Yep, we’re talking about time travel. This is gonna be a fun one. And, uh, spoilers for much of Clara’s time on Who, I guess.
As a franchise grows, the probability that the latest entry will be terrible increases. But you’ve seen movies before, right? I don’t need to tell you what Sequelitis is. And you’d think, Deadpool being Deadpool, that you wouldn’t need to tell him what it is either.
I’m not usually that much of a sentimental person. In fact I joke with my friends that I avoid sentimental occasions at all costs. However, on this occasion, with me about to commit to putting a lot more time into this blog, I thought it right to say something. I have some regrets to air.
So, here’s a short post about me, and about how I’m trying to do better. I apologise in advance for this being a ramble. It’s simply something that I need to say, as I scramble the words to say it.
I’ve mentioned it before (somewhere) but after reading Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon I struggled to review it, and in the end I pretty much didn’t. There is no denying that I really wanted to, and I did try a good few times, but it just didn’t happen.
Recently, however, I’ve been thinking about my biggest thought on this book. The thought that never left me and made me want to review it so much at all. So, let’s talk about that today.
Before we continue, this post will spoil this book to shit. Be warned.
I need to start off by saying that I do not think that this is a bad book. It’s easy to get that impression when a piece focuses on a specific flaw of a piece of writing, but I read this book in two days (very rare for me, for various reasons which I won’t discuss here) and the second I put it down, I loved it. I instantly gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. However, I later thought about that decision and changed my rating. On my Goodreads, Everything, Everything is currently rated 4 stars.
I went back and forth. But apparently, it wasn’t too much of a problem for me. If I reread it now I have a feeling I would change it, but without actually rereading it that’s just a feeling.
If you don’t know, Everything, Everything is a book about a girl, Madeline, who is unable to leave her house due to her rare disease. She falls in love with Olly, the boy who moves in on her street, and things progress from there. And it’s interesting that I was so invested in this book, too, because it’s rare for me to pick up a book in which the main focus is romance.
This book was sweet, cute, charming. It gave me a connection to its protagonist and a connection to its romance. And often as a reader, I struggle to connect with romance at all. Which is why, as both a reader and a writer, I often avoid them. So kudos to this book.
But this book did have something which just … distracted me. Took me out of it. Robbed it of its arc, it’s conflict, and in turn its depth and its emotional heart.
This book has a twist. And oh, don’t you just love a twist? They’re either going to add a new depth to the story that you never saw before, or they’re going to end up with you going “Okay, but…” and never really being connected to the world of the story again.
I’m not criticising Everything, Everything when I say that it’s not breaking out of the mould of narrative structure. The overwhelming majority of stories don’t, and for good reason. It’s almost impossible to do so effectively. I’ve written metafiction. It is … not easy. No, with Everything, Everything we have something that sticks to the rules of narrative. When you’re doing so you can use them brilliantly, of course, but ultimately I don’t think that this book does.
The big twist of Everything, Everything is that Maddy doesn’t actually have the illness (SCID) that keeps her confined to her house. It turns out it was a lie concocted by her mother to keep her home and keep her safe, following the death of Maddy’s father and brother, as after these deaths Maddy got sick and Maddy’s mother was terrified.
Putting it simply, there are two problems with this twist. One, I think, is a much bigger problem than the other.
1. How does that even make any sense, though?
Okay, so the first thing that we have to keep in mind is that Maddy’s mother is a medical professional, which we’re to assume if how she was able to make up the story of Maddy having SCID and maintain it for so many years. This is the only way we can be sold even a little bit on the twist, because if she was a random woman then obviously there’s no way in hell this would ever work. Even Maddy’s nurse admits to suspecting that Maddy wasn’t sick, which we assume is why she was willing to let Olly in the house.
The problem is that this only goes so far. Yes, Maddy’s mother is a doctor, but Maddy also finds many articles about SCID and the like in her mother’s possession, so how much about SCID did she know? Not enough to diagnose, probably, and even if she did Maddy is still family. Ethics and shit are an issue. Plus, SCID is rare and a big fucking deal. You’d need a hell of a lot more than the word of a worried mother to secure a diagnosis like SCID.
My mother knows a hell of a lot about the area pertinent to my lovely brain (as in, autism and that) and so she could pretty much tell I was autistic. However, we did still actually have to find someone qualified to diagnose me as autistic to, you know, actually diagnose me. That’s how that works, folks.
That’s just the tip of that iceberg, too. I don’t want to analyse the probably definite underlying mental illness that Maddy’s mother probably definitely has (and the debate about whether or not she’s demonised for it) today.
Now, we obsessive people of the internet like to pick apart things that don’t make sense and why they don’t make sense, but ultimately I think that, compared to the second issue with this twist I’m going to discuss, this one is minor. And let’s get into why.
2. Life has to make narrative sense (in, you know, a narrative)
First of all, let me talk about why the first problem with the twist is less of a problem than the second. See, humans are essentially designed to create and understand narrative. We love a story. So, we’re forgiving to overlook certain things if the story is good enough.
If you’d like an example of this, take a look at Fight Club. If you actually take a step back to think about the mechanics of the twist, it’s kind of a “Wait, what the fuck?” sort of deal. But people love that story and they love what that twist added to that story. So, we let the small details slide like we let Batman slide out of his party to leave a bunch of people to die. The details of a narrative are so important that shows like The Good Place exploit our willingness to overlook small inconsistencies.
Life is really just a bunch of shit that happens and a lot of the time people’s choices don’t make any sense. It’s only when we look back on our lives that we make connections like, “And if I’d just bent down to tie my shoe, we’d never have met,” because that’s how our brains work. So, that’s why narrative has to work the way that it does. That’s how it makes connections.
Everything, Everything is a romance. You can see this in of the motivations of our protagonist, Maddy. Maddy wants to be with Olly; that is her goal. In that context, the disease keeping her in the house isn’t the main focus of the plot. Rather, it’s the primary obstacle keeping her from her goal, functionally making her mother an antagonist as she’s preventing Maddy from reaching her goal of being with Olly.
The twist in Everything, Everything does work on face value because it changes the way we look at all the events have happened before like a good twist is supposed to. But it changes them well only in the context of a different story. In the context of this story, upon revealing that Maddy isn’t actually sick all you’ve done is afforded her the ability to go outside. This takes away the biggest obstacle facing Maddy in the narrative. She can now go and be with her love interest. There is absolutely nothing stopping her.
See, for a story to be compelling the protagonist has to overcome the obstacles facing them on their own. Even in Fight Club this is (nonsensically) the case. Once Maddy can go outside, through no action of Maddy’s the biggest obstacle to her happiness is gone. And, yes, she does disobey her mother and head off to Hawaii, but that isn’t the ultimate rise in action of the story. That isn’t the “final battle.” To tie up loose ends, the plot twist essentially writes them away.
But hey, that’s just my piece. And after writing that, I do think that another reading of the book may result in me lowering my rating, and writing a review after the revisit, but I’ll do that only if you guys want me to. So let me know if that’s the case! In the meantime, let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts on this book (or the movie based on it, which I never actually saw so I’d love to hear about it) and I’ll be off writing my story for Camp NaNoWriMo.
If you’re interested in Everything, Everything and making your own conclusions about it, you can buy it on Amazon! Have at it!
See you guys soon!
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend GIFs courtesy of annieaceofhearts. Show your support! And please, leave a like on this post if you enjoyed it.
Bullshit is defined as “stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense.” Today’s variety of bullshit is: Stupid or untrue writing. And I am definitely referring to the “apology” discussed in this post, not to the grievances for which the people in question are “apologising.” That cleared up, let’s talk about some bullshit.
The first section of this post, But Why?, is about why this matters to me. The third, The “Apology”, is about the “apology” posted on Twitter and why it matters. If you already know the background around Channel Awesome, etc, then section two The Document is gonna be pretty much irrelevant to you.
And off we go.
Yes! Hey hey! It’s me, Lizzie. And I’m still alive. Disappeared there for a while, but I continue to exist. And today I’m going to be talking about my friend Shannon and I have been obsessed with the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend—and while I’m here try and convince you to watch it if you haven’t already.
I’ve picked three points for the sake of this post. While I could go on forever, I’ll limit this post’s length and save you some time. So, without further ado:
1. Its Wonderful Story
I’m aware that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend got some bad press in the past for its title. These people have definitely not seen the show. I’m not the only one to defend the title. Like many things in the show, the title is a deconstruction. And it’s, well, wonderful.
In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch (played by the brilliant Rachel Bloom) is feeling miserable in her New York job when she happens to run into her ex-boyfriend, Josh. Feeling like glitter is exploding inside of her (her words), she follows him to his hometown of West Covina, California, seeking happiness—and his heart.
But it’s not as simple as that. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend addresses all sorts of issues. Friendship, motherhood, race, gender, alcoholism—and, most strikingly, a frank look at mental health. It’s not afraid to pull any punches. It’s not afraid to make you cry. So watch it. Cry. (And laugh a bunch.)
2. The Characters
No show can be perfect in its diversity, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does a pretty good job. There’s a wide range of identities in the main cast. And, aside from that, they’re all sparkling and unique people. They jump off the screen and their interactions come alive.
Every single character in this show seems fleshed out, somehow. Even smaller characters like Rebecca’s mother (Shannon’s favourite, who’s singing the song in the above clip) have an arc of their own. Thought was put into everyone.
Not to mention, I am ridiculously attached to protagonist (antihero?) Rebecca Bunch. I adore her as a character. She is spectacular.
3. The Musical Numbers
It would be crazy (well, aren’t I a comedian?) to write a post about why you should watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and fail to mention its musical numbers. This show features an army of them—several an episode, sometimes—and they’re well-written, funny pastiche numbers inspired by real-life musicals and music videos.
Not only that, the musical numbers are used to tighten up the storytelling with reprise, etc. With a few notes from “Settle For Me,” we know exactly what theme the show is touching upon. Some of the numbers are better than others, but nevertheless, I enjoy them all. I am forever listening to this show’s soundtrack, and have a Spotify playlist for myself full of my favourite Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs.
So what are you waiting for? Go watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and get “What’ll It Be?” stuck in your head like I have for the past few days.
Thanks for reading! Hit that like button if you enjoyed. And comment your thoughts down below so I’ve got, you know, comments to respond to. Thanks guys!
I love a good theory. And I’m not talking about those cop-out “they’re in a coma” or “they’re all in a mental hospital” theories—which fundamentally misunderstand how mental illness and inpatient facilities work, and which it so happens Community rightfully mocks. Friends does have such a “they’re all in an asylum” theory, but that’s not what I’ll be talking about today.
No, I love fan theories which add something to the story and give us that little bit of explanation that, for chronic overthinkers like me, give the story new levels that can totally be believed. Like how Courage in Courage the Cowardly Dog sees so many monsters, because that’s how dogs see the world.
So, without further ado, here are five fan theories about Friends that don’t totally suck. If you know any more or have any thoughts about the theories here, then tell me about them in the comments! I’m obsessed with this show.
5. Ross Lost Custody of Ben
This one is first because I’ve mentioned it before. But I’ll still cover it quickly, and in a little more detail this time around.
Friends veterans might have noticed that Ben vanishes halfway through season eight, and is only occasionally mentioned during the next two and a half seasons. He never meets his half-sister, Emma. According to this theory, this is because Carol became so sick of Ross’s antics that she got sole custody of Ben.
And really, if you think about it, can you blame her? Ross wouldn’t let Ben play with a Barbie, he left him with friends who forgot him on a bus, and he ignored him at a wedding (though acknowledges him in a deleted scene). Ross is also pretty emotionally unstable, shitty to his partners, and I implore you to watch the video of Ross asking for help with attacking Rachel and Phoebe with the laugh track cut out. It’s really something.
Honestly, I don’t think I would want Ross anywhere near my kids.
4. Gunther Constantly Reserves the Friends’ Table
Not only do the friends almost always seem to have that great seat in Central Perk, they’re also openly upset when they don’t have it.
You might notice, as the above tweet shows, that there’s a “Reserved” sign on the table. And who’s most likely to have put it there? Why, Gunther, of course. He’s in love with Rachel, and if he makes sure that she always gets her table then he’ll a) make her happy and b) have a pretty good view of her.
3. Joey Went on a Second Date to Get Rachel to Make Him Pancakes
This is about “The One With Ross’s Library Book,” the season seven episode. In this episode, Joey asks Rachel to let down Erin (a woman he just slept with) gently. He also tells her that Chandler used to do this for him—and that he would make the woman pancakes, leaving extras for Joey.
Rachel refuses to facilitate Joey’s emotional constipation, but she does make the pancakes regardless. She leads Erin to think that Joey likes her, and forces Joey into a second date. This date results in Erin telling Joey that she’s not interested, and Joey looks upset … until, that is, Rachel offers to make him pancakes. Interesting.
2. Joey and Phoebe Were Sleeping Together the Entire Time
We can thank Matt Le Blanc himself for this theory. In an interview with People in 2015, he said:
Towards the end we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been having casual sex the entire time. We’d go back and shoot all the historical scenes and just before a moment that everyone recognizes, there’s Joey and Phoebe coming out of a broom closet together. But they were like, “Nah.”
And, well, prior to Mike’s entrance, it’s not the worst theory. We support plenty of theories that writers deny, right? (Lookin’ at you, Zelda timeline.)
1. The Sitcom Cinematic Universe
If you’ve read any of my content before, you should know that I love me a good crossover. (That’s why I didn’t like Justice League.) So when I noticed a little crossover with a few sitcoms, I exploded in a mess of fangirl. SO.
This theory is about three New York sitcoms: Friends, Mad About You, and Seinfeld.
Let’s start with Friends and Mad About You. Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe, also plays Phoebe’s identical twin sister, Ursula. Ursula is a waitress and she appears in Mad About You as such. Then, in an episode of Friends, Mad About You characters show up and mistake Phoebe for Ursula.
Also, in an episode of Seinfeld, George and his wife watch an episode of Mad About You. So, does that connect all three series into one universe? Well… let’s say yes, because that’s more fun.
Unfortunately, there is one problem with this theory: Courtney Cox, who plays Monica, is in an episode of Seinfeld as a different character. But hey, crossovers are still a lot of fun, so take this one as you will.
Thanks for reading! Hit the like button if you enjoyed, and comment your thoughts down below!
And, while I’ve got you, check out my latest book review here on Online Book Club!