SPOILERS * SPOILERS * SPOILERS * Can’t make it anymore clearer, if you have not yet seen the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead then do NOT read below!
Bewitching – why a trashy little Lifetime show about witches turned out to be one of the best things on TV
Since Witches of East End actually “went there” and killed off Wendy in the season 2 finale, I’ve been trying to figure out how on earth I became this invested in a trashy show about witches. I’m not entirely sure, but here goes my attempt to process the loss of Wendy, and why Wendy & Joanna are fabulous television…
Two weeks ago, I stopped watching Nashville. It was a conscious decision. I’d followed Connie Britton (of Friday Night Lights) into a show that should have been incredible, and instead I found myself hating it more and more: never-ending love triangles, a constant stream of dull new characters, a fixation with turning Connie’s character into a saint who never had to deal with real-world consequences for her shitty choices, a good actress wasted in a dead-end melodrama. When the season three premiere turned up the soap factor even higher, I decided it was time to tune out. And yet, this week I found myself crying right along with the immortal witch Joanna over the death of her sister Wendy, a shape-shifting witch who had given up what remained of the last of her nine lives for someone else. From Joanna weeping over her sister’s body, the show headed on over to a pool party in hell, where Wendy was greeted by a mysterious third sister in a bright red cloak. I sat there, mouth wide open. When the credits began to roll, I may have uttered a string of expletives. I need season three NOW. What on earth has this trashy little show about witches done so right?
To explain how I started watching a show about witches when I’d never been particularly into science fiction or fantasy, you need to look at casting. I’ve been a fan of Julia Ormond’s work for many years. She’s one of those actresses who elevates almost any script, and trust me, she’s been in some clunkers. But when she’s got good material and good co-stars, she just runs with it. If you’ve seen her in Traffik, Temple Grandin or her brief guest-stint as O’Hara’s globe-trotting girlfriend on Nurse Jackie, you know what I mean. But I really didn’t have high hopes when I read on Deadline that she’d signed on for a show about witches on Lifetime. Did she have to pay the mortgage that badly?
Within four episodes, however, I quickly realised that this show was far more than a show about witches. Instead, in the capable hands of Julia, Madchen Amick and the show’s writers and producers, it became a show about family relationships, inter-generational support, power and loss. It had stupid things like an immortal historian which totally broke my brain, being an historian myself. (I’ve lost count of the number of times this idea has kept me entertained when bored at seminars and conferences. Seriously. Think about it: what if one person in every history department was immortal… but don’t think too hard in case I want to turn this idea into a book one day.) This show knew it was slightly trashy and never took itself too seriously. But mostly, in spite of all its supernatural leanings, the ‘adults’ —sorry Freya and Ingrid!— felt refreshingly human.
For all the talk about us experiencing a ‘golden age’ of television right now, there’s still a massive lack of series where the action is driven by female characters, and among the shows where it is, there still seem to be way too few three-dimensional women that seem ‘real’, for lack of a better term, especially away from HBO, Showtime and Netflix. The new CBS show Madam Secretary, while featuring a woman as an ex-CIA-turned-college-professor-turned-Secretary-of-State as its central character, is turning into yet another show about super-women who “have it all”. That’s just not engaging, especially not in this day and age where competent, successful women can still be decried for consciously choosing not to have children, and stay-at-home-mom is used as a slur. Give me Tea Leoni’s train-wreck character in Spanglish any day over Madam Secretary.
Witches of East End, however, feels almost ground-breaking— a basic-cable show where the action is entirely led by four women who don’t bicker but support each other, who all have flaws which enrich their fictional characters. Sisters Wendy and Joanna had been estranged for many years, but in the pilot episode, Wendy came to Joanna’s house because she sensed Joanna’s life was in danger and needed her help. Joanna constantly hid the truth from people close to her to protect them. Even though she’d done so with the best intentions of protecting her daughters, Joanna had been far from a perfect mother to her now grown-up daughters over the years. There were consequences for her actions, but, refreshingly, they bore none of the sadly-still-common hallmarks of teaching a flawed female character ‘a lesson’.
Because Joanna is immortal, we gradually discovered that she had a string of immortal lovers who came in and out of her life across centuries. She reconnected with them and sometimes they had sex. Sometimes Joanna left; sometimes they did. Rather than be constant sources of heartache and despair, these men and women came to help Joanna and she was better because of them. Please find me a show where female characters above the age of 40 have relationships like this without any other character judging them for it; I can count them on one hand. Wendy had many more casual dalliances across seasons one and two, but again, nobody judged her for it. Even when Joanna suggested to Wendy that her commitment phobia was no longer appropriate because she was on her last life, note that at no time did anyone imply that Wendy had been ‘easy’ or ‘promiscuous. Wendy is “the fun aunt”.
Season two of Witches of East End has featured plenty of crazy, from tentacle-porn monsters and time doors, to more bad CGI than you can shake a magic wand at, but, in spite of the crazy, Joanna and Wendy have remained grounded in reality. By taking the ballsy step of killing Wendy who is easily the show’s most popular character, the writers not only brought home Joanna’s constant cycle of burying the ones she loves to us the viewers, but they also followed through with something that’s been carefully set up this entire season. If this season had one over-arching theme it was the fracturing of family, which in Joanna’s case was mostly loss: the death of her former partner Victor, her ex-girlfriend Alex’s departure, the (temporary) death of her daughters Freya and Ingrid which resulted in Joanna’s suicide attempt, and now, finally, the death of her sister Wendy, the character we all adore. Thus, Joanna’s grief is real but it doesn’t feel gratuitous. This is not some kind of tragic heroine scenario here. Instead, I’m looking forward to season three (which there had better be) where we see Joanna develop as a character because of all that has happened to her in season two, as she deals with the negative consequences of immortality, but also exploring how grief might bring her and her daughters together as an even stronger unit and serving as an impetus for the three witches to try to bring Wendy back. Hello seances!
We also know that this show will introduce more trouble in the form of the third sister, Helena, who gathers souls in the underworld. On paper, she sounds like a villain, but I have every confidence that instead of bitch fighting between sisters, Witches of East End will use Helena* to enrich the family dynamic, elevating the established characters while simultaneously not portraying them as flawless saints. It’s what this show does best: strong female characters who support each other, fuck up, and keep on having each others’ backs between all the bad CGI effects. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I grew to love a trashy little show about witches. It might just be one of the most refreshing, feminist-ing shows on television.
*… and if you need any convincing that Melrose Place alum Daphne Zuniga just has to play Helena and could totally hold her own against the talents of Julia Ormond and Madchen Amick, please watch the episode of Nip/Tuck that she guest starred on (find episode 5×01 on Netflix). This woman is stupidly talented. She’d totally pass as a relative. It’s a no-brainer and has to happen.
This essay was written by 'Fiona Bentfield' and originally posted at Another Electric Picture Hall. Original post can be found here. Many thanks to Fiona for allowing me to re-post.
Roll up roll up, get your tickets here! See the famous bearded lady, the mystical three breasted beauty, the strong man and the two headed woman! Yes, the American Horror Story: Freak Show official full length trailer is finally here and it’s looking to be like everything we could hope for, for this new series!
Check out the trailer via Vulture.com
AHS Freak Show debut’s October 8 on FX in the US
Freak Show coming soon to Channel 10/Eleven shortly after
Well I don’t know about you, but by the time the final awards were announced, my Emmy’s 2014 score card was looking pretty dire. Of the main categories this year, Breaking Bad and Modern Family went home winners claiming 9 trophies between the two shows. Breaking Bad deservedly with it’s incredible final season while a few were surprised with Modern Family’s continued award show strength even after 5 seasons…
While Breaking Bad, Modern Family, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jim Parsons have become expected winners, there were a few surprise names called out with BBC series Sherlock and it’s stars Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch taking out the top awards for mini-series and 5 time previous winner Alison Janney winning best supporting actress for the very horrible comedy Mom
Check out the list of winners below along with my disastrous score card!
Comedy | Supporting Actor | My Pick: Tony Hale (VEEP) / Winner: Ty Burrel (Modern Family)
Comedy | Supporting Actress | My Pick: Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black) / Winner: Alison Janney (Mom)
Comedy | Lead Actor | My Pick: Matt Le Blanc (Episodes) / Winner: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Comedy | Lead Actress | My Pick: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (VEEP) / Winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (VEEP)
Comedy Series | My Pick | Orange is the New Black / Winner: Modern Family
Drama | Supporting Actor | My Pick: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) / Winner: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Drama | Supporting Actress | My Pick: Lena Headley (Game of Thrones) / Winner: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
Drama | Lead Actor | My Pick: Brian Cranston (Breaking Bad) / Winner: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Drama | Lead Actress | My Pick: Claire Danes (Homeland) / Winner: Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Drama Series | My Pick: Breaking Bad / Winner: Breaking Bad
As you can see, I hang my head low claiming only four correct picks! Will be interesting to see how the drama category stacks up with this being Breaking Bad’s final year.
It’s here!!!!!! The official full length trailer for The Walking Dead’s fifth season has just been released and it looks like we’re in for a mega season ahead!
Talk about wow right?!
So as we can see from the trailer, it looks like Carol, Tyreece and Judith eventually make their way inside terminus (remember the short clip released a few weeks ago?) and that Rick and the gang seem to unite with the Terminus members to find a cure in Washington but the biggest reveal was that Beth is in fact alive but not with the folks in Terminus as we all first thought!
The Walking Dead returns October for season 5.
Now this is just being mean. We’re salivating here, hoping for any news or tidbits about what to expect when The Walking Dead returns for it’s fifth season only to be given a very short clip that leaves us screaming WE WANT MORE!!!
During the Talking Dead season preview special that aired on AMC, a small 30 second clip from the premiere episode of season five was shown, smashing us right into zombie territory with Carol (Martina McBride), Tyreece (Chad Coleman) and baby Judith on the run.
So we now know that Carol, Tyreece and Judith have not yet made it to Terminus and that obviously, they’ll be blind as to what has happened to Rick, Darryl, Maggie and the rest of the gang – with exception to Beth whom no one knows where she is (or if she is even still alive).
AMC also announced via twitter that the first full trailer for season 5 will drop online July 25th!
“We’re counting down to the release of #TheWalkingDead Season Five trailer 7/25. RT to win a #20DaysofDead prize pack!” tweeted The Walking Dead AMC.
Sadly, there’s still four months until the show’s return in October.
It’s here and it looks just as godawful as the first outing! The Sharknado 2: The Second One trailer dropped online today and it looks so damn bad that it’s gotta be good.
The sequel to the ‘movie event’ of last year (ahem) once again sees Ian Zeiring and Tara Reid fighting tornado’s spitting out sharks but this time round, the action has been moved to New York City.
Along with Ziering and Reid, other suckers along for the ride include Vivica A Fox, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer (Sliders), Judah Friedlander (30 Rock), Andy Dick, Kelly Osbourne, Billy Ray Cyrus and Judd Hirsch and yes, that was Matt Lauer making a cameo too.
For those hanging to see this giant mess, Foxtel announced that we will be gettin Sharknado 2 fast tracked to our screens within minutes of the US. SyFy channel will air the movie on July 31st at 11:30am with a late-night repeat set for 9:30pm and perfect timing to take part in the numerous Sharknado 2 drinking games that will be sprouting up shortly
Sharknado 2: The Second One airs Thursday July 31st at 11:30am/9:30pm on SyFy Channel.
Fans of the “A Song of Fire and Ice” books (which is the source material for Game of Thrones) might have felt they missed something quite pivotal when the season four finale of GoT came and passed.
Where the heck is Lady Stoneheart?
It was a question that rang out after the season four finale when Lady Stoneheart didn’t show up, as she did in the epilogue of “A Storm Of Swords” and now fans of the book and television series are wanting to know where she is.
Alex Graves, who directed the final episode, revealed that there were no plans whatsoever to include the pivotal character during that time, though it didn’t necessarily mean that we would not see Lady Stoneheart in the future.
Is this good news? It was until actress Michelle Fairley spoke with EW recently. “The character’s dead,” Michelle told EW. “She’s dead.” EW revealed that Michelle was told it would likely never happen, and when asked about a preference — Lady Stoneheart or no Lady Stoneheart — Michelle said, “I knew the arc, and that was it. They can’t stick to the books 100 percent. It’s impossible— they only have 10 hours per season.
“They have got to keep it dramatic and exciting, and extraneous stuff along the way gets lost in order to maintain the quality of brilliant show.”
For those not familiar with the books and are sitting there wondering who the heck is Lady Stoneheart and why does it involve actress Michelle Fairley…well, Lady Stoneheart is Catelyn Stark’s reanimated corpse and of course, Catelyn Stark was played by Michelle Fairley.
After her throat was slit at the Red Wedding, Catelyn was thrown into a river and left to float there for three days before she was pulled out by Lord Beric Dondarrion (who you will know as the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners) and who resurrected Catelyn by giving his life for hers.
The somewhat-brought-back-to-life Catelyn then adopted the name Lady Stoneheart as she joined the Brotherhood Without Banners to lead them in mercilessly executing all traitors – with special attention paid to the Lannisters and Freys, and anyone who associates with them.
The purposeful cutting of Lady Stoneheart has left many people wondering how this will affect the story-arcs for certain characters including Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth for the shows fifth season as all three characters feature quite heavily in season five’s source material “A Feast of Crows”.
Says Alex Graves “”No, they didn’t do it. It was never on the docket to do this season — ever.”
Game of Thrones returns in 2015.
To date, the only thing we really know about any of the characters that will be appearing in the new American Horror Story Freak Show is that Jessica Lange ‘has been practicing her German accent’. It’s not much to go on, but we have been clinging onto that little piece of info like it’s our last scrap of food.
Now, thanks to AHS regular Sarah Paulson, we have been given something than a little more than a shred of info…
In an interview with E! News earlier this week, Paulson said that her reaction to reading the first script was two words: “Holy shit!“ and the actress described the fourth season as a hybrid between the previous two “AHS” seasons, “Coven” and “Asylum.” “There’s going to be a little bit of a richer and potentially darker tone the way ‘Asylum’ had, but with the humor infused from ‘Coven,'” Paulson said.
So now we can add this little gem to the rest of what we know: “Freak Show” will be set in Jupiter, Florida in the 1950s, Jessica Lange will play a German ex-pat running a carnival with Denis O’Hare playing her rival collector of freaks, and Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy and other “AHS” favorites are also expected to return.
Now that all of the main networks (CBS, NBC, FOX and ABC) and some cable networks (TBS) have given us their new pick-ups for the 2014 Fall season, I’ve trawled through all the trailers (that were available…come on CBS, pull your socks up!) and complied a list of what I think could be ratings hits (like last years The Blacklist) and what could be cult sleepers (Orphan Black anyone?)
The Mysteries of Laura (NBC)
The question begs…is this a comedy or is it a drama? I don’t think NBC really know either hence the somewhat confusing trailer offered up but that said, this Debra Messing led dramedy could have something going for it if you look at it like it could be ‘had Miss Congeniality had a husband and children’ type of way.
Secrets and Lies (ABC)
If you recently watched an Aussie show with the same title, then you’ll have an idea of what to expect. This Secrets and Lies is based right off our very own production with Ryan Phillippe stepping into Martin Henderson’s shoes playing Ben, a man who finds the body of a little boy and suddenly becomes suspect number one. Added bonus – a very toned down Juliette Lewis playing cop.
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
This will be the fourth major program by Shonda Rhimes to make it’s way to ABC – Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice plus How to get Away With Murder and the trailer already looks a whole lot more interesting than the 6 seasons of Private Practice that was given to us. There’s sex, blackmail, murder and Viola Davis..it’s an easy win.
CSI: Cyber (CBS)
There’s no trailer yet but for those who caught Patricia Arquette’s recent guest gig on CSI will have already gotten a taste of what to expect. Yes, it’s another CSI spin-off but this time, it’s all about cyber crime which is very current and ‘hip’ and we all like Patricia Arquette right?
Granted, I’ve never really been exposed to much of Maggie Q’s work and the premise of her character as being a sort of freelance anti-stalker specialist who knows some hand-to-hand combat skills is a little off but the trailer offered up by CBS actually adds suspense and intrigue of what’s to come. Ignore Dylan McDermott here, he’s always annoying to begin with and usually takes some warming up to.
Madam Secretary (CBS)
Why CBS chose to give us a trailer that looks like it gives us the entire first episode in the space of five minutes I’ll never understand. I was excited by this right from Tea’ Leoni’s addition to the cast and while it’s different to see her in such a serious light, the political theme is working well for shows like Scandal and The Good Wife.
State of Affairs (NBC)
I’m wondering if we’ve had enough time to actually like Katherine Heigl again? I’m still in that mid-swing where i’m starting to come around again and if there are others like me, then hopefully this show will bring us competently back. Apparently this will have a Blacklist-cum-Homeland-cum-Zero Dark Thirty feel to it (there’s the depiction of Middle Eastern descendants as terrorists – of course) and Alfre Woodward plays the President of the USA.
American Crime (ABC)
Desperate Housewives Alum Felicity Huffman makes her return to series television along with Timothy Hutton in this dark and racially charged legal drama that follows those involved and affected by a murder and ensuing murder trial.
The last time FOX attempted a series based off a mogul and his ’empire’ they gave us SKIN (2003) which only lasted 3 episodes before being cancelled. Here, instead of porn, Empire gives us music and what i could only assume to be a nod to Lil’ Kim and starring Terrence Howard. Could Chris Lilley’s S’Mouse fit in here? Probably, but at least it looks better than Skin ever did.
Fresh off the Boat (ABC)
Yes, the title is a bit…..Cougar Town/Trophy Wife (and possibly racist though it depends who you ask) but Fresh Off the Boat looks like the funniest of the new stuff coming our way and while the show is a focus on a Taiwanese family making the adjustment to living the American Dream, clearly Constance Wu (as mum Jessica) is the one to watch for.
The Odd Couple (CBS)
It’s been a tough run for Matthew Perry the last few years. His last handful of projects (Studio 60, Mr. Sunshine and Go On) all tanked and the only thing people really watched him in recently was his guest gig on Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town but now, his fourth attempt at a show could be his lucky gig. It’s a TV remake of the classic movies (Jack Lemon and Walter Matthou or Tony Randall and Jack Klugman) and see’s Perry teaming up with Thomas Lennon who we last saw in the terribly horrible Sean Saves the World. I can only assume this will be better than Sean failing to save the world.
It’s a little bit Seinfeld, it’s a little bit Friends, it’s a little bit of a 90’s comedy throwback. Mulaney is an ensemble comedy about a stand-up comedian and the “friends and mentors who lift him up, hold him back and push him around” including Martin Short. Here’s hoping Short contains his zany like Robin Williams did in The Crazy Ones – but then again, that didn’t turn out so good for him.
The Whispers (ABC)
I was so enamored by Lily Rabe as the Stevie Nicks loving swamp witch Misty Day in AHS Coven that seeing her all professional and business suits is a little shocking but here is in this creepy new paranormal-esque show with creepy kids that clearly see something the adults can’t.
Based off the DC Comics Hellblazer series, Constantine follows a supernatural detective who finds himself defending the world from dark and eerie forces. It’s a little bit Supernatural meets True Blood meets Penny Dreadful.
The Flash (CW)
Spin-off from the cult-ish Arrow and another DC comics star, The Flash get’s his own show and judging by the trailer, die hard comic fans will be pleased with the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance of legendary bad guy ‘Reverse Flash’ plus there’s the addition of The Flash’s alter-ego Barry Allen’s love interest Iris West.
I’ve already talked about Halle’s new sci-fi drama but now Extant has officially been picked up to series by CBS, they’ve given us an extended trailer which also fills us in more on her creepy prophetic child. A woman on a 13 month solo space mission returns to earth and finds she’s pregnant – impossible right? Not in space!
So what takes your fancy? Is there something you’ve seen which I’ve not added to the list – and if you mention the new shyte by TBS…I will shoot you.