Friday Favourites: Fictional Lockdown Companions

Friday Favourites: Fictional Lockdown Companions

Quaratine

I’ve seen a lot of those “Choose Your Quarantine House” things going around Twitter recently and I can’t say any of them have really appealed. There are plenty that just include the names of people I’ve never heard of and there are those that are just too niche for me to care about. Even the bookish ones aren’t really for me. They’re for people who think Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen are the standards we should set for well-written female characters (visualise my doing a massive eye-roll here please). So, I decided to stop waiting around and just pick my own damn quarantine house. I promised myself that it wasn’t just going to be a list of people I’m attracted to because that would clearly be my go-to. I’m actually going to try and think about people I could be okay being in lockdown with. People that I wouldn’t want to kill after about 5 minutes alone with them. Let’s see who makes the cut.
Read more

Friday Favourites: Ranking Buffy Seasons

Friday Favourites: Ranking Buffy Seasons

hqdefault

I currently have a lot of streaming services on the go and it means that I never really know what I want to watch. Normally it means that I just watch the same old thing over and over again. Take this week for instance. I didn’t know what to start so started watching a random series of Buffy. Unfortunately, the one that Amazon recommended to me was season 7. Yes, I still watched it but I didn’t exactly enjoy it. Is there anyone out there that enjoyed season 7? Why the show didn’t stop after season 5 is still a mystery. But it got me thinking, which season did I really think was the best. And as it’s Friday, I only went and ranked them. Initially, I was just going to do it based on how attractive I find Giles. I think he peaks around season 5 for me. But then the singing in season 6. God, the singing. But I’m getting away from the point.
Read more

Friday Favourites: Simpsons Episodes

Friday Favourites: Simpsons Episodes

thesimpsons-11-all-shows

When I first opened Disney+ this week, I didn’t automatically go straight to the original content. I didn’t catch up on The Mandalorian so I could get some context for Baby Yoda. Nope. I started rewatching old episodes of The Simpsons. The animated show that has been going for over 30 years has plenty of great episodes and having them all in one place is too good an opportunity to miss. I know that it gets a lot of bad press these days and it can’t be denied that quality has gone downhill. But it’s not as if it isn’t watchable. There’ll always be something nice and familiar about it. To celebrate and justify my week of watching 90s episodes of a cartoon, I decided to discuss some of my favourite episodes. There are so many of them at this point that it was pretty difficult. This is by no means an exhaustive list because who can remember everything that’s happened in the past 30 odd years? But there are some genuine gems here.
Read more

Friday Favourites: Fictional characters born in March

Friday Favourites: Fictional characters born in March

wp-15828455852864176841846836839082.jpgI almost didn’t post a Friday Favourites today because I was out of inspiration. I’m super tired this week and I just didn’t have any ideas about what to write. I’ve always believed that I shouldn’t be writing content for content’s sake. It needs to be something that I give a shit about otherwise it’s just pointless for everybody. I’m not suggesting that this idea is better than anything I could have forced myself to write but at least I’m into it. Why am I into it? Because it gives me a chance to indulge in chat about my birthday. Anyone who’s been around for a whole will remember that I made a huge deal about my 30th birthday. Not only did I spend the whole year review TBT films from the year I was born but I dedicated the whole of March to writing about the books that made an impact on me. I did enjoy writing 30 Books For My 30th but, looking back, it does seem incredibly self-indulgent. This year isn’t quite as bad but I decided to list my favourite fictional characters who were born in the same month as me. Thereby proving that many of the greatest people were born in March. All information regarding fictional people’s birthday’s found here. Although, on further inspection, many of these were actually wrong.

Read more

Bookish Post – Oh Dany… Boy! (Spoilers)

Bookish Post – Oh Dany… Boy! (Spoilers)

game-of-thrones-daenerys-mad-queen2-1557715028

So, you may have noticed that this isn’t a book review. And that’s only partly because I haven’t quite finished Machines Like Me yet. I say partly because I’m trying to convince myself that I haven’t been rubbish at reading this week. That’s not the reason. The real reason is that I needed to talk about this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Or, more specifically, the reaction to it. Cause this season has divided opinion quite dramatically. And the last few episodes have left a particularly sour taste in people’s mouths. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve found the final series of Game of Thrones to be disappointing. The writing has gone downhill and the storylines are being rushed to fit into the shorter episode run. The focus has been on spectacle instead of the story. Character development has gone out of the window in favour of more CGI dragons. Now, it should go without saying but spoiler warning guys.

Read more

Bookish Post – I’m Stark raving mad for Sansa

Bookish Post – I’m Stark raving mad for Sansa

220px-sophieturnerassansastark

So, once again I’m having to put off my book review until Friday. At this rate, I might as well just do two bookish posts a week. Especially now I have weekends off. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. It means I can do at least one review a week (if I can keep up) and a random post. Of course, it would also mean me coming up with an extra post idea a week and that’s not always worked out well for me. I’ve never been the kind of person who wanted to write content for contents sake. Despite what I might be being told at work. But that’s another rant for another day. Instead, I’m filling my Wednesday night post with a subject that’s close to my heart. A topic that I’ve been getting quite passionate about with a friend of mine. A friend who really wasn’t ready for how much I cared about it. I’ve ranted about this television show before and I will again. That’s the joy of finding something you actually give a shit about. You’ll always find something to be annoyed about and something to absolutely adore. I’m not the kind of person who believes that anything is flawless. That doesn’t sound like much fun to me. I enjoy conflict and feeling conflicted about something I love is the ideal situation. Really, what I’m saying is, I just love debating and arguing about things.

Read more

Sunday Rundown: That’s What She Read

Sunday Rundown: That’s What She Read

img_4240

So how has your week been? What have you been reading?

You’ve caught me on a good day. I spent the afternoon with my family where we have a lovely Sunday lunch. There’s nothing to get you ready to face the week than a tasty roast dinner with the people you like most. And I think that extra hour in bed has inspired as I’m even contemplating an early night with a book. I mean I’m even writing this at a vaguely sensible time. What’s happened to me? Just wait til next week when I’m back to madly finishing typing at 11:30pm. It’s inevitable. But, for now, I can pretend I’m a new person. That somehow, in the last 7 days, I’ve experienced some sort of personal growth and am close to becoming a proper adult. Although, that does sound a bit dull if I’m honest.

Read more

Tuesday Review – New Doctor Who

Tuesday Review – New Doctor Who

promotional_poster_of_doctor_who_28series_11295_star_rating_system_4_stars1 “Laura”, I hear you all asking, “are you writing this review of Jodie Whittaker’s first episode of Doctor Who because, once again, you didn’t get round to watching a film this week? Or is it just because writing the words ‘Tuesday Review – New Doctor Who‘ is incredibly satisfying for someone who loves rhyming as much as you?” To which I would respond, why not both? Yes, it’s true that I didn’t quite follow my plan for this week and was in need of something to review but I could have just watched another Netflix film and had a rant about how rubbish they all are. As I’ve made quite clear here, I do love a good Netflix rant. And, I admit, there is something quite lovely about repeating those words over and over in my head. However, this is a momentous occasion and something all of us Whovians have been waiting patiently waiting for. I couldn’t very well let it pass me by without saying something about it, could I?

Read more

Tuesday’s Reviews – Season 1 of Girlboss

Tuesday’s Reviews – Season 1 of Girlboss

It’s been a while since I wrote a good old Motherbooker rant but I suspect this review of one of Netflix’s new show is about to turn into one. I’ve not read the book that the series was based on. It’s mostly because the very word “Girlboss” gets me a bit worked up but also because I don’t think it’s ever right for a book title to contain a hashtag. I mean what kind of stupid millennial bullshit is that? Hashtags are an annoying but, often, important part of social media. You need to use them carefully to succeed but non of those uses involved planting them on the front of a fucking book. It reminds me of all those ridiculous books that were popular when I was younger that overused the @ symbol. It was about the time that the internet was becoming more important to everyone but it still felt new and modern. The one thing all those books have in common? They haven’t stood the test of time. They now feel horribly outdated and really pathetic. Anyway, putting aside my annoyances about the book, I had decided that I’d probably never watch the series until I needed some easy watching to get me through a packing nightmare. And then I was faced with a problem. Every time I logged onto Netflix it was there in my “continue watching” section. So, in order to get rid of it, I watched the whole damn series. Turns out, I have many feelings about it.

Girlboss is loosely based on the memoirs of Sophia Amoruso the ex-CEO of vintage clothes company Nasty Gal. It tells the story of how a 23 year old woman went from selling a random piece of Vintage clothing on eBay to owning a million dollar online enterprise. It’s also a fucking awful portrayal of women in business. The fictional Sophia (I can’t say for sure whether real-life Sophia was the same) is the worst kind of stereotype of an entitled millennial. She refuses to grow up, feels as though life owes her something for nothing, and goes from job to job because she can’t accept responsibility. Instead of being a regular citizen who makes an honest wage, Sophia wants to live life on easy street. We see her argue with and completely disrespect her boss and then act surprised when she gets fired. Sophia is exactly the kind of 23 year old that everyone over 50 thinks millennials really are.

Sophia is not just a difficult person who can’t doesn’t do well with authority figures (though this is all true). She’s just a fucking awful human being. She steals, argues with people for no reason, berates her friends for no reason, and has awful temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her own way. She is selfish, narcissistic and completely blind to everyone else’s problems. She’s disgusting but the writers feel that it’s okay to make her so awful simply because she knows how awful she is. They seem to be pushing the ridiculous notion that it’s okay to be a bitch as long as you openly acknowledge that you are one. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. In order for us to accept that Sophia is a bitch she needs to have some redeeming features. The only problem is, they forget to show us what they are. She is surrounded by people who just allow her to be a dick but there’s never any evidence of why. We never see what they see in her that makes it okay. As it goes, Sophia is just the kind of teenager that should have been slapped super hard years ago. Although, Girlboss is actually attempting to imply that Sophia is just an independent, strong young woman. The kind of person that Destiny’s Child were always banging on about.

What Girlboss does more than empower women is just perpetuate the stereotype that, in order to get ahead in business, a women needs to act more like a man. Sophia is shown to succeed ahead of the women she goes up against on eBay. They are portrayed as naive and stupid women who are weak and foolish in their business decisions. They keep their femininity and their emotional vulnerability but they don’t make as much money. Sophia walks around swearing, shouting, and not giving any kinds of fucks about anyone and she’s having sex on top of her wads of cash. Instead of presenting a feminist idea of women in business, Girlboss just strengthens the boss bitch image. It’s disgusting.

To be fair, if Sophia was a super talented and repressed genius then it would be possible to forgive her sins. She’s not though. She’s just a young girl who gets super lucky. She stumbles across one great piece of clothing and luckily makes a huge profit. There was no great strategy here but a girl who took advantage of a one-off situation. There is no skill on show here. It means that there is no space for Girlboss in today’s society. The story of Sophia Amoruso holds no place in the lives of current job seeking young people. Sophia has no skills, no background in business, and no clear plan to success. It falls into her lap. The story she’s trying to sell to young people is that you can make all the money you want by not doing a fucking thing. Take it from someone who has been job hunting for fucking ages: it doesn’t work like that in the real world.

The story at the heart of this series is a fantasy that does more damage than it does good. Which would almost be okay if it was also well-made. The fact is, aside from the supporting cast and a pretty decent performance by its lead actor, Girlboss is just bad. The script is so badly written that most of the dialogue makes me cringe. There are conversations between characters that feel so unrealistic that it’s super jarring. It also features such stock characters as the put-upon best friend who always forgives her awful best friend, the female tech nerd who has no social skills and no self-confidence, the scum-bad drummer boyfriend, and Sophia’s poor father who loves her but gets nothing in return. It’s all so familiar and uninspiring it makes me want to cry. There is a potentially decent story and main character here but everything has been simplified beyond belief to make it universally appealing. It’s all so familiar because they don’t want to alienate anyone. Unfortunately, in order to get everything right the show just gets everything so wrong.

Tuesday’s Reviews – David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)

Tuesday’s Reviews – David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)

I don’t these days I’d describe myself as a big Ricky Gervais fan but I’ve been a huge one. I loved The Office when I first saw it and Extras has a special place in my heart (mostly for Patrick Stewart’s cameo but still. I kept with him through the dodgier moments of Derek and Life’s Too Short. I still listen to his podcasts and laugh until it hurts. Back in the day, his stand-up was both hilarious and cutting edge. I was there with everyone else in terms of worshipping everything the comic did. Then he went to Hollywood and I kind of lost faith with him. From the laughably bad Ghost Town, the dismal and cliched The Invention of Lying, and the embarrassing brief appearances in the Night at the Museum films, it wasn’t the Ricky Gervais I knew. Then the final series of Derek was a bit shit and Gervais just got more unreliable. Unreliable and more egotistical. In the run up to the release of Special Correspondent Ricky was often quoted talking about how fucking great he was. Which would have been fine if the film itself wasn’t so shit. So, when it was announced that David Brent, a character that means a lot to me and a great many people, would be coming back in a feature film, I couldn’t help but feel kind of apprehensive of his return to old material. Then my old work friend saw it and told me it was awful… and he didn’t hate Special Correspondents nearly as much as I did. So, I put off watching the film and went into it expecting to be cringing, crying, swearing revenge on Gervais, or all of the above.

Aside from a few special appearances and a series of YouTube videos that I couldn’t bear watching for more than a few seconds, Ricky Gervais hasn’t played David Brent since 2003. That’s a gap of 13 years between the final episode of the BBC2 series and the character’s move to the big screen. Gervais has been keen to point out that this isn’t an The Office film; probably because some of its stars have gone on to bigger and better things at this point. I mean Martin Freeman is a huge name these days, Lucy Davis is currently starring in Wonder Woman, and Mackenzie Crook has done some stuff since Pirate of the Caribbean… I haven’t seen it but he’s definitely done it.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter, right? After all, it was David Brent that was the driving force of the humour in the series so that’s all that matters. Well, kind of. Brent was the figure of fun within the series but you also had enough happening around him that he was always diluted and humanised. It’s Tim and Dawn that people loved and it was Gareth that was the lovable weirdo. Brent was always the pathetic try-hard that was sort of annoying. How well could a film hold up with just him at the helm?

Well it’s okay because Brent is not alone. The film reintroduces us to rapper Dom Johnson (Doc Brown) who we first met in a Comic Relief sketch in 2013. In that sketch Brent was attempting to make it as a Simon Cowell type by managing the up and coming Johnson. In Life on the Road, the larger than life ex-manager of a paper company is still harbouring his dream of becoming a rock star and is self-funding a short tour with his band Forgone Conclusion. Johnson is being taken along for the ride but finds that his talents are not being used as much as he’d like. Brent throws all of his money into organising a tour that only a handful of people turn up to. He is so driven by a desire for fame that he can’t see how damaging the whole thing is.

If I had to sum up Life on Tour it would be like those people on X Factor or something who think they have talent and then are humiliated by the show when it turns out they have zero singing ability. It takes the whole awkward cringe comedy to a level beyond anything we’ve seen on The Office. At least during the two series of the show Brent was an idiot but he was still a lovable one. There is little here beyond meanness. The comedy comes from his utter lack of self-awareness and his need to please people. The series ended with him finally growing some balls and telling Finchy to fuck off. In that moment there was hope for David Brent. That hope has all but disappeared here and Gervais is back to cheap laughs and trying to push people’s buttons.

If Life on the Road teaches us anything it’s that, without Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais has no ability to reign himself in. It’s exactly the same story that we’ve seen before but when he has this kind of freedom everything just gets out of control. There is nothing to bring the narrative together and the whole thing feels more like a sketch that has been elongated thanks to some averagely funny songs that go on way too long. You kind of get the impression that, like Brent, Gervais is using this film to act out any fantasies he may still have about being a rock star. There needed to be more structure and more discipline for this to ever work alongside the TV show that is so perfect and so loved.

Still, there are funny moments and there is always going to be some joy in watching Gervais play David Brent. I mean, by now, the character fits him better than a Sergio Georgini jacket and all of the familiar gurns and noises bring memories flooding back. The problem is that there was no need to bring David back. He had a perfect ending in 2003 and Gervais should have stuck to his guns and not brought him back. It feels like Gervais is trying to profit on the Alan Partridge vibe by constantly bringing back a much-loved character successfully time and time again. But David Brent has never been Alan Partridge and Ricky Gervais has never been Steve Coogan. There is a mean and desperate quality to Gervais’ writing for this character that just doesn’t work in this context. He tries so hard to shock and offend the “humourless PC brigade” but his comedy has ceased being edgy. Ricky Gervais is bringing this character back into a society that is no longer shocked by these things. It all just seems lame.

I didn’t hate Life on the Road as much as I expected but this shouldn’t be taken as any kind of positive. I expected to turn it off halfway through. I ended up managing to watch the entire thing without feeling too bad. Still, this is nowhere near the level of brilliance that we associate with the show that first gave us this character. Instead of reintroducing us to a great comic creation this film just reminds us what we’ve been missing. It’s beginning to look as though the shrewd comic force of the Gervais/Merchant partnership wasn’t the loud and outspoken Gervais after all.