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Editorials

The Secret of The Good Place’s Biggest Twist

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Justin Lubin

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Spoilers for the first season of The Good Place below

The Good Place/NBC, NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Season one of NBC’s The Good Place won over many fans with its likable characters, unique premise, and impressive use of cliffhangers on a weekly basis. The ability to end each chapter with a stinger that left the audience excitedly anticipating the next installment set The Good Place apart from other sitcoms.

In the last episode of the season, Eleanor drops the biggest reveal so far.

“THIS is the Bad Place.”

The show only gets to bask in its own glory for about ten seconds though, because it immediately upstages itself with an even bigger reveal: Michael is evil.

The Good Place/NBC "Dance Dance Resolution" 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Colleen Hayes

The cliffhanger endings throughout season one worked, but eventually the novelty of the unexpected wears off. Once it does, all you are left with is the characters. This is why Michael being evil is the most important part of the series’ heel turn.

Michael’s true nature and the “Good Place” being the “Bad Place” would seem to go hand in hand, but that isn’t necessarily true. There could have easily been a version of The Good Place where Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason go about their Good Place lives as they are without any Good Place architect guiding them. There even could have been a version where Michael is ACTUALLY a Good Place architect and is being duped as well. Revealing they are in the Bad Place in these versions would still have been effective; that’s a good reveal! But not a great one.

It’s shocking on a plot level, but it only recontextualizes the plot. Our view of the world changes but our relationship with the show only shifts. Humans are incredibly adaptive. Something is only new for a short while before it becomes accepted as the norm.

This is why the Michael reveal is so important to the sustainability of the twist. Revealing that Michael is evil not only recontextualizes the plot, but the character and all of his relationships. Not only haven’t we been watching what we thought we were watching, we weren’t even watching who we thought we were watching. The audience isn’t just hit with a shock but a betrayal. We rooted for you not to get retired, Michael!!!

The Good Place/NBC "Dance Dance Resolution" 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Colleen Hayes

That emotional attachment and the resulting personal investment is why The Good Place twist is so transcendent. We never break with our investment of the show. It isn’t so much a question of how did the writers pull this off, but how did Michael pull this off? It forces a compulsion on you to rewatch the first season, just as we all compulsively look back over a lost relationship after a breakup, trying to spot all the red flags that we definitely should have seen the first time.

This also sets up a second season that guarantees something we haven’t seen before – the real Michael. Characters are the gift that keep on giving, because unlike a new setting (or more accurately for The Good Place, our new understanding of the setting), character novelty doesn’t wear off as quickly. There are so many new facets of the show to explore through the real Michael. How will he interact with this world? With our heroes? How much of season one was an act and how much was truthful?

Considering we all know the humans won’t be eternally damned by the end of the series (that would be the subversion of all subversions, and probably not result in too great a story), if the big twist was only that the humans are in the Bad Place then our speculation going forward is limited to “how will they escape?” Revealing Michael’s true nature and goals allows us to not just speculate about the humans’ escape, but to wonder how Michael will fail. And I want to see it! He betrayed me. I want to watch him fail and get what he deserves. We know Michael, even if we didn’t know the real Michael, we are invested in him. That investment in his character carries us much further than any plot point ever could.

The Good Place/NBC -"Dance Dance Resolution" 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Good Place/NBC Photo by: Colleen Hayes

The Good Place has a great plot twist, but it has a phenomenal character twist. Michael being evil is the secret weapon of the season ending cliffhanger and the key to its sustainability. Watching season one for the first time, my mind was shifting gears when Eleanor announced they were in the Bad Place, but my spine chilled and my brain exploded when Michael let out that iconic evil laugh. The series continued with a phenomenal second season, but before its airing many wondered how The Good Place could carry on after blowing up its world so completely. What could carry it forward?

The secret: Through all the twists and turns the show never lost the sight of the fact that it isn’t about what carries it, but who.


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Editorials

All the Reese Witherspoon TV Shows You Have to Watch

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Reese Witherspoon TV shows you have to watch

Reese Witherspoon is a culture icon. 

The actress is responsible for bringing to life some of the most iconic roles in both movies and television. Her foray from the big-screen into television has been nothing short of enjoyable and impressive as it’s given her a blank canvas in which she can show off her incredible range. 

No character is too big or too small for Witherspoon. 

It would have been easy for Witherspoon to typecast herself or become boxed into the role of “ditzy yet ambitious blonde” following the success of Legally Blonde in 2001, but Reese never allowed it. Since stepping into the limelight in 1991, she’s continuously pushed and reinvented herself to become one of the hardest working actresses and executive producers in the business. 

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Everywhere you turn, you’ll see Reese’s moniker on something even if she isn’t starring in it!

Many of her TV shows are even produced under her own Hello Sunshine umbrella, which she developed when she found herself lacking progressive and aspiring roles. 

Turns out, Reese always knew what was best for Reese, and we’re so glad she continues giving us that’s compelling, nuanced, and emotional.

Here are the Reese Witherspoon shows you have to watch! 

 

Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)

The Hulu miniseries is based on the 2017 novel of the same name and follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and a mother-daughter duo who upend the lives that they’ve become accustomed to. Not only does Witherspoon star as Elena Richardson opposite Scandal’s Kerry Washington, she also served as executive producer. 

 

The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

The drama is an unfiltered look at the cutthroat world of morning television and the lives of the people who bring you the news each morning. Witherspoon stars as green reporter Bradley Jackson opposite Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell. 

 

Big Little Lies (HBO) 

The award-winning series is based on the bestseller by Liane Moriarty. The drama tells the story of helicopter moms, successful husbands, rumors, and a murder in the usually tranquil beachy town of Monterey, California. There’s a lot more to these women that meets the eye, and they all have their fair share of secrets they want to keep including Witherspoon’s neurotic Madeline. The show is filled with star power with Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoe Kravitz. 

 

Friends

Before she could run, Witherspoon had to walk, but she did so on one of the most popular sitcoms ever. While she didn’t have the biggest role, she’s one of the most notable characters as she played Rachel Green’s (Jennifer Aniston) youngest sister, Jill. She was featured in two episodes of season six.

 

Get Organized with the Home Edit (Netflix)

Witherspoon, an executive producer on the series, appears in one episode, but if you log into Netflix, her episode is used to promote the series and entice you into watching. The reality series finds expert home organizers Clea and Joanna helping clients declutter their spaces! Get ready to feel inspired! 


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Editorials

6 Reasons Why We Love Hallmark Christmas Movies

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Why We Love Hallmark Movies

There’s nothing better during the holiday season than curling up under a blanket, sipping on hot cocoa (or gluhwien), and plopping in a Hallmark movie.

Watching Hallmark films, despite their predictable, cheesy, and unrealistic plots, has become a Christmas tradition in the same way that leaving cookies for Santa and opening presents on Christmas morning have.

There’s just something so comforting about getting lost in the romance set in a charming small-town. 

Hallmark movies have become such a holiday staple for people of all ages that other broadcast channels and streaming services like Lifetime, Netflix, and Freeform have begun investing in their own “Hallmark-esque” films. 

But why do we love Hallmark movies so much? Well, there are a few reasons that keep us coming back for more! 

Cozy 

For starters, it’s cozy. Holiday films have a feel-good message and theme. They’re filled with joy, hope, and love — all things that we want to feel and experience during the holidays! Seeing the romance pan out between two incredibly good looking people, even when it’s cliche and predictable, warm our hearts during the cold winter months. It makes us believe in love! Who doesn’t want that?

The comfort of these films is what draws people in and keeps them coming back. 

Familiar Faces

Hallmark films tend to gravitate towards the same actors and actresses each year. Usually, these actors have a nostalgic pull (like Christmas queen Candace Cameron Bure from Full House/Fuller House) or the cast of One Tree Hill, which has starred in several Hallmark and Lifetime movies through the years. And we can’t forget about Mean Girls‘ Gretchen Weiners aka Lacey Chabert. Watching a movie with familiar faces feels like a family reunion or catching up with old friends during the holidays. They also help those who may be experiencing loneliness feel a sense of family and community. 

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They’re Family-Friendly

While romance may be a focal point of most Hallmark Christmas movies, it’s always PG and fun for the whole family. I like to call them grown up fairytales because they always end with a “happily ever after” as soon as the protagonists overcome a few hiccups that were standing in their way of true love. The films are suitable for the whole family as they teach some pretty important life lessons about following your heart, being honest, the importance of second chances, and prioritizing family over career… to name a few. 

They Provide a Wintery Escape

Since the films are so unrealistic, they provide audiences with a mindless escape from reality. You’re sucked away from the big city to a simple, charming, and quaint wintery town with good looking people and a lot of romance. The jobs are always involved with the media, so that seems to be every person’s fantasy, but along the way, we learn that having a successful career isn’t everything.

However, the films touch on the desire many overworked Americans have to just unplug from the stress of their everyday jobs. They encourage audiences to spend time with their loved ones, to slow down, and to embrace the holidays and all of its magic. They’re an annual reminder that it’s okay to take a break from the hectic life we’ve all become so accustomed to while straying away from up real issues like socio-economic differences, presidential elections, or worst of all, COVID. 

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They’re Simple

Every Hallmark film looks and feels the same. It follows the same formula, which has been proven to work. In that way, you know exactly what you’re signing up for before you even begin watching, and you know you won’t be disappointed. 

They’re Making Progress

Hallmark movies have been criticized for their lack of diversity, but in recent years, they’ve been making headway. The network is adding films with people of color to better represent the fanbase and 2020 marks the first LGBTQ-friendly film with a same-sex couple in the lead. Of course, it’ll star Mean Girls actor Jonathan Bennett along with One Tree Hill’s Robert Buckley, who will play his brother.

Slowly but surely, the films are becoming a reflection of our society while still keeping things light, fluffy, and romanticized. 

 

Are you excited for Hallmark movies this holiday season? What have been some of your favorites? Let us know in the comment section below! Don’t forget to buy your official Hallmark Christmas wine for a jolly good season. 


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Editorials

Best ‘Nancy Drew’ Season 1 Twists

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Nancy Drew The Secret of the Old Morgue review

Nancy Drew was an intriguing addition in 2019.

Many of us were familiar with the teen detective from the books, but The CW’s character took on a life of her own mainly due to Kennedy McMann’s fresh take on the character. 

She’s clever, witty, outspoken, independent, and ready to solve any mystery that arises. Plus, the Drew Crew is always ready to follow her wherever the spirt world may take her. 

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With plenty of calculated mysteries, jump-out-of-your-seat scares, and jaw-dropping twists, the series rapidly rose the ranks from newcomer to must-watch. It’s hands-down one of  The CW’s best shows! 

As we await the coronavirus-delayed second season, let’s take a look at some of the biggest twists of Nancy Drew Season 1. 

*Beware – spoilers ahead*

 

Owen Marvin is Dead

Just as Nancy Drew gave in to her feelings and found love, Owen Marvin was brutally murdered. Initially, fans assumed Owen’s death was the result of Nancy and her friends summoning the Aglaeca and not paying the blood toll. Yes, the Aglaeca latched onto Owen during the spell, but Nancy and the Drew Crew were able to pull him back without losing too much blood. The real killer was, surprisingly, of the human form — Lucy Sable’s brother Joshua. Owen died protecting his girlfriend. Their romance deserved a chance and this is a major loss to the series.

Credit: The CW/ Nancy Drew

 

The Truth About Lucy Sable’s Death 

The mystery of Lucy Sable’s death turned out to be something no one expected. Hoping to clear her father of murder charges, Nancy went to Lucy’s old house with Ryan Hudson and dug up her diary where she learned that Lucy wasn’t killed. In the entry, she confessed to stealing a knife from the Drew household and detailed her plan to end her own life because she was pregnant with a baby she couldn’t keep. She was also threatened by Everett Hudson. Nancy suspected her mother, Katherine, of killing Lucy and ordered a DNA test that revealed the mother of all secrets: Lucy was Nancy’s mother. This explains why she was haunting her the whole time! Right before jumping off the cliff, Lucy handed the baby (Nancy) to Katherine and Carson Drew who took her in and skipped town only to return when she was a teenager to avoid raising any suspicion.

Nancy Drew The Haunting of Nancy Drew Review

Nancy Drew — “The Haunting of Nancy Drew” — Image Number: NCD116_0011r.jpg — Pictured: Kennedy McMann as Nancy — Photo: The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Nancy is Ryan Hudson’s Daughter

Now, if you were blown by the fact that Lucy was Nancy’s mother, it’s about to get even crazier. Since Katherine wasn’t Nancy’s biological mother, Carson wasn’t Nancy’s biological father either. That title went to none other than Ryan Hudson. Yes, the same Ryan who was having an affair with Nancy’s best friend George. Twisted! 

Lucy and Ryan had a torrid love affair that his parents were desperate to break up. Nancy was the first to realize it and spent the whole day with Ryan sleuthing. He eventually figured it out after finding her locket that contained her baby photo which looked eerily similar to Lucy’s baby picture. Let’s just say it led to a pretty awkward encounter with Carson. 

Nancy Drew The Girl in the Locket Review

Credit: Nancy Drew/ The CW

 

Nancy’s Dad is Arrested

Carson Drew arrested for the murder of Lucy Sable. It was a theory Nancy was mulling over, but she never planned for it to see the light of day. Unfortunately, she left her diary wide open and Carson’s now-ex-girlfriend, Detective Karen, stumbled upon it and arrested him. Yep, the ultimate betrayal. For a while, it was unclear if Carson was actually a good guy or not, but all of that was cleared up in the finale. He may have lied to Nancy about her parentage, but he was doing it for a good reason. He definitely wasn’t a murder. Well, for now.

Nancy Drew The Path of Shadows Review

Nancy Drew/ The CW

 

Tiffany’s Murder Solved

Aside from Lucy Sable’s murder mystery, Tiffany’s death was one of the core mysteries on the series. And as with most great mysteries, the answer was staring us right in the face. Ryan Hudson was considered a suspect in Tiffany’s death since he was the common denominator in both Tiffany and Lucy’s demise, but the twist came when it was revealed that he was the intended target rather than Tiffany. 

After retracing the steps of the fateful night at The Claw, Nancy realized that Josh, Lucy’s vengeful brother, was hoping to get his revenge on Ryan for his sister’s untimely death. He snuck into the restaurant and poisoned a salad he knew Ryan would order. However, Ryan sent the salad back and instead of tossing it, Ace, Bess, and George accidentally served it to Tiffany. Tiffany’s death was a complete accident and if one of the events had gone differently — Ryan didn’t show up, Bess dropped the salad, etc. — she would’ve been alive!  

Nancy Drew/ The CW

 

Bess is a Marvin

In the fourth episode of the series, we learn that Bess isn’t who she said she is! Her name is Bess Turani, she has a British accent, and she believes she’s a descendant of the Marvin clan. This is the moment when fans truly start to question if anyone is actually telling the truth in this series. Later episodes prove that she is a Marvin, after all, but that might not be all that’s it’s cracked up to be. In the finale, she accepted Aunt Diana’s invite to live at the mansion, but with the Marvin’s, everything comes with a price. Is Bess ready to pay?

Nancy Drew The Terror of Horseshoe Bay Review

Nancy Drew — “The Terror of Horseshoe Bay” — Image Number: NCD115a_0011b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Leah Lewis as George, Maddison Jaizani as Bess, Miles Gaston Villanueva as Owen and Kennedy McMann as Nancy — Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Lisbeth is an Undercover Agent

There was something suspicious about Lisbeth from the get-go, but who would’ve thought she would be revealed as undercover state police who was pretending to be a driver for the Hudsons because she was investigating them! Lisbeth was worried that her cover would be blown, but the Drew Crew promised to help her keep her identity a secret. Bess and Lisbeth even broke up so that she can show the Hudsons her loyalty. By episode 11, Lisbeth helped Nancy trap Mr. Hudson in a confession that led to his arrest at a Marvin-Hudson dinner party. Don’t mess with Nancy!

Nancy Drew The Phantom of the Bonny Scot Review

Nancy Drew/ The CW

 

What other big twists would you add to the list?


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