Sunday, December 25, 2016

'Tis the Season


I hate holidays... all holidays... regardless of what holiday it is. That being the case, the Christmas season is the bane of my entire year made worse by the seaming expectation that everything is beautiful and magical and perfect and bright. It's not. It can be, I suppose, for some, but that has not been my experience of the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" for many years now. Every year the Christmas decorations are put out earlier and the music begins to play sooner and every year I find myself hating the holidays a little bit more, as if the constant exposure was there just to chip away at my calm, happy, holiday-loving facade.

If I were a Scrooge this would be fine, I could go about on holidays and just live my life, complaining that nothing is ever open. Problem is I'm not. I hate the all holidays by in my heart I still want to love them. Especially Christmas

The problem is that the magic is gone. When I was young there was the magic of Santa and the Elves or there was the Christmas Story of Christ's birth. When the former lost its meaning I had the latter for comfort. Eventually, the latter began to lose its potency as well, there are only so many ways that the same story can be repeated and only so many times one can hear it until it becomes rote.

I miss that magic.

I try my best to find meaning in the simple things: the beauty of the first snow, the ghost-like quality of the flurries as they twist along the road, the random acts of kindness, etc. Unfortunately, that isn't enough to carry me through the nearly 3 months of holidays and "cheer" that dominate the end of every year. I don't need anything so receiving presents is unnecessary and giving presents just feels cheap, as the materialistic views slowly consume the society and the presents have to be bigger and more extensive every year.

It is tiresome.

I do listen to Christmas music after thanksgiving and even enjoy the songs (normally). I was listening to some of the less traditional songs and I just couldn't feel anything. I suppose the song "Where Are You Christmas?" (from the Grinch) describes how I feel although I fear that it is more likely "What is Christmas" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

......

Despite all of this, as I head out to work on Christmas morning, I hope you all have a very Happy and Merry Christmas and manage to find some joy in the day, no matter what it may be.

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Beginnings: predictions of an end


Wow. What a way to kick off a season. This most recent episode of the Librarians was good, not as good as "At the Point of Salvation" (but as that is my top favorite episode of the show it is hard to measure up to it) but thoroughly enjoyable and fast paced. I loved the Doctor Who overtones that made me smile several times (even when it was supposed to be all suspenseful, I couldn't help it), the two biggest being the living plastic mannequins reminiscent of "Rose" and the musical score during the "I am the Librarian sequence" which nearly perfectly mirrored the score of the Eleventh Doctor when he walks through the hologram of the faces of all the previous Doctors. Those were good scenes.

There were also some clues dropped in the episode that might become themes throughout the season (some supported by interviews/trailers some not). First is Eve Baird's "second-sense" or her "gut-feeling" regarding the Librarians. This isn't the first time that Eve has shown some ability of precognition, even in the beginning of her characterization, a lot of her fighting awareness was trained gut instinct (sensing danger). Her experiences with the Loom of Fate (and Santa) might have been the kick she needed to jump over the edge and become more cognitively aware of these feelings. Next we have Cassandra's use of magic. Having seen alternate universe Cassandra, and the Ladies in the Lake, we know that eventually she will begin to use it, it is too tempting and impelling for her not to. Cassandra is dying, the show doesn't always bring it up directly but it is there. Her tumor will eventually kill her and magic is a way to save her own life. We know from her first episode that she will make questionable choices to save herself, it is only a matter of time before the promise of magic overcomes its price. For Jacob Stone we are going to see him become a more rounded Librarian and increase his fighting ability (even if it is unrealistic in power). Meanwhile, the overarching plot of the series is promising more darkness, with the "ultimate battle between good and evil" as the main plot and the subplot being a "shady and subversive government agency" likely to cause the Librarians trouble.

My biggest concern for this season is the mentioned "death of a character" that has been mentioned several times in interviews because I would hate to lose any of them. So, as this is a pre-season prediction, I am going to predict the likelihood of each characters' demise and my reasons for each prediction (with no absolutes in any one outcome).


Flynn Carsen- Flynn has lived longer than any other Librarian, surviving on his own for years, overcoming amazing things and impossible odds. He will survive the ultimate battle but something unpredictable, something mundane could very easily take him out this season. Interviews have said that he will face something that "no Librarian has ever had to face before" and it could be a death or event that occurs in his life outside of being the Librarian. I give his odds of survival 73%.


Eve Baird- I am split on Eve's chance of death. I don't want her to be the one to die but there is precedence for it given the past events in the show and her own feelings of doom and despair from the beginning of this season. Fortunately, it is those very same reasons that lead me to believe that she will not be the one to die because it would just be too easy and predictable, lacking the necessary emotional impact to the audience/characters because it is almost expected. I give her a 62% chance of survival.


Jenkins- Ah, the immortal Galahad. Only, as we learned last season, he isn't as immortal as he was led to believe. So, with this little bit of knowledge and neither the audience or character knowing the true pathway or cause of his potential demise, it is possible that something that happens during the final battle or a choice that he (or another character) makes could spell the end of his immortality. I hive him a 61% chance of survival.


Jacob Stone- I really don't see Stone dying. His characterization is nothing overly special in any of his traits, at least not for the Librarians, and he is gearing up to be able to handle himself in a fight. There have been no indications this season that anything will happen to Stone, unless he gets super cocky in his new fighting ability and dies because of it (I just don't feel like it will happen, the emotional impact of his death just wouldn't be there for me). Because of this, I give him a 84% chance of survival.


Ezekiel Jones- This one is harder for me because Ezekiel's death would have an emotional impact, for me and for the team (and not just because he is the only POC cast member). In this first episode this season, I felt that Ezekiel's role was decreased from where he was at the end of last season, although that could just be because there was a lot to cover in this first episode. He has a specific skill set not possessed by any of the other characters, he is equally beloved and hated by everyone, and he at times has shown great character and self-sacrifice. He could, quite possibly go out like a hero (again). Of course, the fact that he has already played the hero's role (along with the hero's "death") in "At the Point of Salvation" might save his life to avoid re-using a character plot. I give him a 57% chance of surviving the season.


Cassandra Cillian- And it comes back to the brain grape and magic. Cassandra is the most likely, in my opinion, to die this season. Not only is she invaluable to the team but she is also beloved by them. She has an adorable relationship with Ezekiel, an almost romantic relationship with Stone, and a sweet relationship with Baird. She is the hardened innocent (a lot like Fred in Angel) and thus would be mourned highly by everyone. She is also the most likely to make decisions that lead to her demise because of her fascination with and draw towards magic. She could very easily begin to use it and then either sacrifice herself because of its cost (to save the team) or have to be killed by a team member because she begins to lose control/is taken over by the dark side in the ultimate battle. If the latter comes to pass, it would have to be Stone who kills her because it would destroy the audience and the character all at once. I give her a 50.216% chance of survival.

As you can tell, I don't actually know which character is going to meet the ill-mentioned fate teased to us in spoilers and interviews but I have some ideas based on previous episodes and plot lines why each character might die, as well as which of them is, in my opinion, most likely to die. My wish is that they are all just messing with us and nothing bad will happen or someone will pull a Clara and the dead person will end up somewhere happy (Cassandra can die and then join the Ladies in the Lake, for instance) but I know that probably isn't a feasible outcome in this particular show (at lest not in this season).

I am eager to see where the story takes us. It should be a fun (and potentially devastating) ride.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Giving and Taking

This season on Once Upon a Time there has been an interesting shift from previous seasons. Every season, eventually, the Savior Emma has come in and saved the day. Sometimes against her belief but never against her will. She has always dome what she felt was best and has always been driven/felt driven to be the hero. There have been events that got in the way of her desire (Neil/Balefire, Killian, and becoming the Dark One for starters) but in the end she always chose the higher road, the hero's path. The difference this season is that, while Emma is still driven to be the Savior, she is finding it harder and harder to do so as her body begins to give out on her (hand tremors and blacking out).


We are shown another Savior, Aladdin, in flashbacks, and he could barely stand.He'd become a bed ridden invalid, but the drive to help hadn't gone away. The only problem was that he could no longer control his body and any time he attempted a heroic action his sword hand would begin to tremble. Jafar (the bad guy) describes this as happening because Aladdin "gave it all away," where "it" is his strength.
"It's the fate of Saviors. You give and give and give... and for what? They pick the fruits, they cut the branches, and all that's left is this... shaky stump. That's why you never ever hear these words abut a savior, 'They lived happily ever after.'"
Jafar might be creepy and evil but he makes a good point. People who only give of themselves, over and over and over again will have nothing left over for themselves eventually lose. They lose their strength, their stability, their happiness, potentially even themselves. And the people who most often become the Saviors (the lone wolf type who save the day) normally have few close relations and very little family. They embark on their journey of heroics alone and then continue on until they use themselves up.


Jafar's analogy to Aladdin was fitting (in Storybrook world particularly and the reality by parallel), using the Giving Tree. Any one (or thing) which only gives of themselves and always allows others to take with no limitations or stipulations, will become nothing but a stump. While a stump is still useful, it is lessened and stunted, no new tree or leaves will ever be able to grow from it again. The very thing that made the Giving Tree special is the very thing that ends up killing it. The same is true for Saviors. The traits that they possess (unburdened love, determination, perseverance, sense of duty, etc.) and their unique position in life (few personal attachments) lead them to become people who will give fully of themselves time and time and time again with no rest until they are spent out and there is nothing left to give.


The tree of Emma's life/life-force/ability is dying. For 5/6 straight years she has done nothing but defend and give, helping everyone and constantly saving the day. Slowly chipping away at herself. Denying her emotions, denying her desires, denying her needs. There was nothing but what was needed from her. And that was always everything. All. The. Time. And she always had to go it alone because she was the Savior. She had the burden to bear. She would protect everyone and do everything. She lied, she denied, she hid herself away from others because "it was necessary". The very traits that made her a good Savior are the the traits that are leading to her downfall. 

Only now, as her tree dies, Emma realizes that she can't do it alone, not anymore. She isn't yet ready to admit her weakness to her family and close relations but she does begin to seek help. She starts caring for herself more and more and when the truth about her condition does come out, she accepts the love and support offered to her by her family and friends. She accepts their understandings and their support. Only she is still determined to make her own decisions and to live her life. By accepting her family she also accepts herself. By doing so, and by remembering how much she is loved, she is able to begin to rebuild (not completely but she can control her trembling for a time). The support and acceptance of her family has allowed Emma to say, "I am still the Savior and if this is the price of my magic then I will accept it but I am also a member of a family and so if there is another way to do this I want to find it." Emma's support base gives her the option of finding another way by proving that she doesn't have to do this alone, she can find a new solution a new approach because she has others helping her, giving her strength. There are people caring for her tree so it has an opportunity to prosper.


I am guilty, as I am sure others are as well, of making the "Savior's mistake" of trying to carry the world, only to be crushed by its weight. In healthcare we are taught to care for our patients but that it is most important for us to care for ourselves because if we fail then there is no one there for our patients to rely on at all. Storybrook needs a Savior because there is magic and darkness and evil there and it is tangible and deadly but the savior needs a relief squad, a support base, a friend, a lover, someone, to help share the burden, to caution restraint, to stop them when the job is done until they learn to do it themselves. 

We all, Saviors and laymen alike, need reminders that it is alright to walk away sometimes, to rest, to recuperate, or to just care for ourselves in general so that we have the ability to get up again and fight another day. We need to allow our roots to grow and our branches to leaf and our fruit to hang low before we offer it away again. or there will be nothing left of us to offer.

We should all strive for this:
Rather than this:

No one should ever have to stand alone. If you feel like you do, you're wrong. Just reach out and be honest. There are people waiting there for you, you just have to be willing to look for them or to let them find you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How to go on...?

I have no words that I can write to express myself today yet I have so much I wish to say.
I write this, overwhelmed by grief and fear, tears stinging my eyes, running down my face, leaving salty streaks upon my cheeks. I see the message to "fight back" on Twitter. I see calls to stand strong...

But how can I tonight?

How can I stand strong when I just learned the truth about the amount of hatred in my country? How can I when all of my beliefs have just been uprooted, violently? How can I as I mourn, doubled over in the physical pain that is wracking my body?

How can I stand strong when my hope and my belief have just been bashed to the ground by a drought of harsh reality?

How do you move on from fear?

How do you keep your faith in the basic decency of humanity when faced with the amount of hatred, despair, and judgement that led to Donald Trump becoming the next president of the United States, a country whose Pledge ends with "with liberty and justice for all"?

Tonight there was no justice. There was only fear.

Perhaps tomorrow there will be strength. Perhaps tomorrow there will be hope. Perhaps tomorrow there will be love.

Tonight there is only sorrow. Tonight there is despair. Tonight I have no words and no strength. Tonight I grieve.

Tomorrow is another day. We just might survive it.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Politics, Religion, and my Conscience

As we approach election day, I have finally decided to weigh in (officially) about my own political views. Before tonight, I felt that I had made my political and social stance pretty clear without ever explicitly stating: "Hey, look! I'm a social democrat! Question my beliefs and choices!" Today changed that. Today I was told by an acquaintance (via Facebook) that they "find it hard to believe that I find Republican views bad since, for the most part, they are to protect the family unit." This comment was in response to this meme that I shared:


I had heard of others having encounters like mine with people from their lives but had never myself experienced anyone question my political beliefs solely because of my religious views (I have had heated debates about politics but they have always been about facts and logic). And so, today I will give my political stance (explicitly), explain why this stance does not contradict my religious beliefs, and why #ImwithHer.

Up until my senior year of high school (or maybe into college) I didn't pay attention to politics much. I knew that I was a democrat because my mom had told me so, in somewhat exasperated tones, one day when I was 10. I really got into politics in the summer of 2014 during a World History course and when I first found The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I devoured every video I could find and really began to open myself up to politics and current/recent affairs. And yes, it was very clear at that point that I am a Democrat. While I have many beliefs that support my views, the baseline of most of them is Free Agency. No person or government should be allowed to dictate how any individual person lives their life, so long as they are not hurting others, because we are not God. As fallible humans (all of us, regardless of age or rank) we do not have the authority to make calls on the general actions of others. With this view I cannot, in good conscience, support abortion restrictions, banning any portion of the LGBTQ community or cuts to welfare/disability/social security/healthcare. I also support stricter gun laws and increased training (and vetting) for/of law enforcement.

Many might say that my views on "welfare", guns, and potentially even law enforcement are contrary to my stance on agency, but if anything my views makes my stance stronger. By providing the necessities of life to those who are truly in need of them, the avenue is opened for improvement. People have no ability to plan for the future or even truly to live when every day is about survival. By providing the basics to our needy, our sick, our young, and our elderly we grant them the ability to choose how to live. We grant them their agency. I will forever support stricter gun registration and background checks because I value the lives of my fellow Americans. To deny common sense background checks allows for people who had been on the FBI's terrorist watch list to buy a gun. It allows for tragedies like Sandy Hook or San Bernardino or so many others to occur. It allows for the accidental deaths of toddlers or parents. It allows for nearly half of all US suicides to be committed by a firearm. I am not saying take away all guns or never allow people to buy one again. I am simply in favor of ensuring safe gun practices. As for my views on law enforcement, I will be frank. As a law-abiding white cis-woman, I have never had any trouble with the police and even I am would be frightened to be pulled over right now because the institution as a whole has not implemented any effective policies or practices that prevent the "few bad apples" from acting as racist profiler and, more often than I like to consider, executioner

Now, maybe my religious views are not entirely accurate, maybe I don't "interpret" my religion correctly, but in my beliefs, the goal of man is to build each other up. I believe in embracing those who are different than myself, accepting their differences and understanding them. Every time I fully understand another I change a little bit, become a little bit more accepting and less judgmental. After all, it is not my place to judge. Members are always quick to spout that phrase out when it is regarding "one of our own" or after dubious news about "a good Christian", but often seem to forget that stance when regarding contrary beliefs or lifestyles.Growing up I focused on the loving God, the forgiving God, the caring God. My opinion has hardened (and broadened) over the years and the God of the Old Testament makes more sense to me now, but it does not negate the overall Goodness which I believe that all right-minded people strive to achieve (regardless of religion or lack thereof).

I believe in the Good. I have to or else I am not sure that I could get up in the morning or have hope for tomorrow or plan for the future. I use the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants as guidelines to live my life but they are not the only guidelines I have. I live more the spirit of the laws and strictures than I do the letter of them. I seek always to learn why something is before I am willing to follow it. I rarely follow blind but I do retain enough trust that I can, when necessary, take comfort in the security of my faith.

Knowing and believing all of this, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who would propose to unfairly discriminate against or remove privileges from an American citizen (or a human being in general). I cannot support an institution that would support such a man in his attempt at power. I cannot support a party who has admitted that they might rather allow the supreme court (the third branch of our government) die out than accept the nominations of our current president or potential Hillary presidency. I cannot support a racist, misogynistic, narcissist who believes that sexual assault is a joke and refuses to concede to the will of the American people (based on his statement that he would only accept the outcome of the elections "if he wins") nor can I support the party that he is affiliated with (above and beyond the fact that I am so clearly a democrat).

No, Hillary isn't perfect. Yes, she is a politician and was a lawyer (2 of the things most universally hated from what I can tell). Nonetheless, I believe that she will make a great president. She has the experience, the credentials, the endurance, the mental acuity, and the determination to make an amazing president. Will things change overmuch with her in office? Probably not. Not even if we get a democratic senate. Hillary provides potential that our country's slow improvement might just continue. Trump potentially guarantees that our country will fall apart at its seams (this has already begun). For all of this, my political stance, religious beliefs, and conscience, I stand with Hillary Clinton (and the survival of the country as a whole) during this election.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reflections of Societal Discrimination through Fictional Media

I believe I should begin by admitting that discrimination isn't new. One could almost claim that all societies were built upon it, at one time or another. Many people, maybe even most, have faced discrimination at some time in their lives, that isn't new either. There are some, however, that are impacted more often and more strongly by discrimination as a whole. People who are set out by the majority as "other". These people are often feared because of their "other-ness" and that fear can often incite hatred.

While discrimination isn't new, I recently found a medium through which I could analyze a fictional interpretation of the fear tactics and media incitement of discriminatory behavior (and violence) towards a "powerful minority".


In Marvel's Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D this season, there has been a side story (and occasionally main plot) of discrimination and fear directed at the Inhumans (humans with "abilities" due to a slight difference in genetics). Their approach toward this fear, and subsequent anger and violence, is reflexive of the rhetoric often heard today about Muslims, Blacks, Mexicans, LGBTQ members, and more. It is reflexive of the language used long ago to describe the Jews, the Romany, the Japanese, the Native Americans, etc.


It is true that people fear the unknown, that is why religion is so important to so many people because it explains the unknown and places an imaginary protection around its believers against the evil. In AoS, there is no religion, or it is not the focus of the show when there is, but there is an abundant amount of the unknown. Always has been. It is practically been the main plot device used in the show. Thus, in the show, there is an abundance of fear. This fear needs an outlet and the outlet is anger and discrimination.


The organizations in the SHIELD verse, the Watchdogs and Humans First, which do appear to have a connection, work well to continue the pattern of fear and discrimination that the sheer presence of other, of the unknown, began by just existing. Humans First incites fear by enhancing the beliefs of the other-ness of the Inhumans and creating an "us vs. them" mentality. This is the same mentality that led to the rise of Nazi Germany, lynchings of Blacks in America, Internment Camps, etc. The fear incited is a double-edged sword. On one edge of the sword lies the Watchdogs and the general populace, a main antagonistic group this season and major nuisance/antagonistic group last season. The Watchdogs are a terrorist organization set out to hunt down and kill Inhumans and are willing to go after anyone who aides them. The general public are incited by the rhetoric of the Humans First movement, only their fear turns more often toward discrimination and petty violence (comparatively). However, the general populace has just as much potential for harm against the Inhumans as the Watchdogs do, because they are unpredictable and feel desperate. On the other edge of the sword created by the Humans First movement lies with the Inhumans themselves. They look out at the world every day and they see the news saying that they are monsters, they hear reports of other Inhumans being killed by terrorist organizations, they see the discrimination rampant in their friends, family, and neighbors. Maybe they even begin to fear and hate themselves. Because how can so many people be wrong about them? Maybe the Inhumans are evil and I am just the exception. These influences can cause the Inhumans to either join in the hatred, try to keep their heads down, or become the very thing that incites fear.


Unfortunately, no matter what the Inhumans choose to do, they cannot control the decisions and feelings of the public until the rhetoric of anger and fear is ceased. Look at Yo-Yo. She is an Inhuman and she saved the lives of her friends by disarming the Watchdogs as they were about to execute a trick magician. Unfortunately, instead of reacting with thanks, her friends and the strangers she saved turned on her, pointing her out to the Watchdogs and then throwing her away like trash. The creepy Humans First senator with ties to the Watchdogs summed up the problem with the discriminatory rhetoric in the cross debate scene, "People are scared that Inhumans do not share our core values. And who could blame them?" Her statement summed up the fears of the other-ness of the Inhumans and worked to increase the difference between "regular" humans and Inhumans.


Because there was a required registry of the Inhumans (simply because they are different/other and are seen as dangerous), the Watchdogs were able to track down the Inhumans and kill them. The rhetoric, combined with a preexisting self-hatred and some mental health problems (previous addiction to an age old, practically immortal alien that had power over Inhumans) created a man who hated himself, and others like him, enough that he was willing to sell them out and hand them all a death sentence. While he was not exactly the most stable man before becoming Inhuman, the power of fear-filled rhetoric on the public should not be ignored. History has shown us this. The dangers of registry lists should also be carefully scrutinized, as easy identification of a people also has had disastrous results in the past.

As I watched, the episode "Uprising", the episode that began the descent into the Humans First sub-plot and made the Watchdogs a larger threat than they were before, I was struck with familiarity. The "Inhuman Resistance," which was nothing more than a terrorist group (the Watchdogs) trying to incite negative public opinion on the Inhumans (and kill them). The public and media response where, despite being presented with the facts, they continue to have "a discussion" on the potential dangers of the Inhumans, despite the statistically significant difference in the number of deaths during the Watchdog's EMP attacks (2 humans vs. 17 Inhumans). I sat there watching and I thought of ISIS. I thought of some of the media reactions to Muslims and to Islam. I thought of how the main victims of ISIS are Muslim, how our cruel, uneducated, and insensitive media and political rhetoric is encouraging impressionable or disheartened individuals to join ISIS or commit acts of terror in its name. I thought of the attacks committed against anyone who looks "Muslim" by uneducated, angry, and fearful people. The parallels were appalling.


One person wrote a Facebook comment that they might stop watching the show because of its "political agenda" and that shows should be nothing but "fiction". The truth is, in my opinion, the "political agenda", which has always and will always exist in a show about SHIELD as it is a government agency, enhances the show considerably. It allows viewers to look at the show and see a reflection of reality, see some reflection of their lives and, because this is a fictional show about superheroes and not Supernatural, see the good guys win, even when at times all seems lost. Having AoS portray storylines that reflect reality in some way (and they have several every season, although this season is especially poignant) can give some people hope or further another's understanding of a situation. Some people might stop watching because they want their TV series to be free of "political agendas," but in order for that to happen they had to first recognize the correlation between fiction and reality.

It means that they had to think. And thinking is just a fancy word for changing your mind (yes, I am quoting the Doctor).

The only way that we can combat discrimination and fear and anger is to get people to think, to get people to truly look at the world around them and see that it can be improved. If we have to do that through television shows to get people to actually listen, so be it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

When Entertainment and Philosophy Collide!

Under most circumstances I have a lot of trouble watching comedies, whether it be a 90 minute movie or a 30 minute television episode (or anything in the middle). I am too analytical to enjoy a show or movie that is only there to entertain. I normally get annoyed and irritated and either end up skimming the episodes/movies to get the basic plot and a couple of jokes here and there. This is what happened with Psych, the Office, IT Crowd, Angie Tribeca, Raising Hope, Baby Daddy, How I Met Your Mother, (to a lesser degree) The Big Bang Theory, and, unfortunately, Speechless (although I will still watch it because it is a good show). Continually, I would start these comedic shows and within 4 episodes I would be throwing things at the screen/plugging my ears/skipping large portions of the episode to avoid the comedy. The only comedies that I have, until now, been able to watch thoroughly are Parks and Recreation and Wonderfalls. The former because of the large cast and often cynical undertones (although I still got annoyed at the more typical comedy moments) and the latter because it is the center of extreme sarcasm.

The Good Place is completely different.


For once in my life, I was able to sit down and watch an entire episode of a comedy show without groaning, throwing something, or muting the show and closing my eyes. This is also the only comedy I have ever found where I can actually sit down and talk about philosophy and have it actually be directly applicable to the show... granted, doing so makes the eyes of whomever I am talking to glaze over, but at least they don't tell me to shut up as often. I had been looking forward to this show since I first saw the trailer for it and was so happy that after 3 episodes (as of 2 weeks ago since the first and second episodes were combined on Hulu) I was still just as invested and excited for the next.

The show has such an interesting concept, subtly combining major philosophical theorems and average comedy to create an enjoyable and yet stimulating show. The entire idea that all of our actions are graded on a point scale, Eleanor's comments about a "middle place", and the actual lessons about Plato and Aristotle given by Chidi caught my attention in the first couple episodes. The fact that the show makes such a comparison between different kinds of virtue (Tahani helping others out of the goodness inherent in her but also because she wants to be recognized and respected verses Chidi devoting his entire life to the study of virtue/seeking the truth) is amazing, really showing that there is no one true way to go about living.

While I am still uncertain what to think of Jianyu, AKA Jason Mendoza, (although I suspect that he slipped in through the loophole/rift that Eleanor made), Eleanor is extremely interesting because, up until her "life" in the Good Place, she was a pure hedonist. She did what brought her pleasure. Honestly, it would be hard to be a pure hedonist, only ever thinking about your own happiness. Eleanor is now living her "life", trying to learn to be virtuous. And, it seems, that the Good Place is somehow connected to her virtues (she nearly destroyed the neighborhood her first day, the Tahani tree, the crater when she destroyed the cake). All of the disasters she caused were repaired when she realized/understood/internalized the necessary virtue or selfless action (choosing to clean up the trash, making friends with Tahani, mending her relationship with Chidi). I think that, based on the pure point system, Eleanor does belong in the Good Place, albeit on a different scale, which is why she is connected to the neighborhood in such a fashion. The Good Place is trying to account for hedonism (which is basically Eleanor) instead of virtue and has hit a glitch and since Eleanor is the ultimate hedonist, the glitches are centered around her actions.

The Good Place itself is very interesting, as it is practically a hedonistic paradise. "Now that you're dead, have fun living your life and doing whatever the heck you want!" There seem to be no stipulations, no judgement, and no rules about what most people there can do (Eleanor being the exception) as evinced by the direct interface, Janet, basically offering anything and carrying out odd requests. The hedonistic nature of the Good Place itself is why I believe Eleanor actually belongs there, even though she was accidentally brought in under false pretenses.

I am so very pleased to have found this show and love the ambition and ingenuity that allows for philosophy to be included in a weekly comedy in such a way that everyone can enjoy and understand it without the glazed look and severe headaches.

I will definitely review the entire season when it's over, including my favorite scenes, thoughts, and general feelings towards the finished season.