The Widows Trailer Gives Us a Female-Driven Gritty Crime Thriller and It’s About Damn Time

The first full trailer for Steve McQueen’s Widows has dropped, and it looks pretty damn good. Based on an ITV series, the film (written by Gone Girl‘s Gillian Flynn) follows four widows whose husbands die in a heist gone wrong. Now, they must band together and pull off the heist themselves. The film stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) as the titular widows, along with Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal (The Punisher), Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall.

There’s a lot to look forward to here: an Oscar-winning director, top-notch cast, diversity in front of and behind the camera. But I’m really excited about this film because we’re finally getting a female-driven gritty crime thriller, and it’s about damn time. Crime dramas have long been the domain of men, dating back to the gangster movies of the 1930’s. While directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Mann elevated the genre with critically acclaimed films like The Departed, The Godfather, and Heat. Even more modern films like Drive, The Town, and Hell or High Water focus squarely on men, with women in limited and (usually) cliched roles. Here’s a rundown of the classic crime film female character tropes:

The Sexy Side Piece

karen morley

(Karen Morley in ‘Scarface’ via United Artists)

The Sexy Side Piece (SSP) is usually arm candy for the mobsters and criminals. Mobsters know them as molls, mafiosos call them goomars, but they’re almost never wives. They’re beautiful but needy, charming but inconstant, and often come with substance abuse problems, like Blake Lively in The Town or Sharon Stone in Casino. Occasionally they get upgraded to wife status, like Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface, but they’re still smoking hot messes. They’re like femme fatales without the agenda, utterly dependent on their men.

The Damsel

ryan gosling

(Carey Mulligan in Drive, via FilmDistrict)

The Damsel is the good girl counterpart to SSP’s bad girl. The damsel represents everything the criminal could have if they stayed out of trouble, yet is often the justification for the criminal’s bad behavior. They’re pure, living a life free from the nastier elements of the crime thriller. Think Carey Mulligan as the saintly single mom in Drive, or Rebecca Hall’s bank teller in The Town. They’re the Tess Truehearts of the world, not the Breathless Mahoneys.

And that’s it! Occasionally you’ll get a feisty female cop who can hold her own with the criminals (think Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight) or the rare wife/partner who knows the score but stands by her husband regardless (Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas). Otherwise, women in the crime genre are fall into the previous two categories, serving mainly as window dressing or as the impetus for the criminal to clean up his act. Neither are rewarding, nuanced roles. We haven’t seen a gritty crime drama starring women since Set It Off, and that was 22 years ago.

And there’s really no excuse. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of real life criminal women with fascinating lives. Here’s hoping that Widows kicks off a trend and ushers in the golden age of female gangsters.

(via Vulture, image: 20th Century Fox)

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post Review: The Queer Coming of Age Film We’ve Been Waiting For

chloe grace moretz

The Miseducation of Cameron Post, like its protagonist, is earnest and thoughtful, but brimming with passion and angst under the surface. The film, adapted from Emily M. Danforth’s acclaimed YA novel, follows Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is sent to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy camp, after she gets caught having sex with her best friend in the backseat of a car on prom night.

God’s Promise is run by Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle, aka the greatest of all Elizabeth Bennetts) and her brother, the self-proclaimed ex-gay Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.). Cameron soon finds kindred spirits in her fellow campers, the sardonic Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane) and the two-spirited Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck). All three were sent to God’s Promise by their parents (in Cameron’s case, by her aunt) who hope that prayer and group therapy will rid their children of their queerness.

While gay conversion therapy is a horrific practice, the movie doesn’t portray Lydia and Rick as outright villains. The campers at God’s Promise aren’t physically abused or starved or mistreated. Many of them fervently take to the programming, hoping to exorcise their gayness, like Cameron’s chipper roommate Erin (Emily Skeggs, in a heartbreaking performance).

Instead, director Desiree Akhavan focuses on the punishing futility of denying the undeniable, and the deep emotional wounds that come from repressing your authentic self. When an authority figure questions Cameron about abuse at the camp, she simply says, “How is programming people to hate themselves not emotional abuse?”

Rick and Lydia genuinely want to help these kids, who they believe are destined for tragedy without their divine intervention. The film takes on the toxicity of faith, with Cameron struggling not just with her sexuality, but with her relationship to Christianity. While the subject matter is intense, there is levity in the film. Cameron and her friends sneak off into the forest and smoke ditch weed that Jane hides in her prosthetic leg. They dance on counter tops and sing along to 4 Non Blondes “What’s Up”. They are still teenagers, which is something the camp cannot drum out of them.

Cameron Post‘s greatest strength is in its authenticity and intimacy, which is due in no small part to Akhavan, who co-wrote and directed the movie. A queer woman herself, Akhavan gives us a coming out story told through a queer female lens. She artfully captures the intensity of young lust (without exploiting her actors, *cough Blue is the Warmest Color *cough) and taps into the quiet urgency of closeted queer folks who finally get to act on their attractions. There are so many beautifully relatable small moments throughout the film, like when Cameron watches the classic lesbian film Desert Hearts with her best friend, cautiously gauging her reaction to the women onscreen.

Ultimately, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming of age story. As Cameron spends more time at God’s Promise, she slowly realizes who she is. She moves away from her faith, and starts doubting the authority figures in her life. She experiences her first love, her first heartbreak, and a new, more mature understanding of the world she lives in. Like so many queer kids, the teens of Cameron Post ultimately find faith not in the church, but in themselves and each other. And that’s a beautiful thing.

(image: FilmRise)

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Hollywood, Please Let Amber Ruffin Remake All the Problematic Faves Like This

What did we do to deserve Amber Ruffin? The writer and breakout star of Late Night with Seth Meyers is consistently one of the funniest people in late night, whether she’s doing the segment “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” with fellow writer Jenny Hagel or going solo, like her brilliant post-election bit, “Join the Fun.”

In the white male dominated world of late night talk shows, Ruffin stands out as a fresh, desperately needed voice, providing a perspective that these types of shows rarely feature. Her latest segment, “Amber Ruffin Remakes Art Created by Problematic Men,” features Ruffin remaking problematic faves starring herself. In the clip, she remakes Chris Brown’s “Run It!” to “Fun It!” takes over for Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, and casts herself as a stammering Woody Allen stand-in.

Ruffin also takes aim at Bill Cosby, Picasso, and the plethora of stand up comics who can’t seem to wrap their heads around consent. Speaking of problematic comedians, can anyone explain to me why Michael Che and Colin Jost are hosting the Emmys when Ruffin would be a much stronger host? Give this woman her own damn show already!

There’s something satisfying about watching Ruffin inhabit all these roles, especially when there are plenty of bad men who skate away from charges and accusations with little damage to their reputations. We all have our problematic faves, and that’s totally okay. But instead of revisiting those faves, I’d rather turn my eye towards the future and support the work done by relevant, non-garbage people. There are enough talented artists and entertainers out there more worthy of our time and our dollars.

(image: screengrab)

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Avengers: Infinity War Honest Trailer Takes on the Overstuffed Movie and Wins

“From the Thanos of Hollywood comes what could be the best movie that Marvel’s ever made, but is without a doubt the most movie that Marvel’s ever made.”

I spent the better portion of the year writing about Infinity War (I’m still writing about Infinity War. Some days, I think that I will always be writing about Infinity War) so I was excited to see Honest Trailers tackle the film. Their cheeky spin zooms in on the sheer amount of characters featured in this thing, because everyone in the MCU and their talking raccoon has at least a few minutes of screentime. Well, everyone except for Clint Barton, but at least he gets a mention. He’s in house jail!

Honest Trailers points out that Infinity War goes all-in on the 18 movies-worth of canon from the start, hardly bothering to introduce anyone or explain what’s happening. “You’re either on this hype train by now or the Winter Soldier using Rocket Raccoon as a sidearm won’t mean shit to you.”

I mean, it’s true. If I took someone to see Infinity War who had never seen a Marvel movie before, I’d need to spend the entire movie explaining who these people are. Like:

“Captain America, who heroically accepts his reduced role as guy who knows a guy.” Let’s be honest, Steve Rogers was given nothing to do in this film after that promising entrance in Edinburgh featuring Chris Evans and his beard emerging from the shadows. “I am Steve Rogers” said to Groot is pretty great, but this is Captain America we’re talking about and he has fewer good scenes than a sentient tree.

“Black Panther, whose lack of screentime proves that no one knew how big of a deal he’d be.” This, only underlined a hundred thousand times.

“The X-Man who’s completed her Halle Berry arc of losing her weird accent as the movies go on.” Since I had Age of Ultron surgically removed from the part of my brain that records memories, I totally forgot that the MCU initially had Elizabeth Olsen do a vaguely Eastern European accent for Wanda that has just kind of … fizzled out.

I will probably never stop laughing about the picture above.

“Loki, slightly more dead than the last two times.” Listen. Listen. He’s alive. I’m a Loki Lives truther.

“Bucky, the one-armed artisanal goat cheese farmer.” Where is the lie? Bucky Barnes just wanted to hang out with his goats in peace in Wakanda. Why can Bucky Barnes never have nice things?

“Wow, the only heroes missing are the ones on all those Netflix shows that Kevin Feige hates.” A deeply scalding burn, but truthful.

Then we come to Avengers: Infinity War‘s central plot: “For all the characters crammed into this thing, thrill as it centers around a buff bald guy trying to grow his rock collection.” Lest we forget that Thanos is a truly terrible father figure—but that he is embraced in other manifestations of the term—we are reminded: “You, sir, are a really bad stepfather, but dang, what a great daddy.”

Although we routinely shame our Princess Weekes about her unquenchable Thanos thirst, apparently she is far from alone.


What was your favorite part of the trailer? I think this is all pretty spot-on, but considering how well Honest Trailers nailed Ready Player One to the wall, I think they could’ve been even meaner here.

(via Honest Trailers, image: screengrabs)

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How Mainstream Media Has Left the Asexual Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community Behind

jughead jones riverdale

Over recent years, queer representation in Western media has seemed to improve, both in terms of quality and quantity. Critically acclaimed, award-winning films such as Moonlight, centering a gay African-American lead, have garnered Oscar attention, while Love, Simon became the first teen romantic comedy produced by a major Hollywood studio to feature a gay protagonist.

Television networks and production companies, like The CW and Shondaland, have helped pave the way for more casual representation of the queer community on TV, featuring prominent gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters, as well as announcing the first transgender superhero (Supergirl) and first show headlined by a lesbian superhero (Batwoman.)

Even shows targeted toward the all-ages demographic are stepping up to the plate (despite hate groups’ insistence that LGBTQIA+ content is somehow not suitable for children) with The Legend of Korra revealing one of the first Western animated LGBTQ+ protagonists in Children’s animated programming, as well as Steven Universe for its extensive exploration of gender identity and sapphic representation. However, even among all these new developments, there continues to be a lingering absence of asexual characters, something that weighs heavily upon the asexual community.

In mainstream movies or television, we often see many characters engaging in sexual relationships or expressing the active desire to have sex (though this obviously differs in terms of portrayal when it comes to straight characters versus queer ones). However, we barely see characters admit to not desiring sex, or an asexual person navigating their sexual orientation in an empathetic and thoughtful manner as a gay character coming out would.

One exception to this, however, was seen in the popular adult animated series BoJack Horseman, which gave one of its main characters, Todd Chavez, a prominent coming-out narrative, in which he comes out as asexual.

Todd Chavez reveals he's asexual in BoJack Horseman

(image: Netflix)

Within the show, Todd Chavez initially struggles to define his feelings toward relationships and sex, feelings which do not seem to match those around him, causing him to feel isolated and different. In a conversation where Todd and another character discuss his potential sexuality, Todd tries to explain his ambiguous state of questioning, quoting, “I’m not gay. I mean, I don’t think I am, but… I don’t think I’m straight, either. I don’t know what I am. I think I might be nothing.”

As the character comes to realize there’s a word that exists for people like him, asexual, as well as a community and potential romantic partners who are also asexual, he appears more confident and comfortable with himself. Unfortunately, as I have said, Todd Chavez’ narrative is the exception, rather than the norm when it comes to positive asexual representation.

Todd Chavez sings

(image: Netflix)

When it comes to Western society and media, sex and sexual attraction are major focal points in our culture. One metaphor that can be used to help understand sexual attraction’s prominence in Western culture is to compare it to coffee.

Think of this scenario: Coffee is a very popular item in the West. In your neighborhood, whether you live in a suburban or urban environment, there’s a popular coffee shop on the corner or on every other street. You see people in the movies and on TV drinking it very casually and enthusiastically, as well as various advertisements promoting the product. Several people have different attitudes toward their coffee. Some like to have it once in a while or once a day and be satisfied with that, while others can consume several cups and be thirsty for more (excuse the pun). Some like their coffee with milk and sugar, while others may like it black or roasted. Many people may prefer different kinds of blends, and different ways to make their coffee, but overall show a consuming love for this beverage. Now compare asexuals to those who don’t particularly like coffee.

We, as a people, exist in a society that promotes, commercializes, and advertises sex, like coffee, as a “regular” and “desirable” part of our routine, while many asexuals, like non-coffee drinkers, are often neutral to this intense fixation and possess no craving for it whatsoever. The result is one that is often frustrating and alienating, as asexuals feel pushed to the periphery, living in a culture that carters to allosexuals (a term considered to be the opposite of asexual, or an individual who does experience sexual attraction) while neglecting or undermining the feelings of its asexual population.

An example of this is that, often, when a person admits to being asexual, they are met with skepticism and disbelief, questioned whether their asexuality is “actually” just a sexual dysfunction, requiring medical attention, or if they simply haven’t met the “right person” (to which I ask those who consider themselves more “liberally minded” if they would ask a lesbian if she hasn’t met the right man yet and see whether the same argument holds up).

In 2001, AVEN (short for the Asexuality Visibility & Education Network) was founded by David Jay, an American Asexual activist, who created the network at a time when there were barely any resources directly providing help and information for asexual individuals. In its most basic definition, AVEN defines an asexual person as an individual “who does not experience sexual attraction.” The term “asexual” is a multifaceted and complex term, meaning many things, while not specifically forsaking others.

For instance, asexuality cannot and should not be confused with celibacy, which is defined as the active choice to abstain from sexual activity, while asexuality is defined as an orientation, much like homosexuality or bisexuality. Furthermore, asexuality is associated with “lack of sexual attraction to another person,” not “lack of romantic attraction” (the definition of aromantism), meaning asexual individuals can desire romantic connections with other people, though there are those who define themselves as both asexual and aromantic (otherwise known as Aro Aces).

Within the asexual community, there are often intersections with other identities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, as an asexual person may also identity as homoromantic (romantically attracted solely to their same gender) or bi/panromantic (romantically attracted to multiple genders.) Furthermore, there are often vast distinctions between libido and sexual attraction, meaning an asexual person can possess a high libido or sex drive, meaning their body may desire physical stimulation, and some asexuals experience physical arousal and masturbate, while still experiencing no direct sexual attraction to other people.

The spectrum of asexuality in itself is vast and diverse, featuring those who define themselves as sex negative, neutral, or positive in terms of sexual behavior, as well as those who may experience sexual attraction under rare and/or specific circumstances, such as those who identity as graysexual and demisexual. However, if one were to look at the general scope of shows currently on TV or streaming online, one would barely see any canon asexual representation, much less any handled in a nuanced and respectful manner.

Jughead in Archie Comics

(image: Archie Comics)

Media often ignores the reality of asexuality, or in even more frustrating cases, takes a canon asexual character and erases their orientation. In 2017, The CW released a new series called Riverdale, loosely based on the characters featured within the original Archie comics. The series has since then received a mixed reaction, including fans’ discontent over the grittier, darker adaption of the Archie universe (including, but not limited to, elements of statutory rape), as well as major changes to main characters, including the iconic Jughead.

In recent years, Jughead, a character known for his passion for food (especially burgers) and lack of interest in romantic relationships, was revealed in the modern Archie comics to be aromantic asexual. Chip Zdarsky, one of the writers for the ongoing Jughead comic book series, revealed the reason he decided to portray Jughead as aromantic asexual at New York Comic Con, saying,

“My view of Jughead is, over the 75 years [of his existence], there have been sporadic moments where he has dabbled in the ladies, but historically, he has been portrayed as asexual. They just didn’t have a label for it, so they just called him a woman-hater, but he’s not a misogynist; he just watches his cohorts lose their minds with hormones. People have asked me if there is going to be a romance if I’m writing Jughead, because I’m very romantic, and the answer is no, because there is enough of that in Archie. I think something like asexuality is underrepresented, and since we have a character who was asexual before people had the word for it, I’m continuing to write him that way.”

The decision to portray Jughead as aromantic asexual as an organic extension of his character and explanation for his character dynamics in past and current Archie comics was received with a positive response from Jughead fans, particularly those who were happy to receive representation of their own. However, Riverdale’s decision to not feature this essential aspect of Jughead’s character, instead implying he has sexual/romantic feelings for Betty—a character with whom the original Jughead had a wonderful, platonic relationship in the comics—was disappointing and hurtful towards fans who longed for that representation.

Jughead in Riverdale.

(image: The CW)

Why was it OK to maintain the sexualities of other characters, like Kevin Keller (which comes with its own problematic narratives) and Toni Topaz, while erasing Jughead’s? That decision and the decisions other media executives make, choosing to ignore asexuality, tell asexual fans that we do not exist, that our narratives are incomplete or empty without sexual tension to drive the story—negative messages presented to many people on the asexual spectrum, like myself.

Growing up, I sometimes felt a part of me was different from those around me. In middle school and high school, while many of my classmates succumbed to the hot fever that seemed to be insta-crushes and sexual attraction, I was simply studying in my own space, seemingly neutral to everyone around me. Oftentimes, when friends or certain family members complained about things like sexual frustration, I tried to be sympathetic to their plight but had trouble relating directly to what they were experiencing.

Even popular shows like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars didn’t interest me—partially for toxic, manipulative social dynamics, but also because I felt uncomfortable with the hookup culture and could not find any semblance of it in my own life. After recently learning the term demisexual and learning about the asexual community online, I had a larger vocabulary to describe my feelings and experiences, and avoid negative sentiments about this part of myself, as so many asexual people who learned about this later in life or never at all have, describing themselves as feeling or having felt “broken” or “strange” in comparison to their allosexual peers.

One may ask why asexual representation matters, and to those people, I answer this: It matters because I am tired of people assuming I’m emotionally immature because of my orientation, of having a woman on the subway coo at me and call me a baby when I revealed my asexuality. I am tired of people assuming that I will be alone, or that I am being selfish for being on the asexual spectrum and hoping for my possible future partner(s) to respect that.

In truth, media contains so much power in its ability to influence and teach its audience about romance and social relationships. Many fans, through their first crushes or attraction to characters onscreen, might learn what they wish for or expect from real-life partners. Through the media we consume, from an early age to later in life, we learn certain social dynamics (be they healthy or toxic) that affect our own opinions and behaviors surrounding friendship, romance, and sexuality.

Heck, many fans are inspired to come out because of TV or film, inspired by cannon LGBTQ+ characters through viewing their fictional coming out narratives as prototype journeys to their own. Given the nature of sex education in the U.S.—fluctuating in effectiveness or inclusivity of non-heterosexual, non-allosexual students from state to state—young viewers’ first lessons about sexuality often come from the internet and popular culture. That’s why it is so imperative for asexual people to receive good representation onscreen, to understand that we do exist and that we are seen by the society we live in and engage with every day.

(featured image: The CW)

Michele Kirichanskaya is an intersectional feminist and multi-spectrum geek living in New York. In addition to reading, watching cartoons, and spending time with family, she also spends time trying to write for as any websites as possible, including Lambda Literary, GeeksOut!, ComicsVerse, BLENDtw, Mindfray, Bookstr, and more.

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Is Anyone Actually Excited to See Colin Jost Host the Emmys?

colin jost emmys

We’re about a month out from this year’s Emmy Awards, and I keep forgetting they’re coming up. Then I remember that SNL’s Colin Jost and Michael Che are hosting, and it all makes sense why I would shut that out of my brain.

Jost and Che are making the interview rounds promoting their gig, and I’m sure there are some people for whom this is stirring up some excitement, but I cannot and do not care enough to imagine who those people are. Because it’s hard to imagine that this won’t be the most boring Emmys possible.

In an interview with the LA Times, Jost answers the question “Are you fond of awards shows?” with an actual “Eh.” Which is a fine reaction for most people to have. You don’t have to like awards shows! Unless you’re hosting one and then maybe you shouldn’t have an “eh” opinion. That does not sound like it will make for great TV.

Colin’s big problem seems to be that the art that’s celebrated at awards shows is too good. Seriously. He’s apparently the exact reason why the Academy introduced that BS “Popular Film” category.

He followed up his “eh” by saying, “I think most of the time they’re way too self-serious and focused on things that 99% of the country doesn’t care about. At the end of the day, it’s adults getting trophies. Why should that be taken seriously? And remember when movies like “Gladiator” won best picture? Why can’t good, fun things win and not just good artsy things? They’re both good and the fun ones are sometimes a lot harder to make.”

Again, Jost doesn’t have to take television or film or other forms of art seriously. It seems a little odd that he would choose TV as his chosen profession then but, in his words, eh. But for the chosen host of this event to dismiss the accolades as meaningless is a total insult to the thousands and thousands of people who worked hard on making those shows.

In another recent interview with Vanity Fair, Jost and Che talked about how they were going to eschew politics. Jost “joked” that by the time the Emmys air–in a month–people won’t want to see issues like #MeToo talked about. “It’ll probably be #HeToo by then,” Jost said.

Imagine doing a joint interview with Michael Che of all terrible people and being the one coming away looking bad.

(image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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Star Trek Discovery Ends Their Search for Spock

leonard nimoy spock birthday

The crew of Star Trek Discovery didn’t even have to travel to the Genesis planet to find their new Spock, with a casting choice that shouldn’t incur any wrath (okay, I’ll stop with the Trek puns now). Ethan Peck, grandson of classic film star Gregory Peck, will join the likes of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto in playing the Vulcan science officer of the USS Enterprise in the second season of the latest incarnation of Star Trek.

With the future of the Star Trek films in jeopardy (Chris Pine if you read this, please come back), this might be the only opportunity for fans to see one of sci-fi’s most popular characters onscreen again. Showrunner Alex Kurtzman released this statement:

“Through 52 years of television and film, a parallel universe and a mirror universe, Mr. Spock remains the only member of the original bridge crew to span every era of Star Trek. The great Leonard Nimoy, then the brilliant Zachary Quinto, brought incomparable humanity to a character forever torn between logic and emotion. We searched for months for an actor who would, like them, bring his own interpretation to the role. An actor who would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock’s greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion and yearning. Ethan Peck walked into the room inhabiting all of these qualities, aware of his daunting responsibility to Leonard, Zack and the fans, and ready to confront the challenge in the service of protecting and expanding on Spock’s legacy. In that spirit, we’re thrilled to welcome him to the family.”

Spock is not only there for fan service, serving alongside Captain Christopher Pike, who is played by new series regular Anson Mount. His father, Sarek, a major player in the story, and the lead of Discovery is Spock’s foster sibling, Michael Burnham. To have both characters appear but for Spock to never make an appearance would be difficult, and having his family present means he can be woven seamlessly into the story, especially with Pike playing such a large role in the new season.

The Star Trek family has already excitedly welcomed Peck into the fold with open arms, including this adorable photo of him with the Nimoy family:

Personally, I think Peck looks perfect for the role, and I cannot wait to see his take on a younger Spock. As a devotee of both Nimoy and Quinto, I have faith that the showrunners have once more knocked the casting out of the park and that Peck will thrill audiences in the same way that his predecessors have been making us smile for over fifty years. Live long and prosper, sir.

(image: CBS)

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Anne with an E Is the Anti-Nostalgia Adaptation

Amybeth McNulty in Anne (2017)

My reward for watching Insatiable for work was to finally watch the Netflix series Anne with an E or Anne as it is called in Canada. I didn’t watch the series because I wanted to re-read the book first, but I decided it would be better to just watch the show for what it is, and what it is … is perfection.

Unless you’ve been following me on Twitter you may not know the degree to which I fuck with Anne of Green Gables, but I love those books and if Anne Shirley was a real person, she’d probably be my first best friend. Anne/Gilbert was the first couple I ever shipped and the 80s mini-series starring Megan Follows is one of the most amazing works of adaptation. Everyone is cast perfectly.

Yet, Anne with an E is entirely its own thing. An adaptation of the books, but also an exploration of the world of Avonlea without a nostalgia interpretation of the past. As Anne would say, it provides scope for the imagination. Anne with an E takes time to unpack the trauma and loneliness that comes with growing up in terrible orphanages and being in an abusive foster system. It doesn’t dampen Anne’s spirit, but it colors her youth with a loss of innocence when it comes to things like sex and general ways to communicate. Anne’s awkwardness is written well because to suddenly be transported into a “normal” place shows the contrast of what she experienced.

Anne herself is also written to be a nuanced person. Yes, she has retained the optimism and imagination of the books, but they also don’t shy away from her stubbornness and how her impulses can also hinder her own development. She’s prideful, which is also a thing in the books, and she can be a little short-sighted when it comes to picking conflicts.

Also different is how the show explores elements like queerness (Miss Josephine Barry, Diana’s aunt is a lesbian, and season two introduces a second gay character in Anne’s circle; both of these characters are warmly embraced and accepted by Anne), suicidal thoughts, depression, sexual abuse, poverty, death, and the harshness of city life in comparison to the country. Feminism is brought up in the form of the “progressive mothers” group, but also commented on in its lack of intersectionality when it comes to class.

There are some who think that this “woke” adaptation of Anne of Green Gables is a mistake—there is a review in Paste by Amy Glynn that I will admit, I strongly disagree with. Glynn says: “Despite some wonderful visual sensibilities and a super-solid cast, Anne with an E remains an object lesson in what not to do to a classic YA series.” She even is critical of the show’s handling of diversity:

Never mind that Canada was 100% part of the British Empire, which included enormous swaths of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, and that while Prince Edward Island was a tiny and relatively insular enclave, it’s awfully specious (and not a little patronizing) to assume 99% of people would be scandalized, horrified and enraged by the presence of a black man in town.

Spoken like someone who has never been a non-white person in a hyper-white space. Marilla, in the book, and Rachel in the show, talks about not wanting an Arab child in the very beginning.

However, I also spoke to a black friend of mine who called the show “woke Anne of Green Gables” and commented that sometimes it is “too much” even though she does like it, so I can not dismiss this as something that only one demographic of person would criticize.

In fact, when the show first came out, my concern was that it would remove so much of what I liked of the source material that I couldn’t love it anymore, but I realized soon that this version of Anne is using the source material to tell new stories and I’m okay with that.

Especially when that decision means adding more people of color and queer identity into the show. That may not be for everyone, but as I said when news about the Little Women movie came out, if we are going to say that we want more inclusion then that means not making every period piece a carbon copy of its source material.

Anne of Green Gables as created by L. M. Montgomery will always exist. It will always be a series that many people start, but very few ever made it all the way to book eight; the existence of the books’ canon doesn’t mean it can’t evolve. It would be silly for the show to remake Canada’s most popular book series and just do what has been done before. Anne with an E wants to tell the stories between all the wish-fulfillment and that’s a good thing.

Anne with an E is filled with imagination—it just doesn’t feel it needs to be reverent to the past in order to tell a narrative, and dismissing it as just “woke” reduces the work the showrunner is doing to bring Anne Shirley to life in 2018. Series creator Moira Walley-Beckett said this to IndieWire about the choices in her adaptation:

“I am just so proud to be a part of something that can offer this to people and I hope to all the kids too who are struggling with their gender [and sexual] identity, who may not have the empathy or understanding around them that they need,” she said, “that they see that it’s possible to have it if they find the community, they see that it’s possible to find safe haven.”

(image: Netflix)

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Maybe There’s No Obi-Wan Movie Because Lucasfilm Is Ready to Let The Past Die

I guess we won’t be hearing that familiar “hello there” any time soon. Ewan McGregor said on The View that there are currently no plans for an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin off film at Lucasfilm, though of course, McGregor would be interested in returning, should the opportunity present itself. This contradicts earlier rumors that a spin-off was in development and that McGregor was slated to return to the role in a film set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

Outside of an untitled 2020 film and the upcoming trilogies, one helmed by Rian Johnson and the other by the showrunners behind Game of Thrones, Lucasfilm is keeping mum on most of the materials that will follow the upcoming Episode IX, billed as the final film in the Skywalker Saga. Even the books and TV shows are starting to trickle down into silence; beyond two prequel-era novels, the upcoming final season of The Clone Wars, and the incredibly-under-wraps Star Wars Resistance, we don’t have a lot of extra material to work with. It’s as if they’re saving the future of Star Wars for after the end of the Skywalker Saga is released. For what reason, I cannot say.

With that in mind, it might be time to realize that Lucasfilm might’ve learned a lesson from the difference in response to Rogue One and Solo. Rogue One, while set in a familiar time and with familiar faces, was a fresh and risky take on the Star Wars universe, with new faces. Solo, on the other hand, focused on perhaps the safest character possible and didn’t try anything new; even the big twist relied on bringing back a familiar face—one that’s already been brought back before. One received critical acclaim and high box office returns; the other underperformed and didn’t seem to have as much of a lasting impact on culture.

Even with The Clone Wars returning and two upcoming books set in the prequel era, it feels as though Lucasfilm is saving its future releases to focus on the new generation of heroes, rather than deciding to focus on older original trilogy favorites. Originally, there were rumors and plans for both an Obi-Wan and a Boba Fett spinoff, but these seem to be dead in the water. The Boba news disappoints me, as I love Mandalorians and would also enjoy some Maori representation, but the Obi-Wan news less so, as we’ve already seen the most interesting thing that happened to Obi-Wan during his exile, on Rebels.

Could it be, then, that Lucasfilm is trying to move away from legacy films and focus on the new? All discourse aside, The Last Jedi made some serious box office money on the thesis of letting the past die and new heroes like Rey, Finn, and Poe take over. Episode IX is being billed as the end of the Skywalker Saga, though that’s been said before; if we take it at face value, that means we might get more sequel trio fun but it could see the end of the Skywalker family drama.

Lucasfilm is also building up a steady ensemble of popular characters who don’t technically exist in the original trilogy but who could be touchstones for future projects. There’s Ahsoka and Sabine’s space road trip, which means we haven’t seen the end of Hera, Zeb, Ezra, and Thrawn. The book Last Shot, ostensibly a Han and Lando story, hints that characters from the Aftermath trilogy might make a reappearance at some point.

Star Wars Resistance will offer new characters who we can follow throughout the sequel era. Both new trilogies will focus on unique, non-legacy characters. The anthologies even offer hope that we can see familiar time periods through new eyes.

It might be wise for Lucasfilm to reinvent itself this way. To spend too much time clinging to Han, Luke, and Leia would be poor marketing; there are only so many stories that can be told about them, given what the sequels have established. Instead, changing it up and creating a whole new world of characters might be the best way to go, rather than just hoping for the best with rehashing the original trilogy.

To do that, they might have to let that idea of an Obi-Wan film go, which would probably be for the best. Given how popular Rey, Finn, and Poe are, focusing on them and a myriad of new characters would be a fresh way to continue the franchise and prove that it doesn’t need the Skywalker name to be our hero.

(image: Disney/Lucasfilm)

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Evangeline Lilly Doesn’t Want a Solo Wasp Movie for a Very Good Reason

evangeline lilly

Since the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe is basically one big mix-and-match superhero grab-bag, constantly rearranging itself into various team-ups and spin-offs, it’s natural to let our fan brains go wild, imagining all the possibilities when we meet a new favorite character.

Fans have been especially vocal about wanting standalone solo films for the badass women of the MCU. We were clamoring for a Black Widow movie for what feels like forever, because 1. we wanted to see her story developed more fully and 2. she was pretty much the only existing female MCU character in a position to get a solo story.

Now, though, the MCU is filling out its female roster and we’ve got loads more female-led movies to pine for. (Well, relative loads. Relative to our previous one.) Valkyrie, Shuri, Gamora, the Wasp—more and more women are leaving such a heavy mark in their supporting roles that fans are saying they want more.

In regard to the last female hero on that list, though, Evangeline Lilly says she doesn’t want to see a solo film for the Wasp. At Fan Expo Boston this past weekend, she told a crowd, “I actually don’t like the idea of a Wasp standalone film, because Ant-Man and Wasp, since the very beginning in the comic books, were always a team.”

“And really,” she continued, “they’re kind of one of the only proper and true teams in the MCU, otherwise it’s mostly a lot of individuals. And I love the team aspect of it, I love watching the interplay between Wasp and Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp. For me, it’s the most fun part of the film.”

That’s a really insightful angle, and the lack of ego it takes to be able to say she’d rather be part of a team that a solo stand-out just makes me love Evangeline Lilly even more than I already did.

I agree with Lilly that Hope van Dyne is probably always going to be more interesting as part of a team, given that she is such a brilliant straight man, so to speak. It really is the interactions between her and Scott that make those movies great, rather than either character individually. But if Marvel ever gets around to making that all-female superhero movie, hopefully, she’d get a chance to be a part of another team.

What do you all think about Lilly’s stance on a Wasp solo film?

(via Comic Book Movie, image: Marvel Studios)

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