Britney Spears, and more importantly, her conservatorship, is getting a lot of media attention following the premiere of the New York Times Presents: Framing Britney documentary.
After an in-depth look at the ups-and-downs of her life and career, the narrative surrounding the 39-year-old pop star is finally beginning to change in her favor.
The documentary takes a look at her mental struggles and public breakdowns, the media scrutiny she’s been forced to endure and how it played into her downfall, and the #FreeBritney movement, which believes that Britney is being held hostage and has been advocating on her behalf to free her from her father, Jamie Spears, who controls her finances and estate.
While the information in the documentary isn’t groundbreaking for Britney fans who have followed her career for years, it reinforces and brings public attention to the question they’ve been asking for years: when will Britney finally get control over her being and her life?
Where’s Her Dad?
While Jamie is very much involved in Britney’s life now as he’s been in charge since 2008 when he was appointed co-conservator alongside a lawyer named Andrew Wallet, that wasn’t always the case.
Kim Kaiman, senior marketing director of Jive Records from 1998 until 2004 recalls Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, and her longtime friend and assistant, Felicia Culotta, being around in the early years of her career. One of the moments that truly stuck out the most, was when the executive said the only time she ever spoke to Jamie was when he said that his “daughter’s gonna be so rich, she’s gonna buy me a boat.” mAnd that was after all his money troubles came to light.
It’s not entirely surprising, in that case, that the documentary asserts that Britney does not want Jamie in charge of the conservatorship anymore and prefers an independent professional.
She Was the Boss
Britney’s backup dancer up until 2004, Kevin Tancharoen, assured fans that Britney was very much in charge of her own career and making decisions.
“She was definitely in control of a lot of decisions,” he explained. “That idea that Britney is a puppet who just gets moved around and told what to do is incredibly inaccurate. When I was involved in all of those years, we would present a lot of ideas and she would have to like them, she would have to approve them. She was very creative. She was the one who knew what she wanted to do, or her people would make [what she wanted] happen for her.”
“She was the boss,” he concluded.
The “was” is chilling considering many fans don’t think Britney has much control over anything these days including her Instagram, which is brought up briefly in the documentary as fans believe she’s using the social media platform to send cryptic messages and cries for help.
Britney vs. Justin
The world was infatuated by Britney and Justin’s romance, but the moment they broke up, she endured vile attacks as everyone took his side while he painted her as a cheater and washed his hands of any wrongdoing.
Former MTV VJ Dave Holmes says Justin “weaponized the idea” that Britney was the “school slut” for “Cry Me a River.”
Tancharoen echoed the sentiment calling the video, which featured a Britney lookalike cheating on him, as a “pure male revenge fantasy.”
The docu-series doesn’t hold back as it even features a clip of Justin doing an interview where he jokes about sleeping with Brintey. Justin willingly destroyed Britney to save himself.
It’s a Man’s World
Numerous interviews that have lived on Youtube for years now have become a primary focus as the documentary illustrates how the media fed into a problematic narrative about Britney.
Earlier interviews take digs at Britney as a woman and a sex symbol as she fields questions about her virginity.
However, Diane Sawyer is taking most of the heat for an interview that she did in 2003 in which she unfairly asks her what she did to break Justin’s heart.
It only got worse from there when Britney was hounded after welcoming her first child and scrutinized for hold baby Sean on her lap. At the time, Matt Lauer asked her about her feelings about being called a “bad mom,” to which she replied: “That’s America for you.”
The press, paparazzi, and the misogyny surrounding her break-ups exacerbated her mental health struggles. And at the time, the conversation surrounding mental health was “toxic” and words like “crazy” were thrown around to describe Britney’s behavior including shaving her head and attacking the paparazzi with an umbrella.
If you don’t believe it, just take a look at Family Feud, which made Britney’s meltdown a category in 2008. In the clip, contestants are asked to name “something that Britney Spears has lost” with contestant answers ranging from husband/marriage to her hair and eventually, her mind.
The documentary questioned how a woman who was capable of learning choreography and performing nightly sold-out shows was deemed incompetent to take care of her own life. (Her father and the conservatorship was praised for how great she was doing and turning her life around.)
A conservatorship is designed to protect the conservatee, but in Britney’s case, it raises questions about human rights and how they can be easily stripped from someone placed in a vulnerable position.
Many who spoke out in the documentary believe Britney is being exploited and the conservatorship doesn’t have her best interests at heart, especially when Andrew, the co-conservator, requested more money after Britney began raking in more dough during her Las Vegas residency.
In fact, Adam Streisand, the lawyer Britney initially tried to hire to represent her in the probate proceedings found that she was fit to make such a decision, and yet, the judge said she was unfit to retain her own counsel. Streisand said this was his opinion, but added he never saw the medical report that the judge cited to back up his decision. He emphasized that at the time of speaking to Britney, she was aware she couldn’t avoid the conservatorship but was adamant that she did not want her father in charge.
Despite Britney’s best efforts and all those activists in her corner, the conservatorship has been extended until at least September.
The conservatorship is currently run by Spears’ care manager, Jodi Montgomery as Jamie was removed for “personal health reasons,” but in November 2020, a judge declined to remove him as head of the estate and co-conservator. The judge said they would consider further petitions for removal.
But it seems as though Britney is finally firing back, standing her ground, and fighting for what she wants, especially as she stated she is “afraid of her father” and will “not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”
And shortly after the release of the documentary, Britney’s boyfriend, Sam Asghari, put out a statement slamming Jamie for trying to control their relationship.
“Now it’s important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way, he wrote, adding, “In my opinion, Jamie is a total d—.”
The buzz from the documentary is promising, the reactions are strong and unified, but will it be enough to ensure productive discussions and a change in the long-run particularly for Britney? We can only hope.
Found Season 1 Episode 10 – Missing While Indoctrinated
M&A suffered minor setbacks on Found Season 1 Episode 10 when the team’s license was revoked following Melissa’s death, with Mallory egging on the narrative in the media.
That, however, didn’t stop Gabi in the slightest—it fueled her to do what was right by Tony despite everyone trying to push her away from the case, including his father, who didn’t trust her after Tony was shot while trying to save Matthew from being turned over to sex traffickers.
Tony’s father’s reaction was understandable considering he was just trying to do the right thing for his son—and the right thing wasn’t exactly clear in this situation—but when the cops showed up mere moments after Tony opened his eyes from a monthlong coma and placed handcuffs on him, it was clear that he didn’t have much of a choice. If he wanted to help his son, he needed to place his trust in Gabi’s hands.
Gabi naturally went above and beyond to ensure a good outcome for Tony, yet he was also reluctant to help her out. Tony didn’t trust anyone, especially Gabi as he, too, blamed her for accidentally getting shot, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise when he used the bathroom excuse to give them the slip.
The investigation hit much closer to home than Gabi initially anticipated, but being forced to confront her past so head-on is ever so slightly helping her work through the trauma she endured. And most importantly, she can put herself in the shoes of the victims, knowing exactly what needs to be said or done to assure them that she’s on their side.
In an attempt to find Tony, they brought in his estranged mother, who admitted to being scared of her son and wanting nothing to do with him in order to protect her two other children. It was actually heartbreaking to witness her stance toward Tony, however, Matthew’s mom managed to persuade her to stand by her boy and not give up on him. Despite Tony’s involvement in Matthew’s kidnapping, she was able to forgive him when he stopped by with an apology, realizing that he was just a good boy who was being taken advantage of, and who was also lost and scared.
M&A figured that it was possible that Tony was trying to get back into the game and recruit other students when he returned to school, yet that didn’t track with his apology tour. And it turns out, he was at the school to get revenge on those who ruined his life, namely Finn, the one who recruited him and straight up lied to Gabi’s face, along with the principal, Chloe, who prided herself on lowering the truancy rate. It wasn’t overly obvious that she was involved, but there was something off about her from the start. Not to mention they always say that kidnappers tend to be someone you know and trust, and aside from parents, kids trust their teachers and friends the most, so it tracks.
Gabi got very emotional when she figured that one of the teachers at school might be responsible, even before pinpointing Chloe as the one leading the trafficking ring (who, after her arrest, sang like a canary, according to Trent), and it led to one of the biggest revelations about Sir to date—he was her English teacher.
I’ve always suspected that he knew Gabi in some shape, way, or form prior to her kidnapping as it couldn’t have been random, and this makes so much sense now, especially all of their forced literature discussions. The clues were always there.
Gabi was having additional flashbacks throughout the episode that involved a girl who tried to help her. The girl first knocked on the door having claimed that her car broke down, however, she later returned to promise Gabi that she would get help. In a follow-up flashback, Sir informed Gabi that he took care of the girl who was threatening their future, and Gabi pieced two-and-two together and realized it was Sir’s previous victim, Annie, who was also one of his former students. Annie risked her life to come back and offer her help, but she was never seen again. And since then, Gabi has been looking for Annie, promising Sir that it’s the last piece of the sick saga before she ends it all. Sir insists she won’t find Annie because he didn’t kill her, but Gabi isn’t listening to a word he says. Of course, this sparks curiosity as to what actually happened to Annie as there’s a chance that Sir is telling the truth.
As Gabi tries to heal, she’s also caught in the constant cat-and-mouse game, holding Sir prisoner and trying to make sense of the trauma he inflicted on her, all while doing the exact same thing that the monsters she despises are doing. She may be ridding the world of an evil man, but he also brought up a fair point when questioning why Gabi didn’t feel like he was worthy of redemption as some of the other people she’s dealt with.
Obviously, this case is the most personal to Gabi, and she views him as the worst man in the world, so she doesn’t consider there to be any good in him, but we know that monsters aren’t just born, they are made. His cruel mother, who was abusive to him during his childhood, made him this way, and while that’s no excuse, it’s something I do hope the writers dive into deeper.
As for Gabi, there’s no getting rid of this pressure, which means she can’t open herself up to love from Trent, who is there, patiently waiting and willing to be with her at the drop of a hat. He loves her, even when she’s being exceptionally cold and rude to him, because he cares about her—and he made sure that she knew he wasn’t going to apologize for that. Thankfully, she apologized to him for the way she’s been treating him before suggesting that he get his job back at the DCPD because they need him as “he’s one of the good guys.” Being a cop, a good cop, is his purpose and all that he’s ever wanted, plus it will help them in the long run.
Gabi may have landed a win with Tony’s safe return in the loving arms of both his parents (yes, his mother came around finally), all the people she saved rallying behind her on public television to change the narrative about M&A, and finally, in getting her license back, but she’s constantly losing because she can’t get out of that basement or be honest with the people she loves.
The rest of M&A is doing the work to make sure they can heal and become the best versions of themselves, including Margaret who, with her therapist’s help, moved back the time of her train station arrival an hour. They may be baby steps to her in the grand scheme of things, but they are massive to her.
Elsewhere, Zeke called in a request to his estranged father to get the license reinstated, informing him that he never asks for anything, while making it clear how much he relied on the purpose that M&A gave him. His father stopped by later, having successfully done what Zeke asked, and it was a small breakthrough in their frought relationship, one that happened after Zeke was taken. Lacey was on hand to support Zeke during the moment, and let’s just say, I’m excited to see them take their relationship to the next level.
What did you think about the episode? Are you surprised about what we learned about Sir?
Who Is Lark on ‘Virgin River’?
Lark (Elise Gatien) made her debut on Virgin River Season 5, specifically, during the episodes that tackled the wildfires that ravaged parts of the picturesque town.
Warning – this post has spoilers from the Virgin River holiday episodes.
After Jack and Brady risked their lives to save Lark’s daughter, Hazel, who went missing from the campsite during the fire evacuation, the single mom began to bond with the latter, extending her gratitude to him for going out of his way to prioritize her daughter’s safety.
When Brady found out that Lark and Hazel were squatting, he offered them up a place in one of the lumber yard trailers, a selfless gesture that speaks to his big heart.
Lark definitely set her sights on Brady, especially on the heels of his generosity, and a connection sparked around the time that Brady’s relationship with Brie crumbled and he was looking for some companionship. Lark also helped Brady see the better parts of himself, as Brie held his lies (even though he couldn’t tell her anything about being an informant) against him and made him feel guilty.
One thing led to another and eventually, Lark and Brady began a relationship after his romance with Brie ended. It was also helpful that Hazel really took to Brady, and thus, he became a bit of a stepfather figure in her life.
Fast forward a few months to the timeline of the holiday episodes, Brady and Lark are going strong, fully embracing their romance and sweet little family together. Lark even invited Brady to meet her mother, though he claims that’s a little too fast-paced for him, which is understandable considering he still harbors strong feelings for Brie, who has currently moved on with Mike.
However, Brady seems to be in a good place in life, particularly as everything with Melissa Montgomery’s money laundering/drug smuggling at Emerald Lumber has finally settled down. He’s finally able to move past the nightmare that started when he was roped in by Calvin when he was young and reckless, or so fans thought. In retrospect, I guess we should’ve been more suspicious of Lark’s attempts at inserting herself into Brady’s life, though she definitely made it seem so natural.
In the final moments of Virgin River Season 6 Episode 12, Lark sneaks off to pick up a call from Hazel’s father, who turns out to be Jimmy, who is serving time in prison. Lark informs him that “Brady doesn’t suspect a thing,” which shows that this is Jimmy’s form of getting close enough to Brady to get revenge.
It’s an awful and disappointing twist considering all the progress Brady has made to turn over a new leaf and hit refresh. He can’t seem to shake this whole Emerald Lumber fiasco, no matter how hard he tries. Bad luck just seems to follow him based on one bad decision he made way back when—and it’s cost him so much, including his friendships and his romance with Brie.
I’m hoping that Lark realizes just how good of a guy Brady is and how much he’s sacrificed for her and Hazel and decides not to go through with whatever she and Jimmy have planned.
Lord knows that Brady deserves some sliver of good news and positivity in his life, along with a storyline far removed from the lumber yard.
ExMas Movie Review – Robbie Amell and Leighton Meester Make a Holiday Bet
While most holiday movies this time of year are centered around one’s Christmas wish, ExMas takes a different approach.
Beware—spoilers from the movie ahead!
Imagine the worst possible situation that can occur when you come home on Christmas…. is it your parents inviting your ex-fiancée, who broke your heart into a million pieces, over for Christmas dinner after you told them you weren’t coming into town due to previous work commitments but then decided at the last minute on a change of plans as part of a surprise? If so, that’s the exact plot of Robbie Amell (a treat for all of us Upload fans) and Leighton Meester’s (Gossip Girl) new Freevee movie.
And let me tell you, it brings plenty of comedic moments and jokes, sprinkled into what turns out to be a heartfelt plot about owning up to your mistakes and apologizing for shortcomings in a failed relationship, all while expertly capturing the chaos that is going home for the holidays. You know the former couple will find their way back to each other in the end—this is a Christmas movie after all—but it’s less about the destination and more about the journey that gets them to the “aha” moment.
It’s a fa-la-la-oh-my-god-is-this-really-happening situation that Amell’s Graham and Meester’s Ali turn into a competitive bet to see which one will win over the family’s love and which one will be kicked out before Christmas day.
Along the way, Graham and Ali realize that they aren’t over each other one bit, while also admitting their own faults led to the demise of their relationship. Graham explains that he was doing what he thought Ali wanted—working more so he could work his way up the corporate food chain to make enough money to provide them with the perfect life. However, all Ali ever needed was for him to be there for her, present and willing, though she didn’t voice it either because she was scared he was going to walk away, so, she walked away first.
It all comes down to a lack of necessary communication in a relationship—which happens far too often to couples these days that are caught up in the hustle and bustle of life—but there’s no shortage of time to talk it out when you’re forced to spend the holidays under the same roof.
Graham’s reaction upon walking into his childhood home and seeing the woman who broke his heart standing at the top of the stairs was to freak out, naturally. And who wouldn’t? This is a huge betrayal of trust from the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally and side with you, no matter what. As he tries to make them see the issue, their argument is that she’s been part of the “family for a very long time.”
When he realizes that Ali has ingrained herself into the family by playing Wordle with his sister and helping his brother study for his exams, he realizes that he can’t just up and leave, he has to show the family how “evil she is” by making them dislike her to “save his family” and “save Christmas.”
Admittedly, it’s a pretty extreme retaliation, but one that delivers plenty of good fun, especially since Graham knows her faults and weaknesses—like her competitive streak—and can easily exploit them. And that’s a two-way street as Ali is also able to sabotage Graham, making her the perfect and worthy opponent. Graham leverages Ali’s irrational fear of goats to ruin the dealership’s Christmas party, while she deliberately moves a sign in the bathroom to ensure that he floods it when flushing, allowing her to be the toilet bowl plunger hero. Of course, these are just two adults acting silly so that they don’t have to confront the harsh reality of their former relationship, but it’s all in good fun.
They both try to make the other jealous with new crushes—and she tries to sabotage his relationship with Jess by telling her that he has problems in the bedroom (though that short-lived romance tanks all on its own when Jess suggests a threesome with her roommate/special friend), while he allows her to invest in Brady knowing that it will eventually end with him trying to sell her a car during the date.
But it also emphasizes that the dating scene is a scary, scary place, and once you’ve found your person, you have to hold on to them tight and never let go.
It also becomes evident why the family gravitated toward Ali instead of Graham in the first place—and why the duo inevitably broke up—as Graham isn’t present most of the time; he doesn’t care to ask about his family members’ personal lives or keep up a relationship as he’s too busy with work. His sister, Heather, assures him that Ali was always there at every event when he wasn’t.
The Christmas season, which starts off to be the stuff of nightmares, helps Graham reprioritize what’s important as he begins to see that he took everything that mattered for granted, his family and Ali included.
When Graham’s father suffers a sudden cardiac arrest following a competitive, yet friendly, game of hockey during the holidays, that’s when he really starts to understand just how much time he’d invested into the wrong thing. Of course, a career is just as important as anything else, but it shouldn’t take precedence over the things that truly matter–and he was working for a boss who expected him to meet a Christmas Day deadline and had no qualms about calling and demanding more from him even when he was in the hospital following a family member’s health scare. At that moment, Graham takes a leap of faith and quits—the start of his new life on the horizon. (This may or may not be a Horizen pun, I’ll let you decide.)
There were several other factors that brought him to the finish line, where he realized he screwed up and couldn’t live without Ali, including a heart-to-heart with his mom, a night of amazing drunk sex with Ali, and saying goodbye to her after they both forgave each other for the pain they inflicted.
Once she was out the door, Graham and his family couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing—and in true Christmas movie fashion, they all ran to get the girl, trying to fit into a vehicle that wasn’t up to par for the journey. As they made their way to the other car, Graham found Ali standing at the front door and immediately poured his heart out to her, only for her to explain that she only came back because she forgot her phone.
Obviously, that was the last cruel joke she played on him as the two made up and sealed the deal with a kiss. Admittedly, there wasn’t undeniable chemistry between Amell and Meester as actors—they sold the friendship more—but the plot was believable enough that you found yourself rooting for them regardless. It’s actually quite nice for the chemistry to feel more grounded and realistic rather than the kind always portrayed in holiday movies that can sometimes feel unattainable for the average couple.
Fast forward to the next holiday, at their home in Los Angeles, Graham came through on his promise to help her start up her bakery truck, proving that his priorities are finally in order, as yet another time jump two years later, revealing that they welcomed a baby together.
And just because so much time had passed, doesn’t mean Graham didn’t have revenge on his mind as he invited his sister’s ex, Heather, for the holidays because they remained such good friends after the breakup.
As they say, payback’s a bitch, but if Graham’s situation is any consolation, maybe Mindy (Veronika Slowikowska) and Heather’s story will have a happy ending. After all, isn’t that the magic of the holidays?
The film also stars Michael Hitchcock, Kathryn Greenwood, Steven Huy, Thomas Cadrot, and Donna Benedicto. It’s available to stream now on Freevee.
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