Is Confederate on HBO Too Controversial… Or, is it Just the Show We Need?

Author: Danny Abriano, Current Events/Politics

HBO has announced a new series, called Confederate, that will take place in an alternate reality where African Americans are still slaves.

The release from HBO was met with lots of ire from those unhappy with the plot. Before digging into that, let’s allow HBO to explain what the series is about. From HBO’s release:

CONFEDERATE chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.

The series, which is the brainchild of Game of Thrones creators/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, has been in the works for years, according to the release from HBO.

Benioff and Weiss, whose time on Game of Thrones will come to an end along with the series itself next year, will also be showrunners for Confederate.

Some of the reactions to Confederate:

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Quite intense, right? It can be a bit hard to take a step back and think about this from a point of view that isn’t already corrupted. But, let’s try.

One good thing that can come from this is a continued conversation about race relations. Yes, the premise of the show has the potential to materialize into an absolute mess when it hits the screen. We hope it doesn’t.

But one thing that can’t be denied is that race relations in this country are still a mess. As recently as last year, there were still states that were fighting for the right to continue to have the Confederate flag raised. That tells you all you need to know about how far we still need to go as a country.

The cringe-worthy part of Confederate is that it is set in present-day. So again, this really could turn into an absolute disaster. But if any network (and showrunners) can pull this off without offending literally everyone on the planet, it’s HBO, Benioff, and Weiss. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Non-Educational TV Shows Millennials Can Learn From

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

As an avid History Channel watcher, I would never deny the power of educational programming. We can learn about important world events, rare species of animals, political platforms and even happenings from other planets beyond our own just from tuning into the right television stations.

That is not to say that documentaries and news programs are the only television shows capable of teaching us a little something about the human condition and the world we have lived in or the world we currently inhabit.

We can learn a lot about friendships, and even ourselves from the characters we have grown to love and the shows we love (or should be) binge-watching.

 

A Positive Attitude Makes All the Difference from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-present)
As millennials looking around at the world we have inherited — a crippled economy, a rough housing market, political upheaval and widespread violence — we may be overwhelmed by sensations of panic and distrust.

Kimmy is a woman who has lived her life for more than a decade as part of a bizarre cult before she is finally rescued. Instead of wallowing in her trauma, Kimmy escapes to the Big Apple and adjusts to her newfound freedom with childlike wonder and amazement. She brings joy and oddity to the lives of the family she works as a nanny for, her struggling-actor roommate and her new friends. Kimmy takes a horrible circumstance and turns it into a brand new life for herself.

 

Every Person You Meet Has Potential to Change Your Life from How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
As young people, we are only just beginning to realize the impact our relationships with our co-workers, friends, family and of course romantic interests have on our lives. How I Met Your Mother is a show that proves every decision we make, every hand we shake, every date we embark on brings us a step closer to where we are meant to be.

Ted Mosby struggles throughout the series to find true love, spending hours confiding in his best friends in their favorite bar and pining over women he believes to be his soulmate. Narrated by an older, wiser Ted, he relays the story of how he finally found the woman he would marry to his two teenaged children. The truth is, you never know who will become important to you and what you can learn from spending time with them.

 

Embrace Change from Everwood (2002-2006)
Our generation has always celebrated technological advances, social growth and scientific discoveries. We are the generation that changed the internet forever and seeks to change the world through it. But on a personal level, change can sometimes be difficult. Millennials are deciding where to spend the rest of the working lives, moving out on their own and finding love and sharing that with their partners. Millennials are finding themselves and enjoying being single and saving money by staying at home a few years longer than their parents.

Change is happening all around us and it is whether or not we run from it our decide to let it turn our lives into something unexpectedly wonderful that makes the difference. For a big city brain surgeon and his two children, moving from New York to the small mountain town of Everwood, Colorado — following the sudden death of his wife and their mother, respectively — seems insane. The picturesque town with its conservative values is precisely the change that is needed to bring father and son closer together, and bring closure to a grieving family. Just as in this family drama, we must give the opportunities we are provided a chance to shape us.

 

Life is Often Our Best Teacher from Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
Corey Mathews is just your average kid — he makes average grades in school, lives in a nice home, has a mischievous best friend and lives next door to his teacher and later principal and eventually college professor. While Mr. Feeny is a well-respected educator, the lessons Corey learns in the classroom pale in comparison to the real world education he receives from his teachers, family and friends.

He learns about falling in love and heartache, about saving a friend from themselves and supporting them during the processes of grief and change. Millennials are learning new things every day — about living on their own and the responsibilities that come with a career and venturing into the world of dating, marriage, parenting or singledom. You simply cannot put a price on the school of life, and you don’t even have to take out a loan for it!

 

Childhood Nostalgia Should Be Cherished from The Wonder Years (1988-1993)
Now that we millennials are real, living, breathing adults, it is only natural for us to look back on the years that have passed and smile… or cringe. We remember the clothes we wore and the adventurous hair cuts we tried, the music we blasted from our CD players and the television programs we stayed in to watch. But of course we are not the first generation to do so.

The Wonder Years is a series dedicated to the fond memories of an adolescence lived in the 1960s. Full of music from that era and warm narration from adult-Kevin, the television classic discusses the effects of important world events (for the time period, JFK’s assassination and the Vietnam War) and the importance of family. Although the freedom to rent a car, drink alcohol, vote and buy property is an amazing privilege, why shouldn’t we occasionally long for the days when all we had to worry about was whether or not we would be home in time to watch TGIF programming?

Lessons for the Future From Disney Channel and Nickelodeon Original Shows

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

Kids shows: dumbed-down, predictable, unfunny… right? Pause for a minute. Actually, children’s programming can reflect the attitudes and fashions of a generation that is first learning the power of self-expression.

If you were one of the lucky children with basic cable, chances are your favorite channels included The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. These were channels specifically geared toward younger audiences! Their shows did not show family and school life from an adult perspective; they were made to make us feel like Clarissa Darling, Arnold and others were more than characters — they were people we knew.

If we were to look back on the programs we grew up watching, we might find that not only did those shows reveal something important to us then. More surprisingly, they might be able to provide us with some important lessons we should hold on to, things that are still relevant to our experience as millennials in the year 2017. Here is some good old-fashioned wisdom from the shows that made you laugh till you cried or in some cases, scared you. They sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

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Balance is the key to life (from The Famous Jett Jackson)
The Famous Jett Jackson was Hannah Montana long before Miley Cyrus rose to fame for donning a blonde wig. It was a show revolving around a teenager who was attending a school and making friends but also fighting crime on his very own hit television series.

While his character Silverstone struggles to restore order to his fictional universe by battling evil, Jett must balance school assignments with his filming commitments, red carpet appearances and some semblance of a normal social life. Who hasn’t been overwhelmed by all the things that are expected of us on a daily basis? There are the hours we devote to our work, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle by taking walks or heading to the gym, cooking meals and keeping up with the plans we’ve made for our few hours of downtime. Sometimes it all feels a bit much.

The Famous Jett Jackson tells us though that if we find people that support us when we have a lot on our plate, we will feel more equipped to tackle our seemingly never-ending to-do list. It should also be noted that Jett never put his work (his paid job or otherwise) before his loved ones, because he knew that the money and fame would not always be there, but his family and friends would be there no matter what.

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Your talent is worth using (from The Wild Thornberrys)
One of Nickelodeon’s best-loved animated series, The Wild Thornberrys explores the lives of a family of documentary filmmakers who are aided by their youngest daughter’s unusual (and secret) talent.

Unbeknownst to the rest of her family, Eliza has gained the ability to talk to animals which aids the family in discovering new things about the creatures they encounter during their travels. While Eliza’s father is a nature expert, it is truly Eliza’s talent of speaking to animals that the family acquires much of their knowledge of the natural world. We would do well then to remember that our own talents and passions have value not only to ourselves and our self-esteem but to others and are worth sharing.

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People with different interests and opinions must learn to coexist (from CatDog)
In this day and age, everyone has an opinion on everything, from politics to music to TV and hairstyles. While we are all entitled to our differing opinions, in a time where social media dominates our everyday lives, now more than ever we must learn how to tolerate opposing views.

No two beings struggled to do just that more than CatDog, the animated duo living in a conjoined body. On one (literal, physical) side Dog is hyperactive, easily distracted and eager to take on tasks. Opposite of Dog, Cat (whose head is at the other end of the hybrid animal) manipulative, ambitious and quickly angered. In order to stay intact though, Cat and Dog must embrace each other’s interests, shortcomings and dreams.

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Our differences do not have to define us (from Hey! Arnold)
Arnold (what is his last name?) has always been unusual. For starters, he lives with his grandparents in a boarding house full of strange renters. The biggest difference between Arnold and the rest of his classmates is his odd, football-shaped head. Despite this unique malformation though, Arnold is well-adjusted, kind and a great friend to all. He even has a secret admirer in school bully Helga who keeps a shrine in her closet to the “football head”.

Arnold may have a head that is shaped differently than others, but it never stops him from being the moral center of the program or going on many adventures with his peers. Anything that we do not like about ourselves — physical or otherwise — do not have to prevent us from doing anything we wish and may even endear others to us.

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Girls and boys can in fact be just friends (from Clarissa Explains it All)
One myth that is widely misunderstood is the old adage that men and women cannot be friends — there is too much built-in sexual tension. Contrary to this, one teenage girl got revenge on her brother, got through junior high school and sought independence from her parents all with the help of her best friend and confidant, a boy named Sam.

Sam even climbed a ladder up to Clarissa’s bedroom window during each episode! While under most circumstances a teenage boy being in a girl’s private room would have been a parent’s worst nightmare, there was never any indication that Sam and Clarissa were anything but the best of friends.

In 2017, isn’t it time we threw away the idea that there is always a romance budding between friends of the opposite sex? While we’re at it, let us throw away the made-up construct of “friend-zoning,” it doesn’t really exist, people!

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You were born for success (from The All New Mickey Mouse Club)
Sure, The All New Mickey Mouse Club consists mostly of goofy skits and cringe-worthy musical numbers. But if you look closely, you will find this is where many future stars cut their teeth on performing for an audience.

From Britney and Christina to future *NSYNC members JC and Justin, these music superstars made their start on the program. No matter what Ryan Gosling might try to convince people, he did not start singing only to prepare for his role in La La Land; he sang right alongside Justin Timberlake on the variety show long before he was a Golden Globe winner. Actress Keri Russell also had an early gig on the show as did singer-songwriter Matt Morrison (not to be confused with the actor from Glee). It is remarkable to see these stars at the beginning of their long careers, before they were even old enough to vote or sometimes drive! See what a little perseverance will do?

 

Once Your Heart Gets Involved, it All Comes Out in Moron: Dating Advice From the Gilmore Girls

Author: Alli Jean, The Dating Game

**Warning: spoilers herein if you haven’t seen Gilmore Girls seasons 1-through-7. If you haven’t, order a pizza, get candy and junk food and coffee and start watching NOW**

It’s fall, so tis the season for apple picking, pumpkin spice lattes…and Gilmore Girls, the iconic WB turned CW dramedy that ran from 2000-2007 and starred Lauren Graham as Lorelai, the flawed, witty and always relatable 32 year old mother of 16 year old Rory, the type-A bookworm with a heart of gold.

Set in fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut, Rory and Loreai’s stories of steadfast friendship, quirky town traditions, academic pursuits, struggles for acceptance (with their parents and grandparents), and tales of dating, love, and loss resonated with viewers. Although the true #relationshipgoal of this show was to have a relationship with your mom as devoted and realistic as Rory does with Lorelai, that didn’t stop viewers from having fervent opinions about the “Gilmore boys,” who waltzed in and out of the lives of our heroines.

Whether you were Team Dean, Team Jess, Team Logan, Team Luke and/or Team Chris, the Gilmore girls and their various love interests over the years taught us some valuable lessons about dating, loss and love.

Don’t be afraid to say I Love You
For Rory, Dean was the perfect first boyfriend. He was thoughtful, he made her feel special and he respected Lorelai. However, on their three-month anniversary, after a romantic dinner (that yes, involved Rory bringing home a meatball in a reference to Lady and the Tramp), Dean took Rory to show her the car he had been hand-building her, and dropped a bombshell: he said ‘I love you.’

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While Rory was flattered and cared about him a lot, she couldn’t reciprocate by saying it back to him, causing him to break up with her. In the midst of allowing herself to wallow, Lorelai told Rory that if she genuinely didn’t feel the same way that’s fine, but after struggling with maintaining relationships for years, she “hoped she didn’t raise a kid who couldn’t say I love you.” Shortly after, Dean shows up at Rory’s private high school and after fighting in front of everyone, Rory finally shouts “I love you, you idiot” (a line, I might imagine many of us have been attempted to use at one time or another).

Communicate
Despite their fast-paced talking and topical pop culture references, when it comes to relationships and dating, communication is a frequent issue for the Gilmore girls. Early on, Lorelai dates Rory’s English literature teacher, Max Medina, and they eventually get engaged (after he proposes with a thousand yellow daisies, of course). However, Lorelai breaks it off the morning after her bachelorette party, when she realizes she has unresolved feelings for Rory’s father, Christopher, that she has been unable to relay (quick background: when Lorelai got pregnant at 16, Christopher wanted to get married but Lorelai knew they were too young. Christopher has been an absentee father at best ever since but tries to make amends once Rory is in high school).

Speaking of Lorelai and Christopher, things start to heat up for the pair when Christopher starts to regularly visit Stars Hollow. The two finally sleep together the night before Lorelai is due to be the maid of honor in her best friend Sookie’s wedding, when Christopher learns that Sherry, his girlfriend he has just separated from for Lorelai, is pregnant. Since he wasn’t around while Lorelai raised Rory, he doesn’t want to repeat his mistakes and goes back to Sherry. However, neither Lorelai nor Christopher convey how heartbroken they are, which will create unresolved emotions down the line.

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Things between Rory and Dean were going well until Luke’s rebellious, literature enthusiast nephew, Jess, arrived in Stars Hollow. Luke’s attempts to turn his nephew’s life on the straight path were fleeting at best, but it was Rory’s intellect and beauty that captivated Jess. Sharing a love of classic and beatnik literature and sense of humor, Jess quickly became the most popular of Rory’s boyfriends among fans.

However, Jess’s teenage angst and tumultuous past made him wary of getting too attached to anyone, even Rory. Jess’s inability to deal with his emotions gets the better of him, he skips out of being her prom date, doesn’t graduate, and takes off to meet his biological father as Rory celebrates being valedictorian at her high school graduation. After she goes to Yale, Jess finally admits how much he loves her and suggests they run away together, but Rory turns him down. Their story isn’t quite finished though, and Jess comes to town on his independent book tour (you wrote a book!) and gives Rory the wakeup call she needs to turn her life around after she has dropped out of Yale. Will the Gilmore Girls revival bring Jess into Rory’s life again? We’ll have to wait and see…

Perhaps there was no bigger struggle to communicate than between Lorelai and Luke, the curmudgeon diner owner who held a torch for Lorelai for eight years, who saw her go from Max to Christopher, to Alex, to Digger (insert collective groan, please). They were a constant source of comfort to each other. Luke was a surrogate father for Rory, he made her coffee cake on her birthday and sobbed at her high school graduation and showed up at the hospital when Lorelai’s father had a heart attack. After dodging questions for years from the gossiping residents of Stars Hollow and Lorelai’s mom, Emily, finally, finally after years of being with the wrong people, Luke and Lorelai made it work…for a while.

In the midst of being in a fight with Rory, Lorelai proposed to Luke, but he couldn’t commit when she wanted to leap forward. Then, through a divisive move from the writers, Luke discovers he has a 12 year old daughter, April, who Luke accepts into his life with open arms while simultaneously keeping Lorelai at a distance. Even a ballad from Fiddler On the Roof couldn’t make Lorelai and Luke communicate what they needed…at least not then. Oy with the poodles!

You Can’t Help Who You Love/It Won’t Necessarily Be the Person Everyone Expects
This message culminates when after her relationship with Luke, a heartbroken Lorelai sleeps with Christopher, dates him, and goes with him to Paris, where they elope. Now, Christopher and Lorelai knew each other since they were teenagers and had Rory, and finally, it seemed as though the timing was right for them to get together. Even after Rory accepted what was happening, Lorelai knew it wasn’t right and tearfully claimed to Chris “you’re the man I want to want.” But he wasn’t.heart

Even though he was Rory’s father and they had so much shared history and they came from the same background, it wasn’t right. Luke was right, it was always Luke. And even though her parents couldn’t necessarily see it and even though it took them over ten years to get together (with a little help from Lorelai singing I Will Always Love You at karaoke night), at the series finale, they finally got their happy ending after Luke worked with the entire town of Stars Hollow to throw Rory a goodbye party before she left Stars Hollow for her first real journalism job.

As Lorelai once proclaimed, “you can’t help who you fall for, Angelina and Billy Bob are a great example of that.” Okay, so they are maybe not the best example but we can only hope that Lorelai and Luke are thriving when we go back to Stars Hollow in a few short weeks.