Why I’m Not A Nerd, And You Probably Aren’t Either

Not long ago I was walking with a friend. Actually, not a friend. Technically, this is a person that I hate passionately but to whom I am nonetheless bound by the codes of mutual friendship, and the fact that we spend 80% of our time on the same university campus. Anyway, as I was walking with this Friend-of-a-Friend, I tried to keep the conversation as neutral as possible. And since pop culture is the only topic in which I’m remotely conversant, we mostly talked about TV. It went thusly:

I’d mention a show-

-And she’d jump in with how much she was obsessed with that show. Because, you know (*sheepish, with the slightest hint of shame) she’s just such a nerd.

Cool. I really dig it, too-

-Yeah, but I mean, not the same way she loves it. She used to watch the original series with her dad. So it’s just more special for her.

Sure.

I’d bring up a movie I recently saw-

-And she (excuse her, she didn’t mean to interrupt) couldn’t contain herself, just had to tell me about all the merch she’d gotten from that franchise. It was a lot of money, but, you know, (*still sheepish, now slightly over-selling the shame) she’s just such a nerd.

Thanks. Got it.

The appropriation of nerd culture into the mainstream has created a perfect niche for people like this girl. It allows her to feel cool and relevant, with the added thrill of feeling special, because what is Nerdom, if not a counter-culture that thrives on it’s own self-imposed exclusivity?

I not saying that I don’t love nerds. I really, really do. I admire anyone that is passionate about something, and who finds genuine joy in that passion. But like anything, there are two sides to Nerd culture. The first side loves something with so much of itself that it wants to share it with feature-kate.jpgeveryone. It wants other people to share and experience the thing that means so much to it. But once that thing is out there, is made accessible to everyone, we see the other side of Nerd mentality. It circles the wagons. It realizes that what was once it’s thing now belongs to many, and it resents this perceived loss.

For a while I thought that the popularization of nerd culture would make things more inclusive, and in some ways it has. It’s safe to say that people now feel more able to express themselves and their allegiance to their fandoms like never before. In other ways, it’s also made things more esoteric. I don’t live and breathe for the original Star Wars Trilogy, so my love for The Force Awakens must not run as deep as a real fan’s, right?

The truth is, however much you may wish it were otherwise, you are probably not a nerd. You’re probably not Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science. You’re probably not David Krumholtz in Ten Things I Hate About You. And that’s totally fine. Do you know why?

Because it’s more likely that what you really are is a well-rounded, multi-denominational person who happens to be passionate about something, or more likely many things. You don’t need to be a nerd. You are allowed to like what you like, without trying to tailor yourself to the specifications of one group or another. Because labels, even the ones we assign to ourselves, are ultimately damaging and self limiting.

Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said “If you label me, you negate me”?

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Whitney Weldon

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The Fangirly Show: Episode # 7 Fangirling Over TV Revivals

Whitney and Ellen discuss the pros and cons from a bringing back a show from that underworld known as cancellation.  Is it a good thing or bad thing for the landscape of television?  But more importantly, has it ever been done well?  Plus, the ladies lay down their bets for their Fangirly Oscar Pool.  Who will win?   And who will have to suffer the consequences of losing?  (Odds are, Whitney).

You can listen and subscribe HERE on iTunes or you can go HERE to listen and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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How Does ABC’s Selfie Suck? Let Me Count The Ways

I have one hard and fast rule about Fall TV season: no matter how much you may hate a pilot, it is VITAL that you make it to at least episode two. Because usually, the things we hate about pilots get ironed out during the first season. That is what first seasons are for. If the premise is good and the writing is solid, there is always room for hope. But some shows are so fundamentally flawed, so irreparably stupid that a second look only serves to draw out the inevitable and necessary cancellation. Selfie falls, face first, into this category just like Ellen said it would. Let’s break it down.

abc-selfie-eliza1) Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) might be the Worst, and not in a good way. I know that as one of Doctor Who‘s resident red heads, Amy Pond was kind of a polarizing character. And it is totally possible that I am projecting my dislike of The Girl Who Waited onto Eliza, a character with many of the same flaws that kept me from registering with the Amy Pond fan club (selfishness, over-confidence, tends to take others for granted). At least Amy was an interesting character; the most interesting thing about Eliza is her ability to fill two airplane yarf-bags. Which, when you think about it, really set the tone for the rest of the show.

2) Your main character should be redeemable, not reprehensible. By the end of the pilot, we should have had a reason to root for Eliza, and I don’t feel that we ever got it. Most of the attempts to add depth to her character were pretty weak (you mean, she was able to stash her distaste for the office hipster girls long enough to let them clean her apartment, loan her nice dresses, do her hair and make-up free of charge, and generally extend her an undeserved hand of friendship? What personal growth). If you are going to write horrible characters to populate your show, a la It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, at least make sure their horribleness is offset by their hilarity. Which brings me to…

3) Traditionally, TV comedies should be, you know, funny. If nothing else, Pilots should be clever enough to give audiences the idea that, even if the rest of the show isn’t prefect yet, the experience won’t be a total loss. Selfie did not make me laugh once, and I laugh at everything. Seriously. Everything.

4) Being unpopular in high school does not a tragic backstory make. Selfie isn’t the first show to try and make not being selfies-main-character-is-eliza-dooley-dooley-grew-up-being-most-butt-in-high-school-butt-as-in-ugly-so-she-modeled-herself-after-the-most-popular-girl-in-her-school-and-grew-up-to-be-beautiful-but-vapidthe most popular person in high school a credible excuse for sucking in the present, and it won’t be the last. TV comedies can still be fun and lighthearted even if they delve deeper than an unpleasant school dance experience. But Selfie is just as shallow as it’s main character, which is why I’ll be taking my business elsewhere. Better luck next year, ABC!

Whitney

Jane Austen + Doctor Who = Best Thing to Happen to Me EVER?!

Jane TardisSomething you should/probably do know about me is that I am loud, proud, and unabashed fan of all things Jane Austen. And when I say all things, I mean ALL things. You have no idea how much bad Austen fanfiction I have read. Sorry not sorry. (Okay. A little sorry).

Something else that should be readily apparent from reading this blog on the regular is that I also love Doctor Who.  It’s just my cup of nerdy tea.

Now imagine my unadulterated glee when I read this morning that Mark Gatiss, co-creator of another Fangirly favorite (Sherlock) and somewhat regular writer for the good Doctor, has been teasing that he might do a Austen-centric episode.

I.  Would.  DIE.

I wrote enough papers on Austen in college to fill a book, I have read some of her books upwards of 15 times, and if Austenland existed, I would have my ticket. So, it should go without saying that this would immediately become my favorite episode.

Being a Sherlock fan, I know that Gatiss is a total tease, so this could all amount to nothing, but he also wrote the Dickens and Churchill episodes so this is not completely out of the question.

It can and should happen.  In fact, why hasn’t it already?

Ellen

Grade A, Choice Picks: Top Christmas Episodes

Today, I give you my list of Christmas episodes.  This list is almost impossible to whittle down to just 10, so I made this a list of 15.  Also, I tried to keep the list to just one episode per show.  Some of these, I haven’t watched in a long time and some are brand new additions to the Holiday Episode list. Keep in mind that I don’t watch every show and I am very biased in my selection of the “best holiday episodes ever”, but I think you can enjoy my list regardless.

15. “The 23rd” New Girl: Season 1 – Nick really fouls things up when he tells Jess’ current boyfriend that she is not in love with him.  The real Christmas magic is when Nick wakes up the most decorated neighborhood in town, Candy Cane Lane, to turn on all of their lights to cheer her up.  Is it any wonder why these two are together now?

how.i.met.your.mother.11120514. “Symphony of Illumination” How I Met Your Mother: Season 7 – Definitely the biggest bummer episode on the list, but that is what makes this episode so great.  Robin takes the narrating reins and tells the story of when she thought she was pregnant to what turn out to be her imaginary children.  You see, Robin finds out that she cannot have children.  The true Christmas spirit comes when Ted cheers her up without knowing why she needs cheering up by setting up an elaborate Christmas light routine.

13. “Christmas Party Sex Trap” The Mindy Project: Season 2  Yes, this just aired, but hello!  Did you see Chris Messina dance to Aaliyah?  Yeah.  And if that weren’t enough, Mindy and Danny almost kiss!

Bones12. “Santa in the Slush” Bones: Season 3 – Ah, the good old days when the only person getting into the Bones-Booth mix was Caroline bribing them into kissing under the mistletoe. I love Caroline. While the whole first-kiss aspect really helps, this is also just a pretty good Christmas episode. You have the gore and mystery with a dead Santa in a sewer, you have the funny with Booth having to sniff Santas, you have the whimsy with Santa’s apartment above a toy store, and you have the touching with Booth giving Brennan her Christmas tree. Le sigh.

11. “Christmas Special” 30 Rock: Season 3 – In my book, it doesn’t get much better than Liz Lemon ruining Christmas for some kids and Jack finding out that his mom took F.A.O. Schwartz as her gentlemen lover (“Uhh that word bums me out unless it’s between the words meat and pizza”) to make Christmas for him as a kid.

Parks-Recreation-Christmas-Episode-Pictures10. “Citizen Knope” Parks and Recreation: Season 4 – It shouldn’t be surprising that the merriest show on television is good at doing a Christmas episode.  Sure enough, in true Parks and Recreation style, this episode is hilarious and sweet.  Leslie is in the midst of her suspension after it is revealed that she and Ben are dating. Leslie is obviously the best at gift giving, but the parks department wants to make up some of the difference.  When her campaign team bails after low approval numbers, they give her the best gift of all!

9. “Afternoon Delight” Arrested Development: Season 2 – Ah, Christmas. The time of year when you have parties on Bethlehem time, sing about daytime lovin’ with your niece, and let kids get their grubby little hands all over a $3000 dollar suit. Come on!

8. “The Polarizing Express” Psych: Season 5 –  It is exactly what you would want out of an It’s a Wonderful Life episode from Psych written and directed by James Roday: bizarre, hilarious, and Gus in a UPN sitcom in the 90s. This episode only further solidifies my love for Roday.

Community Christmas7. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” Community: Season 2 – This stop-motion, musical spectacular holiday special send-up had to be on the list. Um, Abed finding out that the meaning of Christmas is the first season of Lost on DVD because Christmas can mean whatever we want it to mean? Brilliant, uproarious, and kind of sweet. Also, this episode gave me my new favorite Christmas mascot. Christmas Pterodactyl!

6. “Christmas Party” The Office: Season 2 – This one made me all sorts of nostalgic for the (now fulfilled) sexual tension of Jim and Pam. It also had some other great stuff, too. Michael’s impromptu Yankee Swap to get rid of the homemade oven mitt, Creed’s equally impromptu Secret Santa gift, Angela’s babies-playing-saxes poster, and Meredith flashing Michael. “Happy birthday, Jesus. Sorry your party’s so lame.”

5. “A Very Supernatural Christmas” Supernatural: Season 3  This episode is exactly what you would expect from a Supernatural Christmas episode: it’s creepy, it’s kooky, and it has that punch of heart right at the end between the demon hunting bros.

happy4. “No-Ho-Ho” Happy Endings: Season 3 – All I want for Christmas is this show to come back.  Is that so much to ask?  The episode centers around the gang trying to give Jane the best birthday ever when they find out that her birthday is actually on Christmas, but they have a hard time keeping Christmas out.  Between Brad’s penchant for dancing with hip-hop Santa, Max’s Egg Nog addiction, and Alex’s weird present opening fetish, there is no way they can succeed.  “Happy Birthday, Jane.  And Jesus.”

The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis3. “Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” The Big Bang Theory: Season 2 – Sheldon really struggles with what to reciprocate Penny’s Christmas gift with so he buys up every gift basket in Bath and Body Works with plans to pick the present that best fits her gift to him in terms of price. And while I enjoy this whole episode, I adore the last five minutes. When Sheldon receives Penny’s … you know what, just go watch this.

2. “A Christmas Carol” Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor – It should be noted that I somehow forgot to include at lease ONE Doctor Who special on yesterday’s list.  I’m so ashamed that I am cheating and including this special on the episode list.  Hey, it’s my list, I can do what I want.  It has gotten to they point now where my Christmases are not complete without my Doctor Who specials and this one is my favorite.  A twist on the Dickens classic may be a bit over done, but the Whovian element makes this just right.

mst3k-patrick-swayze-christmas1. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 3 – In answer to your question, yes, this movie is as ridiculous as it sounds. In fact, probably more so. But that is what makes Joel and the bots making fun of it so great. Then you couple their commentary with their performance of “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”, a seminal Christmas carol classic, and you get pure holiday magic.
Phew! That’s a lot of linking for your viewing pleasure, there you have it! Do you have any shows you like with great Christmas episodes that I should check out? Do you disagree with my order? Not that I am going to change my mind, but I would love to at least pretend to listen to your feedback. Check out my favorite Christmas specials and stay tuned for my favorite holiday movies and holiday records!

Ellen

A Birthday Tribute to Whitney

In years past, I have compiled lists of all of my birthday wishes for Whitney on this, the day after her birth (because I am a procrastinator). My wishes started out somewhat realistic, such as Bones and Booth getting it on and having a baby (NAILED IT! (that’s what he said)), but my wishes have become more unrealistic, such as last year’s wish that I would meet an adorable geek at Comic Con who would build a teleportation device that would allow Whitney and I to be able to watch TV together every night. Because that kind of technology should be used for something important.

What is one to do when their highly unrealistic goals are unattained? Wish for something even more ridiculously far-fetched, of course! Putting it out into the ether is all that matters. The more outlandish the wish, the more likely you are to get some semblance of it, right?

With that, I give you, but more importantly, Whitney, my list of wishes for her on her (day after her) birthday:

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