Three Female-led Shows I’m Currently Loving on Netflix

 

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Fun Fact: For the first few months in 1966, The Newlywed Game aired in black and white.

My relationship with TV can be defined in two words: lifelong friendship, it’s always been there for me and provides me with an easy escape from reality – it’s also just plain fascinating with never ending new shows to consume. I have always watched a lot of television, I had two older siblings and both of my parents appreciated TV. I watched all kinds of cartoons, sit-coms from the 60s to present day, and my family went through a long-lasting gameshow phase where we watched old episodes of Match Game and The Newlywed Game almost every night. As an adult, I still adore TV and it’s possibly become an even larger part of my life.

 

My husband works overseas for a month at a time so it’s just me, the dog, and the television (a truly happy family). Admittedly, I keep myself quite busy while my husband is away with having friends frequently visit, seeing my family often, and exploring my

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A photo I took while I was creating my Stardew Valley character.

hobbies like writing this blog, but the house does get pretty quiet. I often binge-watch shows while I’m multi-tasking, whether that be applying to jobs, writing this blog, playing with summit, doing Sudoku, or playing the computer game Stardew Valley. Television keeps me company and the character’s voices make the house feel less empty (I absolutely talk and sing to my dog on a regular basis, but she’s not that great of a conversationalist).

 

In the last handful of months, I (with and without my husband) have devoured Life in Pieces, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Penn and Teller: Fool Us, Weeds, That 70’s Show (minus the last few cringe worthy seasons), Garfunkel and Oates, W/Bob and David, Don’t Trust the B**** in Apt 23, Detectorists, No Tomorrow, Pretty Little Liars, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, The Returned, Scream Queens, plus a ton of movies.

So, what am I currently in love with on Netflix? Three main shows: The 100, Heartland, and Jane the Virgin.


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The 100: 2014 – ongoing
Best Features: Dystopic, Great Twists, Strong Female Characters, Great Character Development

I watched the first three seasons of The 100 last year and fell hard. I’m all up for some dystopic teenage fiction, but this show is so much more than that. The age of the main stars in the first season seems unimportant in the larger scheme of things; this is not a teenage soap-opera, it’s a well written science fiction show.

the-100The premise: Earth has been left uninhabitable by a series of nuclear explosions, but before the world was essentially destroyed the human race ascended into space to live together on a massive ship. With limited space and resources on the ship, there were laws instated including: only one child per household, and any committed crime (no matter how little) is punishable by death. The stipulation to this latter law was that if you were under 18 years of age, you would go into prison until you reached the age of majority to then face official judgement. For reasons that you will quickly discover, all of the under-18 prisoners are sent down to Earth and it gets a little ‘co-ed-Lord of the Flies’ (one of my favourite books) before the well written twists come into play.

I strongly recommend this show, they paint a fictional future with a lot of issues, but gender, sexuality, and age don’t seem to be the issues that they are in our reality. The series is still airing and Netflix updates the fourth season with a new 40-minute episode each week.


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Heartland: 2007 – ongoing
Best Features: Canadian, Beautiful Cinematography, Character Development, Grandpa’s Moustache

This show has been on for ten years, it’s been on since 2007 when I was still in high school! I remember seeing commercials for this CBC program when it was first airing on TV, but I paid no attention to it. I started watching it last month after finishing Weeds and wanting to watch something a little more moral. I am an animal lover, but have never been very interested in horses yet I really enjoy Heartland. It is an insanely good background show because it doesn’t have subtitles, it has a moderate pace and is really easy to follow. I actually liked the earlier seasons that get a lot of flack for having lower production budgets, I liked them because of the high school flashbacks I was having with the casts’ wardrobe.

The premise: After the passing of a single mother who lived and worked as a ‘horse whisperer’ at her family’s horse ranch in Alberta, Canada, her 14-year-old daughter is left to cope with her inherited gift to keep the family business afloat. She lives with and has

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If anyone claims that they don’t stare at grandpa Jack’s perfectly combed ‘stache when he’s on the screen they’re lying.

the help of her grandfather (my favourite character), her much older sister who is home from New York, and a young ranch-hand who is hired as a rehabilitation project while on probation.

Heartland really focuses on family, caring about animals, moral work ethics, small-town life, and Canada’s gorgeous scenery. There are minor love triangles, estranged family reunions, and more action than you’d think. Grandpa himself gets into the odd fist fight, the family saves/steals a lot of mistreated horses, and fighting off cattle thieves is surprisingly more common (on the show at least) than I would have originally thought. This is a show you can watch with your family and even my husband has admitted that it’s not as bad as he thought it would be – Grandpa’s rockin’ moustache and tough-teddy-bear personality makes it a hard show not to love! Netflix has nine seasons available, and season ten is currently airing on CBC.


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Jane the Virgin: 2014 – ongoing
Best Features: Hilarious, Ridiculous, Fun Narrator, Twists out the Wazoo, Diverse Cast, Fresh

This is probably my favourite show that is currently airing new episodes. The Mindy Project has kind of fallen by the wayside with some disappointing plot choices and its failure to have characters live up to their originally likable natures. Jane the Virgin has filled the Mindy-Project-sized hole in my heart. This show is delightfully dramatic and constantly makes me laugh. It is witty, quick-paced, diverse, and so incredibly fresh. Jane loves romance stories and is obsessed with telenovelas, Latin soap operas that consist of insane plotlines. The show itself, Jane the Virgin, is a modern American-made telenovela that airs on CW. The show has a fantastic (third person omniscient/commentator) narrator who interjects periodically with helpful reminders or he lets us know how the characters are really feeling. So much happens in each episode that what I am about to tell you is not really a spoiler at all – you find it all out in the first episode!

Jane has been brought up in a household with conflicting views on sex; her single mother had Jane at a young age and exudes sexual promiscuity confidently, while Jane’s grandmother is very religious and has drilled the sanctity of one’s virginity into Jane’s head from a young age. The three jtvpilotwomen live together in the grandmother’s house and Jane is now in her early twenties. Working a waitress job at a fancy hotel while finishing her post secondary education, Jane is in a happy committed relationship and is still waiting for marriage to lose her virginity. Within the first episode, a grave mistake occurs at what is supposed to be a simple appointment with her Gynecologist and this is the point in which her average life is inseminated with outrageous drama.

I fell in love with the show immediately, but if you think that it seems too overdramatic for you, give it a few episodes to see if you get the humour behind it all. Netflix currently has up to the middle of season three available and the new episodes are being released on a weekly basis. (PS. Prepare yourself for a moderate amount of sub-titles that are completely worth the portrayal of the natural flow of conversation in a Spanish-American home environment)


Do you watch any of these shows? What are your opinions on them? Let me know a TV show that you think I might like and I hope you might try watching one of mine.

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Struggling with SAD-ness: Blue Monday and Maintaining Mental Health

(Today’s featured image/header is a self-portrait painting I did in highschool when I was 16, acrylics on canvas)

As “Blue Monday” has come and gone this week, I think about the significance of maintaining one’s mental health.

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Blue Monday formula above.

The term Blue Monday was actually coined in 2005 by Sky Travel, a company looking to boost sales for destinations with warmer temperatures. It is believed that Sky Travel hired a university lecturer to come up with “a pseudo-mathematical formula to pinpoint the most depressing day of the year: he combined weather, debt, time since Christmas, motivation levels, the need to take action, and time since New Year’s resolutions were made.” There is no actual scientific evidence that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year, but maybe that’s okay.

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Self-portrait I painted as a teenager when I was feeling down.

Although Blue Monday is somewhat of a recent notion, it doesn’t make it any less of an annual tradition – people still celebrate Valentines Day, Labour Day, and in Canada we now have Family Day in February! As time passes, people will likely start to care less about the history and more about the positive associations and memories that come with Blue Monday. The label encourages people to put effort into their happiness and check in on one’s mood. Sometimes being reminded that other people are also experiencing hard times can make someone feel better – feel less alone. Mental health is a difficult thing to measure in quantifiable terms, so finding scientific evidence of the most depressing day of the year would prove to be difficult as well.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder
“Weather often affects people’s moods. Sunlight breaking through clouds can lift our spirits, while a dull, rainy day may make us feel a little gloomy. While noticeable, these shifts in mood generally do not affect our ability to cope with daily life. Some people, however, are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD.” – Canadian Mental Health Association

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) acknowledges what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which could realistically be connected to the origins of Blue Monday. Approximately 10% of Canada’s population is affected by the reduction of sunlight in our winter months. This means that Sky Travel’s creation of Blue Monday was capturea brilliant PR move – a quick solution to combat SAD is to hop on a flight to an all-inclusive beach resort and soak up some rays. However, taking a last-minute vacation isn’t in the cards for everyone, especially after an expensive December.

Like the capitalist society that we are, other corporations have jumped on board the Blue Monday bandwagon. Discounts, sales, or one day deals actually help us afford to treat ourselves, even if it’s something small. For example, I got an email from Cineplex last week informing me that my Scene points would be worth double (get a movie ticket for half the amount of scene points) for one day only, for Blue Monday.


collage1.jpgI asked my mom if she wanted to come see
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with me (second time for myself, first time for her) and she was an obvious yes. We ate dinner at home, picked up some grapefruit coolers for after the movie, and went to check out of reality for a couple hours at the theatre.

We did girls-night right:

I think that it’s important to live a balanced lifestyle, or try to at least because I don’t know anyone who has actually mastered this art. We all have a lot going on and you need to remember that as amazing as other people’s lives may look on social media, they’re not perfect either. That’s why this particular capitalist-created day of the year isn’t all that bad. Embrace the concept of taking care of yourself, there are many affordable (or even free) ways to actively work at keeping happy. Start a pinterest board that you can go to when feeling down, one of things that make you happy as well as ideas of free ways to cheer yourself up!

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Sacchan the mysterious and overweight japanese dog from my favourite video.

What are some small things that you do to make yourself smile and maintain your happiness? For me, I look at an excessive amount of dog photos and videos. I’ll finish this week off with my current favourite dog video, enjoy!