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The Female Perspective: What The Heck “Westworld”

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!


Are you watching Westworld? You are? Are you confused, are you searching for your “cornerstone” because you think you might be a robot?

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Are you wondering:

  • What’s real?Is this real? Is life real? Is this world real?
  • AM I A ROBOT???

Good. Then we’re on the same page.

Again, SPOILERS will happen so if you aren’t caught up, don’t read this.

I have to say that Westworld is hands down one of the best sci-fi shows I have seen in AGES. Well done HBO. Well. Fricking. Done.

If you haven’t watched the show then why are you reading this? Go, get yourself some access to HBO and WATCH IT. For reals.

Okay. Now that’s all taken care of.

OH MY GOD. Bernard is a robot! He’s Arnold! He’s dead! WTF?

I loved him and didn’t love him and loved him again and now he’s gone? Oooooh Westworld, you tricky beast. You are diabolical like Game of Thrones. You keep us on our toes, we literally have no idea what’s coming and then you tell us and then BAM dead people, uh robots, and well people too I guess. It’s a violent place.

I was introduced to Westworld via the 1973 movie. It’s a great flick, written by the amazing Michael Crichton and well worth your time. It poses the same questions as the TV show in that you sit there and wonder, is this okay? Is it moral to have a “theme park” that’s humanoid robots that act, talk and die like humans, but that humans can mess with, murder, rape, etc, with impunity.

In the Westworld of the film, it’s so much more than just the Western concept, there’s a Greek concept world and others, the scope of it is truly amazing and I wonder if eventually they’ll bring that into the show. I sure hope so.

What’s similar about both the TV show and the movie is this idea that people in the future go on vacation to a place where they can literally do whatever they want to other “people” (aka, hosts as they’re called on the show). That means that people go there and have sex with whoever they want, however they want. They murder people at will, they rob, pillage … You get the idea. The worst of people comes out when they’re given free reign with zero consequences or guilt.

Honestly, It turns my stomach a bit, especially in this current world climate of anger and chaos. I don’t think I could ever hurt someone for “fun”, robot or not. It makes you truly wonder about the people who frequent the park. I mean sure, there are plenty of folks who go just to have a good time, to immerse themselves in the old West. To drink, play cards, act like a cowboy or cowgirl and have fun. No murdering or other nefarious adventures. But then there are those that go to do not so nice stuff. Who go because they have never killed and want to do so without the fear of jail time or their own death. They go because they enjoy having power over others, because they see the hosts as less than human, as below them and therefore, they see the hosts as their playthings.

Again, it’s a bit stomach-turning when you start to think of it that way.

That being said, what I love about the show is that the women are given equal, if not more, power than men. There are multiple story lines evolving, and almost all include a powerful, smart, savvy woman taking control and getting stuff done. Rachel Evan Wood, who plays Dolores, (and who is always enchanting to watch) is discovering her true self by going on a mission to discover her past,  a past which she realizes is much more awful than she imagined. After all, she has wonderful, informative chats with Arnold, only to discover that she killed him.

Oh Dolores, what did you do???
Oh Dolores, what did you do???

Dear God, what? Dolores killed Arnold???? No, say it isn’t so! But I can’t say I’m surprised, we all knew that Dolores had a dark side, we just didn’t know how dark it could actually be.

Then we have Maeve, wonderful, brutal, brilliant Maeve played with a wonderfully sinister ease by Thandie Newton. She has a nervous, unseasoned tech wrapped around her beautiful finger and I cannot wait for the finale on Sunday to see if she gets her wish, to be free of Westworld altogether. Though we know that that may be impossible, and may even kill her if/when she tries to leave.

The thing is, these women are as brutal the world around them. They are products of their environment. They are products of their past stories that they are remembering with horror. They remember the rapes, the murders, the brutality brought upon them in their other storylines and they want out. They were created by Westworld and therefore, they are cruel, they are battered and they are ready to be something more than just a plaything for humans.

She's a wiley one, that Maeve.
She’s a wiley one, that Maeve.

They want freedom, or do they? Dolores makes the point in this past Sunday’s episode that the men all assume she wants out so that begs the question, what does Dolores want?

I think it’s very simple: they want to be able to decide their own future.

They want choices.

AH! It’s fantastic! I absolutely love this show and I look forward to the finale, while also being sad that my weekly bouts of, “Huh?” and “Holy cow!” are going to be over until Season Two premiers. I also live in fear as to who is next to die. Is it Maeve? Dolores? Ford (played with perfect level of menace and sadness by Anthony Hopkins)? Oh my gosh, it’s almost too much!

How about you? What do you enjoy most about Westworld? What do you hope the finale shows us? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Why I Finally Started Watching “Game Of Thrones”

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


If you read this blog every once in awhile you have picked up on the fact that I like to read, I like science fiction, I like the mysterious and all that good stuff. I even wrote last week about the fact that I recommend the Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) as some good summer reading. The reason it’s in my mind so much right now is because I have finally decided to sit down and “catch up” on the 6 seasons of Game of Thrones and finally find out what all the hoopla is about (mild spoilers ahead).

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Now, you might be wondering, if I am such a huge fan of the books, why would I wait so long to watch the series? It’s a good question so definitely pat yourself on the back for that one! For years now I’ve been totally wishy-washy about the show because I watched the first season when it first aired and was just frankly bored by it. It’s mystified people for years that I would recommend the books as highly as I do and yet never watch the TV show that people are adoring. Well, that time has passed and as Ygritte says to Jon Snow on more than one occasion, “I know nothing.”

As I’ve gotten older I’ve pushed aside my stubbornness and pride and actually listened when people recommend things to me. It’s how I finally ready the Harry Potter series and it’s how I finally decided to watch Game of Thrones. My boyfriend was watching the current season and loving it and he kept saying how he wished he could talk about it with me, and he’s right, at this point, the show is ahead of the books and therefore he can’t really talk to me about it. Not to mention, it’s been years now since I’ve read the books so they are a bit foggy in my mind. I decided that he has good TV taste and therefore I should give it a second chance (it’s how I fell in love with iZombie as well, fantastic show and I had given up on it after the first season!).

Oh Jamie, you disgusting hero-type.
Oh Jamie, you disgusting hero-type.

I have now zipped through the first 3 seasons and I am LOVING this show. I forgot how rich and wonderful the world that George RR Martin created is. I’ve forgotten how violent it is well, but also how strong and powerful the women characters are, how flawed each character is and how you want to hate them, but you also find reasons to love them a tiny bit. Jamie Lannister is an excellent example of this and one I remember from the book. I hated that guy, he is horrible. Pushing kids out of windows and having relations with this sister, gag, yuck, gross! But then…He gets captured, he loses his hand while also being keenly aware of the honor of Brienne of Tarth and coming to her rescue more than once. He is flawed, yes, his sins are the worst kind, but he also…He’s got an honor, a bravery that  mystifies.

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Martin manages characters that are awful but lovable. Flawed but honorable. Characters you enjoy watching every week and you are devastated when they die, because make no mistake, they are all going to die eventually. Martin isn’t sentimental about his characters, he isn’t trying to shock people, he’s proving a point that life was hard back then and life was short. In 2014 he penned an open letter regarding the deaths (beware, profanities abound!) that is worth reading and he makes some good points. The fact is, the death in Game of Thrones is for a reason, they serve a purpose and honestly, as a writer nowhere near close to Martin’s talent, they create a world that leaves you wanting more, that leaves you unsure about the future of your favorite character (Tyrion!) and his writing inspires my own.

Not to mention, he writes some of the strongest women characters I’ve ever read. He has taken male-dominated landscape and turned the tables so that the women are in charge. The Mother of Dragons is forever my hero, and she also makes me want to have dragons at my disposal, so handy for setting ones enemies on fire!

Baby Dragons!
Baby Dragons!

If you haven’t checked out either the show or the books be warned that there is a lot of violence, foul language and brutality, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, this series might not be for you. If you don’t mind bad words and sex, then go for it! It’s well worth your time and effort.

Tell me what you like to read! Sound off in the comments! I’m always looking for more books!

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The Female Perspective: Ten Years Of “Six Feet Under”

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


The cast of "Six Feet Under"
The cast of “Six Feet Under”

Over ten years ago now I started watching a show called “Six Feet Under.” I had no real expectations for it. I was watching because of two things;

  1. Alan Ball created and wrote it and I simply adored American Beauty.
  2. It was about a funeral home and that sounded morbidly wonderful to me

What I didn’t expect from “Six Feet Under” was to be completely entwined with the lives and disasters of the Fisher Family. I had no idea that it would take me on a five year ride of ups and downs, sadness and happiness. Fear and misery. As an author, this show changed my perspective on what real writing could be. What TV writing could be.

On August 21st, it was the ten year anniversary of the finale of “Six Feet Under” and as usual, that number made me feel old. Where did that ten years go? What have I been doing?

Living my life.

I’ve had my own ups and downs, my own misery and fear, my own depression and anxiety. In that time I’ve re-watched “Six Feet Under” more than once and what I realize each time I watch it is that it holds up. This show holds up. Sure the cell phones are old and some of the references antiquated but not in a way that screws up the story, it’s all wonderfully charming. Let’s take a few minutes to chat about the characters that make up the Fisher family.


“We used to say that Nate was Marilyn Munster and that everybody else in the family was much more overtly strange. Nate seemed normal. But as the series went on, that was very clearly not the case.” –Alan Ball


 

Nate & David Fisher (Played by Peter Krause and Michael C. Hall)

Brothers that could not be more alike. That’s the simplest way to describe Nate and David. When we first see the Fisher brothers, they are snippy and at odds with one another. David is clearly artificial, clearly hiding something and clearly unhappy to see his big brother. Of course, the reason Nate is there in the first place is for the funeral of their father, also named Nathaniel Fisher, who was killed in a car wreck.  Nate is only there to be present for the funeral, he has a good life (or so he thinks) for himself back at home in Seattle and he wants nothing to do with his bizarre family.

The Brother's Fisher.
The Brother’s Fisher.

That all changes when his mother Ruth asks him to stay just a little bit longer. Nate’s inability to turn his mother down would change all their lives in the most wonderful way and also leave the audience devastated by the end of the show’s run.

Nate is a free spirit, he seems normal at first but quickly we realize he’s as screwed up and as selfish as the rest of his family. At times I hated his character, other times I loved him and Krause played it all to perfection.

David is another matter, he is reserved, wound tight and cold. Then we start to see the ice chipping away, we start to see the secret underneath that dark suit and cold eyes. David is ashamed of himself, ashamed of his life choices and what bonds these two brothers it the fact that they are actually both ashamed of themselves and neither was as loved or adored by their father as they thought. Both felt slighted by the man they barely knew.


 

The Trailer For The First Season Of “Six Feet Under”


 

Claire & Ruth Fisher (played by Lauren Ambrose and Frances Conroy)

The women of “Six Feet Under” are no less complex and riveting as the men. We first encounter Claire as a screwed up teenager, high on meth, who now has to deal with the fact that her father is dead (she does not do well but luckily for her, Nate helps her out. Being the understanding brother who knows all about drugs himself). Once Claire sobers up we find that she is a confused girl who simply doesn’t have any idea who she is. Nate had left town before she was grown, David remained unattached and both her mother Ruth and her father Nate really didn’t have much to do with her. Claire was left to her own devices and she didn’t do so well. Throughout the series she goes through quite a few ups and downs, picking bad relationships, trying to find her voice as an artist and finally, leaving home to become her own person.

Ruth Fisher … Oh Ruth. Ruth starts out reserved and confused and in mourning for a husband even she didn’t really know. Her life had become a routine, stark, bleak and boring. We find out quickly that Ruth is not all she seems, she’s had been having an affair and when her kids find out, there are fireworks! But Ruth is more than a widow and mother, she is a woman who, after a lifetime of raising kids and tending to her husband, she has to figure out who SHE is (much like her daughter Claire is doing). I love that their search for self parallels so beautifully. I love that by the end of the series, Ruth is strong and capable (after quite a few mishaps) and I always love when Ruth finally snaps and sets her children right.

Mother and Daughter Fisher.
Mother and Daughter.

The Finale

For me, the finale is nothing short of brilliance in TV. Instead of tidying up everyone’s life and presenting us with a finished package, Ball and series writers take it further. Since the show itself is about death, why not kill off everyone? No, it’s not some bloody shootout, it’s life. It’s reality. It’s freakin’ haunting.

I recently re-watched the last 10 minutes of the finale and it still brings me to messy, ugly tears. It’s poignant and it’s truth. It’s a perfect finale for a show that only spoke truth. I mourn it’s passing and the fact that we only got 5 short years with the Fisher family but then I also realize, we got 5 years with the Fisher family and that is a blessing.

RIP "Six Feet Under"
RIP “Six Feet Under”

Did you watch “Six Feet Under”? Did you love it or hate it? Why or why not? Tell me about it in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: The “True Detective” Finale: Beautiful or Boring?

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


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So here we are, at the end of Season 2 of True Detective and how do I feel? I’m honestly not sure. I didn’t hate it but I also didn’t love it with all my heart. The first season of TD left me feeling excited, as if I had watched something truly great. Like I had watched two great actors really duke things out and make a difference in the artistic landscape. After watching season 2 I feel as if that it had moments of goodness, not greatness. As I’ve said before, watching Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell glare at each other and chew the scenery was entertaining in all ways. This episode did not disappoint in that regard. Both Vaughn and Farrell gave really solid performances here. They kept up their end of the bargain, but did the story keep up it’s end?

I’m not really sure.

Don’t get me wrong, they tied up all the loose ends, made it all made sense. We found out who killed Casper and all that stuff but at the same time I think my issue was that I never really cared who killed him. His character meant nothing to me. He was just this guy that I most of the time remembered had died horrifically and that was it.

I think that’s what it was about this season of TD, I never really cared about the case. I liked the characters (for the most part) and I found them interesting to watch but at the same time, what they were trying to accomplish was lost to me. I found it … very dull at best and sleep-inducing boring at it’s worst.

All that being said, there were some real highlights in this episode.

Vince Vaughn really showed off some acting chops in this season of "True Detective"
Vince Vaughn really showed off some acting chops in this season of “True Detective”

(!SPOILERS AHEAD!)

1. Vince Vaughn. Oh yes, Vince you did an amazing job of being a mobster who we kind of like and want to see escape. When we realized that you are not going to get away … that really bummed me out. But the moments when he’s trudging through the desert and he is reliving moments of his past (an abusive father and a gang of guys taunting him) and vowing to never lie down, oh yes, that was some good stuff right there. You felt his desire, his drive to stay alive. You knew he was determined to never surrender, to not let himself die but sadly, your mind can only do so much and we leave Vaughn in the desert.

2. Colin Farrell. Did I mention that he was awesome in this show? His quiet, tough, screwed up character was fascinating to me, I wish we had had more time to get to know him because no matter what the first half of the season tried to tell us, his character was not a bad guy. He was, in fact, a good man in a bad place doing bad things to survive.  He has a chance to get away (with money) and he has to see his son one more time. It’s that one more time that gets him killed but he goes out the only way he can, fighting.

3. The good guys don’t win. I am a sucker for an unhappy ending, I’ll admit that. The one thing that I think TD season 2 did right was not letting the good guys win outright. They go on to continue their reign of corruption over California and all we can do is hope that Rachel McAdam’s character gets her revenge (which is alluded to at the very end when she gives a reporter all her evidence). Even though she walks away from the reporter, we know that she’s done the very best she can to redeem the legacy of the men that had been killed.

4. The  music. Good lord, the music in this episode was phenomenal. It really set the tone and made you care more about what was happening than I probably would have had it not been so beautiful. I cannot stress how much I am now in love with Lera Lynn’s voice. Check out one of her songs from True Detective below.

Watch the video for “This Is My Least Favorite Life” here.

My least favorite part of the finale? It’s really my problem with the entire season, it was too short. I felt like at 8 episodes, this season was really rushed and I never really got to know any of the characters in a way that felt genuine. It all felt smashed together and we were supposed to fall in love with these characters without knowing anything about their pain or their struggles.

Farrell was great, McAdams was okay - their chemistry? Non-existant.
Farrell was great, McAdams was okay – their chemistry? Non-existant.

All in all, while Season 2 didn’t live up to the huge legacy Season 1 left behind, it did an okay job of telling a story. More importantly, it showed off some big talent in it’s cast, even if that cast was so big sometimes that I wanted to scream. I loved the intimacy of season 1. We were solely concerned with the characters played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew Mcconaughey and their struggles. This season would have benefited greatly from having only Farrell and Vaughn to rely on.

What did YOU think? Love it? Hate it? Didn’t watch it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: True Detective Season 2

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


It’s been a bizarre week for this Rhode Island gal, first we have a, what I have dubbed, a hurrisoon 2015 that knocked my power out for 2 days and then the cable was down all morning. Fully established back in my lair of things electric and cable-fueled, I am here to type the blog I meant to write on Tuesday!

True Detective Season 2 has been less than impressive.
True Detective Season 2 has been less than impressive.

Said blog is about the HBO show True Detective. While I realize we have one episode left and I should really wait until then I decided to write this blog early and after the finale I’ll add a bit more about the show. My thoughts thus far? Meh.

I was a HUGE fan of the first season, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, New Orleans, creepy goodness abounds, you cannot go wrong! McConaughey’s acting was some of the most bizarre, intense and nonsensical wonderfulness I’ve seen in a long time. The below speech is just one example of dozens I could show you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbcwAPZycGE

True Detective Season 1 was a revelation. A wonderfully creepy tale about murder and religion. I couldn’t binge-watch this show fast enough.

Season 2 however? The only thing I can come up with is to say it is a disappointment.

It was full of potential. A great cast with Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams. Great casting. Problem is, there are too many actors in this tiny kitchen. I get that they were trying to make up for the lack of diversity, the lack of females in the first season but don’t just put people in as fillers (and for the record, all the leads were still white men so yeah, there’s that), use them to their full potential!

This show could have been stellar with just Vaughn and Farrell glaring at one another over  table. Their interactions are crisp, tension-filled moments of intense eye stares and blank facial expressions that are showing the tiniest cracks of barely suppressed fury. Vince Vaughn as the mobster trying to make some money is actually really amazing. He has better acting chops than I recalled and I could watch him all day was he releases his rage every once in awhile on his poor victims.

When Vaughn and Farrell are face-to-face, sparks fly.
When Vaughn and Farrell are face-to-face, sparks fly.

It’s obvious that Farrell and Vaughn were meant to be the stars of this show and that’s fine, as I said already, their interactions are fantastic to watch. Some of the one-liners tossed out are brilliant and fun but over all, the rest of the mess of True Detective Season 2 doesn’t help anything.

The fact is that Taylor Kitsch isn’t given much to do, his story really makes no sense and he seems to be a glorified gopher for the Farrell and McAdams. Even McAdams doesn’t get to do much but her character is fleshed out a helluva lot more than Kitsch’s is.  The thing is though, she’s a cliche. She’s the tough girl who had a rough life. She is brave, she is ballsey and yet, she’s fragile in some indefinable way that makes her almost likable. Almost, but not quite. I give McAdams a lot of credit for this, she manages to take a character that is barely well-written and make her seem three dimensional and interesting. I would honestly like to know more about her but sadly, I don’t think I will get that chance since we only have one episode left.

Will it get better? Maybe this guy knows...
Will it get better? Maybe this guy knows…

The thing is, the story loses me in almost every episode. I’ll start go get bored or tired an then BAM! Suddenly some serious stuff goes down that wakes me up. But those moments are quick, flash and gone. Those moments aren’t enough to make me say that Season 2 has been worth my time. I am waiting for the finale this Sunday but I am not quite sure that it’ll be worth it. True Detective has been a pretty short season, only 8 episodes, and it has felt very, very long but I’m hanging in for that 90-minute finale, I am REALLY hoping it’ll make up for all that has come before it!