Friday, March 4, 2016

When to of your favorite TV shows

(Warning...major soapbox vent ahead....)

As a reader and book blogger, I've always struggled with DNFing books (DNF = "Did Not Finish" for those of you who don't speak bookish).  There have been more times than I can count where I just struggled and struggled through a book, only to finish it and feel nothing more than remorse for the hours of my life I will never get back.  Honestly, I'm getting better about this--I'll still struggle through a book if I feel I "need" to read it for some reason--I've agreed to review it or it is a book club selection (although I am less strict with the latter).

Now, TV is a different animal.  I've DNF'd many shows over the years.  I don't think I've ever made it through a whole season of a reality show--I have a bad habit of just not caring right before the season finale!  There are also shows that I've DNF'd for reasons that had nothing to do with the show itself--for example, I gave up on Parenthood because it moved nights and was up against 2 other shows that I liked and my DVR at the time could only record one show at a time (and I said I would catch up on Netflix--then I heard what happens and I'm not sure I can handle that much ugly crying).  But, generally, when I get into a scripted show, I stick with the bitter end (Smash...I'm looking at you!  Oh, and I've spent the last 3 or so years trying to drop Grey's Anatomy, but I just can't do it!)

That being said, I'm DNF'ing a show that, a year ago, was the one show that I made to watch live (er, almost live--I'd DVR it and start watching it about 20 minutes after the air time so I could skip the commercials but finish it at the same time the live airing would end).  I mean, I really loved this show--it was quirky, it had a pretty good cast, and it was filmed locally.  I even read tie-in fiction, which I have never, ever done for anything else.  And now, I'm giving it up.

If you haven't figured it out, that show is Grimm.  Honestly, Grimm was never a show of superior quality and there were problems that began to pop up that grew and grew.  What kind of problems? Well:
  1. The writing, at least in the last couple of seasons, has been pretty terrible
  2. The writing staff cannot do basic math.  Seriously.  2+4+3 does not equal 7.  And they seem to have a problem with the concept that pregnancies last for about 9 months.
  3. The creators started a very central story line in the very first episode forgot about it for 2 seasons, then admitted that they really had no idea what to do with it (source).
  4. The writers can't create unique and strong female characters to save their lives
  5. They have had characters who have spent seasons doing their own (boring) plots outside of the core story line of the show, without ever tying them into what everyone else is doing.
  6. The clunkiest and most ridiculous character assassination I've ever seen in a show happened at the end of last season
  7. The don't understand death.  They have a character who they insist is "dead" but she's walking around, talking, and has all the memories of the original character.  That's not death...that's changing a name.
  8. They've completely neutralized the hero of the show so that he is now not only useless, but also not very likable.
  9. There are far, far too many babies popping out on this show--and they're all popping out of the same place.
But, you know what--I could live with all that.  It was easier to live with some of those than others, but I could still live with them.  The spirit of the show was still one that I liked--it played into my love of fairy tales and my pride in Portland.  Then they did something that was just too far.

They decided to make rape romantic.

For those of you who don't watch the show, here's the scenario.  We have three characters:
Character A - a character of magical ability
Character B - is mortal enemies with Character A and possesses a skill that gives this character a bit of an edge over Character A
Character C - the romantic partner of Character B.

I'm being vague intentionally here, so stick with me...

A wants to "depower" B and, in this show, A can do this by having sex with B.  So A concocts a magical potion to take on the appearance of C in order to sleep with B.  B, of course, thinks this is C and doesn't think anything of it.  At this point in the story, B would absolutely never consent to having sex with A.

Even though this isn't a violent scenario, it is still very clearly rape.  B never consented to have sex with C, and rape is non-consensual sex.  But we are supposed to overlook that.  Why?

Well, characters A and C are both female and character B is male.  And women (especially attractive women) can't rape men (especially attractive men), right?

Wrong.  This is rape, specifically Rape by Deception, and it is a felony.

Now, here is my problem.  Rape is a horrible, horrible thing--I am not at all arguing that.  However, I realize that in fiction depictions of horrible things are used for plot or character development.  I'm not upset that the rape happened (by the way, this is the second--some would argue third--time character A has raped a man in this show.  The first time was brushed off without consequence after one throwaway line), I'm upset about what the show did afterwards.  The show could have used this and made the character the sort of person who would do this and said something that needs to be said about sexual assault in society, but they decided to take another route.

A lot of crazy crap happens in this show but it turns out that, OF COURSE, character A--Adalind Schade--gets ends up pregnant from her rape of character B.  Remember when I said that the writers don't know how pregnancy works?  Well, here you go.  The rape happened in the spring....then there was a Christmas episode...then more stuff happened...THEN Adalind finds out she's pregnant.  Then, in the course of about 4 episodes (which, as far as I can tell would be at most 6 weeks of "Grimm" time), she goes from just finding out she's pregnant to going into labor.  

Now, any intelligent viewer can (did) easily figure out that it is mathematically impossible that character B--the hero, Nick Burkhart--is the father of Adalind's baby.  But once again, we're supposed to overlook that minor little fact.  There was never any question that he might not be, despite the fact that his swimmers would have had to be swimming for at the very least 7 months before one made landing--and the fact that Adalind has been notoriously promiscuous on this show, which had already resulted in one pregnancy.

Nick is basically told, both by Adalind and also a trusted female friend, that he needs to take care of the baby--and Adalind.  So he moves them in with him (the girlfriend is out of the picture--which is a whole other mess).  And then he moves them to a new location--and she is just too scared to sleep by herself, so he starts sleeping in her bed with him...and it goes on from there.  Nothing is ever mentioned of the rape (or any of the other really horrible things Adalind did to Nick in the past), but there are a lot of awkward monologues from various characters that seem to try to explain away everything in a roundabout way.

And, yes, there are people who love this story line.  They make YouTube mash ups of the characters, they flood fan forums, they post tweets that have more emojis than letters.  And if you mention the "R" word, they will flip their lids.

But here's the thing.  The show's ratings have been tanking this season.  At one point, the show backed away from the relationship (and reintroduced a "dead" character) and the ratings jumped up dramatically...and now they're falling again.  It's pretty clear that the larger audience knows that this is wrong, and is wisely choosing not to watch.  And I'm joining their ranks.

I'm disappointed in the creators and writers of this show.  However, this is not the first time that they've shown that they don't take sexual assault seriously.  In the first season, there was a serial rapist--a goat-like creature--who, because he ate toads (I told you it was quirky show) was considered a "rutter" and it was just accepted that raping and impregnating women was his thing, that it was essentially just part of his "make up."  In the fourth season, there was an especially disturbing episode where a very lovely girl secreted a poison whenever a man was sexually attracted to her that would kill him--and it came out that it was defense mechanism to rape.  The message of this episode was this: Only pretty girls get raped; you can't blame the men because they are just overtaken by lust; and if a pretty girl doesn't want to be raped, it is her responsibility to make herself ugly.  Yes, really.

However, in the third season there was an episode that handled rape in the military shockingly well.  The creators of this show know how to appropriately handle sexual assault.  They just choose not to.

I think our society has made some strides towards taking rape more seriously, but we're not there yet.  Some of us--like the creators of this show--are still in the world where rape is defined around the phrase "No Means No."  Frankly, that is a terrible catchphrase to combat sexual assault.  It really only applies in cases where both parties know the exact situation and are both in a position where they can say no.  Sadly, most rapes don't fall into that category.  Instead, I believe the phrase "Yes Means Yes" is a much better philosophy.  Unless both parties say yes, it isn't consensual sex.  I really don't understand why that is such a difficult concept and it disgusts me that a show would flagrantly operate against this idea.

To be honest, the creators of this show--and the fans who seem to applaud this behavior--are not the only ones to blame.  NBC is ultimately responsible for everything that it airs and, frankly, it should have stepped in here.  

It is never okay to make rape romantic and such attempts should not be tolerated by the networks.

I've tried to watch Grimm this season--I hoped they wouldn't go this direction, but they chose to, despite the effect on ratings.  As the show developed, I just can't be a part of it anymore.  Not only does it make me physically ill to see this, but I feel that, by watching it, I'm supporting something that is thoroughly wrong and damaging.  All I can do is say my peace, turn off the show, and hope that the cast finds new work once the show is canceled.  It's a complete waste, but the creators of Grimm and NBC just don't seem to care.  

Too bad for them that everyone else does.

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