Netflix, TV

We fell into Squid Game over the weekend…

In spite of the beautiful fall weather we had over the weekend, Bill and I ended up staying home on Saturday. I was sitting on the bed, flipping through Netflix, when I landed on Squid Game. I didn’t know much about it, although had seen a lot of press about it. I was initially kind of turned off by it, even not knowing anything about the story. I could see a lot of weird colors and settings in the photos and I had a feeling it was going to be bizarre.

The trailer…

But anyway, since we didn’t have anything else to do, I decided to press “play”. The show began, and Bill quickly joined me. It’s not that often that I land on something he really wants to watch. Bill is a typical guy, and he likes action and violence more than I do when he watches TV or a movie. We watched five episodes on Saturday and the remaining four last night. I thought I would have nightmares, like I did after I watched The Handmaid’s Tale. To my great surprise, no bad dreams haunted me last night or the night before, although I do remember that Saturday’s dreams were pretty busy and vivid.

At first, I wasn’t sure that I’d be interested in Squid Game, even as the series began. But then I was intrigued by the very American sounding voices that were dubbed into the original Korean. And then, the actual premise hooked me, even as I was absolutely horrified by the violence and dark themes.

There they were, all of these Koreans, basically tricked to going to a hellhole, where they are forced to play children’s games. They were there because almost all of them desperately needed money to pay off debts they otherwise could never repay. The payoff for success is a huge pot of money, dumped into an enormous piggy bank that is suspended over the players. Not succeeding means death– quick and sure, with a single shot to the head or chest. It’s brutal and shocking, and ultimately kind of sad. But then there are interesting quirks and twists, and a few comic elements. Plus, there’s a lot of symbolism and uses of color to make the show even more visually appealing and intriguing.

I don’t want to get too much into the plot about this series, because I know a lot of people are still watching it or haven’t seen it. I don’t want to spoil the ending. Do I think you should watch it? Well, that all depends…

In some ways, I think Squid Game is as dark and dystopian as The Handmaid’s Tale is. It’s certainly very violent as it makes a point about the relentless pursuit of wealth. I had some flashes of depression and shock as I watched the players suffer and the tensions build as each one was dispatched, with no thought at all for the people left behind and the witnesses. With each death, a cheery female voice announces that the player has been eliminated. It’s jarring, and surreal.

But on the other hand, as the story progresses, some depth and wisdom emerges. The main character, who was kind of a careless loser at the beginning of the series, develops some decency and turns into a man. It wasn’t unlike the character of Zack Mayo in An Officer and a Gentleman. He starts off as a callous jerk, who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. By the end of the film, he’s developed heart, courage, leadership, and decency. That part of the story appealed to my heart, even as it was broken watching all of the carnage.

Indeed, at the end of the series, we see that the game continues, with new players… not unlike officer’s training school continues in An Officer and a Gentleman, when Gunnery Sergeant Foley delivers his spiel to new recruits. The difference is, of course, most people either get through officer’s training just fine, or they decide to quit. Losers in Squid Game die. And it’s all for the mighty pursuit of money.

I had no idea how serious the debt problem in South Korea is. I suppose that’s another reason why so many Americans are drawn to this series. I think debt is a serious problem in the United States, too. It’s so easy to fall into it, and so hard to get out of it. I could see how some people would be attracted to play a game that would lead to their early deaths. Of course, there were a few times when I had to suspend disbelief. For instance, I wondered how the game could continue, when so many people played it and suddenly disappeared. Wouldn’t people wonder where hundreds of their friends and family members disappeared to with each new round?

Teasing is fun sometimes.

But I also know that people love a good fantasy… Squid Game is a good fantasy, I guess. Some of it is downright creepy and weird, and I marveled at how someone came up with this story, with its twists and turns and special effects. I also thought the actors were great. I found myself wanting to learn more about Korea. The series made it look like such a cool culture.

I was once offered a job teaching English in South Korea. I decided not to take it. There were a few reasons for that. I did kind of feel sad about turning down the job, since I thought it would be exciting and interesting. But I had student loans to pay, and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it on what the school would pay me. Also, I didn’t know if I would appreciate the lifestyle in South Korea, or the culture. Now that I’ve watched Squid Game, I think I’d like to know more.

Anyway… I definitely think Squid Game is an interesting series. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is disturbed by gratuitous violence. I’m glad I watched it. I’m not sure if I would want to watch another season of it… I wouldn’t be surprised if one materializes, though, since I think it’s going to make Netflix a lot of money. But the creator has already said that if he does make another season, he would use other writers and directors. I’ve seen what happens when new people come in and change a show’s vision. It’s not always good. On the other hand, Bill told me the director lost six teeth making the first season. Teeth are a terrible thing to waste.

Now that I’ve seen Squid Game, I may have to learn more about that part of the world… I’ve already read a lot about North Korea. Maybe it’s time I read more about the southern part of the Korean peninsula. I still don’t know if I want to visit, though. I definitely wouldn’t want to be playing Squid Game myself. It’s amazing what’s coming out on television these days. I grew up in an era when we were all happy with cookie cutter sit-coms.

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Netflix, true crime, TV

Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story…

This week, I binge watched Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story. This is the second season of the Netflix series, which I had never heard of until I noticed so many people hitting my reposted review of Nanette Elkins’ book about Kim Broderick. Netflix decided to turn Betty and Dan Broderick’s sordid story into an eight part series. Amanda Peet stars as the older version of Betty, while Christian Slater impressively portrays Dan Broderick.

A 1992 era Oprah Winfrey interview about Betty Broderick’s children.

I found the show pretty compelling, and weirdly comical at some points. The fact that Betty and Dan’s story has turned into entertainment should probably disturb me. I have to admit that Betty Broderick is a fascinating character, though. Lots of people have held her up as a heroine to divorced women who get “shafted” when their powerful husbands dump them for someone younger. In Dan Broderick’s case, it was Linda Kolkena, who had been Dan’s pretty secretary. In Dirty John, she’s played by Rachel Keller. Funnily enough, Rachel Keller wasn’t even born when this crime happened, back in 1989.

I’m not sure why this story out of so many was chosen to be highlighted on Dirty John, but people are obviously intrigued by it. Based on what I’ve read about the Brodericks, both Dan and Betty seemed to be self-absorbed and unkind to each other. Here was Dan Broderick, a brilliant doctor turned lawyer, who made lots of money after his first wife worked to put him through school. And Betty was a great housewife and mom who went nuts when Dan decided he loved someone else. And here was Linda, a so-called “homewrecker”, carrying on with an obviously married man.

On one hand, I can see why Betty Broderick went a bit crazy. She put everything into her marriage and her image… and it seemed like it was all suddenly taken from her. On the other hand, there is absolutely no justification for her decision to kill her ex husband and his second wife, even though it does seem like he abused his powers as an attorney. Or, at least that was how it was portrayed on the show. But let’s think about this. Betty Broderick did some legitimately crazy things. She harassed her ex husband and his wife. She drove her car into his house, ruined his clothes, and mashed Boston Cream Pie all over the bed.

America’s “messiest” divorce.

My husband was married to a woman who never went as far as Betty Broderick did, in terms of being destructive to objects. However, she did her very best to ruin his relationships with other people, and she told outrageous lies about him, and me– a woman she’s never even met in person. So, when Rachel Keller as Linda Kolkena says, “What I’ve seen, I don’t like.” as Betty’s friend tries to get her to give up Betty’s wedding china, I can definitely relate. Being a woman in that position is infuriating and nerve wracking. Granted, Linda had an affair with Dan, while I didn’t start dating Bill until a year after he was divorced, but I still can’t say I condone the way Betty behaved. It was crazy! Even her children thought so, which you can hear in Oprah’s interview above. And no matter what, she had no right to commit murder.

But… as I watched the Netflix series and saw the courtroom antics and the heavy fines Dan tried to levy on his ex wife, I can also see how frustrated and angry she became. It might have seemed like there wasn’t another choice. I know from personal experience that mental illness can really screw up your thinking. I don’t think Betty would have committed murder if she wasn’t legitimately sick. I don’t know what she’s like today, having been locked up for so many years. It’s also hard for me to tell if she was always a little bit disordered or this was something that came on suddenly, in the wake of Dan’s betrayal. The movies and books make it seem like it was kind of a sudden thing, but I have a hard time believing that this kind of behavior came out of nowhere. Only the people who know Betty well can say for sure, though.

Listening to Betty’s children on Oprah’s show reminds me of Bill’s conversations with his daughter. There was a time when she was the most estranged of the three kids Bill claimed as his– as Ex’s eldest son was actually her first husband’s child. But now, she is the only one who talks to Bill, and the more they speak openly and honestly, the clearer the picture becomes on how everyone is treated in Ex’s family. If you see what she puts online, it looks like she’s this very positive, affirming person. But if you know her more intimately, the truth emerges. I suspect that a similar dynamic was present in Betty’s family. Especially when I read and hear about some of the really over the top things she did, like leave her children at Dan’s house in a rage.

Trailer for Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story…

As everybody knows, people like to armchair quarterback things. Lots of people take sides of an issue in the media based on their own experiences. I’m probably more sympathetic to Dan and Linda because they turned out to be murder victims and I am married to a man who was extremely alienated from his children after a divorce. Of course, in Bill’s situation, the divorce was initiated by his ex wife. And it turned out she hadn’t actually wanted to divorce; it was just a ploy to gain more control and humiliate Bill. She never expected that he would agree to splitting up and decided to punish him (and a lot of other innocent people) for it.

In Betty’s case, it was Dan who decided to divorce, and after he’d had an affair. I know I would be hurt and angry if Bill ever did that to me. It’s very disrespectful, especially given that Betty’s help was a large part of why Dan eventually became so successful. I don’t think Dan Broderick was a saint at all. He definitely did a lot of “dickish” things. But he didn’t deserve to be murdered, and neither did his wife, who had never made any vows to Betty. I think the worst thing Linda did was not insist on waiting until Dan was divorced until she had a relationship with him. Of course, if she had done that, she might never have married him, since Betty was very much an obstructionist when it came to the break up. And when you’re in love, sometimes you don’t make the best decisions. I suspect that if Linda hadn’t been murdered, she would have wound up divorced from Dan, too. It’s been my observation that a lot of people who have affairs repeat them in subsequent marriages. Dan seemed to be very concerned about his image and appeared narcissistic to me. He probably would have wanted a younger woman as Linda aged.

Meredith Baxter on playing Betty Broderick.

Anyway… I feel a little bad having enjoyed Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story. Two people died for that story. Maybe we shouldn’t turn such tales into entertainment for the masses, complete with songs by Cyndi Lauper, Laura Branigan, and Howard Jones. I did really like the soundtrack and even downloaded a couple of Lauper’s albums. I think Amanda Peet did a good job playing Betty. She was more sympathetic than Meredith Baxter was thirty years ago, when she played Betty in the two made for TV movies about her. I also really enjoyed watching Christian Slater. It’s hard to believe he’s the same guy who played Binx in the 1985 film, The Legend of Billie Jean (a truly ridiculous but entertaining movie). But then, it’s also hard to believe that Bradley Whitford, who plays Commander Lawrence in The Handmaid’s Tale, also famously played Elisabeth Shue’s jerky boyfriend in the 1987 film, Adventures in Babysitting. It’s always nice to see actors evolve over the years!

I guess now that I’ve seen the second season of Dirty John, I’ll go ahead and watch the first. In just five days, I’ll be all set to emerge from the COVID-19 quarantine cocoon. I hope it doesn’t blow my mind.

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Netflix

My thoughts on season four of The Crown…

Once again, I’m fighting the urge to write about politics and COVID-19. I do have a lot on my mind about both topics, but I figure we’re all a little tired of reading about politics and plagues, especially since we’re all affected by them these days. Since I finally got around to watching The Crown on Netflix, I figure now is a good time to write about that, instead of yet another anti-Trump screed or observations about how shitty COVID-19 is on so many levels.

I have mentioned before that it takes me a long time to get into most television series. I used to be addicted to TV, but got out of the habit. Consequently, sometimes it will be years before I watch a very popular show. Sometimes I never get around to seeing them. For instance, I’ve never seen a single episode of Lost. But then, I’ll binge watch shows like Tiny Pretty Things. I did manage to see the end of that series yesterday. Now that I’ve seen the ending, I can state with no hesitation that, in my opinion, it’s not a very good show.

The Crown, on the other hand, is a very good show. Even though I fell asleep during the first episode, the rest of it kept me riveted for a couple of intense weeks. I finally finished season four a couple of days ago and am saddened that I’ll probably have to wait two years for season five. Filming for the next season is projected to start in June of 2021. I guess I’ll live. I’ve been patiently waiting for new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, too.

The official trailer for season 4…

Season four of The Crown covers the time period that I, and most other people of a certain age, remember the most. I was nine years old when Prince Charles married Princess Diana. I remember living in England during the Silver Jubilee in 1977, and we had memorabilia from that event in our house, to include a nifty marble lighter that had Queen Elizabeth II’s insignia on it. My parents were smokers in those days. But I don’t really remember that much about the Royal Family when we were in England. It wasn’t until the 1980s when I even knew who Prince Charles was. In fact, I think I remember Margaret Thatcher more from the 70s than the Royal Family.

As fascinating as the earlier seasons were, and as much as I preferred Claire Foy’s version of Queen Elizabeth than Olivia Colman’s (although I think Olivia Colman is a fine actress), I might have been more drawn into season four because I remember Charles and Diana so well. And it’s amazing to me that there are so many young adults out there who were born after Princess Diana died. She was definitely a big part of my childhood.

Emma Corrin plays young Diana, who was regarded as shy and sweet. At twenty years old on her wedding day, she was at the height of her beauty. And yet, Prince Charles just wasn’t into her. He loved the former Camilla Shand, who is now his second wife. Charles and Camilla met in 1971, when they were both young and randy. He had also had another girlfriend, the late Dale, Lady Tryon, whom he’d nicknamed “Kanga”. But Kanga has no role in The Crown, probably because she did not eventually become Charles’s wife, nor was she in the press as much as Camilla was. Lady Tryon is also dead, having suffered many health problems. She died of septicemia in November 1997.

Actors Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) and Emerald Fennell (Camilla Parker-Bowles) seem to have genuine chemistry as they play two real life lovers. I remember seeing Fennell in Call The Midwife, in which she played a 60s era nurse who is a lesbian. I was impressed by her in that role, but I think she also did a great job being Camilla.

A lot of people dislike Prince Charles. A lot more people dislike Camilla, although the vitriol against her seems to be less these days than it once was. People tend to blame women more, when they get involved a married man. Camilla obviously knew Prince Charles was married. I know nothing at all about this couple, other than what I’ve read and seen on television, but having lived through the Charles and Diana years, I can state that I notice that they’re not in the tabloids. By contrast, Charles and Diana were always in the news. It was very clear that they had nothing in common and did not love each other. But they stayed together for fifteen years… fifteen LONG years. When I think of that wasted time and how miserable it must have been for both of them, I feel nothing but empathy.

The other day, Bill and I were talking about The Crown. In one scene, they showed Charles being kind of mean to Diana. It was often reported in the press that he was mean to her. I remember back then, many people automatically took Diana’s side, perhaps because she was so charming and beautiful and young. But the truth is, Diana wasn’t blameless. She had affairs. She also suffered from mental illnesses. It was widely reported that she had bulimia and borderline personality disorder. Either one of those illnesses would make someone difficult to live with, even if they are much loved. Charles never loved Diana, so my guess is that the stress level must have been stratospheric.

That doesn’t excuse the terrible way he treated Diana, of course, nor does it excuse his cheating on her. But having read about Diana’s problems, realizing that she was much younger than Charles is, and had completely different interests, and knowing how I, myself, behave when I am forced to interact with someone I can’t stand, or someone who can’t stand me, I do have some empathy for Charles. It really is a shame that he wasn’t allowed to marry the woman he clearly loved. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. At least it appears that the Palace has learned from the Charles and Diana nightmare fairytale.

And while I can see why people don’t like Camilla, and why Diana especially didn’t like her, as the second wife of a man who married the wrong person first, I have some empathy for Camilla. Bill and I did not have an affair. He didn’t even take off his wedding ring before he divorced his ex wife. But their marriage was also one involving two people who were completely incompatible and mismatched. I imagine enduring it must have been like wearing high heeled shoes on the wrong feet. And they weren’t under a microscope the way Charles and Diana were. I don’t think Charles and Diana ever had a hope in hell of staying together. It was obvious they were miserable. As Charles’s second wife, Camilla has proven to be much more suitable and stable. Personally, I like Camilla and have empathy for her and their situation, even if I don’t condone the cheating.

She was in a tough situation. I wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t married Charles.

My mom and I were talking on Skype last night. I asked her if she’d been watching The Crown. She said she had, and didn’t enjoy the latest season, because she remembers watching it unfold in real life. I think the actors did a good job portraying their characters. Josh O’Connor is especially adept at making some of the pained facial expressions Charles made so often in those days. Emma Corrin doesn’t look that much like Diana, but she has a shy, pretty quality about her that makes it easy to suspend disbelief. And again, I genuinely enjoyed watching Josh O’Connor and Emerald Fennell portray Charles and Camilla. They really seem to have a genuine connection. O’Connor and Corrin, by contrast, were not as easy to watch. I got the sense that it was difficult for O’Connor to be genuinely nasty to Corrin.

I also enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s take on Princess Margaret, who seemed to have been quite the character. I now feel like learning more about her. She seems like she was a trip.

I suppose I ought to mention Margaret Thatcher, too, played by Gillian Anderson. I never saw Gillian Anderson in the X Files. I remember when she was very famous for her role as Dana Scully. I will say that listening to her speak like Margaret Thatcher, with that super hoarse sounding voice, made me cringe a bit. Like, it was painful to my ears to listen to that, although I understand Margaret Thatcher did have a distinctive speaking voice. I was impressed by how Gillian Anderson was able to channel her character in such a realistic way. She managed to bring Margaret Thatcher back to life, even if that voice made me cringe… not just because it was unpleasant to listen to, but also because I imagined that speaking that way was probably exhausting for her and perhaps even potentially dangerous to her natural voice.

And finally, I want to say that my favorite character in seasons 3 and 4 is Princess Anne, played by Erin Doherty. I loved her facial expressions and no nonsense delivery. As someone who loves horses myself, I loved seeing her in her breeches and riding boots, and I enjoyed the witty one liners. I have heard Princess Anne is actually kind of like that in real life, and she does so much resemble her mother. But I think Princess Anne, at least as played by Erin Doherty, should have her own show. I think she’s awesome. I might have to find Erin Doherty’s other works.

I love Princess Anne, as portrayed by Erin Doherty.

Well… that about does it for my take on season four of The Crown. I am officially hooked, and yes I realize it’s a dramatization, so the British culture secretary has nothing to fear about my getting “the wrong ideas”. I find the show visually stunning, which is such a treat during these lockdown days. I love the quirky stories they’ve found, all of which are based at least partially in truth, even if the interpretations are dramatized. And having watched the dreadful Tiny Pretty Things, I now feel like I need to find something higher quality to knock the images out of my head… Hell, I think even the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team might do it. And I happen to have a fresh episode to watch as I type this, so I think I’ll close and go give myself a mental enema.

Perhaps I’ll watch this documentary later.

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bad TV, Netflix

Tiny Pretty Things is cringeworthy viewing…

Once again, I’m going to avoid some of the serious topics bouncing around in my head today. The news is chock full of potentially explosive things to write about– everything from the fact that Mitch McConnell and Vladimir Putin finally recognized Joe Biden as our next president to a haunting story I read about a middle aged adoptee from Romania, born during Ceausescu’s reign of terror. And, of course, COVID-19 is a topic for every day, too… but I’m sick of writing about that, and much of what I would write is stuff I’ve already written.

Instead, I’m going to write about Netflix’s latest “YA” series, Tiny Pretty Things, which was made available for streaming on Monday. Now, I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for years. I started when I was in graduate school, at Bill’s prompting, when the service involved renting DVDs that were sent in the mail. I quit for a few years when we had cable TV, then enrolled again when we moved back to Germany. I quit again for awhile, when I couldn’t get around the VPN filters and all of the content in Germany was in German. Then, when 13 Reasons Why came out, I resumed my membership. I hated 13 Reasons Why, by the way. I thought it was vastly overhyped and never bothered to watch the second or subsequent seasons.

If a ballerina falls in the forest when no one is near, does she make a sound? Oh brother… (that’s not what she actually says, but it’s kind of close and just as stupid…)

However, even though I have Netflix, I don’t watch it as much as I should. I often go months without logging in to watch anything. I have yet to see a single episode of Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things. I have seen The Crown, but I just now watched all four seasons of it in a massive binge. I frequently get reminders from Netflix to log in and use my membership. This week, I was lured by an ad for Tiny Pretty Things, a drama supposedly aimed at teenagers about very dysfunctional teens studying at The Archer School of Ballet, a “prestigious” ballet school in Chicago.

The first episode made me groan. The writing was very cheesy and melodramatic, with lots of hackneyed expressions that were intended to be clever, but came across as dumb. The storyline was ridiculous. Talented dancer, Neveah Stroyer (played by Kylie Jefferson), from Englewood, California is plucked from obscurity to learn how to dance for the big leagues. Her mom is in prison for killing a man who “hit her baby”, Neveah’s older brother, who is now in a wheelchair.

Lauren Holly, who is 57 and looks like she’s had work done, or at least a few collagen injections, is a ballet madame called Monique Dubois who is running the school. She comes off as snooty, fake, and kind of cruel. The kids are multicultural and there’s a veritable rainbow of boys and girls (who are actually all in their 20s) of all shades and sexual orientations. Many of the “actors” are actually dancers in real life, and they are much better at dancing than delivering their lines. I think Kylie Jefferson is a pretty decent actress, and she’s also a legit dancer, but most of the rest of them are not very convincing in their roles. They don’t look like they are the teens they’re supposed to be, and they aren’t good actors.

What really gets me, though, besides the ridiculous storyline involving a dancer who was pushed off a fourth story building and survives, languishing on life support to be the narrator (a la Mary Alice Young in Desperate Housewives), are the huge number of sex scenes, copious nude scenes, drug references, and, yes, I’m just gonna say it– the language. Everything I’ve read about Tiny Pretty Things indicates that it’s intended for a YA audience. That means it’s for teens, and teens encompass an age group ranging from 13 to 18. In most cases, there’s a huge difference in the maturity level of a 13 year old and an 18 year old. And yet we’re supposed to be okay with kids watching a very dark and macabre series about a ballet company planning a dance about Jack the Ripper? Meanwhile, there’s also a cop with a French braid sniffing around, trying to figure out who pushed Cassie Shore, the ballerina narrator who is actually in a coma, from the roof.

I don’t have children, but when I was growing up, my parents let me watch almost anything I wanted to watch. Every once in awhile, my dad would attempt to stop me from watching something he found inappropriate, but most of the time, I watched anything and everything that interested me. Consequently, I saw a whole lot of stuff that I wouldn’t want a child of mine seeing. I don’t know how different the world is for kids today… I can only imagine that it’s very different now. Still, it does seem a bit much for 8th graders to be watching a nude gay sex scene and listening to talk of blow jobs. When I was 13, I didn’t even know what “getting laid” meant, let alone what a blow job is.

There are some rather gory dream sequences and, at this point, I’ve also seen a closeup of a pretty necrotic looking injured foot that I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing. Aside from that, one of the choreographers is very pervy and sleazy. Watching him makes me think of Larry Nassar.

I suppose it’s a good thing that the cast is so inclusive of people who aren’t white or straight. I do enjoy watching the dancing, too, much of which is beautifully done. But all watching this show has shown me so far is that you don’t have to be a rich white kid to be shown as really fucked up and on TV. It also makes me think that if I’d ever had children, I would not want them to be involved in ballet, even though my sister was involved in ballet when she was growing up and this adaptation probably doesn’t even venture close to representing the norm.

I didn’t think I would get past the first episode, it made me sigh so hard. But I did end up watching several more episodes, mainly because I had nothing better to do yesterday. I’ll probably finish this season, but if it gets renewed, I probably won’t bother with any subsequent ones. Besides the gratuitous sex scenes, the acting is pretty cringeworthy, and the storyline is both very cliched and rather implausible. I’d rather watch 80s era episodes of Fame, which included plenty of cheesy acting and dance numbers, but at least it was somewhat clean.

Tiny Pretty Things is based on a YA novel, which has just got to be better than the show is. It’s just got to. It appears that the authors, Sona Charaiprota and Dhonielle Clayton, have made it into a book series that got popular, hence Netflix’s decision to turn it into a series one can stream. It appears that, as usual, the books are better than the on screen interpretation. I might one day be persuaded to read one of the books, just to see how far the streaming series has sunk.

I have a lot of tolerance for bad TV, but this series is really pretty awful, and it makes me roll my eyes a lot. As an adult, the sex scenes don’t trouble me too much, but I don’t think they’re particularly appropriate for young teens. I might have had less of an issue with that, though, if the quality of the show was better and the sex scenes didn’t feel like they were added to flesh out a thin and ridiculous premise. And the acting and writing both suck enough that I wouldn’t recommend Tiny Pretty Things to almost anyone else, either, at least not if they’re looking for something that is legitimately high quality. On the other hand, if you want to watch something cringeworthy, Tiny Pretty Things might be just the ticket. I think I’d like to watch it with my friend Joann, who has a real knack for critiquing bad TV in a hilarious way.

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Netflix, politics

I just saw Filthy Rich, a Netflix documentary about Jeffrey Epstein…

We’re enjoying some much needed rain here in Germany this morning. I woke up early again. I think it was about 4:30am. I’d had some vivid dreams and then had to answer the call of nature. I checked the news and Facebook and soon found myself on a friend’s timeline. She is as anti-Trump as I am, but still maintains a lot of friendships with people in the county where we both grew up in the 1980s. One of her “friends”, an older man, defiantly posted “#Trump 2020” as a response to her.

I don’t usually comment on political or religious posts made by friends. It’s mainly because I end up getting into arguments with people I don’t know, and I don’t want to waste energy on that. However, after my friend left an impassioned comment regarding her concerns about Trump to her townie friend from Gloucester, I felt compelled to respond. This was what I posted:

Don’t forget rapist… Trump is a rapist, too… with ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

My friend’s friend responded with this comment:

I think if you knew what your talking about Bill Clinton had 26 documented flights with Jeffrey Epstein-look up your facts & stop watching CNN & you might sound a little smarter

Okay… first off, it really bugs me when people bring up Bill Clinton in a discussion about Donald Trump. Bill Clinton was the president from 1992-2000. He is NOT the president now. Neither is his wife. And, guess what… I didn’t vote for EITHER of them. And secondly, we can’t do anything about Clinton. We CAN do something about Trump.

But this guy happened to catch me before my coffee and morning constitutionals, so this was my response:

I was not a Clinton fan, either. I don’t like rapists, and Trump not only raped his first wife, but he also raped teenagers. Your whataboutism is pathetic, and believe me, anyone who still supports Donald Trump is an idiot of EPIC proportions.

So he wrote this:

I have no idea were your getting your facts from-probably CNN very honest network 🤦‍♀️ but I appreciate y’all’s input but I have to go to sleep so I can work tomm-millions on welfare depending on me

Hmm… I don’t sound smart? I’ve copied his responses word for word. I wasn’t going to respond again, because trying to communicate with these folks is a losing proposition. But who knows? Maybe someone reading that thread will learn something new. So I decided to leave a parting shot. It’s one I’ve written about in my blog more than a few times, but here it is for anyone wondering…

I read books written by people who do credible research and I avoid Fox News. It’s a fact that Trump raped his first wife. It was part of their divorce proceedings. She even called it rape at the time, but then later recanted, probably because Trump paid her. The way it was described certainly fit the definition of rape. He was angry with her because she had recommended a surgeon for his hair transplant surgery. He was in pain, so he took it out on her sexually. You can easily find the account if you search for it.  

As for Trump’s penchant for teens… I find Katie Johnson’s account very credible, especially after what has come out about Jeffrey Epstein. You seem like the type of person who blames victims, though, so I won’t be surprised if this doesn’t move you or if you don’t even bother to listen to what she has to say.  

And finally, I was actually a Republican voter during the Clinton era. I didn’t vote for either of the Clintons. Last presidential election, I voted third party because I couldn’t stomach either choice. Since I voted in Texas by absentee ballot, I realized it didn’t matter. You should not assume that everyone who dislikes Trump is a Clinton fan. A lot of us aren’t, although I think both Bill and Hillary Clinton are miles better than Trump is. Besides, Bill Clinton has already been POTUS and there is nothing we can do about that now, so bringing him up in a discussion about Trump is pretty pointless. We can’t do anything about Clinton. We can do something about Trump.

I vote for people, not political parties, but even if Trump weren’t an admitted pussy grabber, I would not have voted for him. He’s been a well known scumbag for decades. And I can see by the way things are right now that my instincts about him are 100% correct.

And I left this video in the comment.

I’ve shared it a few times. I’m sharing it again.

Two days ago, I logged into Netflix for the first time in a few months. I was moved to watch Netflix on account of a public post made by Dr. Gene Fant, my tenth grade homeroom teacher, who is now the president of a Christian university in South Carolina. He wrote of the four part documentary Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich. I would like to share his post here, but it’s very long. I recommend reading it, since it’s public. Dr. Fant used to live and work in Palm Beach, Florida, where many of Jeffrey Epstein’s disgusting exploits with teenaged girls took place.

Jeffrey Epstein used his money and power to abuse hundreds of women and girls. He and his former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, ran a sort of teen girl pyramid scheme. Maxwell would recruit beautiful young women with promises of work and lucrative pay to come to Epstein’s homes and give him massages. Eventually, the young women, hopelessly ensnared in Epstein’s filthy rich world would wind up recruiting other young girls into his lair, where they would end up servicing his filthy rich friends… people like former president Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and yes, Donald Trump. Katie Johnson, in the above video, offers a very credible account of what happened to her at the hands of Trump and Epstein. I believed her when I first discovered the video, filmed in 2016, at some point last summer. I believe her even more now, as I listened to other women tell stories that were very similar but less explicit than Katie Johnson’s.

The documentary shows Epstein’s lavish homes in Palm Beach, Florida, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and New York City, as well as his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was stunned by the natural beauty of the island, known as “Little St. Jeff’s”. It was reportedly his favorite place because it is so remote and isolated. He brought powerful people there– mostly men– and trapped beautiful young women there who would inevitably wind up being raped. Some people would come just for dinner… but plenty of powerful men were there for orgies. And the women lured there, many times very young, in troubling personal circumstances, and financially strapped, were promised legitimate work. Instead, they were basically trafficked by people who literally bought and sold them.

If you can stomach it, watch it.

Filthy Rich is a disturbing documentary. Most of us can’t fathom the world Jeffrey Epstein lived in, surrounded by extremely wealthy, powerful, famous people whom he could force into silence because he had the goods on them. Epstein was convinced he’d never be caught or prosecuted because he pretty much “owned” people in power. He had video cameras everywhere, so if any of his rich and powerful friends ever had an attack of conscience, he could make sure they went down with him. And he probably figured that regular folks– prosecutors or police chiefs– would not have the courage to go after him, even when the women he victimized spoke out. Fortunately, he was wrong, although his victims will never get the satisfaction of seeing him prosecuted or getting compensated for what he did to them.

Seriously… if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

Donald Trump was a part of that world. So was Bill Clinton. Both have been presidents, tasked with leading the most powerful country in the world… although it appears that the United States is now about to sink into decline. Trump is now acting like an unhinged dictator wannabe.

I know a lot of people voted for Trump in 2016 because they saw him as the less evil choice. The Clintons had been in power before, and Hillary Clinton is definitely not a paragon of virtue. Many people did not want to vote for her because they figured they already knew her. I do think she would have been a much better president than Trump is… but I also think that almost anyone in government would do better than Trump has. I also think Bill Clinton was a much better president than Trump is, but he’s basically the same type of person. He lies, and uses and exploits people, especially women, to get what he wants. Of course, all politicians lie to some extent, but some are much worse than others.

He was there… in the thick of it all.

In 2016, Trump was untested as a leader, and he had charisma. He’d been on his own reality TV show. It was a popular show and Trump was supposedly entertaining. I never saw the show myself, so I don’t know if he actually was entertaining. People were tired of career politicians. They saw Trump as a straight shooter and plain talker. They thought he had the moxie to get things done. He talked a good game. I’ll admit, even I thought he was better than Ted Cruz, although I don’t feel that way now. His presidency has been a shameful, embarrassing, terrifying disaster. But he never should have been considered in the first place, because of his record of raping women… and because he was also an established racist as early as the 1970s.

From 2016… we were warned about Trump’s racism.

But now that Filthy Rich has come out, and it’s well established that Donald Trump was in Jeffrey Epstein’s vile sphere, I can’t see how anyone with a shred of decency can continue to champion him. He’s a disgrace, and he has no problem victimizing people to get what he wants. He’s trying to turn the United States into his own private fiefdom. Even if the elections go on in November and he is defeated, he will probably not leave power quietly. And there will still be people like the gentleman I referenced at the beginning of this post who will continue to cheer him on… because they are white men of a certain age who see their power slipping away because of emboldened people who are now confronting them about their privilege.

Anyway… I didn’t enjoy Filthy Rich, but I do think it’s very important viewing. Extremely wealthy and powerful people have privileges that most people can’t fathom. Jeffrey Epstein could have easily gotten away with his crimes if not for the bravery of the women who came forward… and the legal professionals who vowed to hold him accountable.

Edited to add: I don’t usually do this, but I decided to leave one more comment for my friend’s Trump supporting friend who thinks I get my news from CNN…

Here’s an excerpt of an article about a book that came out in 1993 about Trump’s sexual attack on his ex wife, Ivana Trump. After I read the article, I read the book, “Lost Tycoon”, which was published decades before Trump was a serious contender for POTUS.  

Aside from that, there are many references to the kind of person Trump has always been, to include his racist policies regarding his rental properties. And I didn’t find them on CNN. In fact, I have subscriptions to three different newspapers, and that’s where I get most of my news.

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