TV Shows that Captured my Heart

Note: I’m trying my best to return to consistent Friday postings! (Yes, I know, today is a Saturday…) But expect Friday (or Saturday) posts weekly. I have a blog rotation I’m starting: worldly ponderings (which are my thoughts on different aspects of life, e.g. beauty standards or the violence in our world), creative writing (I can’t always guarantee I’ll have new content for this one), Christian life, and reviews/entertainment posts.

Without further ado, here are the shows I would consider my favorites. (I think I would also include Friends, but everyone pretty much knows about it.)

  1. Gilmore Girls

    Gilmore Girls
    Photo Credit: Neil Jacobs

This is by far my favorite television show, because of the warm family dynamic between Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory. They’re incredibly sassy and witty characters, which makes their interactions with others highly entertaining. One of my favorite lines is when Emily Gilmore, Lorelai’s mother, drops a box of items off at their house and Lorelai says, “What is it? It’s heavy… must be her hopes and dreams for me.” I will add that the dialogue is incredibly fast-paced, which can make or break the experience for some (I get a kick out of it, but it tires my mother out.)

If you appreciate  coffee, sassy remarks, small town life and a warm “dramedy” with plenty of popular culture references, buckle up for 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls, plus the six-hour revival series that came out this past winter. It won’t be long before you feel like a part of Stars Hollow, with all of its eccentric characters.

  1. Parenthood

    Parenthood.jpg
    Photo Credit: UPTV.com

Another “dramedy,” Parenthood appealed to me because my sister recommended it and Lauren Graham, who played Lorelai in Gilmore Girls, is also a character in this show. But after watching all six seasons, I grew to love it as its own entity. There is also a strong family dynamic that warms the show, with the plot shifting between four siblings (Adam, Sarah (Graham), Julia, and Crosby), their children, and the siblings’ parents. The close-up, intimate camera shots make the viewer feel a part of the action in a way that the generally wider camera angles of Gilmore Girls don’t. A vast majority of episodes end on a positive note with the entire family coming together for the final scene, which appeals to those of us who enjoy large families and the community family provides.

While it is a fictional show and should generally be taken with a grain of salt in many aspects, I will say that watching the parents interact with their kids and teenagers made me empathize with my parents. Oftentimes growing up, children take our parents for granted, especially in the angst-y period of adolescence… but they daily need to deal with tricky decisions in the case of finances, family illnesses, and absent parents, among other issues.

Another reason I love this show is the way it highlights each generation, from the grandparents to the kids. I think people of all ages can enjoy this show, and while Gilmore Girls can sometimes be a little feminine, Parenthood is relatable to everyone, and you will laugh and cry with the Bravermans.

  1. Riverdale

    Riverdale.jpg
    Photo Credit: Netflix

Calling all fans of Archie comics, this one’s for you! However, it’s not the lighthearted, silly take you would expect, but a dark mystery that also happens to be, in my opinion, the most dramatic drama in all of existence. But I have to be honest… it is SO addicting. Almost every episode ends in a cliffhanger; a clever filming technique to keep viewers interested. The first season premiered in January and this coming Wednesday (10/11), the second season will premiere on the CW at 8:00 EST. I never watch shows live, but you can bet I’m eagerly waiting for Riverdale to start!

With the first season culminating in the solution of a murder mystery and another Riverdale community member being shot, it’s likely this season will revolve around a mystery too. The show revolves around the well-loved characters in the comics: Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. Jughead is definitely my favorite, with his strong writing skills and brooding-yet-witty personality. (Have you sensed a theme? I love witty people.)

As one of my friends pointed out, there are also similarities to Harry Potter, with Veronica’s mom named Hermione and the evil biker gang named “The Serpents” with snake tattoos, so that’s probably a subconscious appeal for me too. Those that live for mysteries, intense drama and a bit of romance—make some popcorn and watch Riverdale!

  1. Once Upon a Time

    Once.png
    Photo Credit: ABC.com

You probably inferred this from the title, but Once Upon a Time is a show that develops a plot around children’s fairytales, with Disney stories holding the most prominent influence over the plot. So all of you that hold a love for Disney near and dear to your heart, give Once a go. Fantasy, action, adventure, and mystery are all meshed together to form this magically entrancing storyline that has shaped six seasons of the show.

The seventh season started yesterday, but in all honesty, I have not caught up. Supposedly almost all of the main characters have left for the seventh season, so many fans are unhappy about that. My friends and I have discussed our mixed feelings about the show. Some people feel that certain characters become too repetitive with no character development and some plotlines in the later seasons seem weaker than previous seasons in others’ opinions. I will admit I was more eager to continue watching the earlier seasons than I am now. However, I do still adore the Disney and fantasy aspects, which has kept me watching. I can’t give a fully-informed opinion with where I’m at right now, but if you enjoy magic and fantasy, that will keep you watching and interested regardless of characters and plotlines.

  1. Sherlock

    Sherlock.jpg
    Photo Credit: PBS.org

Finally, what is television without sleuthing and Sherlock Holmes? Shout out to my English readers and those that appreciate British entertainment! They know how to produce an enthralling show. If you’re even the slightest bit familiar with Sherlock Holmes, there’s no need for me to explain. Some of the episodes are even based on short stories from Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, including the first episode, entitled “A Study in Pink,” which is loosely based on A Study in Scarlet. Four seasons are out so far, with 3 episodes per season, 1 hour and 30 minutes each. I have only watched through the first episode of season 4 because it was a pretty sad episode…

Truthfully, I am unsure if there will be more seasons, as I don’t know how four ends (and am too scared to know…). But with stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the lead roles, if there were more, it surely wouldn’t be for another year or more.

 

Hopefully at least one show caught your interest and if you have watched any (or all!) of my favorites, please let me know! I love talking to people about any and all of my favorite entertainment, and am always up for discussing any of the delightful characters! Good news: all the shows listed are also on Netflix! Unfortunately, for those of you without Netflix, the only show I could find to legally watch online (that is also available in America… Sorry Sherlock fans) is Riverdale, on the CW website. (If you’ve found the others anywhere, please share the link!) Happy binge-watching!

~Annah

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Summer 2017 Books

Nowadays, reading can be a challenge for many, because we have an internal debate that was nonexistent even a decade ago: to read or to watch Netflix? Seriously, it’s a struggle. For me, they both always sound so inviting, but one has to win out over the other. My reading patterns consist of either seasons of constant reading or seasons without reading. But whenever I begin seasons of reading I always wonder why I ever stopped. It is relaxing, it is engaging, and it is fun. I wholeheartedly believe that if you don’t like reading, you just haven’t found the right book for you yet.

My “to-read” list is probably about a mile long, but this summer I was able to take out a teeny chunk of it. I’ve been tempted to start a new section of my blog where I review all kinds of entertainment, so why not kick it off with my summer booklist? I’ve read a wide range, from self-help, to novels, to religious books this summer. So sit back, grab a refreshing drink, and see what grabs your interest.

  1. Les Misérables by: Victor Hugo (Sort of…)

I actually already read three-quarters of this book two years prior for AP English, but I finally finished that last quarter this summer! (I know, very long overdue.) Although a long time coming, this is actually my favorite novel. I’ve realized what warms my heart the most within books are redeemed characters, which Jean Valjean most certainly is. The theme of redemption provides the hope that no one has to be enslaved to a certain lifestyle or attitude, and our circumstances are always susceptible to change.

This is also one of the longest books I have ever heard of with the most intricate detail and is not for the faint of heart. But if you want to really invest yourself in a story and characters with great depth to them, if you like the musical or movie and want more detail, if you enjoy seeing a cast of characters of all kinds, then this one’s for you.

  1. The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak

Set in Germany during Hitler’s reign and narrated by Death, this book became popular a few years ago. Unfortunately I was not a part of that trend, but after blowing through it in two days and crying my eyes out, I can confidently say this is one of my new favorite books. Voice and language is what Zusak does best and are the tools that will keep this story embedded in your mind. The characters are easy to fall in love with and the narrative is a powerful page-turner. I would recommend this to everyone, regardless of your reading interests.

  1. Mary Poppins by: P.L. Travers

I grew up with this movie and absolutely loved it, which may be part of the reason that I personally was a little let down by the book. I have always been a firm believer that a movie can never be as great as a book, but have always loved both equally in their separate entities (I’m a very optimistic entertainment-retainer, you could say). This is a lovely book for children, with its imaginative series of events. However, if you’re anything like me, and love taking deep themes and messages away from stories, this book is not the best for that. Something I really enjoyed from the movie was the character development of Mr. Banks and the contrast between the fun and silliness with Mary and the kids, to the serious troubles of an adult man, which really caters to every audience and hits a deeper chord. Mr. Banks’ development was not present in the book and Mary was also a much more serious and stern character in the book (although that character change had to have been a result of Disney.) Personally, I preferred the more lighthearted version of Mary that Julie Andrews portrayed and thought a stern Mary who created imaginative events wherever she went seemed a bit odd. But if you want a light read with lots of silliness and imagination, or a good book for your children, this is a great one.

  1. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by: Don Miguel Ruiz

This was a different kind of book for me, but I wanted to read it because it meant a lot to a friend. I’m really thankful I did, though, because I think it’s crucial to read all kinds of viewpoints and lifestyles, not just those like your own. That’s how we learn from each other and understand each other better.

This book is perfect for those of you looking to better your life and seek personal happiness outside of the major religions. I appreciated the sentiments behind the four agreements, and as a Christian, was able to see some similarities between the two different belief systems, which was super interesting. If finding new ways to personal freedom or seeking to understand other viewpoints interests you, here’s your book.

  1. Mere Christianity by: C.S. Lewis

I’ve always been a Christian who prefers to stick with the Bible and is not interested in other Christian books, but I ended up reading not only this spiritual book, but the next two on this list, which is really different for me. (Not going to lie, during the period of reading The Four Agreements and these three, I basically had separation anxiety from novels.) Lewis is so intellectual that it blows my mind. Everything he writes is so articulate and it makes me think he came out of the womb using words like ‘obsequious’ and ‘taciturn.’ Talk about thorough though, this book is 100% thorough. It’s also dense and not a quick read, so expect to really put your thinking cap on every time you sit down to read. This is not a book to change anyone’s mind about anything, but if you really appreciate sound, structured arguments with solid examples to back them up and/or you want to reaffirm your Christian beliefs, you have exactly that within this book.

  1. Mister God, This is Anna by: Fynn

This is one of my mother’s favorites and so I thought I’d try it out. Sure enough, I opened to the first page and she had ‘Anna’ and ‘Joy’ circled, which are my first and middle names. The author is actually the main character in the book and it appears to be based on a true story, but the difference between the truth and fiction is not certain. The story centers around a wild and confident four-year-old girl named Anna who is taken home to live with a nineteen-year-old man named Fynn and his family. In the time he lives with Anna, Fynn learns about ‘Mister God,’ this important relationship in Anna’s life. This book offers unique perspectives of God that may offer a fresh viewpoint for interested Christians.

  1. Jesus > Religion by: Jefferson Bethke

Like The Book Thief, I made quick work of this one. Not only was the title intriguing, but I’ve been watching Bethke’s YouTube videos for a couple years now and knew I would love his style of writing. Compared to C.S. Lewis, Bethke is almost the opposite writing style—very simplified but straightforward, with many emotional and real-life examples to back up his points. His points don’t require a ton of concentration, but may stir up some disagreement among Christians, as he focuses on how we are living/where we’re failing as a church versus how we should be living.

  1. The Good Earth by: Pearl S. Buck

As I write this, I still have 50 pages left, so this may be “cheating,” but I’m going to give my review from what I know of most of it. This is an incredibly intriguing novel that deals with Chinese culture and Buck received the Pulitzer Prize for it back in 1932. I never read nearly enough ethnic literature, so I’ve enjoyed this excursion (added to the fact that it’s my first novel in two months). It focuses on Wang Lung and his family as they battle through multiple famines and family hardships. This is a great book to help expand your cultural knowledge (within reason, as it is still a novel) and would also be awesome for a book club—my copy even has some great discussion questions in the back!

I hope you enjoyed this review post! There were a lot of ‘firsts’ within this group of books and the eclectic mixture ended up being really cool. So I hope you all could find one you’re interested in taking the time to read and I will try my best to keep reading and reviewing books whenever I can! I definitely have a reading list that will keep me busy.

~Annah