The Weekend Five: TV Crossovers That Need to Happen

82705raven_01Because I’m a fan of so many TV shows, you’d think I would love crossover episodes. After all, wouldn’t it be awesome to see some of my favorite characters from two or more TV shows, duking it out on one set? Sadly enough, I’ve never seen a crossover episode that I really enjoyed. (I am hoping that the Family Guy/The Simpsons crossover this fall will change that!)

To remedy this horrible problem, I took it upon myself to create five brand new TV shows that involve character crossovers. These shows range from comedy to drama to reality, and will hopefully make the work a lot easier for the writers, as the episodes practically write themselves! Sit back and relax with a bowl of your most buttery popcorn as we flip through these five amazing TV show crossovers.

The Weekend Five: TV Crossovers That Need to Happen

1. That’s So Raymond (That’s So Raven + Everybody Loves Raymond).
Sports writer Ray Barone (Ray Romano on Everybody Loves Raymond) finds himself teaching journalism classes at a San Francisco high school, until one day he begins having visions of the future. His long lost cousin, Raven Baxter (That’s So Raven) teaches him how to harness his psychic powers, but the two get into plenty of costumed hijinks along the way. The show features Raymond’s nagging wife Debra, several sassy catchphrases (“That’s so Raymond!”), and Ray Romano’s glorious Muppet voice.

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1994b04a592e32d67f6d1c08f81e88d02. Boy Meets Girls (Boy Meets World + Girls).
Cory Matthews (not yet married to Topanga, with whom he is currently on a break) and the guys from Boy Meets World decide that New York is the perfect place to spend their twenties. They move into the apartment across from Hannah Horvath and Marnie Michaels (Lena Dunham and Allison Williams on Girls). Cory finds himself fascinated by the younger, fast-talking Shoshanna, while Shawn falls for troublesome Jessa, whose past may be darker than his own. Meanwhile, as part of her quarter-life crisis, Marnie hooks up with the ambitionless Eric Matthews, much to her own chagrin. The show features clever commentary on the millennial generation, Shoshanna’s bizarre hairstyles, Skype dates with Mr. Feeny, and a lot of Lena Dunham nudity.

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3. America’s Next Top Teen Mom (America’s Next Top Model + Teen Mom).
Tyra is always looking for a new spin for her competitive modeling TV show. Why not add MTV’s famous teen mothers into the mix? The young contestants are judged based on their smize, the number of weaves they can wear in one episode, their ability to text and drive, and how well they deal with their baby daddies. The show features lots of tears, a weekly discussion about the contestants’ “realness,” a screaming Tyra Banks, and Jenelle Evans’ hot lawyer.

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once-upon4. Once Upon a Grimm (Once Upon a Time + Grimm).
Once Upon a Time and Grimm, both heavily focused on fairy tales and folklore, hit the small screens around the same time. Putting them together for a spin-off TV show (or at least a crossover episode) would be a no-brainer! Nick Burkhardt, a Portland homicide investigator and Grimm (a hunter who perceives supernatural forces and can fight them), finds his way to the East Coast town of Storybrooke. He and his partner, Hank Griffin, team up with Emma Swan (the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) to vanquish whatever villain is currently haunting Storybrooke. Meanwhile, Monroe (a blutbad, much like The Big Bad Wolf) begins an illicit affair with Ruby (Red Riding Hood/Werewolf Extraordinaire). Police Captain Sean Renard takes a liking to Evil Queen Regina (the Mayor of Storybrooke) and they bond over their shared knack for interior decorating. The show features true love’s kiss, several magical fight scenes, Nick Burkhardt’s concerned face, good triumphing over evil, and too much clever dialogue for its own good.

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5. Orange is the New Scandal (Orange is the New Black + Scandal).
Olivia Pope fixes things. But when she finds herself sentenced to a year in federal prison for the crimes she has committed, she can no longer play her role as Washington D.C.’s resident fixer. Instead, she begins helping her fellow inmates with their own issues. She gets Red back to her job in the kitchen, prepares several inmates for their appeals, puts an end to the prison race wars, and even works to improve Crazy Eyes’ image. The show features emotionally-charged prison visits from President Fitzgerald Grant, flashbacks to Olivia’s fabulous coats, a developing friendship between Olivia and fellow prisoner/hairdresser Sophia (who helps her maintain her beautiful hairstyles), and a significantly improved prison system.

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You’re welcome, TV viewers.

The Weekend Five: Worst Boyfriends on Television

dating-high_expectations-dating_agencies-man-unrealistic_expectations-the_dating_game-nsu0042lLet’s face it: even though fictional characters are not our soulmates, we all have our television crushes. From the dashing and brave to the brooding and sullen, there is a guy on TV who will make many women (and some men) swoon. Some of the men on TV are perfect gentlemen, while others aren’t exactly the kind you’d want to be in a long-term relationship with.

I’ve written about the worst boyfriends and worst girlfriends in literature, but what about the men who grace our television screens every week? Today, I’ve compiled a list of the worst boyfriends on television — the ones that you might find very attractive but should avoid at all costs if you ever find yourself in their TV universe.

The Weekend Five: Worst Boyfriends on Television

1. Ezra Fitz (Pretty Little Liars).
Many fans of Pretty Little Liars will defend the Ezra Fitz/Aria Montgomery pairing to the death, but I’ve never been an advocate for their relationship for a number of reasons. First of all, Ezra is Aria’s English teacher (several years her senior), and his taste tends to skew a bit young (we also learn that he previously dated Aria’s friend Allison before the series begins). Then (spoiler alert!) we learn that he has been spying on Aria and her friends for the past couple of years, and is only dating her so he can write a book about Allison’s murder. Some fans will argue that Ezra has redeemed himself, but in my eyes, no girl should have to endure a relationship with a guy who only wants her for the story.

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fitzgerald grant2. President Fitzgerald Grant (Scandal).
Unfortunately, it seems like if “Fitz” is anywhere in a guy’s name, then you are just asking for trouble. Scandal fans often ask me if I am Team Mellie Grant (Fitz’s wife/First Lady) or Team Olivia Pope (the woman with whom Fitz has engaged in a long-term affair), to which I say, “Neither. Both women deserve better.” Fitz stays in an unhappy marriage with his wife simply to keep up appearances as President of the United States, and strings along Olivia Pope, pulling her back in every time she decides to walk away. Fitzgerald Grant is manipulative and forceful, and doesn’t seem to treat any of the women in his life with the love and respect they deserve.

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3. King Henry (Reign).King Henry of France has a wife (the mother of three of his children), a mistress (the mother of one of his children) and a secret mistress (the best friend of his future daughter-in-law)… but somehow, he can’t manage to keep any of them happy. At one point, he even plans to behead his wife, Catherine de’Medici, simply so that his out-of-wedlock son can be legitimized and become the next king. Of course, none of this is historically accurate, but the fictional King Henry is a horrible significant other.

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Benedict_Cumberbatch_filming_Sherlock_cropped4. Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock).
Sherlock Holmes is a genius, but hardly boyfriend material. He is emotionally unavailable, honest to a fault (imagine if you asked him how you looked one day!) and often rude without trying to be. His observational skills would wear on you after a while, and you’d grow tired of constantly correcting him on how to behave among dinner guests. (Let’s not forget the fact that he actually entered a relationship with one woman only to gain the clearance he needed to solve a mystery!) While he ultimately has a good heart, Sherlock Holmes isn’t ready to settle down. When he is ready, Molly Hooper will be waiting.

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5. Almost all of the baby daddies on the Teen Mom series, except Corey.
I had to throw this one in here! As an unashamed reality TV junkie, I can say that the majority of the guys on Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2 are absolutely horrible to their baby mamas and children. From cheating on the girls to being absentee fathers, these young men are hardly the guys you would want in your life.

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Who would you consider the worst boyfriends on TV? What about the best boyfriends? Share yours in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: What Is Girl Code?

JWT-Amsterdam-Office-3-Reception-600x399With 2013 now behind us and my event-driven job back in full swing, it is now more rewarding than ever to stumble upon a nice thought-provoking article. This week, enjoy some wonderful links, including one essay written by the all-powerful Beyonce!

What are some useful or interesting links/articles you discovered lately?

Spoiler Alert: Next Season on ‘The Real World’

1333904005936_3463943After a week-long reality TV binge, I discovered an entirely new talent worth pursuing: casting for MTV shows. Although I lack the personality traits of the typical reality show contestant, I have watched enough to know how to handpick the perfect cast.

Because of this, I would like to provide my own guide on how to select seven strangers to live in a house, have their lives taped and stop being polite/start getting real.

1. Everyone should have an affinity for going out and drinking. Potential cast members, this is the time when you should talk about your love for tequila shots in an interview. If you like to stay in some nights and curl up with a book, you are clearly in the minority of all people between the ages of 18 and 24 and therefore shouldn’t even audition. You should be ashamed of yourself.

2. Make sure that one cast member has been sheltered for most of her life, and likely to make naive comments. This person is likely to bring a lot of the comic relief to the show, albeit unintentionally.

3. Choose one member of the LGBTQ community, and one person who is “uncomfortable” with homosexuality. This person is probably from the South. This person may also overlap with the person from #2, and his/her discomfort may border on bigotry. The two will probably share a bedroom.

real-world-logo4. Select one cast member who is in a committed relationship. The other cast members will mock this person when they find out she (it’s always a “she”) doesn’t plan on hooking up while on the show. She will claim to love her boyfriend, but they will either break up preemptively because of their perceived long-distance relationship problems (mini rant: um, hello? you will only be long-distance for two months at most, so just chill out and enjoy a new city for a change!) or she will cheat on him with one of the other housemates.

5. Select one cast member who wants to be single and vows never to date any of the housemates. This person will fall in love within the first two weeks of the show.

6. The more explosive the personality, the better. Pick cast members who “tell it like it is” and aren’t afraid to confront each other.
7. Look for at least one person with serious emotional issues. Instead of referring him or her to a professional, cast this person on your show. He or she will quickly reveal his or her deepest secrets with the other roommates in a matter of days.

8. Select at least one male cast member who is clearly only in it to get girls. Chances are, he will bring a lot of young ladies back to the house, where they will make a mockery of themselves and maybe even boost ratings.

9. Select at least one cast member with a dark and hidden past. He or she will share this information with the cameras on Day One, but act completely shocked when he or she learns that the whole world is about to find out his or her secret.

10. Leave them in a house together with access to only certain bars, restaurants, stores and attractions. The drama will unfold on its own – no scripting required!

Readers, am I missing any of the core casting rules? Who would you look to cast?

Why TV Does Not Glamorize Teen Pregnancy

As many of my readers know, I’m a bit of a reality TV junkie. While I miss the music videos on MTV as much as the next person, I have made do with the wide variety of reality shows the station has to offer (even some of the more embarrassing ones, like Jersey Shore, which has become my guilty pleasure!).

And yes, I will admit, I watch the teen pregnancy shows. Because the original cast of 16 and Pregnant featured girls my age, I thought it was interesting to see how having children affected them and think about how different my life would have been if I had made different choices. Over the years, I kept up with them as they graduated to Teen Mom, and while it isn’t the most groundbreaking show on television, I still thought it was intriguing to see how their lives turned out.

In the time since the shows first began to air, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom have received a lot of criticism throughout the nation. Many people suggest that such programming only glamorizes teen pregnancy and encourages teenagers to have unprotected sex so that they can have the fairy-tale endings they see on TV.

When I hear this, I have to ask: do these critics actually watch the show? Every week when the show airs, the four girls all have to deal with very serious issues: custody battles, financial problems, difficulty balancing school and work and raising a child, decisions relating to adoption, etc. Not one of the girls has it all completely together. Even Maci, who seems to have adjusted the most to teen motherhood, has been in and out of court with her son’s father, and her schoolwork has suffered so that she could care for Bentley. Meanwhile, Amber Portwood endures postpartum depression early on, and faces legal issues of her own.

Maybe it’s just me, but none of those scenarios sound particularly appealing. When I watch a show like this, it makes me think of how lucky I am not to be in the situation myself. Although I am not knocking motherhood and or trying to disrespect teen mothers, I do think that the show demonstrates very well that being a parent is hard. Being a parent when you’re only sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old is even harder. I never doubted that, but when I watch this kind of thing on television, I see challenges I might never have even thought of.

To make matters worse, some of these girls have also had to deal with the pressures of fame on top of teen parenthood. Their every moves are documented in the latest issues of OK! and Us Weekly magazine, and people across the country are judging their actions. Yes, they chose to be on television, but I doubt if any of them expected to have gained celebrity status so quickly.

The show might give some of these girls a leg up in their future careers, but it has never depicted their lives as easy or perfect. Any viewer with half a brain will see the many difficulties the cast faces, and realize that nothing about the show ever promotes teen pregnancy or makes it seem particularly desirable. When I watch shows like Teen Mom, I am thankful for the decisions I have made, and I know that if I were to get pregnant at even twenty years old, the road ahead would not be an easy one.

What do you think about these types of shows?

Forbidden Love: The Ezra Fitz Syndrome

As a loyal viewer of more television shows than I have time for, I often root for the more difficult character relationships: the nerd and the cheerleader, the queen bee and the bad boy, the best friends who are clearly in love but don’t want to shake things up. There’s something about the struggle, the built-up tension, the entire situation that makes us anticipate that first step toward becoming a couple. Of course, there’s one unconventional pairing that’s starting to become more common: the teacher/student relationship.

I may be open-minded, but for some reason, I am completely appalled by this trend. Just today, in fact, as I caught up on Pretty Little Liars and Skins, I witnessed two of these couples — Mr. Ezra Fitz and Aria, as well as Chris and Tina. In the past, Serena Van der Woodsen of Gossip Girl and Prudie of The Jane Austen Book Club, among many others, have been guilty of this as well.

Although I think it is completely inappropriate to be romantically involved with someone who controls your grades (as well as someone who preys upon much younger students), a lot of other viewers don’t seem to agree. Ezra and Aria are a fan favorite as far as Pretty Little Liars pairings go, and the show sympathetically displays the challenges they face as a couple. What scares me is that young girls will see how perfect Ezra is on the show, and suddenly feel that it’s okay to get involved with a teacher. We see these situations arise in the news all the time and the thought disgusts us, so why do we condone it on TV?

Many people argue that the law shouldn’t use age to discriminate against love, and I understand the argument; I have taken sexual behaviors classes and understand the discrepancies in ages of consent. However, regardless of how old each party is, I disagree with the idea of students dating one of the teachers, especially in middle and high school.

This is more of a rant than anything else, but I do wish pop culture would stop glamorizing this!

The Reality of a Second Season

Before I begin, let me admit that reality television is one of my guiltiest pleasures. I watch way too much MTV for my own good, and while I find myself poking fun at a lot of what I see on television, I also find myself continuing to tune in every week.

Nevertheless, as the original Teen Mom cast (first seen on 16 and Pregnant) films its third and final season, and the stars of Jersey Shore relocate to Italy to shoot a fourth season, I begin to question the producers’ decisions to continue a reality show cast past its first season. Yes, they are attracting plenty of viewers, but the shows no longer serve their original purposes.

For example, on 16 and Pregnant and the first season of Teen Mom, we are introduced to a group of girls who had children when they were young, and then we watch the struggles they face as teen mothers. By the second season, the girls have become somewhat of celebrities, and now, as the third season is being filmed, we begin to see the faces of Amber, Maci, Farrah and Catelynn on the covers of tabloids and on the front pages of our favorite celebrity gossip sites. They may talk about their financial problems on the show, but after being paid for several seasons and appearances, how can we really believe that? The show depicts these girls as normal teenagers, but at the same time they are followed by paparazzi and treated as celebrities.

Of course, after three seasons of Jersey Shore, who wouldn’t be able to recognize The Situation from a mile away? In the first season, the characters (I know they are “real” people, but I consider them characters) are just seven strangers with penchants for fake tans and drinking, and the people they meet have no real preconceived notions about them. Now, on the third season, you’d better believe that the girls that Mike, Vinny and Pauly bring home are only there because they know who Mike, Vinny and Pauly are. Snooki may lead you to believe that she is about to find the Guido of her dreams, but in truth she will never find someone who doesn’t know her already for her poof and her love of pickles.

When reality shows go on for longer than a season, they no longer serve their original purpose, and strangers’ reactions to the cast members are skewed by what they already knew about them from television. Instead, they become a place for fans to recognize inside jokes and feel like a part of the cast themselves, regardless of how “accurate” the depiction really is.

The Jersey Shore Misconception

Just last week, the second season of Jersey Shore premiered on MTV to over 5 million viewers. While many people (sadly including myself) tuned in to witness the train wrecks that are The Situation, Snooki, Sammi, DJ Pauly D, Ronnie, Vinny, JWoww and Angelina, I’m sure that many others flipped the channel in disgust. And who can blame them? The cast members have become caricatures of themselves at this point, with their lives revolving around sex, alcohol, hair gel and the now-famous concept of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry). Does anyone really take them seriously anymore?

Of course, there are plenty of Italian-American organizations out there who are urging people not to watch the show. Such groups are so offended by the “Guido” stereotypes perpetuated by the Jersey Shore cast that they have even begged MTV to drop the show completely. And from an outsider’s perspective, I can see why these groups might take offense — none of the cast members have much to offer (with the slight exception of Pauly D, because at least he’s a decent DJ) besides the ability to cause a scene and get arrested. Pair that together with the fact that they are constantly trying to represent the young Italian-American community, and it’s obvious that no reasonable person of the same ethnicity would want to be associated with them.

However, what critics fail to recognize is that the Jersey Shore cast doesn’t so much speak negatively about Italian-Americans, but rather about our society as a whole. On the show, Italians and non-Italians display completely trashy behavior that no one who has to live a grown-up life could ever abide by. The cast itself is not even entirely composed of Italians, even though they do try to represent their self-proclaimed “Guido” lifestyles nonetheless. In each episode they interact with a number of people — the girls they bring home for one-night-stands, the guys heckling them at the bars, and various others — to the point where it’s not about poorly representing Italian-Americans anymore. It really just reveals what’s wrong with our young culture in its entirety.

I’m no Puritan, but I can honestly say that the emphasis on drinking and sex is so excessive that it makes me wonder if that’s really all our generation wants to hold onto. How empty must people be for the GTL lifestyle (which, let’s face it, is not even remotely limited to the show) has become their own? When did we stop meeting socially for fun and conversation, and start hooking up with the first person drunk enough to accept us?

Jersey Shore and reality television definitely emphasize a wild lifestyle — perhaps even wilder than our own — but we still seem to be headed in that direction. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about going out and having a good time, but it’s important to remember moderation and to know about more than just how to hold your liquor.

After all, you have a lot more to offer than that. : )