Debs

Scientist by training, writer by choice. Loves anime, horror, religion, nature, folktales, and all things weird and strange.

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    Latest Topics

    4

    Obsession with food as a marker of childishness

    It sometimes happens in TV shows, particularly comedies, that a childish character will show an inordinate interest in food. For instance, both Michael Scott from "The Office" and Liz Lemon from "30 Rock" are childish main characters who are obsessed with food, and many compilations of them eating exist on YouTube. Ernie, a character from the German comedy "Stromberg," is also obsessed with food and notably more childish than his English-speaking counterparts Gareth and Dwight (who show less interest in food but are instead obsessed with sex). The fact that childishness and food obsession show up together so often suggests that an interest in eating itself is meant to highlight the character’s childishness in some way. Why do you think this is? What are some other examples of shows that connect childishness with a love of eating?

    • This sounds like a yummy and interesting topic, pun intended. My "Disney and the deadly sins" article has a section on Mikey Blumberg from Recess and gluttony, if you want to read that to get yourself going. – Stephanie M. 10 months ago
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    • Idk if I would necessarily link food obsession with childishness. Today's food obsession, whether among celebrities or the general public, is a more complex psychological and sociological phenomenon and childishness feels too negative a term. – Xiao 9 months ago
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    5

    What is the legacy of Skins?

    Skins was a British teen soap opera which began in 2008 and ran for about seven seasons. This series was renowned for its controversial subject matter, as many of the characters did things like have sex, experiment with drugs, and struggle with serious mental health concerns. Several of the cast members–including Nicholas Hoult, Dev Patel, and Kaya Scodelario among others–went on to have illustrious film and television careers.

    What if any influence has Skins had on the teen soap opera genre? How many modern teen soaps–which tend to feature fairly dark subject matter–were inspired by Skins, whether directly or indirectly? How do more recent television shows for teens compare to Skins in terms of characterization and structure?

    • I automatically think of Euphoria, but not really any others. What other examples would you use? It might be easier to just compare Skins and Euphoria. – Elisa 2 years ago
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    • I agree with Elisa! Euphoria seems a lot like a modern take on Skins. – Anna Samson 1 year ago
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    • Skins was beautifully produced and written. The characters are all complicated and loveable through their flaws. Shows like 13 reasons why have gone for the same things but done it in a much more graphic way, romanticizing the bad things meanwhile skins teaches lessons and is meaningful and very diverse. – Ellissa 1 year ago
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    Cringe comedies that aren't The Office

    The Office and its many adaptations stand out as pioneers of a genre called cringe comedy. In a cringe comedy, the central characters act like fools, and the audience responds by laughing at them out of nervous surprise and vicarious embarrassment. What are some examples of cringe comedies other than The Office? What, if any, influence do you think The Office has had on them? Is there a way to distinguish "good" cringe comedy from "bad" cringe comedy?

    • Great topic! Some examples include Parks and Rec and Superstore. One could discuss the similarities between The Office and these shows. – Anna Samson 1 year ago
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    • Trailer Park Boys would be another great example. Family guy too def cringe for some viewers – abs552 1 year ago
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    2

    Glee and cringe comedy

    Although it relies heavily on the tropes of teen soap operas, the musical series Glee is often seen as a comedy. What is interesting about it, though, is that most of the humor appears to be what is often referred to as "cringe" humor. Cringe humor is so-called because it entails a character acting in provocative or foolish ways and causing the audience to laugh at them instead of with them. In the case of Glee, some of the more famous examples of cringe include the teenage characters attempting to perform "sexy" dance numbers, and the one-liners provided by Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison, who play the most prominent teachers. Some YouTubers have even taken to compiling the most cringey scenes from Glee and giving their videos names like "Glee out of context" or "Glee scenes that give me secondhand embarrassment."

    So, is Glee a cringe comedy? Or is it a soap opera that just happens to have cringey humor in it? Is there something about the premise or cast of Glee that naturally lends itself to cringe humor?

    • As someone who never got into Glee or really saw the appeal this did catch my eye. I'd love an exploration of the genre of cringe comedy and how Glee fits into the greater canon. – Sunni Ago 2 years ago
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    • Another example could be Riverdale (tbh Riverdale is an article in of itself). You could argue about the different scales of cringe. In Glee, I find that the comedy is self-aware and knew that it was ridiculous at time. Whereas in Riverdale it crossed the line where you don't know if the writers are serious or satirical. – shaymichel20 1 year ago
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    • Glee was also produced by Ryan Murphy (of American Horror Story, Ratched, Hollywood, etc), and upon a recent re-watch my friends and I were wondering if it might be considered a camp satire about heteronormativity. All of the pregnancy plotlines, Sue's obvious lesbian vibes & Shuster's obvious gay vibes serving beard couple realness, all of the revealing of the farces of heterosexual normality -- this show really just magnifies the absurdity of 'straight culture' (hence the cringe). – alex 1 year ago
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    3

    Flatterers in fiction

    The ancient philosopher Plutarch wrote a famous essay on how to tell the difference between a friend and a flatterer. In this essay, he lists several qualities associated with a flatterer, including:
    1. being inconsistent and willing to change into whatever seems most attractive to the victim;
    2. appealing to the worst angels of the victim’s nature and copying their vices rather than their virtues;
    3. seeking to please the victim in the moment, even if it will cause the victim greater problems later on;
    4. seeking to separate the victim from their real friends.

    With this definition in mind, what are some examples of flatterers from fiction, particularly modern fiction? What traits, if any, do they and their victims have in common? Are there any stereotypes associated with fictional flatterers, either in terms of physical features or psychological makeup?

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      Audience perceptions of characters in TV shows

      It seems as though, a lot of the time, the audience’s perception of a character in a story is colored less by things the character has actually said or done, and more by how another character (who is usually a main character or simply more popular) views them. For instance, in the original British Office, Tim, a salesman, spends most of his time bullying his fellow salesman, Gareth. However, because Tim is more popular and gets more screen time, audiences just assume that he is the "nice" one and Gareth "deserves" to be mistreated when there’s no real evidence of this. The same series also includes a corporate higher-up named Neil, who is made out to be "mean" simply because he doesn’t get along with David, the main face of the show. What are some other examples of this phenomenon from TV, or media in general? Are there any characters who seem to be especially unfairly judged? Do they (or the people judging them) share any particular traits in common?

        9

        Has destigmatizing suicide gone too far?

        Nowadays, suicide carries less stigma than ever before, both in fiction and in real life. In many respects this is a good thing, as it means that people who experience suicidal ideation no longer have to feel like they are morally deficient. However, it seems as though some works of media have gone too far in the other direction, portraying suicide either as something glamorous or as an inevitable consequence of mental distress. A key example of this can be seen in the novel and Netflix series "13 Reasons Why," both of which seem to portray suicide as a weapon that can be used to get back at someone. Some modern Biblical commentators have even gone so far as to argue that Sarah, the holy matriarch, might have been suicidal based on little to no evidence. What are some ways in which creators can portray suicide more respectfully? Is it possible to point out the harm that suicidal ideation does without making people feel guilty or ashamed for being depressed?

        • This is such an interesting topic. It's so complicated to try to portray suicide in a respectful and non-stigmatized manner. I'm really interested to see what you come up with. – gracesamath 2 years ago
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        • There are some interesting discussions on Youtube about this, and euthanasia laws (specifically ones designed about relieving extreme mental distress) could be worth mentioning as well. The Living Well with Schizophrenia youtube channel has a great discussion about this. I've also seen discussions about 13 reasons why by psychologists who point out ways that Hannah's experience of suicide isn't a good representation (because she gives up on getting help or doesn't try enough to get help). – Jordan 2 years ago
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        • This definitely intrigues me, i'm excited to see what you continue to write about it! – OpalReads01 2 years ago
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        • You should write this! I tend to avoid things related to suicide, but the premise of your topic is sound. – derBruderspielt 2 years ago
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        • I like this topic and I would be highly interested to read something related to mental health and suicide. What "13 Reasons Why" did well is that it showed how Hannah's suicide devastatingly impacted the lives of her peers and parents and I think it can help suicidal people realize what the consequences of suicide are and why in most cases it is a wrong choice. What I didn't like about this show starting from season 2 though is that it makes everyone seem like a victim while they can make better and more responsibile choices. This kind of character representation can make teenagers adopt a victim mentality and that's what is happening nowadays among teens and even young adults sadly. – M.C. Cherif 2 years ago
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        • This is such a relevant topic. I think it would be interesting to make a case about Euphoria, which is even more popular and timely than 13 Reasons Why now, and is controversial for its graphic content and effect on young viewers. – katherine 2 years ago
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        • This is something I've wondered about before. So many YA novels are using suicide as a way to write an emotional, yet empty story. It's the black and white or one take move for YA novels nowadays; the equivalent of Oscar-bait. – rileybelle 2 years ago
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        • This is interesting because you're right, suicide seems to be used as just another element to add tragedy to a story. However suicide rates are still increasing and using suicide/ideation as a plot device does give struggling people a character to relate to. But what is the right way to portray someone suffering from that extreme depression and loneliness? – zreddig 2 years ago
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        • It would be so cool to follow it with questions like, is it really an issue of destigmatization of suicide? Or the capitalist society's way of profiting from a pervasive issue through TV shows? – carolynjoan 2 years ago
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        3

        Lesser-Known Adaptations of The Office

        When most people think of the mockumentary sitcom series known as The Office, they probably think of the version from either the United States or the United Kingdom. However, The Office is a multinational phenomenon, with at least eight or ten countries having their own home-grown adaptations of it, which they use to make fun of their own work cultures. What are some highlights from these international adaptations? How do they differ from their more famous English-language counterparts? Are there any adaptations that, in your opinion, do not receive the attention they deserve?

        • Interesting - could you give some suggestions? I think this would be a really interesting topic to break down - even if you went beyond the office and looked at representations of work places and the different cultural representations. I know the US is often over represented in this area, so it would be fascinating to see what other countries have portrayed as work place contexts. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 2 years ago
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        • This is a really cool idea. I think bringing The Office into a wider discussion on generic conventions and formats across global media could be a fascinating lens. In what ways does each version differ based on cultural norms and practices; how do these differences map onto differences in shows like American Idol or other generic formats? – kkenny 2 years ago
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        • Another direction you could go would be lesser-known adaptations of different shows and how producers choose what is "essential" to the format vs what should be adapted to the culture/language/location. This isn't the best example, but I've recently begun watching LegoMasters from different countries and its fun to see what's the same and whats different. – derBruderspielt 2 years ago
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        Latest Comments

        I’ve read 1984 several times now, and the more I read it, the more convinced I am that it actually has a (somewhat) happy ending. Granted, Winston and Julia are forced to submit utterly to the Party; but before that they get to do everything they wanted: talk about their ideals, live a “normal” life together, and even fall in love. The implication in any case is that thought criminals like them always out themselves eventually, simply because they need something to do. It wasn’t enough for them to simply go about life as obedient Party members, nor would it ever have been. So, not only was their journey inevitable, but they did in fact become better people because of it, at least while it lasted.

        1984: What Does it Tell us About The Purpose of Life?

        Thing is, I do think protagonists in general have become less likable in the last decade or so. Several times now, I’ve tried watching very popular and well-regarded series only to find that the main characters were totally selfish assholes, and their diehard fans both in and out of universe always say that they “mean well” or “grow as a person over time,” or “always come through when it counts,” even if these traits are never actually in evidence. Whether or not Chainsaw Man itself is guilty of this (though the article makes it very much sound like it is), I feel like it’s become a trend and I don’t like it.

        Chainsaw Man and the New Shonen Protagonist

        It’s great that you take the time to break down the difference between manga genres and demographics. From my admittedly limited understanding, some stories that seem more adult-oriented get published in shounen (or in some cases shoujo) magazines simply because teen magazines have wider reach and are marketed more heavily. Because of this, publishing in one of these teen magazines leads to more publicity for the authors than trying to publish in, for instance, a seinen magazine would. My personal favorite anime, Shiki, seems to be an illustration of this phenomenon, though I don’t know this for a fact. Though the anime is clearly aimed at mature audiences, the manga ran in a shounen magazine. The series began its life as a collection of novels, which I assume were also more adult-oriented, but the manga greatly expanded upon the role of a teenage side character named Natsuno Yuuki, eventually making him out to be a main character in his own right. I can assume that this was done in order to make the series more attractive and relatable to an audience of teenagers. When the anime came out, it relegated Natsuno to a supporting role again (albeit a much larger one), and basically reduced him to a plot device later in the story in order to keep him involved.

        Marketing vs. Genre in Manga - How They Can Get Confused

        I can’t speak to Chainsaw Man (since I’m not familiar with it), but personally, I’m not altogether convinced it’s a good thing that NOT trying to be a good or admirable person is seen as a positive when it comes to lead characters. Amoral acts are still wrong even if they’re being committed by main characters; and while it might be realistic, to a certain extent, that desperate people will do desperate things, a sad history in and of itself doesn’t erase a character’s bad conduct or make it okay. Personally, I’d be a lot more interested in learning about how someone overcame a bad situation and behaved righteously despite the pressure to do otherwise, than someone who used a difficult life to excuse their own bad choices.

        Chainsaw Man and the New Shonen Protagonist

        It’s interesting that you note the similarities between Hot Fuzz and horror films, because I know that the same people who made Hot Fuzz also made Shaun of the Dead, which is a parody of zombie apocalypse movies. It could be that horror is simply their main inspiration in general.

        Hot Fuzz's Hidden Horror Influences

        Main Character Immunity (TM)

        The Unsung Hero of the British Office

        It’s a great show and I personally find it much better written and more enjoyable than the US one (and I say this as someone who saw the US version first and did enjoy it at the time), but it’s one of those shows you definitely have to watch more than once. The story is much too rich and layered to take everything in in one go. This is probably why I see so many misconceptions about the series circulating: my guess is that a lot of people watched the show exactly once and thought they knew everything there was to know about it, when nothing could be farther from the truth.

        To put things in perspective, I’ve now seen the show three times, and had to take very detailed notes while I was watching to get the material I used for writing this article.

        The Unsung Hero of the British Office

        It’s true, I think it’s a bit misleading to refer to one or the other as the “American Gareth” or the “British Dwight” for this very reason. The characters may occupy the same role in the cast, but they are not in any way the same person.

        The Unsung Hero of the British Office