Tag Archives: Television

Secret Diary of a Fangirl

Most of my visitors stumble here through Google [Other search engines are available. Though why would you bother?] and similarly I come across a good deal of my web stuff incidentally, stumbling around. This is the story of how I happened upon Tumblr and my first real brush with fandom. I know of fangirls, though I’ve met none personally as far as I’m aware, and I got that they all convened and communed somewhere online- message boards and what have you- from the comments on AfterEllen and IMDb and suchlike, I learnt of shipping and canon and the extreme seriousness with which some people take their popculture consumption.

Thing is- I did have the makings of a fangirl. Had there been such things as affordable laptops and unlimited broadband when I was of that age it is highly probable I would have fallen into the blog hole and never crawled out. My capriciousness, such a woeful flaw of personality IRL, is actually the trait that most distinguishes me from these fan types. That and a fundamental inability to feel genuine enthusiasm for more than an hour every lunar cycle. [Seriously I had this (I thought) amazing idea a month or two ago and I had been percolating it for a while, then when my last contract finished I got really buzzed about this project and was feverishly making notes and scrawling pages of potential directions to take it in and research I had to do; I even wrote to a couple of friends telling them how I was onto something big.  For a whole evening. The next day I just could not care less anymore and I’ve not even thought of it since. What is that?] They also have far beyond my rudimentary levels of technical nous, especially in the coding dept, though I suspect I would have picked it up easily enough, had I the tools at that malleable age.

So. My first ever submersion into genuine interactive fandom (There was my whole X-Files thing in the late nineties, but that was just between me and myself so it isn’t the same), Showcase Canada’s Lost Girl, I’ve mentioned it here before, but in no great detail. I fucking love this show. It’s one of the first ever things I’ve been in on right from the beginning, I’ve always been a late-to-the-party type. By serendipity, the week I heard of it online and started to get interested was the very week it launched on UK telly. Unheard of right? My mum even let me Series Record it in HD. Result.

I mean, I already knew pretty much everything that happened in it relationship-wise, though there was still the occasional plot surprise. Whilst dutifully watching each S1 episode the night it aired, I had been YouTubing the significant S2 OTP scenes in good conscience, knowing I would watch the series when it came to Blighty and definitely buy the boxset (which still has no UK release date incidentally) but by this point sporadic Googling had led me to the fansites. Oh hello Tumblr! That’s what you’re for. No one told me. Suddenly I had Urban Dictionary constantly open in the next tab for all the acronym thingies these kids use. (I worked a few out for myself, some of them though- where did that even come from?)

There is so much lore here, so many imbedded codes and shorthands (of language, not like HTML). It is genuinely amazing, it makes me want to go back to Sussex and do an MPhil in web community sociolects with a special focus on electronic communication of irony. For reals. The term ‘Fuck Yeah’ has been around donks right, but now it has specific meaning with respect to an artist, character or most commonly fictional couple (canon or subtext). These web savvy and occasionally literate, if utterly sex-obsessed and disconcertingly pervy, young women (almost always for any programmes I’m interested in following) are suddenly uninhibited linguistically and in their unabashed objectification of other women (men are in there too, just so much less so). Maybe it’s just because I’ve only really clicked on femslash tags (which isn’t nearly as nasty as it sounds. It just means FemaleA/FemaleB=OTP)

I think that blogs are a really valuable outlet for queer teens, especially in conservative towns/countries. It’s a safe means of confessing and connecting, of not being alone and that is a really vital thing though it may skew the demographic. I do wonder what the longer term social effect might be.

Team Lauren. Just sayin'

Anyway, there is a lovely (if you like that sort of thing) blog full of huge shiny GIFs and beautiful screencaps and manips [look at me with the lingo! Seriously, I barely knew what a GIF was three months ago. I thought they were extinct. And a bit annoying] and Zoie Palmer, run by a sweet Italian teenager and after an episode in which a significant canon occurrence occurred there was what I *thought* was a clip imbedded on this blog. So I click. It transpired after not too long that it was in fact a stream of the full episode and I felt bad about this because, despite my sub-Socialist and ‘Damn The Man’ rhetoric, I am in fact a very law-abiding citizen for the most part. (I fully condone and endorse underage drinking though. Tis a British rite of passage and they shall not take it from us!) More on that another post.

But, I was already hooked. It was a really good ep you know. And after that, I just had to know what would happen next. Terrible. So against my own oft-espoused values I streamed the next three or four episodes on VideoBB or similar, whilst still keeping abreast of S1 via legitimate channels (SyFy channel to be precise. Sky 114) This was the height of my Lost Girl fixation and by clicking on the tags on FYBL I was led to other Tumblrs of considerable interest. Who knew there were interesting, articulate and funny people just out there? Online.

Incisive social commentary

Then I found out that S2 of LG was coming to SyFy in January, which was only 3 or so weeks away at the time and I just couldn’t justify stealing it anymore, so I resolved to wait thereon. The upshot of this being I had to avoid the Tumblrs I had come to heavily frequent (in a stalky lurking way, being very resistant to opening my own account) to avoid spoiling forthcoming eps. I failed of course. AE always has spoilers in the headlines and I’d miss too much if I never went on there.

One of the amazing things about Tumblr is how quickly everything happens, how quickly news or ideas or jokes spread through the community. A fun little thing that happens is ‘Confessions’ sites where you anonymously type in a ‘confession’ about your favourite fandom and then the admins find appropriate images from the series and post your comment like a ‘censored’ bar over the character’s eyes. Simple, brilliant. I mention this because I’ve submitted a couple and they can be up within minutes sometimes, then in the time it takes to make a coffee later, people all over the world have reblogged your confession. Awe inspiring and terrifying. I mean, imagine if you made a comment IRL and a few hundred people over heard it and then three dozen of them liked it so much they went and repeated it to their friends. One of my confessions is the second most reblogged on the whole LGCsite. By looking at the ‘Notes’ on a Tumblr post and reading the comments people have added when reblogging I have found my way to witty, likeminded people. Strange and simple. Is this how people end up with internet friends? Because very few of my real life, actual friends are internetty people in a social way. There is a whole gay online Grindr thing, but choose not to be aware that, I’ve witnessed the consequences.

WIT.

Through Tumblr I have seen stunning artwork, read hilarious quips, had genuinely engaging conversations and been introduced to shit I never would have otherwise heard of. (Including ACTA which will  fuck with pretty much everyone in the world.) Which I believe is actually why Tim Berners-Lee made the internet open access in the first place.

So, my LG fandom has come to a natural impasse I feel, I have settled back into just being a normal fan, which is what most people are and would always be, if not for teh webs in general and Tumblr in particular. Shipping is something I have kind of done in the past, but not knowingly, and I know this level of investment isn’t healthy or productive, so I’m weaning myself off again. Crack ships are hilarious though: Lauren/Morrigan FTW. The interesting thing is the level of active participation, of fans taking ownership of their consumption. It’s sort of weird but in many ways it’s a positive thing, as long as people aren’t obsessed. [Just don’t let’s even mention fanfic right now.]

 

The result of all this however, one thousand and three hundred words later, is that there are two Tumblr accounts I hop to pretty much every time I’m online, just to see what they’re saying [Funny story about that expression. If you want to hear it- ask me in the comments] and as they have kept me entertained at 4am on many occasions and patiently respond to my barrage of anonymous comments (I don’t want to be anonymous, but as I said, I’m leery of being a full-blooded Tumblrer and there’s no OpenID option or anything) I feel I should give them honourable mention herein. So Tedra of Evanevieve and Heartsways of Pathetic Poetic– Respect to you both.

Also, I really wish WordPress let you make #TAGS that appeared in the order you wrote them like on Tumblr. I narrate my life in my head and I’m reconciled with that, I’ve decided it’s a writerly thing, but now I’ve started mentally footnoting my actions with #TAGS. This cannot be a good thing. Though it is quite amusing. But no one knows!

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My So-Called Life

Remember My So Called Life? I didn’t. It was another one of those things I’d just heard about.

Seminal nineties series This Life had two very successful series and is in the hazy collective conscious as a cultstream classic. They had a woefully received tenth anniversary reunion special though, which may have gone some considerable way to undermining the magic of the original. A lot of the appeal of these widely popular ‘cult’ series [hence ‘cultstream’ see?] is that they are the first of there kind and, vitally, very much of their moment. When programmes in that style are imbedded in our cultural lexicon, refined and enhanced, they lose their vitality in hindsight. One of the downsides to endless satellite channels buying up entire back catalogues and inflicting our entire popcultural adolescences upon us again is that they can utterly undermine fond memories. Sometimes though, things really are as good as you remember, which is in many ways a vindication of your memory and your teenaged tastes.

*On a kind of related note- many received cinematic classics are really only good if you saw them when you were at the target age- then they retain their appeal for all time I think- if you don’t experience them till adulthood, you’ll never quite be on the wagon. Growing up as I did in a household with no video and not a great deal of cinema-going or television watching, I missed out on most of the childhood favourites (e.g. The Goonies, The Princess Bride, Time Bandits, The Santa Clause) I’ve yet to see the latter two, and Christmas films tend to provoke a disagreeable gastric reaction, but the others I have sought out in adulthood and watched my peers fixated with delight throughout. I just don’t see it. Home Alone however? Can’t get enough of that. Even Matilda provokes an indulgent reaction. It’s about being there at the time.

Back to the case in point. Being a journey[wo]man popculture maven, I have been acutely aware of my ignorance of the oft-cited nineties pillar of televisual achievement US network ABC’s My So Called Life. References are frequently made to one of the first teen dramas as we know them today, just a wee bit before my time. By like a decade. So a colleague of mine, of that cohort, recently lent me the complete So Called boxset and now I have finally filed the show in my mental catalogue. I was sort of expecting it to be Dead Like Me because the two have always been fairly inextricable in my mind, I suspect because of the similar phrasing of the titles and fonts on the DVD covers. This misguided expectation probably lent to the slight disappointment I felt at the pilot episode. It kind of followed a complete narrative arc and left the characters with nowhere obvious to go. Okay, that was just to get the show picked up; I get how American television works (more or less). Episode Two, was just kind of dead. I was expecting, I don’t know, some kind of secret brilliance that leads to the wistful reverence of 30-something bloggers. Continue reading


Smells Like Teen Pennies

I was planning to mention E4’s cunningly appealing new range of Misfits clothes and badges in a forthcoming post about the new series, then yesterday [time of posting- read: last week] I witnessed a feat of merchandising so audacious it left me casting about for someone to witness my disbelief. ‘What could this improbable corporate cash-in possibly be?’ I sense you tweet. If only I had a Twitter stream to hear you with.

Well I’ll tell you anyway… JLS condoms. I shit you not. They aren’t available on the band’s official website which features a full cornucopia of merch, but I swear they’re real- Look see:

Considering where they're headed- they don't look too happy.

Reality show boyband JLS have teamed up with Durex to release [sorry. Sx] their own range of personalised prophylactics. So if you’re planninng to seduce any twelve year old girls (or if you are one) pick your favourite and pop him on- voila, no Chlamydia, no unplanned pregnancy[1]. I imagine each sheath is adorned with the signature of your chosen pop moppet. How erotic.

Recently I paid a visit to merchandising Mecca DisneyWorld (Not my pick, trust.) Everything you can possibly imagine is branded and sold at DisneyWorld and plenty of things you can’t. Ordinary products are not available in their parks and complexes either, it’s all branded. My friend and I began to speculate whether you could buy Disney condoms (with little Mickey ears on top of course- they put ears on everything) and we decided there was a secret Disney sex shop out the back of one of the other concessions- you go in and say the password and they lead you through to the adult fun zone. Anyone ever made it into the Magic Kingdom?

Two things I learnt at DisneyWorld:

  • My English accent carries disappointingly little currency. Brits are ten a penny in The Happiest Place On Earth.
  • Americans need to be told how to use a bus and that small children need to be watched. For serious.

Also, I was there for eight days and didn’t even get a bloody tan. WTFrack?

So wearable fandom is all go for Christmas 2011. It’s hardly a new idea and I personally really like that fans are afforded the opportunity to wear their preferred cultural consumption out, fangirl/boy hearts on their literal sleeves. Had I the funds (and the internet) as a teenager, I would have been branded all over; No Doubt t-shirts and Brushfire Records hoodies, Buffy socks. The works.

It’s quite unusual for telly programmes to have a clothing range though isn’t it? Shows aimed at adults certainly. Fantasy seems to be more marketable in that respect though. Which brings me back to my opening gambit:

Save Me Barry!

I mean, they look great, not just churned out on the cheap, but it troubles me how much I want this stuff. I mean merching is really for teenagers right? Even though you supposedly have to be eighteen to even watch Misfits. I’m also totally in the market for a Team Lauren iron-on patch for my shoulder bag if anyone’s got one? Being an unemployed mid-twenties waster who lives with her mother will never discourage me from dressing like a turn of the century adolescent. I suppose they know that, which is why such things are available. We’re buying.


[1] I went to look up JLS song titles to make an hilarious condom-related pun, but their discography was such a wealth of material I was overwhelmed. Here’s a list, write your own. (My personal favourite? One Shot.)

Everybody In Love, Beat Again, She Makes Me Wanna, Love You More, One Shot, That’s Where I’m Coming From, Go Harder, So Many Girls, Killed By Love.


Don’t Let It Fade Away

The cast of BBC3's new drama The Fades

There is so much to say about DIGITAL CHANNEL OF THE YEAR BBC3’s new supernatural yoof drama The Fades and its pocultural significance. There’s no time right now because I am out of town sans laptop and am soon going out to see Sweet Sweet Lies do their epic thing and witness Dot Cotton hosting Rock n Roll bingo. For real. I love Brighton, like you have no idea.

But when I get back, we’ll be talking about this!

Happy weekend all.

SX

Edit [28/09/22]

After the dominance of the vampire/werewolf canon, the other paragons of the paranormal are having their day in the sun. So to speak. New supernatural yoof drama The Fades started last week, going out on BBC3/BBC HD Wednesdays at 21:00 (repeated all through the week.) Fairly modish cast the DIGITAL CHANNEL OF THE YEAR put together here. Notables include thinking telly aficionado’s fox Natalie Dormer who properly sexed up S2 of ludicrous historical melodrama The Tudors as foxy, devious Anne Boleyn and most recently went blonde for blockbusting flop Captain America. She seems to be the estranged wife of Tom Ellis off Miranda.

Poor old Lily Loveless seems to have been cast simply so that the producers can say she’s in it, bringing that vital Skins capital with her, because she has around three minutes screen time, which she spends being a brat. Hopefully she’ll have more to do in weeks to come. She plays twin sister to protagonist Paul and the siblings seem to be following in that obnoxious American tradition of vile, disrespectful teenagers who cannot obey instruction or speak civilly to their parents. Are so many kids really like that? It feels like lazy shorthand from the writers.

This ep’s got a pretty cool aesthetic, which is vital for the style-savvy demongraphic. [That was a typo, but then I really liked it, so now it’s a word. So there. Sx] The title sequence looks like a mash up between Misfits and True Blood; doubtless intentional- laying out all their goods in the shop window.

 

I really appreciated the saturated, sodium palette and shiny, grimy urban dystopia of the opening sequence. The DOP and crew have taken notes from the sparse look that works so well for Misfits and looks sharp on a budget.

Beautifully framed long shots abound with squares and bars of light. Silhouettes flitting about bleachy estate-scapes speak of an urban visual language familiar from the independent British cinema of the last ten years.

The linear grey of the psychiatry session in a bare, intimidating room, is redolent of A. Some limbo or hinterland scene, quite possibly set in a character’s subconscious or B. The Skins hyper-reality of unreliable or absent adults. Throughout, the cameras are close and intimate with the actors, but on first watching, the first fifteen minutes is all action, no character. A rewatch made me revise that opinion however. Continue reading


The Academy of E4

There is inarguably a solid set of casting principles at work behind the scenes of E4’s flagship programming. Skins is steadily showcasing quality young talent year after year. Nicholas Hoult, The Name in Gen 1 is now in Hollywood working with Colin Firth and notaries, Mitch Hewer filled out and took a star turn in Brittania High and even mediocre buffoon Dev Patel has become an international household name. Kaya Scodelario, luminous in Gen 1, though a little misused in Gen 2, is named as a star of the future on numerous lists (as was Robert Sheehan, more on him later). Amy Ffion-Edwards (Sketch) of course is slowly building up a very solid CV as a character actress. Much of the most recent generation are yet to establish their post-Skins careers, but if we never hear from the oft-dubbed ‘luminous’ Lily Loveless or those junior acting heavyweights the Prescotts again, I shall be writing to whoever’s calling himself Prime Minister to demand an explanation. The effervescent Jack O’Connell of course already had the makings of a long and promising career even before the E4 gig, making his omission from the recent This Is England small screen outing even more inexplicable.

They’ll all be appearing in the upcoming Skins feature [:s –Sx] and have other projects in production which I’ll be looking out for. With an Inbetweeners film also in production and a Misfits flick quite likely, it seems 4 are really trying to put the boot into the BBC by not only owning the yoof demographic, but locking it in a Teflon box.

Misfits in particular is like a who’s who of the soon-to-be-great actors of our generation. When we’re middle aged there will be nostalgia shows talking about how this was where it all started and Sir Robert and Dame Lauren will laugh and say ‘Who would have thought?’ [I did!]

In the last couple of years mop headed Robert Sheehan has turned in a trio of nicely nuanced, if tonally similar, performances in the above, Coming Up’s Dip and Red Riding respectively (with Andrew Garfield no less). Already recognised as one of Ireland’s leading lights, he is yet to turn in a truly standout lead performance, but I feel there’s something of the Cillian Murphy about him. Castmate Lauren Socha received an independent BAFTA nod this year for her supporting role in Samantha Morton’s care system drama, yet again from the house of 4.

Also rapidly ascending, the Welsh-speaking, all-singing, probably dancing Iwan Rheon, already a stage star after Spring Awakening with Charlotte Wakefield off Holby City (roles taken on in the US by Lea Michelle and that uber-generic Jonathan Groff guy from Glee. Did that connection influence the decision to cast Rheon?) He too gave his time and talents to the Coming Up strand with I Don’t Care and made an amusingly deprecating cameo as the object of Simon Amstell’s affections on Grandma’s House over on the Beeb. [More on GH to come]

Michael and Lauren SochaThis Is England was heavyweight and cinematic British drama, which will be getting the Silver Lining treatment one day, but was most notable for me for the ‘a-ha moment’ when I fianlly twigged why Harvey was so familiar. (Because he’s a male clone of real-life sister Lauren Socha. Listen to them talk with your eyes closed… see?) With past classics like Sugar Rush (featuring guest appearances from half the future alumni of Waterloo Road bizarrely) cementing the careers of Olivia Hallinan and Lenora Crichlow (no one mention Material Girl) and of course new Spiderman Andrew Garfield, the 4 stable has a history of teen/youth programming filled with the cream of the British and Irish crop, but it feels like E4 is trailblazing at the moment, whatever Stuart Lee might think of it.


It Fits, No Miss, No Maybe. It’s Misfits!

Tomorrow marks the start of an auspicious second series for cracking E4 drama Misfits which, despite being precisely what I imagine the pitch to have been [“Basically Harry, it’s Skins meets Heroes…Yeah.”] is well-balanced, self-aware and pretty compelling, not to mention as casually hilarious as nights round your mate’s house after college. Everything I require from my midweek digital and/or web-based viewing. 4 have dropped a few squids on the production too, not to mention the slick website, which at present features a rather sexy countdown graphic.

Antonia Thomas as Alisha in Misfits

 

There is also firecracker Antonia Thomas, who will probably play me in the The Social Network-style film of my life.

 

Thanks to its deserved, though utterly unexpected BAFTA win, this series has a much higher profile than the last. Good for them of course, and good for us if it means telly like this keeps getting made, but it robs me of my smug superiority in knowing something other people don’t. It reminds me yet again, that if I were more efficient with my blogging I could demonstrate that I’ve got my finger on some pop cultural pulse, rather than trying to convince you. I am without my laptop at the moment and I’m seeing all these blogging opportunities pass by. It makes me determined to be better, when I finally get it back!

To follow is a post I wrote weeks ago about E4 being the font of British popcultural greatness. Better late than never?


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