–physical or emotional/psychological–is one of mine.
But, with that said, it would have been great to give this show the support it needed in its second season. Would they have still cancelled it? Yeah. If they cancelled Outsiders, which was about white folks in the forest, they would have cancelled a show like this without hesitation, which is what they did. I hope that Underground can find a home with a network or streaming service that will do the show and its characters justice. Since BET and OWN both passed on the show due to cost (as to why OWN did that move in particular strikes me as odd, seeing how Oprah has Ava DuVernay onboard Queen Sugar), lets hope a network like AMC, which is used to higher-budget shows like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Into the Badlands, or a streaming service like Hulu or Netflix can sweep it up. (I know folks aren’t feeling Netflix right now because The Get Down was cancelled, but a show can get where it can get.) It should be noted that Hulu has been reported by Deadline as being a possible new home for the show.
Or, if those options don’t work, then the last resort could be to go to premium networks like HBO, STARZ or Showtime, both of which have shows with huge budgets. For instance, American Gods is currently doing well with STARZ, and its storyline is both esoteric and slightly non-linear for conventional audiences. I would think Underground could do well there.
In any event, let’s hope we see Underground again, because in these times, it’s necessary to be reminded of how the original sins of this country are still going unrecognized.