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Fandom Toxicity

Do you have a favorite TV show, book, video game, YouTube channel, or movie? Does it have a passionate fandom?

Fandoms are really interesting to me. I’ve always been a “fan” of things, and I love many of the things that super passionate fandoms create. I loved reading Harry Potter fan fiction in high school when it was at it’s height. I love watching Delena (The Vampire Diaries) and Captain Swan (Once Upon a Time) romantic moment compilations on YouTube. I love looking at fanart of Sailor Moon or Mario or Zelda or Disney characters. I love consuming much of the amazing thoughts, art, and tributes that my favorite fandoms produce, and even contributing to the fandoms myself as I sometimes write about my predictions or hopes for my favorite TV shows here on my blog and on YouTube.

But not everything that passionate fandoms create is beautiful and happy.  I’ve been noticing lately that some of my favorite fandoms have a creeping layer of toxicity under the surface that I’m rather disappointed with.

What seems to be happening is that fans have SUCH a vehement connection to a show/movie/game/character/creator that they feel a sense of ownership over it.  So that when something happens that doesn’t fit with the narrative that they cling to, there is a violent backlash.

To illustrate this a bit, take the Once Upon a Time fandom. I’ve written about the show on the blog here a bit so you know that I love this show. You should also probably know at this point that I have a bit of an addiction to reading online comments (see this vlog for the full confession). Combine these two together, you get me realizing that a show with a lot of distinct storylines and characters opens itself up for some EXTREME rivalry. Like there are people who love Regina and the Evil Queen and who ship Regina and Emma (not just as amazing friends and co-moms like they’ve become on the show but an actual romantic relationship despite there being no signs on the show of such a possibility so far). There are those who love Emma and Captain Hook together and those who think Hook is “trash.” There are those who desperately want Rumple and Belle to find a happy ending and others who think it’s an abusive relationship. Differing opinions on who should be the main focus of the show or who should end up with who is totally normal when it’s an ensemble cast. But if you hang out on Twitter or Facebook or even the Once Upon a Time Wiki long enough, you’ll find people pretty violently attacking each other for their opinions! That’s not what should be happening in a fandom! Isn’t it supposed to be a place where you can share your mutual love for a thing?

Many times it extends to the actors or writers themselves with attacks on their character or physical appearance or spreading questionable rumors about “who’s dating who” or “who hates who” among the cast. A few good examples here come from the Pretty Little Liars fandom (which as a whole I think is actually less toxic than many of the other shows I love, but I suspect it’s because fans have been kept in the dark so much about what’s actually going on). When Sasha Pieterse who plays Allison, the notorious “dead girl” on which the show was based around, ended up not being dead and became a regular on the show, fans attacked her weight viciously, wondering if she was pregnant when in fact, she’d simply grown up (she’d filmed the pilot episode when she was only 13, the youngest of the all the “Liars”), filled out, and discovered she had a hormone imbalance. Similarly, fans speculate on riffs happening between the PLL actresses, claiming that because Troian Bellisario (Spencer), Ashley Benson (Hanna), and Shay Mitchell (Emily) have posted photos together that they are somehow on the outs with Lucy Hale (Aria).

It just makes me wonder, why are some fans are so obsessed with something that they take it beyond just enjoying it and celebrating in a community of like-minded individuals to the point of critiquing every aspect of the story, the creators, or the actors.  Is it because they think they could do a better job? Is it because love turns into misguided ownership? Is it because the immediacy of social media has given the impression that fans have more control over a piece of art than they really do?

Fans and fandoms, of course, have a big voice in the content they love in this digital age, but it’s still up to the creators as to how much control they actually allow fans to have. You can’t just yell about something on social media because it doesn’t fit your “vision” and expect something to change. If you really want it to be different, make fan art or fan fiction.  Create your own version to satisfy your burning passion for a thing. You’ll probably find someone else who enjoys it!

But all the outrage isn’t helping anyone. It just makes for a toxic environment in a community that’s supposed to be about shared passion.  Respectful debate is one thing. It contributes to the awesomeness of fandoms because obviously we’ll have differing opinions, but letting it devolve into hate and trolling and rumor spreading to either hurt other fans or the very people who make the thing inspiring the fandom is just a waste of the potential that fandoms have.

Communities of people who have a shared passion are incredibly powerful. Spread the love, friends! Not hate!

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OMG Moments from Pretty Little Liars’ Summer Finale

PLL Summer Finale

Have you watched the Pretty Little Liars 7a Summer Finale yet? WARNING! There are SPOILERS ahead! Don’t read this blog yet. Go watch it (trust me, it’s worth it) and then you can come back and gasp with me!

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Have you watched it yet?

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I’m warning you!

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Okay, I’m going to assume, if you’re reading this then you HAVE watched the summer finale of Pretty Little Liars, and in that case: OH MY GOSH WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!?!?

Questions Answered and OMG Moments of the Summer Finale

  • Alison is Pregnant!  Something we were all expecting with the rumors of a pregnancy on the show going around.  Time will tell though if this is a just your average pregnancy or if it’s another plot by A.D. (I mean, we still don’t know what happened to Emily’s eggs so there’s that creepy possibility.
  • Noel Kahn is not Mary’s 2nd child!  Though that doesn’t stop him from being or working for A.D. But he’s VERY decapitated right now so I have a feeling we won’t be seeing anymore of his antics.
  • Caleb and Hanna get back together! And have a steamy hook-up on the floor next to a fireplace that’s not used unless it serves as a plot device or cool backdrop. Because everyone has reunion sex next to a fireplace, right? (e.g. The Notebook)
  • Emily currently has the most game of all the girls which is surprising since she’s literally been the one struggling the most in the relationship department since the time jump. No, since FOREVER.  Honestly, though, as much as I like Paige, she’s being a total creepster, and Alison is just too…manipulative. I never know what she’s really after. Sabrina is literally looking like the only person who might actually be good for Emily if she could learn how to share her stresses and secrets.
  • Spencer gets shot! In the chest too, so it’s not looking good for this girl. (And she’s one of my favorite characters!) But if we’re answering the question of the “spectacular death” that would probably go to Noel.  Spencer is still technically alive and I’m hoping she’s not gone for the last 10 episodes!
  • Toby and Yvonne get into a car wreck! Why? How? Was A.D. involved or was this just an unfortunate coincidence? And are either of them alive?
  • Nicole is found! And Ezra is there and not on a plane home to Aria. I guess we should have known that the girl got a happy ending too early in the season for it to last. My Ezria feels are disintegrating.
  • Spencer is Mary’s 2nd child!  This is definitely the biggest reveal of the night, but I wouldn’t say it comes as a total surprise. I’ve been reading comments since the reveal of Mary Drake that suggest that Spencer is somehow related to Mary Drake. They just look too similar since the time jump. Plus there is their creepy first meeting that just felt…off somehow.  And now we know why!

So we get lots of reveals during this episode, but as always we’re left with so many more questions.  However, I will say that I can feel this story tying up which is a welcome feeling. But until then, here’s what we’ll go into the second half of the season asking:

Questions We Still Have or Are Now Raised

  • How screwed up is the Hastings family? I mean, REALLY? They’re looking just as bad the DiLaurentis’s at this point with all the half siblings and adopted children.  Why did no one know or tell Spencer she was adopted?
  • Has Spencer really known all along and she’s working for A.D. or Mary or SOMEBODY. I highly doubt this, but it’s still a question that needs answering. If she dies, we won’t know.
  • Who shot Spencer? Jenna’s last words after being kidnapped by A.D. suggest that the blind girl was shooting blindly and didn’t hit Spencer.  That it was in fact, someone else.
  • Are Emily’s eggs in anyway involved in Alison’s pregnancy?
  • Why did Noel and Jenna set the #PLLDeathtrap? What do the girls “know too much” about?
  • Why are Mona and Caleb always teamed up together when we all know that they’re the one’s who can think the fastest and get the girls out of a bind? Split them up!
  • What’s going to happen now that Nicole is back in the picture? This is a sad, SAD situation for everyone involved. I love Ezra and Aria, but Nicole and Ezra obviously had a thing and she’s been in captivity for several months/years. This is something that needs to be resolved delicately.
  • Are Toby and Yvonne going to survive? There’s a cruel part of me that just wants Toby to survive so he and Spencer can be together but I know that’s not fair and brings all kind of baggage with it.
  • Who bought Toby’s house? (I feel like A.D. did…)
  • Are Hanna and Caleb officially back together? Please!?
  • Where is Lucas? I feel like he’s going to show back up here at any time.
  • Where is A.D. taking Jenna?
  • What’s up with the slimey Archer Dunhill? There’s no way his story is over quite yet.
  • Finally, who is A.D.? We’re running out of people here.

As you can see, we have more questions than answers, but those questions lead us to some fun predictions for the last 10 episodes of PLL ever!

Thoughts and Predictions on the End GAme

  • Hanna and Caleb get married. I feel like that’s the more likely “wedding end game” than Ezra and Aria. Especially since we started the time jump with Hanna being engaged.
  • My crazy prediction is that Spencer has an identical twin who is actually A.D. Or really I want SOMEONE to have a twin or split personality. Someone who’s totally evil and crazy and pulls it off better than CeCe. I’d be satisfied with either Spencer or Aria. Hanna and Emily are just too good and loyal for it.
  • There’s also the thought that Archer Dunhill actually has a twin and he’s A.D., but I don’t really know why he would be.
  • Or Lucas. Because…I don’t know…he’s Lucas and he always ends up being the scapegoat.
  • I want Ali to keep the baby. She’s got ZERO real family (other than Jason when he dains to show up in Rosewood), and while her child would be a product of some kind of twisted lie, abuse, or science experiment, I think if she could handle raising a kid, it would do wonders for her character. She had a horrible mother and comes from a family of horrible parenting, I feel like it could be redeeming for her raise and love a child the way she should have been raised.
  • Mona needs to get the heck out of Rosewood.  She’s too smart for this stuff.

So what do you think? What were your OMG moments from the summer finale of Pretty Little Liars? Do you have your own theories about the end gAme? Tell me in the comments so we can discuss!

 

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In Defense of “Spaleb” (Or That Time Pretty Little Liars Jumped Five Years Forward and Broke Up Fan-Favorite Ships)

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Pretty Little Liars’ five-year time jump this winter season has all the fan favorite relationships in turmoil. But really, what can you realistically expect after five years out of high school and their hometown? Despite two years translating to five and half seasons, technically they’ve spent more time off in the adult world than they did in their high-school relationships (both friend and romantic). So why is everyone up in arms at the prospect of Spencer and Caleb getting together?

Well, first let’s look at the fandom. I think if you did a poll on which “ship” fans rooted for the most on PLL, “Haleb” (aka Hanna and Caleb) would win. I’m even a Haleb shipper! But I think that comes from Hanna and Caleb being my two favorite characters on the show so the fact that they get to be a couple just brings all kinds of juicy fun feelings as a viewer!

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But honestly, I really don’t have a problem with “Spaleb.” People are angry online because “you shouldn’t date your friend’s ex” (which is, honestly, good advice). Some are creeped out and find it gross. (But I think that’s just because they’re so obsessed with Haleb that they’re not seeing beyond it).   Others feel like it isn’t realistic or is too rushed. But I have to disagree with all of these assertions and here’s why.

  1. Spencer didn’t just fall in love with Caleb and start dating/hooking up with him right after he and Hanna broke up. It’s been YEARS. Long enough for Hanna to have moved on to the point that she’s engaged to another guy and looks quite happy. I feel like there might be a time limit on dating your friend’s exes. Like if it’s been 3 years and you don’t even talk to your friend that much (except for when you’re sequestered in your hometown because of your potential involvement in a murder case), it’s probably okay to fall in love with your friend’s ex. I mean, let’s be realistic here.
  2. It’s not one-sided at all. I feel like in the first 3 episodes of this half of the season, PLL did a great job of setting up Spencer and Caleb’s “history” over the last 5 years. And it’s a really believable story. They went through hell in high school in their own way. They meet randomly while traveling the world for school/life experience. And they cling to one another because of a sense of camaraderie and history. They know what the other went through without having to do all the embarrassing and traumatic explaining. And so they have adult experiences together for a few years. It’s not too far of a stretch to find them developing feelings for one another with time. (Maybe it’s just not the best idea to get together while you’re both hanging out in your hometown with a murder investigation going on and your exes running around too).
  3. They actually had chemistry prior to the “Five Years Forward” time jump. In the last few seasons, we found Spencer and Caleb being paired together several times doing detective work. It was always platonic and understandably so, but they were friends first. And friends with similar interests. They’re both—how do I say this nicely—the smartest ones of the group. Hanna, Aria, and Emily are all wonderfully talented girls, but Spencer’s got the lock on “school smarts.” And she’s “tech-y” like Caleb. So you can see where their interests might overlap in the world outside of high school drama.

In all honesty, I find it kind of romantic and sweet that two friends from high school would meet again a few years later on the other side of the world when they’re not bogged down by the stress and trauma of being stalked by a crazy person and reconnect and fall in love. Because if PLL were reality, none of those high relationships would have lasted anyway. I mean, there’s a slim possibility, but since all the girls (but Alison) went off to different states for college, it’s inevitable that they’d change and grow apart from their high school beaus. For once, I feel like PLL actually depicted something close to reality. And for me, that’s kind of a win!

You don’t have to like Spaleb. You can hope and pray that “Haleb” and “Spoby” is end game. (I know I’m rooting for “Ezria!”) But let’s not call it disgusting. Life (and five years) changes people. I’m just glad PLL is finally acknowledging that!

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Why You Shouldn’t Cancel a TV Show About Cancer

Chasing Life 1        I unwillingly and accidentally became a Chasing Life fan. ABC Family worked their scheduling magic and ran Chasing Life’s freshman season after my favorite network show Pretty Little Liars—a surefire way to get someone hooked. While I didn’t need any more shows to add to my already burgeoning watch-list, I couldn’t help but love the characters and find myself connecting with April’s “mid-twenties, still living at home, trying to figure out what her career dream is” persona. It was fun to have a TV show about characters actually my age and in a similar post-graduate situation rather than the perpetual “we’re still in high-school even though it’s been 6 years” *cough*PrettyLittleLiars*cough* that ABC Family specializes in.

But even though the storyline and characters seemed to be a little more grown-up, I was still skeptical when watching those first few trailers because John Green’s mega-hit book turned blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars had just debuted theaters that summer, and it felt like everyone was jumping on the cancer bandwagon (just as it feels like everyone’s on the transgender wagon right now). But cancer is a serious thing. I didn’t want to support a show that was turning a serious subject into a cash cow.

Chasing Life 2 And I felt that way until I actually watched the show. It took a few episodes as the main character, April, isn’t exactly likable right off the bat (she’s perfectionism magnified) and there’s nothing exciting that happens plot-wise (she’s diagnosed with cancer, big surprise). At first glance the characters appear stereotypical—the bratty younger sister, the overprotective mom, the recently-passed perfect father, the estranged uncle, the perfect love-interest, the bubbly best-friend, and later, the rich, bad boy with a (cancer) death-sentence. Actually April’s snarky grandmother appears to be the only unique and likeable character! But this is an illusion. As April’s cancer story unfolds—her choices as to who to tell and not tell and her decisions regarding her job and health—so too do the characters. We come to see that Brenna is not just a bratty younger sister, she’s a fiercely loyal sibling and much more mature and smart than she first appears. We find the estranged uncle to be a strong advocate for April’s health and a great model of forgiveness. And a fan-favorite, Leo, the rich, bad boy turns out to be a personal make-a-wish for adults and the greatest challenge to make April live in the moment (something as a perfectionist myself, I can attest is difficult to do).

I really felt like Chasing Life hit its stride in its sophomore season though. As April’s health outlook appeared more and more grim, we explored what it means to live fully and to grieve and to follow your dreams. April’s cancer became a looming backdrop for a young woman having to really live because she didn’t know how much time she had left. It meant throwing caution to the wind on things that we millenials are so particular about right now. It meant getting married to a man she’d only known for a few months. It meant making drastic and risky health decisions. It meant quitting a stable job to pursue a long-buried dream.

It also meant as viewers we didn’t always like or agree with April’s decisions, but we can’t fault her for them because it is her life. And just as she had to realize she couldn’t let other’s impressions and expectations of her control her life, as viewers we have to learn to respect her (aka the writer’s decisions). But we don’t ever want to give up hope. That’s what the title is about, right? “Chasing life?” It seems to be slipping away from her, but she’s running, desperately trying to catch that train.

Chasing Life 3Season two ended in a bittersweet way with April announcing that she was ready to die. That she’d fought and now she was done. It was heart wrenching and confusing because “NO APRIL YOU CANNOT JUST LIE DOWN AND DIE IN ITALY!” And then just a few days later, it’s announced that Chasing Life has been canceled. And you CAN’T cancel a show about cancer. Not without her beating cancer or dying trying. Unfortunately, with the way season 2 ends, we’re left believing that April’s story ends in the latter outcome. Which for all the trials she’s been able to overcome so far (e.g. finding out her father had a secret family, her boyfriend dumping her when he found out she had cancer and lied to him about it, her almost-new-boyfriend being in a coma for months, her husband dying after only a month of marriage, finding out her father had ALS and didn’t die in car accident but actually intentionally wrecked his car and blackmailed his brother into covering it up) seems like a poor excuse for an ending. Not that she has to have a happy ending. I mean, cancer is real life. And cancer doesn’t always have a happy ending. Well…real life rarely has a happy ending. But there’s something more final and gut wrenching about canceling a show about cancer than shows with other plots and topics. We can imagine the characters going on and overcoming whatever obstacle they faced last because usually their troubles are just over the line of reality. But cancer isn’t. Cancer is reality. April’s struggle is real life dramatized.

So I understand the outcry that Chasing Life fans have at the announcement of the series’ cancellation. It feels like more of a lack of faith in April’s survival than a strategic choice based on ratings. We want April to live! And it’s a hard thing to believe in when even the network doesn’t seem to have hope.

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What do you think? Did you ever have a favorite show canceled too soon? (ABC Family probably contributed to at least half of them. Jerks…)

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All the Questions You Still Have After Pretty Little Liars’ #FAcetoFace Reveal

This review contains SPOILERS! Don’t read it if you haven’t watched the finale and don’t blame me for ruining it for you because here I am warning you!

PLL 1We’ve waited for five and half seasons for the BIG REVEAL. We know “Charles” is A, but who the heck is Charles? Season 5 ended with us finding out that A’s real name is Charles DiLaurentis but we all know with Pretty Little Liars that doesn’t actually mean much of anything. We also knew that whoever Charles is, he or she stole the game from Mona at the end of season 2 when she was locked up in Radley. We also questioned whether Mona had been working for “Big A” all along. And of course there were all the questions lingering from the past 5 seasons: Who hit Ali on the head with a rock and caused Mrs. D to bury her own daughter to protect some unknown entity? What was Mrs. D and Bethany’s connection? How did Bethany end up dressed like Ali the night she disappeared and killed/buried alive anyway? Who killed Mrs. Cavanaugh (because we all know it seems too suspicious to really be a suicide)? Who’s the real Red Coat and Black Widow? Who killed Mrs. DiLaurentis?

Pretty Little Liars Season 6A has been boasting itself as the #SeasonofAnswers on social media and that “all will be revealed,” and I think in terms of answering the above questions (except for the one about Mrs. D’s death) it does a good job. It ANSWERS our questions, but for the diehard fans, we’re left with the question, “Are we satisfied with the answers?” I feel like there has been so much build up and red herrings and false A reveals and plot twists that the writers have written themselves into a bit of a hole. So I went into the summer finale with an open mind. Whoever they decided A to be, I was going to be okay with it. I might not like it, or totally understand it, but I’d be okay. I’ve actually been more excited about the 5 year time jump and essential reboot of the show starting with Season 6B in all honesty. But I wanted to go through the 6A finale and see where it leaves us as fans of the PLL universe.

Likes

  1. They actually set out a list of questions that would be answered and then answered them. For a show that likes to trick its viewers repeatedly, I have to give it props for actually doing something it says it’s going to do.
  2. CeCe is A. Of my possible guesses for who A is, CeCe was my number three guess. (With Wren being my number two, and my number one being that this whole series is a delusion of Alison’s while locked up in Radley). I had actually considered a transgender storyline when I heard that they weren’t going to do anything with twins but that they kept introducing clues about another DiLaurentis girl (e.g. the two dresses Ali found as a little girl and Mrs. D told her to lie about). However, I’d heard somewhere that Marlene King said they weren’t going to jump on the transgender bandwagon so I put it out of my mind. But I guess someone lied. It’s not really surprising with PLL.

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  1. CeCe didn’t kill Mrs. D. We still don’t know who killed her (if she just died from a stroke from too much stress over a lifetime of secrets), and I hope that’s answered in whatever crisis seems to have come up in that teaser at the end when they’ve jumped five years in the future.
  2. Toby’s mom didn’t commit suicide! Yay! But didn’t we already all suspect that? What I liked was that it was Bethany who pushed her off, which is what I thought all along.
  3. Mona was the originator of the game not CeCe. I like that the game was legitimately stolen which is something I’ve been questioning all along. I think they did a good job of explaining how it was stolen and making it believable because obviously CeCe is certifiably crazy. There’s a part where she talks about how she thought the game was over after New York when the girls thought A was dead but that it got into her head because she was so good at it that got into her blood. To me that explains the absences of A. We always sort of assumed that A was off plotting his revenge somewhere during these times, but this reveal suggests that maybe A didn’t always want to be A, but it was more of an addiction than a true desire to torture the girls. It felt too good to play with the girls like dolls and how it was affecting them didn’t really matter.
  4. A is a girl. I like that both A reveals have been women. If one or either of the A reveals had been men, I think it would have taken on a different meaning. Like when we thought Ezra was A (and even when we realized he was just a creepy dude spying on the girls for his novel writing purposes), it felt especially violating to me. An adult man torturing teenage girls in this way seems so much sicker than a twenty-something (transgender, not that it really matters) woman. Instead, PLL becomes a story about the pressures and bullying that girls inflict on one another (of course, to a hyperbolic degree).

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Dislikes

  1. Nothing about Mrs. Cavanaugh’s death timeline makes sense. I think where they made the mistake was using adult Ali and Toby in that scene before Mrs. Cavanaugh went into Radley a few season’s ago. Yes, Toby was dressed like a 12 year old with a side part, but no, he did not look like one. But then they cast tween actors for Charles and Bethany for the “Pushing-Mrs.Cavanaugh-Off-the-Roof” scene which I think is how in the timeline it is SUPPOSED to happen, but seems fishy to PLL fans because how could Ali be older looking than her older brother in a scene that was supposed to take place before what was shown in the finale? The person in charge of continuity had to have gotten fired. Whoops!
  2. Sarah just kind of shows up in season 6, but we’re supposed to believe that she’s been Red Coat/Black Widow this whole time. But didn’t she go missing? So she wasn’t locked up in that dollhouse for years? If we were going to have a betrayal like that from a “friend/girlfriend” I would have rather it been Paige, or someone who we’ve been invested in longer.

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  1. The advanced tech room the Liars get locked in to watch CeCe reveal all her secrets to Ali was just weird and over-the-top. Like a motion-detecting camera that starts beeping to show them Red Coat setting up a bomb? Or that holographic video screen?

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  1. Sarah’s line when she doesn’t want to enter the fancy tech room (aka prison room): “I think I’ll stay out here. It seems kind of crowded in there.” And no one’s like, “It’s a trap! She’s working for A!”
  2. The believability of Charles/Charlotte/CeCe’s transition. Do mental institutions let you out to have sex reassignment surgery? It seems like it just “happened,” and Charles “died” and then there was Charlotte. But don’t those things take time? And all kinds of therapy, hormone injections, and money? I know money wasn’t a problem for Mrs. DiLaurentis, but how would Radley have handled the whole situation. I feel like there would have been documentation somewhere.

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  1. CeCe and Jason dating. Just ew. I know she alluded to the fact that they didn’t have any physical relations (“Why do you think he was so frustrated all the time back then?”), but it’s still gross and something they couldn’t have been thinking of when they originally wrote it into the script and had to just kind of gloss over it now.

Questions Still Needing to Be Answered

  1. Who killed Mrs. DiLaurentis? (This must be answered in the next season and half or we shall riot, right?)

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  1. Where did Ian’s body go? I think during “Ali tells all,” we learned that Ali accidentally pushed him or Ian accidentally fell during that fateful night in the church bell tower, but then what happened to his body and who moved it? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t ever think that part of the mystery has been answered.
  2. Who’s the “he” that come back for Ali and the Liars feel the need to protect her from (as suggested in the teaser from 5 years in the future)?
  3. Who is the Mr. to Alison’s Mrs. Rollins? (Technically, this is a new question.)

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  1. What happens to CeCe after she admits “game over?”
  2. What the heck was going on with Sarah Harvey? I want all the answers! Is she actually crazy evil? Did she run away from home and somehow get hooked up with CeCe to do her bidding? Was she ever imprisoned in the dollhouse or was it all an act? Is she going to jail? Did she actually like Emily? Is Emily going to figure out any of these answers and actually forgive her?
  3. Is Bethany actually dead? I know, it seems so, but she had such a big part in the downfall of Charles/Charlotte that it seems like a letdown to really admit that she’s dead and can’t cause any more destruction.
  4. Did Mona really kill Bethany? That was a shocking reveal. I was definitely wondering how Bethany ended up unconscious causing Melissa to bury her thinking Spencer had murdered Ali while in a drug-induced, but how has Mona not mentioned to anyone all this time that she bludgeoned a girl in the head with a shovel the night Ali disappeared? Like what?

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So there are probably a hundred more questions I have about Pretty Little Liars that I’m not thinking of right now or haven’t realized yet, but for now I feel a fair amount of catharsis after watching the #FAcetoFace summer finale. It wasn’t the best finale I’ve ever seen, but it satisfied my longing for answers. I suppose we’re not always going to be happy with TV writers (in fact, after 3 seasons, I’m usually quite unhappy with the way most TV shows go). But hey, you take what you get with entertainment!

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Never Trust a Girl Whose Name Starts With ‘A’

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“Gone Girl” directed by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike has recently been sweeping the nation as the latest psychological thriller phenomenon at the box office. I haven’t read the book though I did go see and thoroughly enjoy the movie (which admittedly, is not something I normally do as I prefer to have read the book before watching a film adaptation of a novel). In this case though, the trailers got my interest piqued enough that I decided to go with the film buzz and see it opening weekend. It was different than I expected it to be. I assumed it was going to be a cut and dry murder case with some twists and turns figuring out the identity of the real killer. That’s not exactly how that movie worked out, but it was certainly filled with all the twists and turns I could want! What really struck me though is how familiar the plot started to seem. Not in a “this has been way overdone in movies before,” but rather a “why does this strangely unique plot seem familiar when it shouldn’t?”

But it does!

And that’s thanks to Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family.

Gone-Girl-2Again, I haven’t read the Sara Shepard book series, but I’ve been fascinated by the television show since it first came on in the summer of 2010. And since I’ve been rather religiously following the show to figure out who “A” is, I know the mythology really well which is when I realized that in watching “Gone Girl” I was actually watching the grown-up version of “Pretty Little Liars.”

Girls with the name “A” like to “disappear” and play games.

Gone-Girl-3The “girl” that disappears in “Gone Girl” is named Amy Dunne. The girl that disappears in “Pretty Little Liars” is named Alison DiLaurentis. (Coincidence?) In “Pretty Little Liars” after Alison disappears, her high school friends are terrorized by an all-knowing phantom-like character distinguished as “-A” who sends them texts, notes, and haunting “gifts” that threaten to reveal their deepest secrets. Similarly, Nick Dunne, Amy’s husband is left with an incriminating anniversary scavenger hunt that playfully teases Nick into the realization that he’s being framed for her “murder.” Both of these “A” girls appear to love playing games with their “loved” ones like a cat hunting mice.

Girls with the name “A” have a sick obsession with death.

Gone-Girl-4For some reason, death (or rather faked death) is the only answer for these “A” girls’ life problems. Rather than facing their demons and therefore resolving their problems, death seems like a better option. When is death ever a better option? (Short answer: NEVER.) Both girls fake their death after “disappearing.” Both girls murder (or at least are an accomplice in the murder of) another person to help continue their charade.

Girls with the name “A” like to implicate others in their murder.

Gone-Girl-5Amy sends Nick on a scavenger hunt for all the “clues” she’s left to frame him for her murder. Alison uses other’s secrets to blackmail them into doing her bidding. They both want other people to suffer for wrongs they feel have been done to them and the obvious means by which to do this is framing people for murder. Obviously.

Girls with the name “A” seem to attract innocent bystanders into their game like moths to a flame.

Gone-Girl-6The unfortunate part (for law enforcement) of being an “A” girl is that you might have sociopathic tendencies, but you’re an extremely enticing person. You make people want to be your friend easily. You make them bow down and worship you even if they don’t quite understand why they’re doing it.

This was the case for Amy and her high school “puppy lover”, Desi Collings, who she uses to first, save her financially when she has all her money stolen, and then, as her supposed “kidnapper” because of his strange history of stalking. Similarly, Alison attracts the four girls in Pretty Little Liars—Spencer, Emily, Aria, and Hanna—as well as many other characters in Rosewood, PA to her web of secrets, lies, and deceit so that she can use them to further her charade.

Interestingly, Amy uses Desi in a similar way that Alison has used Emily in the past. Both Desi and Emily are loyal, unrequited lovers who so desperately want the affection of their “A” girl that they will betray their other friends and the police in order to make her happy. Desi’s devotion to Amy ended in a spectacularly gory bloodbath and smearing of his good name so I hope that Emily can wise up before something similar happens to her.

Girls with the name “A” convince you not to go to the police.

Gone-Girl-7What fascinates me the most about those who are under the thumb of an “A” girl is that they don’t go to the police. Why doesn’t anyone think that telling the WHOLE truth to the police is a good idea? Why is honesty punished by the justice system just because the truth isn’t the most “obvious” answer and is therefore assumed a lie by the justice department? *face palm* It bothers me so much that both “A” girls have such a firm hold on their “playthings” (aka friends and/or husband) that they can even make up nonsensical stories and rather than outing them to the police when they have the chance, they lie for them too! It’s a sick and twisted world they’re living in.

Girls with the name “A” like to start pregnancy rumors.

Gone-Girl-10Amy uses a fake pregnancy to make her disappearance seem even more suspicious and cast the shadow of guilt onto her husband Nick who supposedly “didn’t want children.” Whether Alison was ever actually pregnant or not (that is, if she just thought she was pregnant and wasn’t or she made up the entire pregnancy rumor to manipulate people or she was pregnant and got an abortion or had a miscarriage), her supposed “pregnant possibility” again made her disappearance and “murder” seem more plausible especially with her fascination with older men. Both “A” girls use being pregnant as a way to shift blame and scrutiny on others.

Girls with the name “A” like to keep a journal and embellish on their lives.

Gone-Girl-8Alison kept a journal about her extravagant escapades and lies that she constructed which is how Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily are eventually able to track her down. Similarly, Amy leaves a journal meant to incriminate her husband filled with some true and some fanaticized stories about her marriage. We tend to want to believe a person’s journal as truth because clearly they’re writing from the heart so it wouldn’t be a lie, right? Not if you’re an “A” girl. No, you write a journal to further the truth you tell yourself even when reality speaks to the opposite. There is a common thread of truth underlying the stories somewhere, but they’re twisted and bent to create an alternate reality for an “A” girl’s life and alibi.

Conclusion: Girls with the name “A” are apparently psychos.

Gone-Girl-9My apologies to any girls with a name that starts with “A,” but apparently you’re CRAZY. By the end of “Gone Girl,” I came to the conclusion that I now know the future of “Pretty Little Liars.” Alison DiLaurentis will grow up and change her name to Amy Elliot and move to New York where she will hire an unassuming couple to pose as her parents (because her real ones are dead, because everyone on PLL dies, duh). She’ll then fall in “love” and marry clever, if average Missouri man, Nick Dunne who she’ll eventually get tired of and decide to get back to her old ways of “disappearing” and framing other people for her (fake) murder. Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily won’t be able to warn Nick this time because they’ll all either be in a padded cell in Radley or dead. (Mostly likely from an early onset heart condition caused by too much “A” stress.)

Basically, “Gone Girl” is just the grown-up version of “Pretty Little Liars” with a lot more gore. And the same conclusion can be drawn: these “A” girls are sick and twisted, but they draw people into their webs like a murderous black widow. Also, it never ends well for the one caught in the web.

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