Recently (well a few weeks ago), I watched the Netflix series From Scratch. So first and foremost I need to acknowledge that it’s been out for a while but I finally had some time to watch. For those who haven’t watched it yet, this post will include some spoilers so you can stop here if you haven’t had the opportunity quite yet. A few things. First, the scenery and setting was beautiful. I found myself reminiscing on my trips to Italy and wishing that I had another one booked. It’s a beautiful and unique country and the food is amazing. I loved the fact that the story was true to life and I’ve heard that it was actually based on a true story. Family is important and the fact that the main character took the time to learn Italian and connect with her in-laws despite their resistance led to them embracing her and including her in their will. It was a beautiful love story of a couple who made it work even when faced with so many challenges. Family members flew in from around the country in order to provide support and everyone came together in a way that was beautiful and personified what it means to have a true family unit. They had their differences but at the end of the day they were united by their love of their daughter, sister, and granddaughter. It was a such a tear jerker and I found myself being glad that I didn’t have anything else scheduled for the day because my eyes were red and puffy. It’s an emotional roller coaster–which life is at times. I particularly loved the ending where the main character had to think about her daughter and create a new normal that included honoring the memory of her spouse. She demonstrated so much resiliency even in the midst of the most tragic event. Overall, I think that main message of the movies was about the resiliency of the human spirit and the ability we have to find some beauty in the midst of unspeakable tragedy.
Lately I have been watching a show called 90 Day Fiancé. It has been so interesting to watch the relational ramifications of a cross continental move where one person has to adjust to a new country, a new person and a new culture. One thing that strikes me is that there is usually a pretty significant age gap between the engaged couple. The show documents the 90 day period before the couple either gets married or one returns back to their country. Another thing that strikes me is the fact that these couples don’t really know each other. They don’t have the history together that would lend itself to an intimate understanding of the other person. Because of this there are a lot of disagreements and conflict as they seek to navigate a life together. The family and friend relationships play a huge role in the couple’s life and understandably so. However, there is usually always some tension as family members adjust to the new person and the relationship. The show is eye opening and also somewhat addictive because there are so many emotions and feelings involved and you can watch the ups and downs of how the couples manage their relationship.
I admit that I really like Netflix because it’s so easy to binge-watch and the next episode starts automatically after the last one. I’ve been working my way through the current season of Orange Is The New Black and I have to say that it’s not as great as I thought it would be so far. I really liked the series when it focused on Piper and I understood as the storyline expanded to give the stories of others who were incarcerated. While it’s been keeping my attention I haven’t been captivated and I’m about halfway through the season. I’ve also started watching Season 4 of Being Mary Jane (late I know) and it has been so interesting so far. The therapist in me is intrigued by all the family dynamics in the show and I can identify with some of the characteristics of the lead character, Mary Jane. She has good intentions but has been burned by love so many times and doesn’t always go with her gut. She’s trying to make it in a cutthroat field and has numerous distractions that she tries to get through. Mary Jane is navigating a relationship and her career aspiration at the same time and is trying to balance both. It’s been an eventful season so far and I’m intrigued to know how it’ll end. I’ve also been following The Bachelorette for the first time ever and it’s actually really good. Unfortunately, a lot of the guys I were rooting for have been sent home but I think that there are some good ones left.
Today in lieu of being at work (which typically is the case on weekends), I had the chance to watch several episodes of Fix My Life on OWN. I was intrigued by the work that Iyanla does with couples. On a particular episode she addressed a couple who had been married 20 years but weren’t sure if they wanted to stay married. Iyanla brought up the point that wedding vows typically say “until death do us part” but they aren’t specific on what type of death warrants parting ways. Is it a physical death? The death of one’s commitment? Or is it the death of one’s individuality or emotional stability and wellbeing? What exactly does it mean? I think that these questions are up to each couple to define. However, I wonder how many couples actually have this type of conversation? It’s easy to promise something when you’re happy and naive but it’s a different story when you’re in the midst of a relational crisis. This is another reason why I think pre-marital counseling can be so important. It can bring up questions that you hadn’t considered before and help you lay a solid foundation for a successful relationship.
I’m not a huge TV watcher but I have to admit that this season of Scandal has been interesting to say the least. Like a lot of people, I’ve been watching from the beginning and the twists and turns never fail to amaze me or keep my attention. I’ve been particularly drawn to the character of Huck. He’s been through so much trauma but has managed to become pretty high functioning after a bout of homelessness and psychological trauma. Deep down, Huck is a family guy. He has a soft spot for women and children. Perhaps because it reminds him of his past and his ex-wife and son. One of the episodes this season highlighted him as a character and revealed that he has a blind spot when it comes to helping defenseless women and it puts him in a place of vulnerability. To the point that he ignores his intuition and lets his guard down. Needless to say I hope that his blind spot doesn’t lead to his untimely demise and that he pulls through because he’s one of my favorite characters on the show. I guess we’ll see what the rest of the season will bring.
I rarely binge watch shows on Netflix anymore due to having better things to do with my time. But this week I made an exception for a show caught my attention. Greenleaf. I had heard good things about it, but due to never having cable (or time to research how to watch it online), I never watched it. While the show is fictional, I think that it gives an accurate portrayal of what has played out in a lot of big church settings. One of the leading characters, “Grace” spends the entire season fighting for the truth. While her methods are unorthodox and her family is largely unsupportive, she remains on a mission to expose the truth. Her tenacity is driven by the death of her sister who completed suicide–and was abused. As the season unfolds, one sees the numerous challenges that other members of the family are experiencing but trying to get through. Greenleaf is a shining example of the attempt to “keep things in the family” and ignore signs that something is amiss. The show is definitely emotional but it shows how religion can be used as a coverup for people to do what they want without being held accountable under the guise of being a spiritual leader who doesn’t answer to man. The show held my attention and I’m definitely interested in watching Season 2 to see what unfolds.
Now that I’m a working adult, it’s rare that I’ll binge watch an entire season of a show in two sittings but that’s what happened with Insecure. My social media accounts have been flooded with reactions from the show so I wanted to watch for myself and see what the hype was all about. Oh my goodness. The show is amazing. Definitely not kid friendly but a great show. The main character “Issa” has a lot going on. She’s balancing a relationship, a best friend, and a job at a local non-profit. As the season progresses, we see Issa try to make sense of her world. Her boyfriend isn’t always emotionally available and she questions the relationship when an old flame reappears in her life. Meanwhile, Issa also has a best friend who is a successful professional but has really bad luck with men. By the time the season ends, Issa’s boyfriend has gotten a new job, she has made a horrible mistake and her friend is still single. One thing that I can appreciate is that the show isn’t super complicated. The season finale wasn’t what I expected but it definitely brought to light the fact that there are consequences for actions although two wrongs don’t make a right. Issa made a mistake and regretted it but discovered that some things aren’t easily fixed with a contrite apology. Her boyfriend was a good guy who got his life together a little too late but was absolutely caught off guard when the truth came out and acted out accordingly. There aren’t hundreds of characters to remember but the nuances are so reflective of real life and the experience of a lot of minority millennials. I’m glad the show has been renewed for a second season.
I’ve never been much of a groupie but I must admit that it was cool to share an airport terminal train with Michaela Watkins, one of the stars in my favorite Hulu show, Casual. While it definitely contains some adult content, the show accurate depicts a lot of the confusion and anguish that can accompany relationships that merely casual. Michaela plays a therapist who is a recent divorcee and a single mother. She’s great at what she does but finds it hard to separate her personal from her own professional self. All the characters in the show experience their own personal crisis that make them more aware of who they are as people. The show is messy like real life often is. There’s so much ambivalence and the characters struggle with being honest with themselves and their partners. We often have to operate and make decisions based on limited information. Casual is a good show because it makes you think and do some honest analysis of the complicated relationships in your life.
I recently found a show on Netflix that I found especially intriguing called “It Takes a Church.” I haven’t watched the entire season yet but I’m about 5 episodes in. It’s light-hearted inspirational reality TV. In each episode a single woman is identified by church members and the pastor as a great wife candidate. Church members band together and bring in bachelors who they think would be a good fit for said single woman. She is surprised in a church service by the show’s host and proceeds to tell the congregation about her dating life and why she is single after being prompted by the show’s host. The church votes and picks 4 bachelors for her to get to know better and at the end of the episode she picks one bachelor to (hopefully) pursue a relationship with. The show is interesting from a social psychology point of view as you witness the bachelors vie for the attention of the woman but very conservatively since it’s also in a church setting. I have to admit that so far in the episodes I’ve watched, there have been plenty of cringe-worthy moments as I’ve watched the guys try to veggie-flirt without crossing an invisible line. But let’s be honest, in many churches women outnumber the men so I can see the logic behind the show. But it just seems to awkward to have (practically) strangers give their input on your personal life and make a recommendation for a life partner. While there’s no question as to whether or not these people have good intentions, it reminds me of a quote that advises that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. While it hasn’t been my reality in a while, I can honestly say that being single in church settings sucks the majority of the time. It’s awkward to express interest in someone else and mixed messages are common. You are promised a significant other if you can “keep the faith,” make multiple donations to the church and volunteer your time at church related functions and activities. It’s not always the best environment to find a significant other. I can understand the need for an alternative to online dating but I’m not quite convinced that having church members pick your mate is it.
When I moved into my new apartment I did something that I had always wanted to do—got cable television. Now granted I don’t have enough channels to even remotely keep up with things in the television world, but it’s been a decent deal. Of course my cable use has been supplemented with my TV antenna, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Videos so I really don’t miss a lot. I rarely watch things in real time but I’ve come to love the DVR. It’s so amazingly convenient to watch things when you want to. I’ve found a new favorite show to DVR–Modern Family. About 120 episodes worth if we’re being specific. It’s an awesome show about the daily life experiences and challenges of families. It’s not really a comedy but there’s this dry ironic underlying humor vibe that I like. Needless to say, watching an episode or so after a long day at work has been great for decompressing after a long frustrating day at work. It’s comfortable and doesn’t require a lot of thought…Self care right?