The wit and wisdom of “BoJack Horseman”

Imagine the typical ’90s family sitcom: a lovable, sweater-wearing single father of three adorable children, who teaches those children important values like family, loyalty and honesty.

Now imagine that, after nine seasons of being the hottest show of the decade, the sitcom is canceled, the child stars become forgotten drug addicts and the amiable father character never gets another big role.

This is the story of BoJack Horseman.

BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) is the washed-up, has-been star of the ’90s hit “Horsin’ Around.” He lives in a “Hollywoo” mansion and does nothing but sit around, get drunk and watch episodes of his old show again and again with Todd (Aaron Paul), a slacker who lives on BoJack’s couch.

Oh, and BoJack Horseman is also a literal horse-man.

Netflix’s newest animated original show, “BoJack Horseman,” puts humans and anthropomorphic animals side-by-side — Penguin Books is run by actual penguins, Navy SEALs are actual seals, and there’s BoJack’s feline agent and on-again-off-again girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), whose office’s hold music is a song from the Broadway musical “Cats.”

BoJack wants to make a comeback to social relevancy by writing a tell-all memoir. The only problem is, he is awful at writing (and, really, responsibility in general). Frustrated, the penguin publishers hire a ghostwriter, Diane (Alison Brie), to whom he dictates his life.

The jokes of “BoJack Horseman” come at you fast, much like Arnett’s previous comedy “Arrested Development.” Whether it’s spoofing Beyoncé lyrics, making fun of broadcast journalism (MSNBSea, in place of MSNBC, complete with a whale as an anchor) or one of the many, many animal puns, you’ll miss a joke or two or five if you blink. Each time you watch, you’ll catch a gag that slipped past you before. There’s even a Buzzfeed article “136 Hidden Jokes You Probably Missed On ‘BoJack Horseman.’”

But be warned. While astonishingly clever and smart, “BoJack Horseman” is also unabashedly crude. There are jokes about Afghanistan, the World Trade Center attacks and the Holocaust. There’s a pop song called “Prickly Muffin,” and a former child star who is heavily addicted to drugs. One episode is titled “BoJack Hates the Troops.” In another episode, BoJack tells someone “Get cancer, jerkwad,” and — spoiler alert — he eventually does.

Watch at your own risk.

But underneath the banter and cringe-worthy jokes, there is a darkness to BoJack. He is sad, self-loathing and terrified of being alone. Despite the tough, uncaring façade he has built for himself, BoJack isn’t the jerk he first seems to be. He’s relatable.

BoJack is lonely. He falls in love with the girlfriend of his lifelong frenemy, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), an obnoxious golden retriever of below-average intelligence. He is dissatisfied with his life, and wishes he had chosen a different path without “Horsin’ Around.” His parents abused him, and his childhood hero, Secretariat, committed suicide. In a column, Vulture named “BoJack Horseman” the “funniest show about depression ever.”

As the season develops, the laughs don’t stop, but the underlying ideas and concepts become heavier. BoJack, who is notorious for his public social missteps and substance abuse, finds himself asking: “Am I a good person?”

It’s not only BoJack who is facing hardships. His ghostwriter Diane worries she isn’t making a difference with her work. His agent Princess Carolyn realizes the only thing she has in her life is her job. His TV daughter Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) struggles to come to terms that her time in the spotlight has ended as she’s gotten older.

I watched the entire first season of “BoJack Horseman” in one afternoon. Since that day, I’ve sporadically watched episodes two or three more times. On some level, I think we can all relate to the show. Maybe not the whole “I’m not socially relevant anymore so I’m going to turn to hard drugs,” or the “My life is ruined because my hit TV show was canceled,” aspect, but the longing for connections with other people, wanting to be a “good” person and having the fear that your life is passing you by and you’re not doing the things you want.

As Diane says on the season finale, “That’s the problem with life. Either you know what you want, and you don’t get what you want; or you get what you want, and then you don’t know what you want.”

It’s not just another stupid animated comedy.

Read it on the MOVE website here.

Sometimes, journalism is hard.

I started writing articles for The Maneater the summer before I came to MU, and last August I was hired as the Student Life beat writer. Over the course of the year, I interviewed so many different people, from notable alumni to a couple who were married in the Speakers Circle to the lead actor of an indie film, and made so many amazing friends.

In April, I took over the Campus Life section as Editor. It’s my job to come up with story ideas, assign stories to writers, pitch photos, edit with writers, manage Maneater Long Reads (a feat that terrifies me), go to workshops, work office hours, hand out papers on distribution day, recruit new writers/photographers/designers, come up with graphics, put stories online, and attend two weekly budget meetings. On a weekly basis.

Sometimes, I get a little overwhelmed. Sometimes, especially when I don’t return to my apartment until after 8 p.m., it feels like I’m working a full-time job. Sometimes, Maneater duties conflict with classes, and I’m left to make a decision — go to my journalism lectures/labs, or go do actual journalism.

Which brings me to why I’m writing about this particular topic: today, I had a super important interview scheduled during the middle of my J2150 lab. Thus, my dilemma — class, or The Maneater?

After I attempted to inconspicuously leave class, I ran to my car (the only relatively close/quite place I was able to use) to do the interview. And the source never contacted me. I spent 45 minutes sitting in my car in a parking garage waiting for a source to call me back and missed the class about camera basics (which I probably really needed to be there for, since I know literally nothing about cameras).

So, here I am, interview-less and camera knowledge-less.

Journalism is hard sometimes. Sometimes you end up missing a valuable lab, sometimes a source stands you up, sometimes you feel behind in your classes and totally overwhelmed and stressed. But sacrifices have to be made.

Before I applied to be an editor last year, I talked to some of my friends who were editors the year before. They told me it was hard, that I’d spend all my time in the office, never be home, and fall behind in classes. And now, just the second week into school, I’m realizing just how correct they were.

But, to me, it’s all worth it — I get to tell peoples’ stories. I get to be a part of the Maneater family. I get to take wide-eyed freshmen writers under my wing and be a mentor to them. I get real-world experience with reporting and meeting deadlines and editing, which I believe will benefit me more than getting straight A’s in college (though, straight A’s would be nice).

So, to the stress, to the workload, to the irony of journalism classes getting in the way of my journalism job: bring it.

She’s a Maneater

Today the July issue of The Maneater was published, the website is completely finished with its awesome redesign, and the next issue we produce will be published August 27 — the first week of school.

That realization hit me today. The beginning of sophomore year is right around the corner, and soon I’ll have little wide-eyed Maneaters coming into the office.

I’ve already had a handful of “baby journos” write some really stellar stories for me. A couple of them have already been asking me about how they can apply for a beat writer position and, in one case, “what is involved with eventually becoming an editor?”

BabyMike

Oh my god, they’re all just so cute. I can’t wait to meet them and love them all. The semester can’t come fast enough.

It’s so funny — I remember being in their position last summer. I was so nervous about everything I submitted to Heather and Jack and Jill and Bia. All of my stories were accompanied with “I hope this works! I can change anything that you don’t like,” (implied: “PLEASE LIKE ME I’M TRYING SO HARD THIS IS SO NERVE-WRACKING UGH”). And now I have little babies asking me the same questions I asked old Ed Board. Who’da thunk it?

From the stories that potential Campus Life babies have turned in already, I’m really optimistic about the content the section will produce this year. I’ve had some really great feature stories come in, and I’m hoping that this year Campus Life will be more defined and established than it was last year. (I also hope the baby journos appreciate the gifs I put in my listserv emails, because I put a lot of thought into them).

And after my initial freak out (which still pops up every few days) about Long Reads, I’m really excited to begin the series, too. I have a few ideas that I think will be really cool, the first one already lined up (September 17!), and I’m excited to see what happens (and also a little terrified).

I’m sure there will be times as Campus Life Editor where I will be totally overworked and stressed and burnt out, but I am really so very happy that I found my niche to belong to on campus and that I have my lovely Maneaters. I miss my Maneater family dearly — both this year’s Ed Board and last year’s.

I can’t wait to get back to Columbia and see all of their beautiful faces. I can’t wait to meet all the incoming freshmen. I can’t wait to work.

Is it August yet?

“I feel infinite.”

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you because she says you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.

Perks cover

I read Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” when I was 15, the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I skimmed through it in a couple of days, thought Charlie was “weird” for crying so much, gave it a three star rating on Goodreads, and moved on. As years passed, I noticed people would mention how much they loved the book, while I was too busy with my nose stuck in Richelle Mead’s “Vampire Academy” series and other YA supernatural romances (Team Edward or gtfo). I wondered what the big deal was about “Perks.” Sure, I had thought it was alright, but I didn’t see the book as anything too special.

Then, in 2012, it was made into a movie. I was excited to see it (after all, the perfect Emma Watson was starring as Sam) and I even volunteered to review it for my high school newspaper. I drove all the way to the giant AMC in Olathe (the only movie theater near me showing the indie flick) and saw it with my mom. By this point, I had pretty much forgotten everything about the book, so I came into the movie fairly oblivious.

Perks

I fell in love with the movie. I fell in love with Emma Watson’s Sam, with Ezra Miller’s Patrick, and, especially, with Logan Lerman’s Charlie. I was crying by the time it was over, and I saw it two more times in theaters with my friends. The story was beautiful and relatable and so damn truthful. It’s one of my favorite movies, only behind “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I bought the book shortly after seeing the film, but it wasn’t until this past week that I picked it back up.

Reading “Perks” as a 19-year-old college student is much different than reading it as a 15-year-old girl.

Everyone can relate to Charlie. Everyone, at one point or another, feels like a wallflower. We all think something is wrong with us but don’t know what, we all long for a place to belong, we all feel “both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Like Charlie, I have often felt like a silent observer, standing in the corner watching everyone interact and wondering about their lives. Like Charlie, I have spent time completely without friends, and even when I was surrounded by friends I’ve felt apart from them. Different. Like an outsider.

When I read “Perks” the first time, I didn’t get it, you know? I was 15. I was still in high school, I hadn’t gone through any particularly life changing experiences. I hadn’t lost friends, I hadn’t made too many stupid decisions, I hadn’t had a boyfriend or even my first kiss. I was just a kid who spent all of her time at home reading and watching TV. I was innocent and oblivious and ignorant about the world.

At 19, I’ve lost friends. I’ve had relationships and had those relationships end. I’ve been completely out of my element. I’ve had to make all new friends and find my place to belong in college. I’ve watched my older friends leave for college before me, while I stayed behind to finish my last year of high school. I’ve had nights with my friends where I’ve felt infinite and alive and felt like I was really there. 

When I finished “Perks” today, I got it.

I have never, in all my years of devouring books, annotated. I don’t circle things, I don’t underline, I don’t write my own thoughts between the margins. But with “Perks,” there were lines I read over and over, and I just had to mark them.

When Bill warns Charlie, “Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.”

When Charlie reminisces about past experiences, “Maybe it’s sad that these are now memories. And maybe it’s not so sad.”

When Charlie watches some kids sledding down a hill, completely elated, “I think it would be great if sledding was always enough, but it isn’t.”

When Bill tells Charlie, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

When Charlie observes, “Things change. And friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody.”

And, of course, the beautiful untitled poem that Charlie reads to his friends at the Christmas party, all about the loss of innocence. (which I, admittedly, read through multiple times and cried).

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” is honest. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and passionate. It’s a story about growing up and discovering love and sex and drugs and friendship and yourself. It’s universal and timeless and…everything. It’s about taking action and “participating” in life, and not just sitting on the sidelines. Charlie and his friends go through what we all go through as we grow up and figure out who we want to be. It’s about, as Charlie says in the novel’s closing pages, “It’s okay to feel things. And be who you are about them.” It’s about that one song, that one night, on that one drive, where you felt infinite.

Love Always,

Charlie

Continue reading ““I feel infinite.””

Review: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you.

That’s the premise behind “The Fault in Our Stars.” Based off the acclaimed and universally-obsessed-over book by John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars” is more than another teen love drama. It’s a story about cancer, love, and pain that demands to be felt.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenage girl who has been battling cancer since she was diagnosed at 13. She has to breathe from a tube and haul an oxygen tank everywhere she goes, as using stairs and standing for too long make her short of breath.

After her parents suspect Hazel of being depressed, they make her go to a support group for kids with cancer. It is here where Hazel meets Augustus “Gus” Waters (Ansel Elgort), an 18-year-old boy in remission. The two get to talking, sparks fly, and, despite Hazel’s hesitance about hurting Gus with her inevitable death, the two fall madly in love.

The genius of “The Fault in Our Stars,” lies with its risk to be funny while telling a sad story. You’ll laugh at the banter between Gus and Hazel, the goofy persona of fellow cancer victim Isaac (Nat Wolff), and the way the characters poke fun at their disease (as Gus says to Hazel’s father, “I didn’t cut this guy off for the hell of it,” motioning to his amputated leg he lost to his cancer).

A Fault In Our Stars

Following up amazing performances in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, Woodley is never better. As Hazel Grace, she is witty, sweet, and heartbreaking. You won’t be able to take your eyes off her. Opposite her Divergent co-star Elgort, the two are a match made in heaven.

“The Fault in Our Stars” isn’t just another cancer movie comprised of sad scenes and cliché. The story is lively, the characters bright, and the love poignant. The soundtrack, featuring songs from Ed Sheeran, M83, and Kodaline among others, breathes life and beauty into the film.

But, you must remember, this is a cancer movie — it’s not all laughs.

The audible squeals, giggles and applause from the audience slowly turn into suffocating silence and broken cries of “why?” and “no!” By the film’s conclusion you will find yourself bawling into your popcorn (or, in the my case, smuggled-in chocolates), surrounded by loud sobbing and nose-blowing noises from the packed theater. You will leave feeling broken but complete at the same time.

It lives up to its hype.

CampusLife030

Today a very special issue of The Maneater hit newsstands around campus. Not only was it the annual “Mizzou in Review” special edition, but it was also the first issue where the new ed board took complete control of their section.

IMG_6378

Over this last week, the Campus Life section was under my management for the first time. I pitched out stories, I checked in with my writers’ progress every few days, I made edits (my former editor and Campus Life dad wrote a killerrrr story for me, which was complete role reversal and almost too strange to deal with). I uploaded my content to the website, I came up with tweets and faceposts, I sent photo and graphics pitches.

I was busy, but it was a blast.

IMG_6379

Fun as it was, this week came with challenges. I struggled to come up with an idea for a graphic about HIV treatment, I had a newbie write a story for me who didn’t even have a remote grasp on the basics of AP style, I had to do last-minute event coverage (and by “last minute” I mean I was literally asked to cover something 10 minutes before it started in exchange for Hotbox cookies) and I’ve already begun searching for online and print story ideas for the summer.

I’m so incredibly proud of this first issue and June 4, the date of the 2014-2015 school year’s first official issue, can’t come soon enough. I can’t wait to have a gaggle of wide-eyed freshmen journos fight for my pitches over the summer. I can’t wait to hire beat writers in August. I can’t wait to have a Maneater child of my own and see the newly-formed Campus Life family grow over the years.

And I most definitely can’t wait for next year’s Dead Editors Night.

Dead Editors Night — a night of mass chaos, turmoil and anarchy in the newsroom. When the new editors take over the old editors die, and all of the newly deceased editors drink an unfathomable amount of alcohol and then proceed to sabotage the new editors as they’re putting their first issue together.

Last night the dead editors swarmed into the newsroom bellowing war cries and armed with silly string. They danced on desks to “Drunk in Love,” they ripped up notebooks and phonebooks and threw the pages into the air, they opened a bag of coffee grounds and poured it all over the floor, they paraded around the office taking selfless and screaming things like “Campus Life foreva!”

And then came the fountain.

Almost everyone ended up in the fountain outside the Student Center one way or the other, either by their own will (mostly the drunken dead editors who dove in) or by force (ex. me, who was pushed in by the dead CSN editor and then repeatedly dunked by my Campus Life dad).

This week has been crazy, and it’s only the first taste of what my life is going to revolve around over the next year.

I’m going to spend an ungodly amount of time in the Maneater office, constantly be searching Twitter for stories and awkwardly editing articles with writers. I’m going to be tired. I’m going to be stressed. I’m going to be busy. I’m going to complain. I’m going to be up late at night, banging my head against my desk and saying, “What have I gotten myself into?”

But no matter how overwhelmed and stressed out I get, being a part of the paper is completely worth it. I’m elated to be a part of the Maneater family, and I can’t wait for all that is to come.

Feel like MOVEing — er, I mean, Campus Life-ing?

I remember being an overly-excited incoming freshman, anxiously anticipating my impending college life. I couldn’t wait to move into the dorms, meet new people and make new friends, and, above all, write for the student newspaper.

I’ve been writing for The Maneater since last May. I was scrolling through the “Mizzou Class of 2017” Facebook page when I saw a post from a girl named Heather, the current editor of MOVE Magazine, the arts and entertainment section of The Maneater. I Facebook stalked her relentlessly until I mustered up the courage to send her a painfully awkward message, asking if I could write for the paper. And thus, I had found my way into The Maneater world.

I fell in love. I fell in love with The Maneater — with the responsibility of a weekly beat to cover, with the freedom of having my own column, with being able to pick up as many pitches for MOVE as I wished, with meeting interesting and often inspirational people who were always so happy to be covered, and with the editors who have always been so nice and let me show up to their parties uninvited. I’ve loved being involved and finding my own little niche on campus.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been going through the process of applying for a position on the editor board — specifically, MOVE and Campus Life. After answering numerous questions, responding to hypothetical situations, trying desperately to figure out how to work Adobe InDesign, and interviewing with next year’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor, the positions were filled yesterday.

I am the new Campus Life editor for the 2014-15 school year.

Initially, I had (and still have) a lot of mixed emotions. On one hand, I am incredibly honored, humbled, and grateful that I was trusted with leading the section. On the other, my heart was broken because I failed to get the position I had my sights set on since I wrote my first story for the section — MOVE editor.

I’ve always loved all things A&E. I nerd out about movies and television and books and music and concerts and plays and art. I want nothing more than to move to a big city somewhere in the world and work at a big entertainment magazine, where I can cover film festivals and interview Grammy-winning musicians. MOVE reviews movies and previews concerts and profiles artists. MOVE was what I wanted.

In the hours following the news, I received various texts and tweets from friends and fellow Maneaters congratulating me on the position. I thanked everyone, congratulated the very deserving girl who will be the next MOVE editor, continued the two hour drive back to CoMo from home, went into my room, called my mom, and proceeded to have a panic attack.

I had ideas for MOVE. I was confident in my ability to edit MOVE and edit it well, with every bit of snark and creativity that Heather brought to the role this past year. I had already thought of potential story ideas to pitch out, I was eager to hire columnists, I had a few ideas for regular features and how to balance the print content with online-exclusive content, and I was excited to be a part of the mysterious MOVE editor traditions that Heather had mentioned to me.

I can’t say that I have the same confidence when it comes to Campus Life. This was the section’s first year, and as one of Campus Life’s only consistent writers I know firsthand that the section was never really defined. Campus Life covers student features, university research and produces bi-weekly Long Reads stories online. It’s broad, it’s vague, it’s somewhat ambiguous. As I was hyperventilating in my room yesterday and laying in bed, staring at the ceiling last night (I only managed to get a whopping three hours of sleep, partially thanks to someone pulling the fire alarm at 5 a.m.), I was terrified about the task I have in front of me — of shaping Campus Life into a more definitive section; of producing Long Reads stories, a feat I have never attempted to approach before; of coming up with story ideas that aren’t completely dull.

Then I started thinking of what a friend told me last night, “This was the section’s first year. The beauty of that is you could totally take Campus Life and make it whatever you want it to be.”

And she’s right. I have the control to turn Campus Life into whatever I want it to be. Sure, I might not have any idea how to do that right now, but I will eventually. I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t as time goes on. Long Reads won’t seem as daunting after I tackle the first few stories. I can fill Campus Life with student profiles and make it fun. I’ve written some great stories for the section this year — stories about student veterans, artists looking to spread love, and people overcoming hardships. These are the stories I want to fill Campus Life with next year.

I’m excited for next year. I’m excited to be the second Campus Life editor, to take new writers under my wing and become their friend, to create a great section. I have my anxieties, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get my first pick, but I got something, and for that I am beyond thankful.

This is an opportunity for me to grow and diversify as a journalist. And with the experience as Campus Life editor listed on my resume, I am one step closer to moving to that big city and working for that big entertainment magazine.

To the 2014-2015 school year, bring it on.

“The Walking Dead” Season 4: the season that was strongly “eh.”

“The Walking Dead” — the only show on basic cable television where I can get my post-apocalyptic zombie fix.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been a girl obsessed. I binge-watched the first two seasons within the first week I had my Netflix account. My parents would frequently come home from work to find me standing on the couch, flailing my arms and screaming obscenities at the TV.

When season 3 started I devotedly live-tweeted each episode and had heated discussions with my friends the next day at school. And last February, I paid $45 to go to The Walking Dead Live in Kansas City — a live panel with Greg Nicotero, Lauren Cohan, Michael Rooker, and (*fangirls hopelessly*) Norman Reedus, Daryl Dixon himself.

For me, “The Walking Dead” is a pretty big deal.

When season 4 began last fall I was ecstatic. I finally had friends to watch and obsess over the show with, and I couldn’t have been happier.

But when compared to past seasons, season 4 is just “eh.”

Season 4 picked up a while after season 3 ended. The group has grown after refugees from Woodberry were taken in. They have their own system for growing food, gathering water, eliminating walkers who build up around the perimeter, and just surviving. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, until the zombie flu hits, the Governor attacks, and the group is forced to flee their prison sanctuary and becomes divided.

There are a lot of things wrong with season 4. The main thing I had a problem with throughout the first half of the season was that the anonymous characters taken in from Woodberry were the only ones to get picked off by the zombie flu and other disasters. When the first person succumbed to the zombie flu and attacked the group from within the prison, I was yawning. It was painfully obvious that the core characters — Glen, Maggie, Rick, Carol, etc. — would emerge unscathed and all the newbies would be killed. This is exactly what happened, and it continued to be the case for all of season 4 — by the finale, the only newbie that’s still alive and well is Bob. the The only long-standing cast member to perish this season was Hershel during the midseason finale.

Season 4 didn’t hesitate in returning the Governor. But, interestingly, the show dedicated a number of episodes to what happened to him after the fall of Woodberry. Gov. Phil goes through some “character development,” maybe trying to make the audience sympathize with him, before returning to his cold-blooded ways and manipulating a gang of people he meets on the road to attack the prison.

“The Walking Dead” stalled the inevitable — everything in the episodes focusing on the Governor and leading up to the prison raid simply did not need to be made. In fact, the entire first half of season 4 was more or less irrelevant. The midseason finale, where the prison is destroyed and Gov. Phil finally gets what’s coming to him, was the season 3 finale we were denied.

Photo courtesy amctv.com
Photo courtesy amctv.com

Despite its lags, especially throughout 4A, season 4 had its share of strengths and events that will be remembered as pinnacle moments of the show. The one that stands out the most: Lizzie murdering her sister, Mika.

From the moment she was introduced, Lizzie was one of the most intriguing characters of the season. She was sick, she wasn’t wired right, she regarded walkers as people, just “different,” and even went as far as calling them her “friends.”

Photo courtesy amctv.com
Photo courtesy amctv.com

The episode where Lizzie finally snapped and killed her sister so she would come back as a walker was without a doubt the strongest episode of the season. The last 20 minutes are brutal and end with Carol having to, for lack of a better term, “put down” Lizzie to insure the safety of baby Judith, to whom Lizzie was a huge threat.

As Carol said, “She can’t be around people.”

Season 4 focused largely on character development and explored the dynamics that exist between the adults and children. It shows the differences in perception from the adults, who are adjusting to the new post-apocalyptic world, and the children who are growing up in it and who have few, and perhaps fading, memories of the world before the walkers.

Starting in season 3, the show has shifted from humans-vs-zombies to humans-vs-humans. This was continued throughout season 4 — the main threats to the group being the Governor, the redneck group Daryl fleetingly joins, Lizzie’s psychosis, and Terminus.

The walkers are stupid, slow, and easy to get rid of with a simple stab or shot to the brain. Humans are a different story.

As is the tradition of “The Walking Dead,” the season finale broke records — 15.7 million viewers tuned in to last night’s episode. The season ended on the biggest cliffhanger of the series, with most of the gang trapped in a boxcar in Terminus, a trap which lures in people with the promise of sanctuary. (So, Terminus is a bad place. Who knew? “Those who arrive survive” totally didn’t sound too good to be true. I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm here.)

Season 4 leaves a lot of unanswered questions. What is the agenda behind Terminus? Are the people there cannibals? What’s going to happen to Carol, Tyreese, and Judith who are still out on the road heading to Terminus? Will they too be imprisoned? Now that most of the Woodberry characters have long since perished, who will be killed off next? And for god’s sake, where is Beth?

Though this season was my least favorite of the 4, season 5 has been set up to be packed with action. Rick Grimes, it’s time to prove that Terminus messed with the wrong people.

Review: ‘Divergent’

Divergent

In a futuristic Chicago there live four factions, where the citizens are categorized according to their personalities: Candor (honesty), Amity (kindness), Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (intelligence), and Dauntless (bravery). Each faction performs specific roles for society and are forbidden to interact with anyone outside their group. Upon reaching a certain age, the city’s youth are given a personality test, which determines which faction they should join. Everything is peaceful and well within the walls of the city — that is, until Tris takes the aptitude test.

Enter, Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley). Tris is Divergent — someone who does not fit completely into the requirements of one faction. Tris is a danger to society. Her existence threatens to overthrow what has been in place for as long as anyone can remember. Because of this, Tris must hide her inconclusive test results and not let anybody know she is a Divergent.

“Divergent” is nothing original. But what separates the film from most movies based on YA books (think, “Immortal Instruments,” “Vampire Academy,” “Beautiful Creatures,” etc.) — it doesn’t suck.

Maybe the success rests with the exceptional cast. Following her strong performances in “The Descendants” (which earned her a Golden Globe nomination) and “The Spectacular Now,” (and overlooking her stint as a pregnant teen in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,”) Woodley shines as Tris. She’s strong, beautiful, brave, determined, but is still afraid and doubtful of herself. She’s a gem.

Alongside Woodley is the gorgeous and talented Theo James. James brings just the right amount of irresistible, come-hitherness to Four, one of Tris’ mentors. Kate Winslet is despicably wicked as Jeanine, the Erudite leader with a diabolical plot, and Miles Teller is the douche bag you’ll love to roll your eyes at.

Or maybe it’s because of the intriguing, sci-fi distopian setting. The country has been ravaged by a mysterious war, which led to the construction of a wall around the city’s barriers and complete isolation from the outside war. What caused the war? Who was it between? What is life like outside the Chicago barrier? A potential sequel or two will (hopefully) answer these lingering questions.

“Divergent” is no “Hunger Games,” but it provides entertainment — mouthwatering man candy, steamy romance scenes, kick-ass action sequences, strong female characters, and a “don’t be afraid to think for yourself” theme. What else could you want out of a YA novel adaptation?

For the Win: The 86th Academy Awards

Two days ago was the 86th Academy Awards— my own personal holiday/Super Bowl/favorite television event ever.

The picture that single-handedly, at over 1 million retweets, broke the retweet record and temporarily crashed Twitter's website. Fun fact: it is now also my Facebook cover photo.
The picture that single-handedly, at over 1 million retweets, broke the retweet record and temporarily crashed Twitter’s website. Fun fact: it is now also my Facebook cover photo.

You can read about the pizza, the selfies, and, oh yeah, the awards and my pre-Oscars predictions on the MOVE website.