Watch This: Twisted

Did anyone else catch the “sneak peek” pilot of Twisted when it aired a few weeks ago? I did. I am excited for this series.

Personally, I do not usually think of ABC Family as a channel that I am likely inclined to watch. When they air marathons of the Harry Potter films, I watch—because owning the films and having watched them to death does not mean that I can’t watch them again. In fact, I must watch them again. “After all this time?” “Always.”

But, anyway, to me, ABC Family was the network that becomes a No Man’s Land of Endless Christmas Specials And Mandatory Cheer for a few months out of the year. But that’s not really accurate anymore. (I mean, yeah, it’s hell on Earth during the winter, but just avoid it, then).

A couple of years ago, The Nine Lives Of Chloe King aired (a teen supernatural drama). I watched and enjoyed the pilot but did not keep up with the series (but I keep meaning to watch it). Anyway, it was a good pilot, and I was definitely surprised that some of the show’s female protagonist’s actions were “edgier” than I expected from ABCF. Honestly, to me, it was still the channel that had aired Seventh Heaven, so just about everything surprised me.

My point is, however, that the Twisted pilot was absolutely delightful. And they will, of course, re-air it when the show actually premieres. Without spoiling the details of the pilot (or sharing my speculations about the series), let me tell you why I think that you should watch this. (And if you don’t mind spoiled details of the pilot or if you are looking for a write-up of the pilot after you have seen it, read this review)

The plot is that a preteen boy killed his aunt (or, at least, that’s what everyone, including the viewers, are lead to believe, but we didn’t see it) and never told anyone why. The first two people to find out were his two childhood best friends (whose older selves are played by the lovely and talented Maddie Hasson and Kylie Bunbury). This turns their lives upside down. The boy goes to juvie and his two friends never really recover (they both cope in their own ways, but their lives are obviously never the same).

It stars Avan The-Most-Beautiful-Man-In-The-World Jogia (okay, Avan Tudor Jogia is his “official” name, whatever). You may have seen him on Caprica, or in the Nickelodean TV movie Spectacular! He’s probably best known for playing Beck Oliver on Victorious, a show which everyone totally watched for the plot. Or you may have just seen his pictures on blogs of beautiful men.

Jo Masterson (left) and Danny Desai (right).

I suppose that it depends upon how you use the internet.

The show features Grey Damon, who appeared on both The Nine Lives Of Chloe King and as the temporary romantic interest of Faye on The Secret Circle (which was canceled after only one season and I love the The CW but they shall rue the day). It features Denise Richards as Avan Jogia’s character’s mother, who is, socially, a big fish in a small town but whose life is no longer what it once was.

Also, Kathy Najimy is a part of the recurring cast—she is the high school psychology teacher. Not only do I have a major soft spot for psychology teachers (Dr. Anna Peck taught AP Psych at my high school and she and the course were magnificent), but I absolutely adore Kathy Najimy. And not only because of Hocus Pocus. But yes, mostly because of Hocus Pocus. And while she gives a not-terribly-accurate definition* of a sociopath in the pilot, she seems like a character to watch (but they all do).

My favorite character from the pilot was definitely Regina Crane (Karynn Moore), who is beautiful, funny, and has the best lines. It is so easy to identify with her.

But this is not one of those shows where only one or two characters carry the entire episode or series. Danny and Jo (Jo being one of the young ladies who were childhood best friends with Danny) have some adorable dialogue, too. This being just one example.

This brings me to what some of you may be wondering—why am I telling you this? On Zelda Lily, specifically? Because I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse female characters. Specifically, Regina. She’s a bit of a slut—and if you’ve read anything that I’ve written, you should know that that is a compliment. She has a sex drive and she is not ashamed of it. When she gets her sights set on a guy, she’s ready to aim. She is not portrayed as “bad” for this. Quite correctly, the show portrays this as a part of her character and her personality.

Then there’s Jo (Maddie Hasson), arguably the most main of the three main characters. She is not what I would call “sexually adventurous.” Or socially outgoing (which needn’t mean much—some of the most delightful slatterns whom I know, myself included, are total introverts). She does a body shot off of a guy (a hot, douchey one) at someone’s suggestion and, when the guy starts to be pushy with her, instead of slut-shaming Jo for doing what, honestly, is normal and fairly tame for a party, another character comes to her defense. Jo does not have to “apologize for her behavior” or for “leading the guy on.” It’s very clear that that guy is an asshole and that Jo did nothing wrong.

Party Tip: while a couple of several years whom I know arguably started their relationship with body-shots at a party, doing a body-shot off of someone does not mean that you are down for doing other things with that person. Letting someone do a body-shot off of you is also not an invitation to either of you for further contact. Don’t be rapey. Not even a little bit.

These are important ideas for teen viewers (this is a teen murder drama, after all) to see on television, because messages in real life tend to be terrible. The series will premiere on June 11th of this year (following the finale of Pretty Little Liars, which I have not watched but which I have heard that I should). I’m not saying that everyone on this show is a role model (in fact, it’s more likely that no one on the show is a perfect role model), but it’s little things that writers put in when they didn’t have to.

So, watch Twisted. Watch it for the murder mystery. Watch it for the teen drama. Watch it for the beautiful guys and lovely ladies. Watch it for Kathy Najimy who is just a treasure.


*The definitions of psychopaths and sociopaths vary, but most reasonable sources define psychopaths as devoid of empathy but typically perfectly normal people who may account for as much of one-percent of the human population. A psychopath can’t feel genuine empathy (I’m no psychopath, but I cannot feel empathy for adult men as a result of PTSD, so I can partially relate), but that does not mean that he or she will feel an impulse to harm anyone. A sociopath is better defined as someone who has a history of disregarding the rights of others. I don’t mean people who are opposed to marriage equality. I mean people who see other living beings purely as resources or means to an end (so, about a third of all soap opera characters). These are the people who marry and then kill their husbands for the insurance money multiple times throughout their lives—simply because they want the money, rather than out of a dispute with the husband or a pressing financial need. A sociopath is someone who might kill a neighbor’s dog or cat over a perceived slight. That said, they didn’t really do anything wrong in delivering the definition of “sociopath” in the pilot. I’m just really nit-picky.

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Lovely Ladies

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First of all, all women who are not imaginary are “real women.” Five feet tall or six feet tall, ninety pounds or three-hundred pounds. Are they real? Are they women? Then they are, in fact, real women.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, I want to talk about women on television. On 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy insists at one point that a female character who has gained weight needs to either immediately lose 30 pounds or gain 60—anything in between “has no place on television.” It’s a funny line, because it’s a funny show. But I think that we all know what he was talking about.

No matter how beautiful they might be, women in television tend to be wedged into certain body-shapes, particularly if the audience is supposed to believe that they are attractive. Oh, the exact size of the actress’ clothing might change—there is a range (a range that often increases during times of economic struggle, oddly enough—remember the “top-heavy” models of the early 1980s?). Think about, say, Penny from The Big Bang Theory (a show which could get its own ranting post for a number of reasons).

There are some key examples that are wonderful deviations from this type while remaining beautiful. Did you guys watch Dollhouse, one of the best shows ever made (and, in particular, the best thing that Joss Whedon has every done—which is saying quite a lot)? Eliza Dushku and Dichen Lachman certainly fit the bill for the particular type of stunning beauty that we are accustomed to seeing on television. And, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. These are beautiful women. Were I sexually interested in women, that would almost certainly be my preferred body-type. But do you know who else was on that show and gorgeous? Miracle Laurie. She is so pretty, you guys. And she is definitely not fat. But she is definitely not slender, either. Still gorgeous. I love that she was on television, and on television playing …

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The Women Of Star Trek

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I am not Star Trek’s biggest fan. I love science fiction; I like Star Trek. I’ve been watching it since early in elementary school (though not regularly until I was watching Star Trek: Voyager in middle school). It’s neat. At its very beginning, it was very cutting-edge. And, for the most part, the Star Trek franchise comes across as progressive.*

The original Star Trek series had the first televised interracial kiss—and that was in the era of censoring comic books because they showed a nameless black astronaut floating in the background. And that’s awesome. But there are downsides to nerd culture, and those are reflected in Star Trek. Star Trek is not always quite so progressive. Sometimes, when compared to other television shows, it lags behind.

While both of these are changing, nerd culture has not, historically, been incredibly friendly to the gay community or to women. To be clear, that has changed a great deal in the past couple of decades (and especially in the past few years). But the women on Star Trek: The Original Series were too often sexual contrasts for the womanizing buffoon that was Captain Kirk.

So, Star Trek had the first interracial kiss. Babylon 5, also known as the greatest science fiction show ever made, had two male characters go undercover as a pair of newlyweds (and, of course, neither batted an eye, because of course same-sex marriage is commonplace in 2260). On Babylon 5, it was also suggested that two female protagonists may have been lovers (though this was progressive for an early 1990s science fiction show, but not for television in general). To my knowledge, the first same-sex kiss between men on a science fiction show was on Stargate: Atlantis. Star Trek tends to convey messages like this symbolically, through interactions with alien cultures.

Star Trek’s treatment of women is, honestly, almost confusing. Captain Kathryn Janeway captained Voyager; she is one of the strongest (and most delightfully terrifying) female characters (or characters, really) whom I can imagine. With Kate Mulgrew’s fantastic …

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Hey Girl: Paul Ryan Gosling Goes Web-Viral

Is everyone familiar with the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme? You know, it’s a picture of Ryan Gosling (who is still super dreamy, but I think that he really looked his best when he was on that short-lived Young Hercules* show) with text that conveys really compassionate, understanding, entirely-too-perfect boyfriend lines that often involve an in-depth knowledge of feminist thinkers.

It’s an adorable meme and it’s fun to imitate. I actually made a set with my favorite handsomes specifically catered to me. Pictures of Avan Jogia seeming to commiserate with my frustrations over Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse being canceled have a lot more to do with poking fun at myself than anything else, but it was an entertaining exercise.

Well, you guys have probably read that Paul Ryan is a terrible nightmare for American women. In my experience, die-hard Republicans who are opposed to abortion state that they do not wish for women to be jailed for having abortions, but simply wish to ban the practice. Paul Ryan goes beyond that. (He also goes beyond wanting to ban any recognition of same-sex couples and wants to ban adoption by same-sex couples, which is kind of the political position of an over-the-top 1980s supervillain)

So, the Paul Ryan Gosling meme is a pretty brilliant way of conveying Paul Ryan’s 17th-century views in a humorous way. I don’t think that it’s inappropriate to do this—I think that it’s perfect. Like the pointillist portrait of Rick Santorum comprised entirely of tiny images of gay porn, except that there is actual substance to Paul Ryan Gosling. Tweets like: “Hey girl, I support your right to choose: kitchen or laundry,” is kind of beautiful in their simplicity.

If you aren’t following @PaulRyanGosling on twitter, then you probably should. It’s worth a laugh. And sharing something humorous rather than something political can reach more people.

A lot of people know about Paul Ryan’s alleged** handsomeness, and about the fact that he apparently mostly likes musicians and philosophers with whom the feeling is not mutual (Rage Against The Machine, of course, but it’s important to note that fiercely pro-choice Ayn Rand would have detested Paul Ryan). A lot of people know that his social views are ultra-conservative, but I think that it is important to keep reminding people. And humor is a wonderful vehicle for that.

*Before you cry foul, he was 18-19 then. Even though it was the 1990s, he somehow had better hair back then than he does now.

**Is anyone else a little weirded out when people talk about Paul Ryan being handsome? Like, I wouldn’t say “no,” but that says way more about my terrible, terrible sexual decisions than it does about his appearance. He has nice eyes, but I kind of think that he looks like some sort of albino goblin king.***

***I actually came up with a fairy tale involving the 2012 election. A retired knight who is now an aged but handsome baron and an albino goblin king team up to seize control of the kingdom from the kindly king whom some of the peasants view as a “dark lord.” And there was something about Jon Huntsman with a bow and arrow and being left out of the adventure but I don’t quite remember.

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