Sorting Woes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Embracing Your Ilvermorny House

(Image Credit: Pottermore)
(Image Credit: Pottermore)

Like the rest of the Harry Potter generation, I spent my 11th birthday hoping for a Hogwarts letter that never came. I contented myself with the fact that Hogwarts is in the United Kingdom and I’m not, so maybe I was just too far away for them. But now, J.K. Rowling has ruined my life by releasing Pottermore information on a North American school.

Regardless of how upset I am (hint: very) that I didn’t get to go to a wizarding school for middle and high school, I am determined to embrace Ilvermorny just like eight-year-old me first embraced Hogwarts. But so far, it’s been hard to do that.

Continue reading “Sorting Woes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Embracing Your Ilvermorny House”

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Cast Catch-Up: ‘Friday Night Lights’

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (Image Credit: NBCUniversal)
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (Image Credit: NBCUniversal)

Friday Night Lights had arguably one of the most fantastic ensemble casts of all time. In addition, the FNL cast was HUGE. It would take forever and a half to actually catch up with all of the actors that ever had an impact on the show because there were just so many of them. So I’ve broken it down to a handful of my favorites, but don’t think I’ve forgotten about the rest! Maybe there’s an FNL Cast Catch-Up 2.0 in your future!

Continue reading “Cast Catch-Up: ‘Friday Night Lights’”

4 Reasons ‘BrainDead’ is Summer Must-See TV

BrainDead (Image Credit: CBS)
BrainDead (Image Credit: CBS)

Last summer, UnREAL and Mr. Robot proved that summer TV could be just as good as the real thing, and this summer’s new shows picked up right where those left off. But the number one show you need to be watching right now is CBS’s BrainDead.

Continue reading “4 Reasons ‘BrainDead’ is Summer Must-See TV”

The Twelve Steps in My Bravoholics Anonymous Recovery

WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE (Image Credit: BravoTv)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE (Image Credit: BravoTv)

1.) I admit that I am powerless over Bravo–that my TV watching life has become unmanageable.

Every night after a long day at work, I plop onto the couch, grab the remote from where I last left it, and hit power on. Before my mind even realizes what my fingers are doing, I am in a trance, typing in the channel numbers to tune me into Bravo. It’s as natural of an act as turning on a light switch. It does not matter what day of the week or what time it is. I’m not even looking for a specific show to be on. I am paralyzed by the channel, tuned in with a half-conscious stupor, as the voices of The Real Housewives and Below Deck casts become white noise. My DVR is set to record each series, including “first looks” of new episodes, making watching any other channel or show impossible. I don’t make after work plans with friends if there is a new episode of Top Chef on and I would miss its live airing. Bravo consumes me, and I am powerless against it.

Continue reading “The Twelve Steps in My Bravoholics Anonymous Recovery”

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I learned from… ‘Clueless’

CLUELESS (Image Credit: Paramount)
CLUELESS (Image Credit: Paramount)

All my ‘90s girls out there know that, before the Mean Girls wave crashed in, there came Clueless, brought to you by the most loveable fictional character of all time, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), duh. Continue reading “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I learned from… ‘Clueless’”

‘Game of Thrones’ Deaths Ranked from Most Upsetting to Most Satisfying

(Image Credit: HBO)
(Image Credit: HBO)

Game of Thrones loves nothing more than killing off its characters. There have been literally too many slaughters to count. However, no matter how numb you might have become to a bloody battle scene, there are always some characters’ deaths that really hit you hard. Here is our rating of Game of Thrones deaths from most upsetting to most celebration-worthy.

Continue reading “‘Game of Thrones’ Deaths Ranked from Most Upsetting to Most Satisfying”

‘Pretty Little Liars’ Ships That Have Sailed

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (Image Credit: Freeform)
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (Image Credit: Freeform)

The new season (or half-season; who can keep track?) of Pretty Little Liars premiered recently, and while watching the first episode I couldn’t help but notice how egregiously the story catered to fan-favorite ships, almost to the point of silliness. Avert your eyes if you don’t want to see spoilers for the summer premiere episode, or if you are staunchly #TeamEzria.

So let’s start with the most blatant example: Hanna and Caleb. As of the summer premiere episode, Caleb is in a relationship with Spencer. There have not been any established issues with that relationship. Sure, there were some flashbacks in the preceding handful of episodes indicating that perhaps Hanna and Caleb’s relationship may have ended prematurely and moments showing they still have feelings for each other. I’ll buy that. It’s what comes next that is problematic.

In the summer premiere, Hanna is being held hostage and AD is threatening to kill her if the Liars don’t turn in Charlotte’s true murderer. Caleb immediately acquires the most one-track mind I have ever encountered and begins obsessing over saving Hanna. Which, okay, Hanna is great and I’m not going to sweat anyone who wants to save her. If Hanna got killed off this show, poor Spencer would be the only Liar with more than half a brain left.

But instead of finding a remotely subtle or intelligent way to show Caleb drifting away from Spencer and back to Hanna (because that would require planning), the writers basically turn Caleb into a huge jerk, which is quite uncharacteristic. Just for this one episode, he suddenly cannot be bothered to even try to act civil to Spencer. I legitimately cracked up when he straight hung up on Spencer when she peacefully called to offer to bring him some food. He might as well have said, “You’re annoying because you’re not Hanna; you matter 0% to me.”

Caleb is basically the only decent human male on Pretty Little Liars, so I took some offense to him suddenly being turned into a massive jerk. And what’s particularly terrifying is that he was turned into a massive jerk because people who ship Haleb are expected to find his behavior romantic. We’re not supposed to care how awful he’s being because he’s doing it as part of his quest to save Hanna. Sigh, how romantic. Not. I’m all for reuniting Caleb and Hanna, but can we at least try to make it a thoughtful story arc and not just lazy fan service?

Next up we have Aria, who I believe  is still technically in a relationship with the elusive Liam despite having cheated on him with Ezra and apparently not feeling all that worried about it? Fact check me here; because all the Ezria drama has started to blend together in my brain. In the summer premiere, Aria and Ezra briefly mention how they need to talk about their situation, but then Aria’s like, “whatever, I just NEED YOU TONIGHT” or some garbage.

Regardless of whether I’m remembering correctly about Aria and Liam still being together, we can agree that Ezra is a manipulative liar, right? Yes, I am right. Even if you ignore the fact that he was using Aria to write his true crime book to the point of putting her in major danger (and really, how do you ignore that?), he continues to emotionally manipulate her even though they are no longer officially “together.” It’s creepy and gross and I simply can’t understand how anyone could want any of the Liars, even one as pointless as Aria, to end up with a dude as emotionally abusive as Ezra. But somehow #Ezria persists and fans are completely obsessed and committed to this relationship.(This probably says something depressing about patriarchy but that’s a story for another day.)

So we’ve got Haleb and Ezria covered, what about good ol’ Spoby? Well, we got a taste of that in the premiere too. While Caleb is busy chasing Hanna, Spencer and Toby pair up to do some field research. It’s not like they share a ton of meaningful looks or anything, but they are portrayed essentially as they were back in happier times – helping each other out, impressing each other, generally being  a fantastic team, and getting along splendidly. Of all the ship fan service in this episode, the Spoby situation bothered me the least. There was no actual cheating (or suggestion of it) and no major character shifts, just some genuinely nice scenes with a couple of characters who clearly relate well to each other.

Which leads us to Emily. Emily is supposed to be the bleeding heart of the group, and she’s on a quest to gently convince Ali, who’s locked up in the looney bin, to admit to killing Charlotte. She kind of succeeds at this task (although I don’t know what kind of moron takes Ali’s deranged, clearly non-lucid proclamation of “Please forgive me” or whatever vague thing she said as an admission of murder, but whatever). But in the meantime, Emily’s having flashbacks of a pretty intense makeout sesh with Ali.

Of all the ships on PLL, the Emison situation is the one that makes the least sense to me. Ezria is awful, but at least there’s history there. The Emily & Ali relationship basically came out of nowhere. There was no established chemistry or connection between them. The writers tried to make it feel like there was but nope, sorry. Revisionist history, kids. So I admittedly am not on board the Emison ship, causing me to probably find the makeout flashback more annoying and gratuitous than I might otherwise. Regardless, it didn’t need to be in the episode for the story to make sense, and it just felt like fan service to hardcore Emison shippers. A lifeline to the dedicated followers of a pointless, sinking ship that was created only for plot drama without any true authenticity.

Needless to say, I was not terribly pleased with the summer premiere’s commitment to fan-favorite ships above good storytelling. And that’s the key – it’s one thing to build up these ships if it’s done well. If we could see true character development in a character like Ezra, for example, I might start to get on board. If the Haleb situation was more nuanced, and played out over a few episodes instead of abruptly in one, maybe I would believe it more. At best, it’s lazy writing. At worst, it’s writers intentionally dumbing things down for their audience – a problematic choice when your core demographic is teenage girls and young women.

No matter how much I whine about it, though, I’m still watching Pretty Little Liars. I don’t know if it’s out of a false sense of optimism that things will get better, or if it’s loyalty to a time when the story in the show was still strong, but I can assure you it’s not because I want to see happy endings for Ezria, Spoby or Emison.

Although I might crack a smile for Haleb.

The Best of Early 2000’s Celebrity Break-Up Songs

“Cry Me a River” (Image Credit: Zomba Recording LLC)

Taylor Swift might be the reigning Queen of the break-up song when it all goes sour but she ain’t the only one to pen a song about a nasty break-up. Celebs have been airing their dirty laundry for all to hear via their music for a long time! Sometimes it even ends in a war, just ask Eminem and Mariah… Continue reading “The Best of Early 2000’s Celebrity Break-Up Songs”

The 5 Stages of a Netflix Binge

The 5 Stages of a Netflix Binge

We’ve all found ourselves lost in the downwards spiral of a Netflix binge. It’s an inescapable cycle that, regardless of how strongly you feel you need to get out, you continue to get sucked in by the characters you’ve suddenly grown to know so well. But, where does this addiction begin? Continue reading “The 5 Stages of a Netflix Binge”

5 Reasons ‘Parks and Recreation’ Ruined My Life…

PARKS AND RECREATION (Image Credit: NBC)
PARKS AND RECREATION (Image Credit: NBC)

There are many reasons why Parks and Recreation has affected my life. I can no longer stand shows with laugh tracks… I make faces at a nonexistent camera when someone around me does something questionable… I’ve taken up asking people for all the bacon and eggs they have… but all of that is beside the point. Parks and Recreation has ruined my life and here are the five reasons why:

Continue reading “5 Reasons ‘Parks and Recreation’ Ruined My Life…”

An Open Letter to Tom Hiddleston (a.k.a. Why have you broken my heart?)

Tom Hiddleston (Image Credit: John Phillips / Getty)
Tom Hiddleston (Image Credit: John Phillips / Getty)

Dear Tom,

It wasn’t until the news broke that you and Taylor *might* be dating that I completely comprehended the meaning of Beyonce’s Lemonade. This feeling of betrayal can only be fully expressed through a variety of song genres and subliminal messages. It’s not that I don’t love Taylor – because I do. I mean, who wouldn’t want to date her? She is talented, generous, beautiful, smart, adorably awkward at times. She’s literally the whole package. But is she the girl for you? Let’s think about it for a minute. You’re so generous, funny, talented, handsome, adorably awkward. Ok. Yes. You two might be perfect for each other, but there’s still one major problem. Taylor is most certainly and definitely not me.

Here’s the thing, we’re kind of supposed to get married. Sorry to drop that bomb on you only now. I figured I would get a few years into my career, rent a nice place in the downtown area, publish my first kid’s book, and then our time could start. You know, give you a chance to get a few more blockbuster hits under your belt, and then straight up marital bliss. I’m talking a quaint cottage in the English countryside in order to ensure our three beautiful kids have your accent, trips to the farmers market every Sunday afternoon, and spontaneous dancing in our kitchen on week nights. It was going to be so lovely. Sigh.

I know what you’re thinking: “Sarah, you’re crazy, I don’t even know you!” No, you don’t, but how big of a deal is that really in today’s day and age? People do much wackier stuff all the time. If people are allowed to marry inanimate objects in some states, I see no harm in planning my wedding to a dreamy human being such as yourself. And sure, the chances of us actually meeting are about one in a gazillion, but that’s still one gazillionth of a chance I’m willing to cling to. Actually, knowing you’d be willing to date someone my age brings that chance up from one in a gazillion to like, 10 in a gazillion. I can settle for that!

But how does one move past this type of betrayal? With grace, that’s how. If I know anything about Taylor’s track record, it’s that long term is not a word in her vocabulary. I’m sorry, that hurt me far more to say than it hurt you to hear. So when we eventually hear Taylor’s Hiddleston inspired hit, Low Key*, you can guarantee I will be ready and waiting with open arms. For now, my heart is broken, but I know someday you will put the pieces back together. Preferably wearing your Crimson Peak costume.

Forever yours,

Sarah
xxooxxoo

*My apologies for all the bad Loki puns to come out of the Hiddleswift photo scandal, but they don’t get old.

5 Things to love about ‘Grace and Frankie’ Season 2

GRACE AND FRANKIE (Image Credit: Netflix)
GRACE AND FRANKIE (Image Credit: Netflix)

If you haven’t watched the latest season of Grace and Frankie yet, stop reading this and go do that now. If you have, continue reading for some of my favorite things from season two! Just like the first season, this one did not disappoint and delivered some hilarious and heartbreaking moments for anyone watching! I’m starting to think that these two women might just be my new girl-crushes! Continue reading “5 Things to love about ‘Grace and Frankie’ Season 2”

How to Survive a Celebrity Breakup

Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris (Image Credit: Taylor Swift/Instagram)
Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris (Image Credit: Taylor Swift/Instagram)

Brace yourselves. Celebrity breakups are coming.

Last year, it seemed as if something was in the Hollywood air because a handful of celebrity couples just broke up out of nowhere. That’s when I believed love is dead. Coming into 2016, we haven’t been hit with THAT many breakups… Until now. Just this past week alone, Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik, Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris, and Demi Lovato and Wilmer Valderrama have split up.

Looks like I have to delete all my tweets saying that Taylor Swift and Calvin were my OTP goals… Erase the possibility that they would ever make a song together… Or even the fact that Zayn would have somehow found himself in a TayTay squad photo like Joe Jonas when they all were on swans together in the pool. I know you know what I’m talking about.

It’s OK, y’all. We can get through this. I’m used to this thanks to last year’s spur of breakups. First off, don’t dwell on the “whose fault is it?” You’ll end up torturing yourself on who to blame and end up taking sides. Sure, we could all get mad at Calvin Harris for being the one to break poor Swift’s heart because there wasn’t a “spark” anymore. Just you wait, Calvin. Don’t be surprised if we hear a song titled, “Sparks” or “Sparks Die” or some kind of title with that word incorporated in it. And, it’ll be a hit because everything that Taylor Swift touches turns to gold.

Second, don’t expect to see cute snapchats anymore. I relied on Gigi to give me sneak peeks into Zayn’s life since he’s been mostly MIA once he left One Direction. She gave us Directioners a way to keep a track on our beloved missed member. Sigh.

Third, think about the possibility that you could finally date Zac Efron. Oh, you didn’t hear that he’s single now and no longer with Sami Miro? Oh. Well, that should brighten up your day. So you’re saying there’s a chance, Zac? Actually, this could be the same for any relationship. We all have a chance. It may be a long shot and you will probably never run into them in your life, but it’s worth a shot to have positive thinking.

Lastly, if you’re like me, you will no longer have to torture yourself with the whole, “WHY CAN’T I BE HIM/HER?” feelings. I mean, wait. Is that just me?

It’s all right you guys. Things are always changing in the celebrity world. Next thing you know, our favorite ex-couples could be getting back together, having a baby and then getting married. It happened to Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher so this could happen to anyone else. I have hope.

Signs You Might Be an Anglophile

It’s been two years since I spent a semester abroad in England, and I miss it every day. Like an ever increasing number of Americans (and other nationalities), I am afflicted with Anglophilia. Okay, maybe afflicted isn’t the best word. It’s not like Anglophilia’s a disease or anything, just a perfectly healthy interest in England and English culture. Of course, there are varying degrees of Anglophilia, but it’s much more than liking British accents.

One thing an Anglophile might notice in the previous sentence is my use of the term “British,” which he or she would know encompasses more than solely England, extending to Wales and Scotland as well because they’re part of Great Britain.

An increasingly global culture with a specific interest in England in the past few years because of the London Olympics, the Royal wedding and now the royal baby has led to growing appreciation of English culture and a growing number of Anglophiles.

Think you or someone you know might qualify? Take a look below to see some of the ways you can recognize Anglophilia in yourself and others.

You know how to “properly” spell words.

It’s a fairly well known fact that British and American English differ in several ways, including punctuation and spelling. What makes a person an Anglophile, however, is if they prefer British English words. My fellow Anglophiles may agree with me and use “cancelled” over “canceled,” “theatre” over “theater,” and “pyjamas” over “pajamas.” Just be careful not to go overboard on the alternate spellings. Professors and non-Anglophiles probably won’t be as understanding.

You know Lizzie Bennet, James Bond, and Harry Potter aren’t just movie characters.

Really, you should probably know that even if you aren’t an Anglophile, but it’s true that a common type of Anglophilia stems from a love of English books and authors, including William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling. As a former English major, I have this type of Anglophilia in spades, and I love reading English copies of novels to see what words they use that Americans might not. One British word that’s much more common in the US today is “ginger,” which crossed over during the Harry Potter years. Luckily, most Americans seem to use it simply to mean red-headed and don’t grasp its negative connotations.

You don’t understand the social stigma against eating alone.

Union Jack Hat (Image Credit: Edward Simpson)
Union Jack Hat (Image Credit: Edward Simpson)

While in England, I was told multiple times that eating alone was perfectly acceptable, and I often saw people sitting alone in cafés and pubs. In the US, I don’t feel like eating alone is encouraged. An important food staple for Anglophiles? Cadbury chocolate, which is usually only available in the US near Easter. For those who don’t want to wait that long to express their Anglophilia, you could start referring to your takeout as “takeaway.”

You fondly remember the British Invasion (both of them) or maybe just belt out Adele.

Some of my earliest stirrings of Anglophilia came from my love of the Spice Girls and S Club 7, and of course, I love the Beatles. Liking British music is such common practice that it might be weird to think of it as liking English culture. But judging by the number of people I have talked to who don’t know who S Club 7 is, it’s not always as common as you might think (For those who don’t know, S Club 7 was a pop group from the late ‘90s/early ‘00s who also had a TV show on Fox Family before it was renamed ABC Family).

You know there are more channels than BBC.

And I don’t mean there’s BBC One, BBC Three, etc. An Anglophile would also know about ITV and SKY at least. Television has been a very good way to decide if someone is an Anglophile, and shows like Doctor Who,Sherlock and Downton Abbey broke down country barriers by appealing to Americans and Britons alike. For those television-loving Anglophiles among you, I would recommend checking out dramas Luther and The Hour, and comedies Miranda and The IT Crowd for the slices of English life you so crave.

If you identified with any or all of the above, you may be an Anglophile. Congratulations! You should wear your new title with pride. But I also want to caution you. Being an Anglophile is far different from actually being English. Enjoy any trip to England you can get, but don’t put on your best British accent while there. Appreciating the country and the people is good enough.

Originally posted July 24, 2014.