The week in awesome, for those of us who could use a smile
by Kate Sheridan (actor/writer/Netflix binger)
Woof. It's been a week. Not just an in-a-funk week, either- a truly surprising, devastating, ethics-questioning and faith-shaking week in politics and pop culture alike. If you're anything like me, at some point amidst all this madness you had to be asking yourself what the HELL is wrong with the world.
The best way to combat this is, of course, remembering the important things: gratitude, love, renewed vigilance towards the causes that matter. But it's also important to remember the little things. So in the pursuit of this positivity, here's a couple things that are completely & totally RIGHT with the world this week.
1. AFFIRMING, ACCEPTING, EFFING AWESOME
Slate ran a story this week called "You Are You", about a camp (whose name is not revealed for privacy reasons) which runs a four-day family weekend for young gender non-conforming males. While they are referred to as boys for brevity's sake, neither the camp nor the article presumes a current or future gender identity or sexual orientation for the kids and focuses instead on the joy and comfort the campers & their families feel in a place where the children are free to express themselves without need for definition or judgement. Just look through Lindsay Morris' photographs of these exuberant, adorable kids and try not to tear up. It gives me faith that the future will be brighter for the next generation of LGBT youth, one safe (fabulous) space at a time.
2. ROBIN THICKE DOESN'T CARE... HE LOVES IT.
A good cover is my weakness. When someone can make something completely new out of a song that's already brilliant, I go nuts. (See: Obadiah Parker's "Hey Ya", Eva Cassidy's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", everything Lennon & Maisy do). Honestly, most of my non-theatrical music career has been devoted to playing an instrument jussssst well enough to accompany a rap cover. (Crowd favorites: T-Pain's "Buy You A Drank" on the ukulele, Nelly's "Hot in Herre" on the guitar, and a beatboxing collaboration on Justin Bieber's "Baby". I'm currently trying to learn the accordion, so get ready for a gamechanger.)
Ergo, this nugget of Robin Thicke/Icona Pop glory is right up my alley, combining two of the catchiest artists of the summer into one smooth, baby-making anthem of 90's bitch power. I dig.
3. THE BEST REASON TO NETFLIX BINGE
I realize everyone on the internet and their mother has already freaked out about Orange Is the New Black, but it's because they should be. Watch it. Seriously. Go. If you don't have Netflix, start a free trial. If your free trial ran out, I will give you my password. JUST FIND A WAY TO WATCH THIS SHOW. It's smart, it's interesting, it's honest, and it's flippin' hilarious, tempered with some genuine tenderness and drama. And not only is it woman-centric, the characters are complex, and the uncensored medium offers a realness and a rawness that is less about shock and more about honoring the realities of the women, their bodies, and their situations. I have never seen so many diverse and complicated women on my screen ever and it is THRILLING, not to mention that I haven't legitimately laughed out loud this much at a show since I don't know when.
While there are really no weak links in the cast, I'm particularly obsessed with the brilliant Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks as "Taystee" (above) and a surprisingly tender storyline between characters Daya & Bennett (Dascha Polanco & the very cute Matt McGorry). Also, I don't care who you are- if you didn't watch "That 70s Show" and at least entertain a mild lesbian fantasy of Laura Prepon, you're crazy (and now you're in luck!). Netflix is spearheading a really interesting and exciting new age of smart, risky, high-quality entertainment free from the bureaucracy of corporate networks, and if that isn't a good enough excuse for your binge-watching? I don't know what is.
4. NEVER DOUBT THE WISDOM OF CHILDREN
This video has made the rounds, but deserves to be shared again and again - after a Cheerios ad featuring an interracial couple was faced with internet uproar (...seriously?) vloggers The Fine Bros compiled this video of children reacting to the so-called controversy. Surprise surprise... the only thing that got a negative reaction was the uproar itself. (Though The Fine Bros do have another video entitled "Elders React to Twerking" if you're looking for some more effective outrage... or intrigue.)
Side note: the overzealous chubby girl with freckles (:52, 2:25)? Absolutely what I was like as a child. Acceptance is the first step.
5. JOLLY GOOD, OL' CHAP
Werk, Queen Lizzie.[source]
A somber side note: when I started writing this week's post, I was set on writing about Cory Monteith, as "Glee" has been so intertwined with the musical theatre community, and his sudden death gives us so much to say about addiction and celebrity alike. But I felt there was more to say than I was capable of right now. I hope to collect my thoughts in the future, but in the meantime, I think it's incredibly important to continue the discussion about addiction- Rob Delaney, Russell Brand, and Ryan O'Connell have all written pieces that are very much worth your time. My heart goes out to Lea, his family, and his colleagues in this terrible time, and I thank you, Cory, for bringing your sincerity & love to a show that let the whole world in on the pure "glee" of being a musical theatre kid.