Category Archives: review

How to Con a Queen

So in my last post i kind just walked through my first MCM comicon experience. I know it was long, and I appreciate people taking the time to read it. But also, if you didn’t? I completely understand.

So basically in my last post, i mentioned the length of time that we were waiting to see ‘the talent’ and honestly, calling them that feels …. odd. I mean, it really just turns them into objects?

How many times have we read that someone is difficult or awkward in an interview, that it felt that they were not bothered, interested, invested. That we hear about how they are doing ‘press’ surrounding a movie release, that they are doing appearences, that this is part of the package?

Well I never really thought about it before, not really. It isn’t that I hadn’t met famous people before. While living in London, I frequently brushed shoulders with ‘famous’ people, from TV, or film. But because of the situation… they were off duty, its the UK, you kinda just let them be? There are a couple of notable exceptions, but generally speaking I find it easier to pretend to be above all of this instead of acting like the flailing fangirl that I really am.

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Now what I have become more and more bothered by, over the course of meeting 3 celebrities in such a way, is that they cease being people. They cease having their own life outside providing a service. I PAID TO SEE THESE PEOPLE DAMNIT. .. i sat on the train home, having spent all day on my feet, thinking about how much I ached.. and then it hit me. The celebrities (or talent as people kept referring to them as, but I find weird…) had been on their feet for the same length of time.

When I was waiting for Jason, I was in batch 23, they have opened up over 30 batched. The demand was certainly there…. while we had been asked to stand against the wall by his security (I get it, honestly I do) I looked over at the photographer. She was waving one hand around, and looking unhappy. I mean… how many photos had she taken by this point. It is just a production line. There was little or no personality. All the people involved, they just had to make sure that we all go what we wanted. A photo with someone we loved, admired, lusted after? But there was no break for them.

So as much as I was complaining about how much I ached and hurt, how annoyed I was at standing so long, all the people in the booth, taking photos, hearding, securing, hell Jason himself, they had all done it for as long. But he had a big grin on his face, he was generous, hell he gave my boobs a thumbs up (I will actually scan the photo on the make it clearer). Now I know that this is all down to good customer service, and they are all there providing a service, and that there was a lot of money made.

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But this is still bothering me a great deal. We are all used to consuming what we want, we want our celebrities to be accessible, to be relatible, to be viable. We want to be able to follow, to see, to be able to use our knowledge and experience of them to make informed decisions. We base our choice of movie, of entertainment, hell we even base medical decisions like whether to vaccinate our children based on celebrity culture.

We sit on SC, IG, Twitter, we consume everything, we want to have what they have, we buy what they tell us to buy, we want to look like them, live like them, we mimic their diets, their fashions. We have almost forgotten that these are people, just like us. Lets not layer this up. They are like us. Their jobs may be different, and we really won’t understand their lives looking in. They do live in a glass house. There are held accountable for everything that they say and do.

Speaking of which, I adore Jason Mamoa, I really do. I won’t lie, he is very attractive, he is physically my type. Along with 80% of the population. But there is more to it, he comes accross as just… so nice, he has just a life force, he is passionate, he appears to be fun to be around. Right? These are all qualities that we manage to pick up from various appearances, interviews, videos. But a couple of years ago, at a panel, he made a comment about his time in GoT which I think we are all aware of. I am not going to condemn or defend the comment. He is one of many who have been caught up in an age where things are shared instantly.

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We do not own these people, we do not ‘pay their wages’, a phrase anyone working in customer services will have heard numerous times. I am incredibly grateful that I had an opportunity to meet these people, all three are very special to me, for different reasons. I am happy that they exist, that they have made a difference. And that I have something to remind me of the time i got to meet them.

But they own me nothing, not at all. I don’t have a hold over them, I don’t even want to know how much money even goes to them at these appearances. But you know, it has given me a much better respect for the hard work they do, that they sign up to do, are contracted to do, that they are expected to do.

I honestly can’t say if I will ever do another photoshoot at a convention, whether I will buy an autograph. Getting to meet someone you admire is always scary and exhilarating. But we all need to remember, that they are giving their time to do this, and it is not easy. Just a little sense of prospective.

Queen at a Con

So on Saturday, 27th July I finally made it to MCM London Comicon. I have only been to local ones previously and honestly my anxiety was making even the idea of such a big event impossible.

However, I had a lovely FB friend who invited me along and we even cosplayed together! This is not to say that i wasn’t utterly terrified about everything, meeting new people, the sheer amount of people there, the cost, let alone the cosplay.

Now i am no stranger to cosplay, but there is a big difference between taking photos and sharing them (albeit publicly) and having to worry about everything looks and how it will last.

So lets go back to the costume, I had a dress which i had bought last year, for a cosplay. Now I am fairly sure it was always destined for a Cersei cosplay but you never know with me. Now, as it stood, it was plain and a little frumpy. I sat down and tried to see what I could do to it, how it could start to look like something she would wear, while staying within my ability. Also please note, I am bloody lazy.

I had a few ideas, bought a few bits but shipping was taking too long, so i had to come up with some new ideas… and eventually it all started coming together and took shape. Now the final bit was sewing into the panel at the front of the dress.. but more on that later.

Because, as I have mentioned, I am lazy, I also procrastinate and I was still working on the dress a couple of days before the con, and the wig… well it was a little hot this week and i can tell you, doing wig restyles in a bathroom in the heat… it leads to a very melty face and a tiny bit of frustration. For this reason, I really didn’t do a dress rehearsal before putting it all on, on Saturday morning.

And now. Now we are on the day of the con, because of the weather, I had planned to wear a maxi dress and get changed at the con, get changed and changed again when I was on my way home. But of course when Saturday rolled around, I was met with a lot of rain. Instead I got on a train in my outfit sans the wig. At the station, I had a member of staff ask what was going on in london as a lot of people had already left for London dressed in costume.

Now, the train, the train was on time (unlike the 2 trains that were running vert late) and not all that busy, and journey was quick. I got a message to say my friend was meeting me at Victoria so it was a shot couple of stops from Euston. So far, so good. Although while chilling at the station, she called to say that there was a burst water main and delayed. Added was trying to find somewhere to park… but we figured it out, headed toward the Olympia and …. tried to find a space to leave the van.

And so we join the queue to get in, which moves quickly, and enter the con. Already there are a lot of people standing around and so many amazing costumes, but in a panic over when the photoshoots would be taking place I ran off upstairs to find out who was when.

Now I finally manage to locate the list of when, and where people are having shoots, and spend far, far too long looking for my first, with Sylvester McCoy. I finally find him, and try and work out when his shoot would be taking place. A guy I am standing with, leaves his son with me and goes to find out. We get told that we are early, come back in 45 mins. Fine, no problem.

I go for a walk around. get stopped by a gentleman with a camera asking for a photo (quick possibly by best.. ) and get offered a chip. I head downstairs to see what is going on. As I walk past a group I hear ‘is that supposed to be a slutty Cersei?’ and move along. Now the reason they are asking is that my thighs are viable when walking. This was not intentional, but a symptom of my leaving things to the last minute and not realising that the waist of the dress sits higher and therefore I needed to pin the panel in further down.

Now a few seconds after the above comment, while i am debating how annoying my dress is going to be, I get chased down by a Daenrys who asked for a photo. Now she was gorgeous, and cute and we had fun taking photos. While we were having a play, a few people snapped photos and suddenly we had a Arya running toward us. Who I proceeded to strangle. Luckily I managed to control myself long enough to rope her friend into taking photos and we eventually made our own way. I went back upstairs, and there was a massive queue still waiting for Sylvester, as there was yet another photoshoot going on and over running. Eventually I got in the queue, and got talking to a few of the guys who agreed that McCoy is pretty damned amazing.

Now I had no idea what would happen, basically we are called in, still in a queue, and got to briefly speak before a photo is taken and printed out. I was super excited by the photo and that I had managed to meet one of my childhood heros (true story, while I don’t watch Dr Who now, I loved it growing up and McCoy was most certainly my doctor. although I was most certainly expecting someone taller!).

After McCoy, I had to shoot over to the other side to the venue, difficult given the sheer amount of people and having no bloody idea where I was going. Eventually I was somewhat sure that I had the right place, and asked a girl if I was in the right place. I was – but I was batch 9. Luckily so was she, and we got chatting. It really is great to meet people who understand your desire to dress up, and fan girling etc. Her SO was having to keep half an ear out for her on another photo shoot. You see, you couldn’t pick a time for these things, they are batched out. So you might end up having 2 at the same time and have to make a mad dash. Another issue, is with so many people, it was hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, and it was gone 14:00 and I had been on my feet since 9:30am. We also couldn’t hear what batch had been called, it got to batch number 8 and we joined, knowing that we were in the next batch. Well our batch didn’t get called which just shows how much stress and confusion was involved.

Now, Christina Ricci might seem odd, I mean I don’t often mention her, or suggest I have a deep love for her. But its Christina FUCKING Ricci. As we got closer, we started getting excited. She was so gorgeous and doll light up close, and I … I may have told her that she was beautiful. As I grabbed our bags while waiting for the photos…. we hand flapped our excitement at having met Christina Ricci. We were feet away from her, and I honestly would be surprised if she hadn’t noticed.

Now, at this point, I have a break, I went to find the toilets, find one set with men and disabled. While waiting, a disabled person joined and I couldn’t wait longer so I ran off to find an alternative. Heading over, I ran into my friends hubby waiting for her – I ran in, found her and we decide to have a little walk around while I waited for my final photoshoot of the day. This was pretty much the only time I spent with her – how awful?

At 16:00 I trotted upstairs and attempted to find the right booth for Jason Mamoa, basically I kept going around in circles, until I came accross a Mamoa lookalike asking for… well Jason. He was being told that we were in the wrong place and the steward went off in search of answers. However, a couple of people in front of us turned around and told us were in the right place. Apparently another photoshoot had overrun so Jason was moved at the last minute. I get chatting to a couple of people and suddenly I was aware of something behind me… that something turned out to be Jason Mamoa, which led to a lot of cheering, clapping, and chanting. It really was quite something. Now, during this time, a lot of people were coming and going, asking where we were. Another steward escaped the scrum and for reasons that now escape me, we collared him. He mentioned not having had a bio break since 7:30am so we suggested he gets on. He was collared by a deaf couple looking for another photo op (basically the one that had moved since Jason had taken up residence) and it was causing a deal of frustration.

Now at this point, the crowd had gotten worse, more people turning up and melting away when they realised exactly how long a wait they would have. We started getting concerned that we wouldn’t be able to hear the batch being called. This had been an issue for me earlier, and clearly others. Well, nothing to worry about, we had a Scottish steward who happily stood on a stool and bellowed. He got standing ovations for his services to geeks. And caused backlash from our escapee steward working accross the room.

As I stood, and stood, and stood some more, a couple of friends that I had made, while standing, and were in the same batch had agreed that there was really no point in moving forward until our batch was called. I am not going to lie, I nearly expired waiting, it felt like there was no air conditioning, and between the outfit, wig, and amount of people… my mood was really heading south. We then had a guy trying to make small talk, and when his batch got called, stating ‘well, you should have bought a ticket earlier’ .. riiiight. It was at this point that I gave up entirely and sat down. I was joined by one of the people who peeled off earlier on realising that they had a long wait. My friend, who I had all but abandoned for photo opportunites, needed to go, and was trying to find me which as I have pointed out, I had no idea exactly where I was. And amongst all of this, my new friends looked over when our batch was called. I said good bye to my new friend, left her on the floor and ran to join my friends while basically also cutting in.

Now, the queue moved pretty quickly, I was surprised by the number of people bringing babies to meet Jason because it wasn’t really an environment i would personally have bought such young children. As we got our ticket scanned, we nervously waited, but got told that we had to wait with our back against the wall by Jason’s security detail. Now we joked about Jason not wanting to see what was coming… on reflection, it is more likely a safety precaution. My friends went ahead of my, and the female half was extremely tall. As she had her photo taken as I was called forward Jason joked with her, and they realised that they are the same height. That is pretty impressive (side bar, Peppa Pig is apparently 7ft tall?). I completely lose my cool, realise I am sweating buckets, don’t get a chance to really pose and it is over before I realise.

So now, I have lost my friends, I have my photos, I am leaving the con… I am wondering if there is any chance I can make my train…. I decide a taxi as I hadn’t really spent any money…. could I find a taxi? Nope. No problem I think… I can hop on a tube….. the district line… being the district line… was FUBAR. After waiting for what seems FOREVER, it moved.. but not far. After 2 stops it was the end of the line, so I switch to the circle line, and finally get a seat (been on my feet since landing in london at 9:30) and … well of course this is stopping early. I get off at Paddington and head out for a taxi. Clearly, nothing is easy, so I end up walking against traffic to flag one down.

As I near Euston, I mention my travel woes, the driver quipped, ‘ there was me thinking you liked taxis’ … dude where were you outside the venue.

Now, I get into the station, and of course. More delays, apparently nationally. So I start walking to pick some food or drink up. As I had only had breakfast and a cola during the day. I am on the phone when I start listing trains off… and … and there is one leaving imminently . I start heading down to the platform… I feel it is a good time to mention that I don’t even run my tights. I made it, just… and collapse in a seat near the toilets. In a world of my own but a little people watching, I settle into the relatively short journey home, letting Pete know that I have made it onto a train, albeit an hour late. Now the toilets on the train are quirky with a rounded sliding door. A couple are sitting opposite. As the journey leaves MK, a girl uses the toilet, she sits next to me, and she is closely followed by a guy. On exit he announces ‘And tonight Matthew….’ which just shows how ingrained some things are in a national psyche. This ended up turning into a rambling conversation involving his friend who had then used the facilities, leaving Trip Advisor reviews for the toilet and how no-one is ‘from’ Northampton and having abandoned one of their friends in MK. Which I have to be honest, is standard on this journey. Every time I make the trip, random conversations erupt around me.

I am going to end it here for now, it really got away from me, but I wanted to get it all down while it was relatively fresh in my brain. As always the time between writing and publishing is … yep!

The Parallel Doctor

Are we all clutching our pearls…… got the smelling salts at the ready? And emails open to be directed at various institutions including the venerable B.B.C?

The new incarnation of the Doctor has been announced and …. SHOCK. ABJECT HORROR. It appears that they have chosen to pick a woman? What on earth are they thinking with this monstrosity? 

The memes (littered through this article for your amusement) have been interesting, tongue in cheek, downright silly. There has been a massive backlash against men about this casting. In the same way we saw a massive backlash against men when the new Ghostbusters movie was announced, leaked, promoted, and eventually, released. Looking back on it, this might have been why Wonder Woman was released with a whimper and not a fanfare.

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I am questioning a lot of the complaints levied at the new Doctor. Personally, not heard of the actor and honestly in a role like this – that is a good thing. Hands off Americans with your wanting well known actors to carry everything. It isn’t always about how well known an actor is. 

Now, before we go on, I best just say this. I have not really watched the ‘new’ Dr Who. And by that I mean anything really after McCoy. And boy, do I remember the geek baying for blood at the idea that there would be a further regeneration… there is a CANNON PEOPLE! A CANNON! Artistic license is not allowed! You see, we have had an entire fandom rise up in disgust… the very same fandom, over changes to something they love. 

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But what I found interesting, from my own news feed is that … well thankfully no one was bitching about the new Doctor. But they were railing against detractors. And that it was mentioned a few times, how disgusting it is that women were complaining about the new Doctor is female. I mean we are all a sorority, a sisterhood, we should be raising each up… right? 

But if I am able to just look at the Ghostbusters analogy that I cobbled together rather briefly, yes, it comes down to gender. But in so much as the detractors, of the detractors are focusing on this rather than the actual issue. The issue is rarely clear cut. With Ghostbusters, there were legitimate concerns over casting, about the story, the direction, Ghostbusters to many of us is a movie that we grew up with, and still love to this day. So it is hard to see it potentially butchered. I have to say potentially, I haven’t watched it. I don’t plan to. None of the trailers appealed to me. But it was and to a degree, is okay for me to say, because I am female. But a guy saying the same will be accused of hating women, being anti feminist, I won’t go on.

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Now, the same can be said about the new Doctor, in so much that the arguments against her being picked are not, in fact, anything to do with her gender. There were 2 very strong candidates. One was a leak from a BBC source, Kris Marshall was a hotly tipped contender with some even suggesting that he has won the role. For some reason, I am not sure where this came from, Tilda Swinton. I really don’t care for the first (My Family should have quit while it was ahead and ditto the BT adverts… see, a pattern!) and the second, I just couldn’t see being a good fit. But, what I am trying to say, in a particularly round about way,  is that it isn’t personal, it isn’t about gender, it is upset over a favourite not winning the race. These are fans that have been debating this for quit some time, debated, weighed, considered many options and but all their hope behind a particular actor. That all comes crashing down with the announcement of someone who wasn’t even on the radar for most (if not all) interested parties. 

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So, I am going to express an unpopular opinion. THIS IS NOT A FEMINIST ISSUE you are beating the wrong horse with this one. We don’t have to agree someone or something is a good thing based on gender. We are allowed to reserve judgement on how suitable someone is until they actually show us their chops, acting or otherwise. We, feminist, non feminist, person with no real agenda, is allowed to say… y’know … not really thrilled by this announcement… and not be beaten down for disrespecting the new Doctor based on her gender. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BRAS IN THE TARDIS! 

Now, just to switch up the conversation a little, I am actually excited for the Christmas special! Like I said earlier, I haven’t really been watching the recent incarnations of Dr Who, I have seen enough but certainly not a fan. I am also blissfully ignorant of this actress. But I am curious to see how the writers play this, especially considering we saw the release of Wonder Woman this summer. And what I loved about Wonder Woman is her heart. She cared, about people, all people, humanity, she loved, and felt. It gave depth to a movie that easily could have just been a bunch of people fighting each other for supermacy. But is this what the writers are planning for the Doctor? The Doctor is an alien, who does not have the same agency as a normal human. We have foils in the guise of the Doctors companions to give human agency and emotion. 

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I am not trying to suggest that the detractors who genuinely have concerns based on the gender of the new Doctor. I am actually really, honestly, looking forward to this new Doctor. Because I really want to see what she brings to the role, what the writers do. I am not alone, and I am going to suggest that the Doctor Who franchise has won over as many disenfranchised fans as it may have lost. 

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I wonder why the feminist gaze

This is probably not the blog you are looking for. Or maybe it is.

I have just come back from seeing Wonder Woman – and this is going to be my review.

Now, what feels like years ago.. well it probably was years ago, I remember Gal Gadot being announced to play Wonder Woman. I questioned the choice. After all, she is a Amazonian Princess and a demi god to boot. I wanted a physically strong, imposing role model to look up to. I didn’t want some skinny broad who would blow over in a strong breeze. But when I saw her on screen in Batman vs Superman, it was clear that we have the perfect actress to play Wonder Woman. There was something, a presence, charisma, she made the character come to life, she made it her own.

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So let us say, I have been anticipating this movie, more so than any movie in a long while. And would you believe, I almost missed the release? It was put out by Warner Bros with an almost embarrassed, apologetic sniffle. Why ? What marketing ploy is this? To see if a woman could sell herself? To prove that a good movie needs no introduction? But it has done well, although strangely there have been a lack of reviews or spoilers cluttering up my newsfeed. Which instead of looking at with suspicion, I will count as a good thing as it has taken 4 weeks for me to watch it!

Now I know some of you will be waiting to watch it, or just prefer watching at home. So this will not contain any spoilers, but more an overview of the movie. One thing that has been bought up time and again…. Wonder Woman being the ‘first strong female lead’ although the quote was erroneously placed at someone’s feet (does it matter now) the problem is that the idea gathered traction pretty quickly. Lots of people championing this new direction for movies. First we had Brave, Frozen and since animation went so well… we ‘finally’ have Wonder Woman.

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But do we? I mean let us look at these 3 movies very quickly. Brave was a film about a frankly bratty girl, who gets her mother into a difficult position because, she is a brat. And it featured a heavy male supporting cast including her little brothers who also offered comic relief. I can’t really say I cared for her and I can’t see that this was any different from a standard Disney movie. Frozen, we have the bratty teenager who doesn’t get her own way and runs away from home. Gets her little sister into trouble, help on hand from 3 males in the form of a human, a snowman, a moose, and trolls.. I mean.. where do we start with this. Elsa is not a strong role model. She is a teenager. And Wonder Woman. Well, what can I say, the girl wasn’t doing it by herself. At no point in her life was she left to her own devices or given her own agency. She is supported by men, who have their own agenda. But allow her to show her humanity. 

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Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie, and her humanity, her empathy and sympathy for the human condition gave the film much needed depth that films like Batman struggle with. Dark Knight was a study in how we should feel sympathy for someone but because of the male gaze, it felt frustrating and frankly wasted good story time. And this is also why I struggle with the idea that Wonder Woman is a feminist film, or frankly that it has a feminist gaze. Yes, it is important to see more female role models for girls, to see strong empowered women. To show Hollywood that yes, if you film it, we will indeed come. In droves. We love this shit. However, the film was not feminist. Don’t cheapen the idea of feminism but suggesting that giving a woman a sword and letting her fight her own battles it is feminist. The same old story, I mean it was almost as formulaic as a Disney movie. We have a lead, a love interest, the foil and then we have the supporting cast who help move the story along. 

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Lynda Carter Directed by Vincent McEveety

However, I don’t want to put anyone off watching this movie, it flowed well, the acting was fantastic. There were plenty of laughs which felt natural and not planted (looking at you Marvel!) and there was chemistry amongst the various characters. The story was not forced, it didn’t feel shoehorned and there were some really heartbreaking moments. The fight scenes were fantastic and honestly, this is a movie that will have wide appeal without really trying too hard to appeal to everyone and ending up not appealing to anyone. 

But I would just like you all to remember, some of us grew up watching Sigourney Weaver,Carrie Fisher and Linda Hamilton kicking ass. Not inspite of being female, not because they are female. They were just strong characters. And going forward, Gillian Anderson, Sarah Michelle Geller. I could go on. But the point is, that many of us have unknowingly had strong female role models whether we analysed it or not. Nor is it a bad thing to be inspired by a male rolemodel. I agree having strong female leads and roles are important. But we need to have them just because, not to make a political point. Because frankly, making it political muddies the water unnecessarily. 

I really hope that you enjoy Wonder Woman for what it is, a fun comic inspired movie that gives a welcome break to Marvel. I really enjoyed the colour pallet, where Marvel tends to go with very bright, clear colour pallets in their movies, there is a clear definition between good and evil. DC continue to do colour studies using muted hues, in this case, a wash of blue. It worked well, there was still enough brightness but it help cast the mood over the entire movie. I mean there was a war going on, people died. This wasn’t a touchy feely, nice movie to feel good about. The killing started almost at the outset. But it handled this well. There was enough character development that you didn’t feel anyone was just there to fill up some dialogue. This for me, is what DC has always been good at. Looking at the reality, that things are not always going to be bright and beautiful. That life can be hard, gritty, things are not always easy and it is how we handle what is thrown at us that teaches us something about ourselves. Life is hard kids, it is dirty, and you will get bruised, but your true character will show through 😉 There have I rescued you all from the feminist rant?

One final thought. Can we edit the last 10 mins from a movie. Please. Just stop. When you feel the sappiness… just cut it right there. 

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Thanks for reading 🙂

Fighting Fit part 2

Well, as you may recall in the first in this series of blog posts, I was unwillingly dragged to a combat training taster session by my co host and partner in crime. If you want a refresher on what happened and my initial thoughts you can read the first blog post here : Fighting Fit.

I have since been back for what should have been 5 sessions, although on my fourth session I had to take a step back as I was knocked sideways with a bad cold. But I did feel it was important to still go – rather than stay cooped up indoors. And it meant I got to snag some great photos and video.

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Now, I am feeling reflective over what I have learnt over the last few weeks – you see no week is ever the same. The second session took place in the wooded area and was more conditioning and muscle memory, working with different instructors and basically drilling what we had learnt in the first session. It was good to do it in another environment as it stops you being able to get used to a terrain. Because frankly this is about defending yourself, so you won’t be picking your environment. Prior to this was going over the basics of the psychology and getting to know the people we were training with and their motivation for training. Because at the end of the day, what we are doing required a degree of trust. We need to know the people we are working with and against to be able to do it. We need to have some empathy and understanding of their journey and background. What led them to this place. Okay, so that might sound a little … ‘touchy feely’ for a combat environment but honestly, it works. And you do need it, you need to be able to trust the person throwing punches at you, to trust the person dropping you to the floor. It also gives you a little extra confidence – you need that to get out of the chair and walk into the field or woods.

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Now the third session, that session killed me. I guess the honeymoon period was well and truly over by this point. Kid gloves off and we were thrown into a beasting session which involved a 10 min warm up. Which damned near killed me. I don’t consider myself unfit. But there are different types and levels. And I just was not keeping up. Which made me kick myself. The session was more drilling and concentrating on the basics – but if you think for a moment that when I say drilling it was the same as the previous session, or the first? Not at all. For example I have had different instructors each time, and even rotated instructors while in training. And the same lesson can be taught in different ways. At no point are you allowed to get comfortable. Because, just in case between paragraphs you have forgotten, this is combat training. We are training so that we are able to defend, protect and remove ourselves from violent situations.

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I will also admit something here, I went out on the previous evening, and may have stayed out a lot longer than intended, and drank more than intended. So I did think that I was struggling because of this, and was also very glad I didn’t throw up. However, it was very, cold, windy a little wet and I wore just a t shirt after the warm up did a very good job. I spent the following week sick as a dog which led to last weeks having to sit out the session as I could barely breathe, or stand. So my advice, do not drink the night before, and wear a base layer to protect from the elements.

Like I said, last week, I missed out on training but I was able to see as a spectator what you are put through, and actually something that surprised me, most encounters from engaging to floor are about 30 seconds. There are longer encounters. And I am certain that as we progress we will be challenged more. But that most encounters will be over or rather, can be over so quickly is something to bare in mind. It is also surreal because I know that when you are drilling aspects, it feels like minutes because you are trying to remember what to do, what position to get into, how to safely get to the floor and what to do when you are on the floor – how to have the upper hand, how to do it all without expending too much energy and avoiding damage.

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Now, onto yesterdays training session. Well… it was actually grading for one of the instructors – in that it was the end of her instructor training so was being graded to see if she was at a level to become a full instructor. It was brutal. The day was brutal. I only experienced a small portion of what she went through but I was done. I was finished. My comfortzone was in a different time zone. I was spent, I was finished, I was left holding onto the fence at one point because I wasn’t sure  that I trusted my own body to hold me up.

Every part of me was soaked through, I spent more time on the floor than I every expected to – I wrested, bucked, pulled and pushed people of varying sizes around, dropped them, was straddled, gift wrapped them. I found that my body was not physically able to keep working at the pace required of me. Again, I don’t consider myself unfit, I know I am far from where I should be, and know I rely on a quick recovery time to get me through. But yesterday showed me that I need to up my game. I need to be much more physically fit. At no point was I told that I am unfit, not up to the challenge, that I should train more, or harder or that I was letting anyone down.

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I want to make that perfectly clear – the distress and upset is all me, I am letting down myself, and also the instructors who give up time and put a lot of energy and effort in to the sessions. You do need to be relatively fit to do these sessions, this is just common sense, these are not 45 mins in a sports hall. These are a couple of hours outside, running, punching, throwing down. It is very intense – and I wanted to go back to what I was saying about trust. You will get screamed at, you will get shouted at. It isn’t pleasant, you won’t like it, you might cry (hands up, I did) but this is why it is so important to have trust in your instructors. You need to understand why they are doing it, and where it is coming from. That they are not picking on you, they don’t dislike you, they aren’t judging you. They just need to make the situation as real as possible, to make you understand what it might be like, that being cute, or giggling won’t help you.

I am just getting ready to go to the gym, I have bruises all over my legs, my thighs are agony. But I am glad I went, I am glad I am going, I am happy and proud to say that I am training to become an instructor and cannot wait to see where that journey will take me. I am going to make sure that I increase my cardio (clearly walking everywhere isn’t cutting it!).

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But I cannot express how supportive the instructors, and everyone else at the Combat Academy are – as much as the military aspect of the training is hard, and so against my own personality, it is necessary. But at the end of the day training is a small part of it, the psychology and theory is as important and helps you put everything in place. And the general support you get, your confidence grows with every hour you spend there. Every instructor having varying techniques. It is not standardised and this means that you are getting a much more rounded session each time. You are learning why people think a certain way, what leads them to a certain answer, it helps you make your own educated decisions and gives a broader understanding outside your own life experience. Every instructor is a different body type, height, training level  you name it – it means that you really don’t know what to expect and this again adds to the realism. And frankly I think the fact that everyone is so open, and caring makes the training much easier.

I will keep you updated on my journey – if you want to check out the academy here is their website : Click Here

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Moths and Glitter

So a couple of weeks ago on the show, I had the beautiful MothQueen Makeup speak to us – give a little background, and generally shed a little light into her life. This was not, I will be the first to admit, entirely altruistic. I am a massive fan of her work and have followed her on various platforms for some time. I was so happy when she agreed to start a You Tube channel – her tutorial on how to do the perfect smokey eye, for me just sealed the deal.

If you would like to hear what a MothQueen sounds like, and to get a little background on her – have a listen Lifestyle:MK Halloween special ft Mothqueen Makeup

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MothQueen Makeup is entirely relatable in a way that many artists on You Tube aren’t – she is polished, poised, her editing is fantastic. But she still manages to explain things, she is approachable and it is like listening to a friend walk you through makeup application. And of course, she uses products that are easy for most of to get our hands on.

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Now most of that shouldn’t be news to you – I have blogged about MQM before now – but I have got some updates for you – since we last spoken MQM has not only competed in the NYX UK Face Awards (and did amazingly well!) but she also represented ManicPanic UK at the recent Salon International convention in London. So she is getting her face out there – her skills are being recognised.

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But another… name that you will be familiar with if you follow this blog, and or any of my other social media outlets…. Oh My Glitter. Now the lady behind this company is working for and by herself currently and it is always exciting to see what she comes up with – I did a review on her products a couple of months a go and honest she has blow me away in the 3 months since that review!

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By I digress, and there is a reason that I am writing about these lovely ladies in the same blog – they make an amazing team! MQM did a fantastic bunch of videos for Halloween, and I based my halloween makeup on her Unicorn – although modified as I was going to be playing with a headset the entire time! And she extensively used OMG products to achieve her look. In fact if you take a look at her recent videos – including a stunning and rather gothic mermaid – OMG is all over her face!

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This isn’t a collaboration in the traditional sense, and like any of the times that I review or promote products, it is based on the product and not some sort of endorsement deal. The products are so good that they can easily be used for day wear, night wear and special effects. There aren’t many products that translate so well. Of course, I do love using drugstore products for SFX makeup. But they miss that… something… GLITTER. Of course there are other brands with glitter, pressed, loose, gel. But there are few options for an eyeshadow that is frankly just so versatile and so hardwearing. And that is why it works so well for MQM. It is a match made in heaven and I am so happy! (because it makes recreating or using her looks as inspo so much easier when I can use the same product!).

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So in a bid to help make this easier for you – here are some links so you can see what is making me all fangirly and giggly!

Moth Queen Makeup You Tube

MothQueen Makeup FB page

Oh My Glitter FB Page

Oh My Glitter website

Read, Read, DEAD

Couple of weeks ago I have the pleasure of having, internationally renowned author – Mr T W Brown talk to the radio show. It was a bit of a big deal for me as I love his work. I first came accross TW Brown’s work as part of an anthology. I am a voracious reader, and after all the Publishers Clearing shops closed locally, I was  really finding it a very expensive hobby to keep up with. But I received a Kindle as a gift – there were initial reservations over owning one. I like, I love books. I love the gorgeous books with illustrations and pretty finishes. I love notes inside the cover. I adore picking up a book and having all the memories attached flood back.

Not a picture of me but pretty close :

books2

A kindle is like a tabloid paper, disposable, quick, easy, requiring minimal effort, and I honestly was concerned that authors would be missing out on earnings. So what I am about to say is probably shocking. There are a great deal of anthologies available on the Kindle for either nothing, or around 99pence. The idea of these anthologies, I gather, is that you discover an author and the first in a series of books that he has written. Once you do this, your end of the bargain (for say getting 10 books for 10 pence each) is that you follow up this relationship and buy the rest of the books in the series at full price.

Which seems like a fair exchange when you think about it – and it worked out well for me in this case. I won’t lie, there are a lot of books you will wish you never had the misfortune of reading. But there are going to be gems. 

books

TW Brown has a few different series, all in the ‘horror’ genre for want of a better word. The first series that I read was the ‘Zomblog’ chronicles which are exactly what they sound like – they are a series of books written in a diary style depicting the end of the world as we know it. Once I came to the end of the series, I desperately started looking around for something to fill the void. What what do I find? Well the lovely TW Brown has obliged his legion of fans with another zombie filled, post apocalyptic work in which to dive into. The DEAD series is again, captivating. You get sucked in, and every chapter focuses on another individual (and by extension group) and how they are managing to survive and yes, if you are thinking George RR Martin, you are correct. Once I (thought) I had got to the end of that series – I am exhausted just recounting this – he has a further series which is a somewhat different change of pace. This series – That Ghoul Ava which is more, Tom Holt in its consideration. It is a perfectly normal and relatable world – it just also includes the Supernatural fraternity. It is very enjoyable, seeing creatures that you have always suspected exist coming to life. 

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Now as you may recall, I recently did  review on Simon Bestwick and one of his zombie lit books in  A fresh Undead. I wanted to clear something up before I go any further. Simon is a clear voice amongst the dredge in the zombie lit genre. As is TW Brown. They have very different writing styles and it works well. There really is no comparison between the authors. Simon for example, if one of the few British authors that I enjoy. I am not sure what it is about British authors, writing about a place that I know. Maybe that is the problem, I know it too well and I don’t know what I see, or maybe it isn’t what I expected. When I read a book based in a foreign country (planet etc) then it adds a layer of escapism? I don’t know what it is, and really.. does it matter ? Go pick up a book and find out how you find it! 

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Now, TW Brown chatted to us about his work for our halloween show, if you want to see me fangirling over it there is a video on the show FB page (link at bottom), and we got to know  him a little better and his process. Simon chatted to us about reviews and how important they are. I am currently reading DEAD:Onset so I will do a review on this book in the hope that you have picked up one of his books before I finish.

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What I hope you take away from this blog is that – authors are people as well, they can be awesome people. In fact they often are. But like us all, they have an ego and need to be reassured that they are doing a good job. So for that reason, once you have read on of their books (both TW Brown and S Bestwick have a great back catalogue), I know they would appreciate you leaving a review so that others are able to see how much you enjoyed the books but that the authors themselves are able to gauge how good a job they are doing entertaining us. 

I do have something special for those of you that prefer to listen to audio books – if you would like some more information please do not hesitate to drop me a message 🙂 

Here are some important likes for you all :

LifeStyle:MK Halloween special ft TW Brown

LifeStyle:MK Reviewing the Situation ft Simon Bestwick

TW Brown Amazon profile

Simon Bestwick’s Amazon profile

LifeStyle:MK facebook page

Read, read, Undead

Couple of weeks ago I have the pleasure of having, internationally renowned author – Mr T W Brown talk to the radio show. It was a bit of a big deal for me as I love his work. I first came accross TW Brown’s work as part of an anthology. I am a voracious reader, and after all the Publishers Clearing shops closed locally, I was  really finding it a very expensive hobby to keep up with. But I received a Kindle as a gift – there were initial reservations over owning one. I like, I love books. I love the gorgeous books with illustrations and pretty finishes. I love notes inside the cover. I adore picking up a book and having all the memories attached flood back.

Not a picture of me but pretty close :

books2

A kindle is like a tabloid paper, disposable, quick, easy, requiring minimal effort, and I honestly was concerned that authors would be missing out on earnings. So what I am about to say is probably shocking. There are a great deal of anthologies available on the Kindle for either nothing, or around 99pence. The idea of these anthologies, I gather, is that you discover an author and the first in a series of books that he has written. Once you do this, your end of the bargain (for say getting 10 books for 10 pence each) is that you follow up this relationship and buy the rest of the books in the series at full price.

Which seems like a fair exchange when you think about it – and it worked out well for me in this case. I won’t lie, there are a lot of books you will wish you never had the misfortune of reading. But there are going to be gems. 

books

TW Brown has a few different series, all in the ‘horror’ genre for want of a better word. The first series that I read was the ‘Zomblog’ chronicles which are exactly what they sound like – they are a series of books written in a diary style depicting the end of the world as we know it. Once I came to the end of the series, I desperately started looking around for something to fill the void. What what do I find? Well the lovely TW Brown has obliged his legion of fans with another zombie filled, post apocalyptic work in which to dive into. The DEAD series is again, captivating. You get sucked in, and every chapter focuses on another individual (and by extension group) and how they are managing to survive and yes, if you are thinking George RR Martin, you are correct. Once I (thought) I had got to the end of that series – I am exhausted just recounting this – he has a further series which is a somewhat different change of pace. This series – That Ghoul Ava which is more, Tom Holt in its consideration. It is a perfectly normal and relatable world – it just also includes the Supernatural fraternity. It is very enjoyable, seeing creatures that you have always suspected exist coming to life. 

aomblog1

Now as you may recall, I recently did  review on Simon Bestwick and one of his zombie lit books in  A fresh Undead. I wanted to clear something up before I go any further. Simon is a clear voice amongst the dredge in the zombie lit genre. As is TW Brown. They have very different writing styles and it works well. There really is no comparison between the authors. Simon for example, if one of the few British authors that I enjoy. I am not sure what it is about British authors, writing about a place that I know. Maybe that is the problem, I know it too well and I don’t know what I see, or maybe it isn’t what I expected. When I read a book based in a foreign country (planet etc) then it adds a layer of escapism? I don’t know what it is, and really.. does it matter ? Go pick up a book and find out how you find it! 

zomblog4

Now, TW Brown chatted to us about his work for our halloween show, if you want to see me fangirling over it there is a video on the show FB page (link at bottom), and we got to know  him a little better and his process. Simon chatted to us about reviews and how important they are. I am currently reading DEAD:Onset so I will do a review on this book in the hope that you have picked up one of his books before I finish.

zomblog5

What I hope you take away from this blog is that – authors are people as well, they can be awesome people. In fact they often are. But like us all, they have an ego and need to be reassured that they are doing a good job. So for that reason, once you have read on of their books (both TW Brown and S Bestwick have a great back catalogue), I know they would appreciate you leaving a review so that others are able to see how much you enjoyed the books but that the authors themselves are able to gauge how good a job they are doing entertaining us. 

I do have something special for those of you that prefer to listen to audio books – if you would like some more information please do not hesitate to drop me a message 🙂 

Here are some important likes for you all :

LifeStyle:MK Halloween special ft TW Brown

LifeStyle:MK Reviewing the Situation ft Simon Bestwick

TW Brown Amazon profile

Simon Bestwick’s Amazon profile

LifeStyle:MK facebook page

Nasty Gym Expectation

As some of you may be aware, I have a little bit of a legging obsession. Primarily WIld Bangarang leggings. And as I am trying to be more healthy, get fitter and generally spend more time in the gym, it was important to me to have work out wear that makes me feel good. Now that isn’t to say that I treat the gym list a fashion parade or that I feel that I am being judged, or care what other people think of me when I am working out. I may be vain, I may be shallow…. where was I going with this? 

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When I first started working out, I was wearing my full length leggings from Wild Bangarang but I quickly found that I was over heating very quickly – which is impressive as I really only do cardio to warm up and cool down. I concentrate on weights – and as much as I love getting a good sweat on, in this weather, when your legs just feel sticky? No thanks! Luckily, I am a member of my local DW Sports gym, which gives me a discount in their stores, so I shot upstairs and picked up 3 pairs of capri in pretty short succession and felt an immediate difference in my workouts. Including the need for shaved legs. Whoops. Yeah not so good! But like I have said previously and in this blog, Wild Bangarang are a firm favourite for me, comfort and design wise. So I was super pleased when I heard that they would be rebooting their fitness line, and every more impressed with the designs being added to the line. 

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So, yes, I had to go give them a go – I picked a ‘Gymnasty’ design that is a new, in house range that comes in 3 different designs currently. I also went for the ‘fit top’ to see how it stood up size wise, I haven’t managed to find one on the high street that fits. They all look so tiny! I wear a sports bra (for obvious reasons) and tend to customise my tops and i like to wear crop/sports tops over my sports bra, both as added support but also to break up the monotony/obvious bra-ness. 

The design is really bright, the photos do not do it justice, I love the graffiti effect, and that there is no real, repeating pattern on the legs or top. The capri are really comfortable. They went on easy, and have a drawstring waist which gives you additional security if needed. I was so pumped putting them on. They look fabulous! I initially picked up the top and worried that it wouldn’t fit over my double F’s but it did. A lot more comfortably when I got to the gym and popped it over my sports bra.

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I am writing this, after having worn it just the once, and doing a weight training session rather than cardio. So I can’t really tell you how they hold up when running, or sweating a lot, or much in the way of floor exercises. But I did a lot of moving around, bending, twisting, floor work – they didn’t budge. Unlike some of my other capri’s that I have felt the need to adjust or that sit really low on the hips? They sit quite high and you can easily flip over the waistband for comfort or preference. The material is easily comparable to others on the market, although I do find the material a lot smoother than some of my others. And this isn’t a complaint, I didn’t feel unsafe or slippy while wearing them. 

The sports top is another beast entirely, I was pleasantly surprised by the double layering on it. There has certainly been some thought in the comfort and design of this top. It isn’t your standard ‘sports top’ that is really a bralett in a lycra material. They are double layered and although not a perfect fit for a larger cup size (lets be honest, unless you go to a specialist shop, you are going to have to roll with it!) it really is comfortable and gives a much needed pop of colour to a gym kit. I would recommend buying separately and checking your back size when buying the top as it may not be the same size as the capri! 

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I am overall, really impressed with Wild Bangarang’s fitness offerings, and am going to have to have a look at the other designs, one thing that led me to the Gymnasty range in particular, is the fact that you can easily mix and match all 3 colour ways. Which I intend to do. 

Now, I did share a picture of my, wearing the capri and top combination on I.G – although I haven’t had the guts to wear it to the gym without a vest covering my modesty. I doubt it will be long though, because honestly, I feel so good wearing this combination I will want to flaunt it. I would encourage every one of you to go out and grab a pair, you will see why I am so happy I took the plunge, it does wonders for your self confidence! 

Now before I share that photo, a couple of links for you! 

CLICK HERE for the Wild Bangarang Fitness Range

CLICK HERE for the Wild Bangarang Fitness FB Page

And if you want to follow my fitness journey, as well as other weird and random posts, I am on IG as Anythingbutthegirl 

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The BiG oppression

I couldn’t want for TBBT to start. I have more recently given in to box sets, but before that, I too watched shows on a weekly basis. Once show that I really enjoyed was TBBT. I identified with Sheldon, worrying finding he quoted me. I found it a fun show, and as the series continued and new characters added – I found this did not diminish the show as one might worry that it could.

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But watching an episode this evening (actually happening right now, the SO still watches it religiously) and I noticed something that has been done time and again.. and i am not sure if the meaning or agenda behind it is missing the point or nailing it exactly. In the scene playing out in my peripheral vision, we have 2 cars, 2 occupants in each car. Male passenger, and female driver in each. Cut to another scene where we have a male character standing in a kitchen wearing an apron. Visual emasculation even if not directed.

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From previous episodes we know that Sheldon doesn’t drive, however, Leonard does drive so there is no reason for him not to drive. But it mirrors – so visually it is pleasing even if you aren’t really sure why, and it makes it easier to draw comparisons between the conversations going on in the car.

Back at the house, there are 2 male characters, and one female. But of course, yet again, we have the relationship of Howard and Raj questioned as well as Raj’s clear femininity. Does this make people uncomfortable? Or does it make the question usual gender roles?

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For me, yet again it is the idea of the ‘man child’ that is yet again bought up in the show, and conveniently, having female characters helps them overcome simple tasks that would have been met with confusion. Amongst the main (male) characters, we have Sheldon who doesn’t drive, Leonard does drive. Howard drives a moped, and although Raj apparently does drive, there is little or no screen time given to this fact. We have a scene in a previous episode where all the male characters are in the same car, and it breaks down. They understand the principal of the combustion engine but can’t fix their engine. So they are emasculated again. Isn’t this what would happen to a car full of girls?

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The boys in the show are so enveloped in their scholastic endeavours, they play computer games in their spare time, go to conventions, and collect comics. They to varying degrees have no social skills. Everything about them, their references, their hobbies, their job, speech patterns are all designed to make them stand out, to struggle to make themselves understood. And there are only so many series that could really be written about ‘and Englishman in New York’ so we find that Penny has more company, to help make sense of their journey’s, new directions and story lines can be written that gives the male characters more dimensions.

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And in this, strange alternate universe… the women are dominant. In subtle ways, we have Bernadette who is better qualified than her husband, Penny, who is charming, pretty, and fits into any social situation with no effort, and Amy who is on the surface a perfect match for Sheldon, mentally and in her employment. But somehow still manages ot have greater social skills.

The more I watch TBBT the more I feel that it is making fun of these men, that instead of us being able to passively able to enjoy a culture that we love in a main stream format, it is exactly what we love that is being used to get laughs. And instead of finding the female characters empowered, and raised in profile, they are just carrying out the same duties that their mothers before them stereotypical would have done, and are having to run around for these men, who are to all intents and purposes still children. I mean who reads comics as an adult, or plays computer games?

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Well the answer is a large portion of the population which is why the show has been so popular but I do genuinely suggest that the show at its very core is subversive in nature and I just don’t get any enjoyment from traditional gender roles being enforced but dressed up in a more modern way.

You want something different but positive? Watch iZombie, Kimmy Schmidt, Super Girl, Jessica Jones, hell go old school and watch Buffy.

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