TV: Roswell

Music Recommendation: “The Way You Are” by Mackabella

Guys! Guys! GUYS! I finally watched the Netflix hit Stranger Things and it is amazing. Like, as an 80’s sci-fi fan, I was in awe of the score, the tone, the characters, the creepiness, the cheese-factor, and of course just the production of such a great addition to the sci-fi television hall of fame. With the new year, I started thinking about my favorite science-fiction television dramas and I’ve already posted about Buffy, Smallville, and Supernatural. I  have a strong emotional connection with Roswell and you can’t get more sci-fi than aliens, so here we go…

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The series dares to delve into the world of science-fiction, while at the same time stays human. It has everything that I love about television (and film and literature to be honest). It has all the genres: drama, sci-fi, romance, comedy, and a little horror / the ‘spook factor’. Plus, it premiered in 1999, and you all know how I love my 90’s television!

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It’s cool and interesting and the characters keep me invested and I just NEED to be a part of their squad, which is built on trust and loyalty. I just hate that I decided to finally watch the show so late in the game – back in 2012. From the pilot episode, I was hooked!

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Some background: I always knew of Roswell as I grew up watching shows on The WB network. I would see ads (Max and Liz can be seen starting at 1:28) for the series. Also, here’s another one of my favorite The WB ads. I also recognized Shiri Appleby from the Gavin Degraw ‘I Don’t Want to Be’ music video. You know the One Tree Hill theme song. I kept telling myself that I’d watch the show later. Then, later became years and time passed by…

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Flash forward to my third year in college and I’m living in my first apartment and pretty much living in my own little bubble. It was the year of self-improvement and peace. I had caught on to the flow of classes and I was getting stuff DONE while being comfortable having enough time to myself…to watch TV. I needed some new shows to ‘study’ and obsess over. Then Amazon had a ton of shows free to view through Prime. I decided hey, let me watch all those shows on my list that I always said that I would get around to. Keep in mind that at the time, I was a hardcore Buffy, Smallville, Charmed, and Angel fan. Science-fiction was one of my favorite go-to TV genres. I saw Roswell listed, watched the pilot episode – BOOM, I was in love. Just like that. I bought all three seasons on DVD after I finished season one on Amazon!

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I love it! I love it!

Before long, I found myself in a daze. All I could think about was the show. In class, I was thinking about the show. In the shower. While eating lunch. Dinner. Rare occasions where I ate breakfast. While sleeping. While walking. And even while talking. Lucky for me, the series is only three seasons long. Otherwise, I would be forever in a Roswell cosmic trance.

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In high school, I spent [wasted] a few precious moments watching (and reading) the Twilight series. I truly have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with the series. But the films (and books) did clue me into more of the sci-fi/teen drama/romance mixed genre: the human girl falls for the ‘outsider’ [non-human, vampire, werewolf, alien] guy.

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Stop and stare.

Plus, the show just hooked onto my teen drama heartstrings. Shall we journey down the hallway?

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Seriously, Roswell was right up my alley. Something that I truly love about it is that the show includes the ‘love triangle’ trope that most of the other teen drama series like to hammer down hard on us, but you clearly know the two who are actually meant to be and there isn’t too much of a dilemma in deciding who you’re rooting for.

This is nice because I like to see two people make up their minds about who they’re in love with and the show can focus on the growth of their romance. And there is absolutely no doubt or debate that the two are soulmates (cough, Felicity). Max and Liz are honestly meant to be – despite them being different species and despite the world (and other worlds) trying to tear them apart. They just, somehow, naturally and seamlessly fit. Liz is the soft-spoken, wide-eyed, sweetheart and Max is her intergalactic prince charming. They are literally star-crossed lovers and sparks fly when they’re together. Simply, no ordinary love.

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What I also love about the show is that the aliens are two siblings and a best friend, so one of them is ironically the outsider. Brendan Fehr said during the ATX TV Festival reunion (around the 10:30 mark) that he enjoyed that Michael was the “outsider of the outsiders”. Years after their ship crashed and the aliens came out of their pods (I told you how hardcore sci-fi the show is), Max and Isabel were found by loving parents while Michael had to be put in the system with a not-so-fatherly foster dad. It’s an interesting take. There’s always a power struggle between Max and Michael as well as with Isabel (being the lady of the group) having to fight for her right to voice an opinion and make important decisions. Be her own alien-woman.

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Side note: When I was really young, I had a deep appreciation and love for the Disney Channel and their movies. Wish Upon A Star was one of the first movies that I absolutely obsessed over. I loved Katherine Heigl and this was all before I started watching Grey’s Anatomy. And yes, I am aware of her less-than-stellar acting reputation these days. What a shame!

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Back to Roswell: If it were up to Isabel and Michael, they all would have stayed below the radar. However, Max fell in love and he is the leader, so hello story. With Michael, it is always the question of who gives Max the right to be in charge and is he just suppose to fall in line because his ‘earth home’ is crap? Because he doesn’t get a family breakfast and dinner? Because his assumed earth identity is ‘beneath’ the others?

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I’m leading for once.

What if he was rightfully the leader on their home planet? What if they were all related and shared the same social status? The show just makes you think on a deeper level about being separated from your birth right and not knowing who you really are. The three stick together for the most part until they allow their new human friends and lovers in on their big secret. Even then, Michael always feels like the lesser of the three and watching his growth throughout the series is a part of why I enjoy the show so much.

Adding to the mix is their newly found human friends and companions: Liz, Maria, and Alex (and later Kyle and Sheriff Valenti), the three aliens become torn between having the chance to learn about who they really are. They have to decide between “going home” and “staying home” and where their hearts are. They also have to figure out who to trust, including themselves. Their motivations fluctuate from time to time and sometimes they need those on the outside to remind them how to feel like they belong.

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There’s a lot of action and the sci-fi stuff can get heavy, but the show does a great job letting the characters’ “human side” shine through all the chaos. It’s great television.

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It’s science.

I’ll talk about some of my favorite episodes (mostly from season one and two). I’ll also talk about my favorite character moments and relationships. I hope you all enjoy!

The Opening Credits

The show’s opening is mainly focused on Max and Liz at the Crash Down – watching and longing for each other as they are separated by a glass window. With Max on the outside and Liz on the inside, the two seem to merge into one as the glass reflects one onto the other. They are one despite their literal and figurative separation. The opening can be interpreted as Max being almost angelic and watching over Liz or Liz keeping Max grounded – pulling him close to something as earthly as a diner. Max’s background is the desert and basically emptiness. He appears out of nowhere.

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Dido’s “Here With Me” goes perfectly with the story and Max and Liz’s romance. Liz is home and Max won’t go until he’s with her. She’s it. He’s it. They can’t ‘be’ themselves without the other. Plus, there’s almost an alien-like/sci-fi sound to the song. Especially the “I am what I am” part. Big kudos to the music department of the show, because it’s a perfect song for the human side of the story, but it diverges a bit into the alienness – but not too much to smother us. The rest of the opening consists of scenes from the pilot with the other characters’ titles.

Favorite Episodes

“Sexual Healing” from Season One

Before this episode, I found Liz and Max’s budding romance to be sweet and innocent. But as I watched this episode, I constantly had to pick up my mouth off of the floor. They were hot and the tension was building and exploding as they were drawn to each other and it was breathtaking. Seriously, I was out of breath. All Liz and Max could think about was, well…you know…

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I like to think the “draw” was more than sexual, but also a matter of love. Why else would Liz be getting the flashes other than that there was a true connection between her and Max? What other way is there to describe love but “out of this world” and seeing the stars and galaxies from the moment that you touch the one you love?  Sure, it’s also the ‘alien thing’ tying the episode together, but it’s also a brilliant metaphor for love. True love. Being blasted off into space and soaring into nothingness. Bright lights and strobes of color opening up your senses.

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The hilarious thing about this episode is Michael and Maria. Liz raves about this explosive feeling that she’s getting while kissing Max, so, of course, Maria has to try it out on Michael. And after hearing about it from Max, Michael has to experiment as well.

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The funny thing is that Maria isn’t feeling anything from Michael. Well, not like Liz. The episode does hint that Michael feels something for Maria, but he plays it off like he doesn’t feel anything either. I’m still unsure if this means that Liz is special and is linked to Max after he saved her life with his healing powers and that all aliens can feel, but it’s rare that humans do. So, maybe Michael does feel this incredible feeling, and he’s offended when Maria doesn’t. They, of course, fake it as long as possible not to be overshadowed by Max and Liz.

“Blind Date” from Season One

Through and through, this is one of the cutest episodes. It’s Valentine’s Day and as Max and Liz dance around their budding romance, Liz wins a blind date contest for a radio station candid camera feature. Liz describes her “dream date” and it’s definitely a draw-up of Max: a serious, dark-haired, mystery man from an exotic place.”

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She ends up getting another Mr. Perfect, so, of course, this makes things very interesting. I’m sold. I got my popcorn in hand. The episode also reminds me of the “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” episode of Buffy. Max is clearly crushed and Kyle can’t help but feel smug, but at the same time relate to Max. Max did steal Liz away from him, after all.

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The two unlikely fellas bond over their mutual adoration of Liz Parker and get drunk. The cool thing is that Max’s drunkenness is amplified due to his alien nature, so things spark up a bit. Kyle is as oblivious as usual to piece together the strangeness, but seeing Max open up and cut loose is so much fun to watch!

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Max is honest and candid about his feelings for Liz. All of the brooding and ‘us against world’ cautiousness is thrown out of the window. It’s the moment when the guy that you love is saying all of the right things and saying everything that you have been waiting for him to say.

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It’s also like a ticking time bomb because you’re falling into the madness of the moment and you know that it’ll fade eventually. It’s like a dream and you know that you have to wake up. The question is, why get swept up in the overwhelming feeling of love? Because why the hell not!

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Also, Liz looked absolutely gorgeous in this episode. Shiri Appleby really has the looks of an angel.

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“285 South” from Season One

I didn’t really care much for Maria during the first few episodes of season one, but when I watched this episode, I couldn’t help but love her and her interactions with Michael. All I could think of during the episode was: “Of course, these two would make a cute couple! Of course, these two will be the comic relief!” And it all started with Michael trying to steal Maria’s car.

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It’s just exciting to see the budding romance of another important couple. One couple would foil the other. Maria can also stop obsessing over Liz’s newfound romance, and focus on something that’s hers. What I love about Michael and Maria is that Michael is the outsider and has a tough exterior. He needs someone to challenge him and keep him on his toes. Maria suffers from word-vomit and is a little neurotic. She needs someone who’s frank and a little hard to latch on to. At the same time, Michael needs someone who isn’t afraid to try to latch onto him. With their time on the road and stay at the motel, we’re introduced to a lighthearted tone of the show as well as a chance to humanize Michael and soften him up a bit.

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Their constant bickering and one-upping in this episode is only the beginning. From the first moment that they have to spend time together, it’s like they’re an old married couple. Their relationship totally tones down all of the drama and brings in the laughs.

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We also get to see Liz and Isabel’s relationship in this episode. Liz has become more and more important to Max and he’s exposed so much of himself and Isabel and Michael’s secret to her. You have to wonder how this makes Isabel feel because for the longest time she’s been the only girl in Max’s life that knows the real him. All of a sudden, Liz has taken over and become something of the dominant female. The two bicker on the road and we see Isabel fighting to let Liz know who’s boss.

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From a certain perspective, it just looks like the girls are fighting like normal teenage girls do…even like sisters. The whole telling humans their secret is all new to Isabel too, so she’s figuring out what the humans mean to her. What Liz means to her. Isabel knows who she really is and in a sense, her life is in Liz’s hands. She has to open herself up more and trust Liz. She has to adapt to this new situation. Liz is just falling in love. It’s all a bonus that she’s accepted into this crazy world of aliens and the supernatural. When it’s all boiled down, she doesn’t want to take Max away from anyone or hold him back from discovering more about his true identity. She just wants to help, because of her love for Max. For her love of all of them.

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“Independence Day” from Season One

Michael is the center of this episode as we get to see his home life at the trailer park. His foster dad is a real son-of-a-gun and uses Michael as a punching bag. Sure, we’ve seen the tough side of Michael, but to see him being hit reminds me that he’s just a kid (more or less) with feelings. He came from the same place as Max and Isabel, yet he gets the crappy lifestyle. Why? Why is this fair? Michael also finds solace in the arms of Maria in this episode and we get to see her home life with her single mom. Guys seem to come and go (including Sheriff Valenti), so Maria is going through the normal emotions of a teenage girl when trying to figure out the guy that she likes and her mom is there to remind her to be careful with her heart.

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What’s amazing is seeing that Michael is feeling a whole new set of emotions. He’s always been closed off and to see him break down a wall to let in Maria instead of Max or Isabel when he’s at a low point is a huge change and growth in his character. He’s also been treating Maria pretty crappy lately, so she fights her feelings to let him in.

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Go away!

Also, this episode has one of my favorite songs (at least in the DVD version) – “Did You Disappoint Your God?” by Neva Dinova. It’s a great way to show Michael’s vulnerability and basically to center his importance in the show. Though I love Max and Liz, it’s a more fulfilling viewing experience to see the character growth of other characters. And here is where I began to love Michael. I also would like to mention the 180 in Sheriff Valenti’s character here. He goes from being the villain and the guy that you better watch out for to a regular man flirting with a woman. It’s pretty hilarious and a nice way to show the comedy of the series. Each character is so complex and there’s always more to them than meets the eye.

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“Heat Wave” from Season One

Since this is a show about aliens AND teenagers, you have to respect the show’s full understanding of the teenage mind and the similarities with the science-fiction genre. The show blends both of the genres and it’s themes of loneliness: wanting to be accepted, to be loved, and to be understood. The highlight of this episode is Alex. So far, he’s been on the outside of this whole new alien crew. Max and Liz are falling for each other, Maria and Michael have been getting closer, so that leaves Isabel and Alex. Isabel has always had Max and Michael and Alex has always had Liz and Maria.

Roswell TV Series, Shiri Appleby (Liz Parker), Katherine Heigl (Isabel Evans), Emilie de Ravin (Tess Harding), Majandra Delfino (Maria DeLuca), Jason Behr (Max Evans), Brendan Fehr (Michael Guerin), Colin Hanks (Alex Whitman), Nick Wechsler (Kyle Valenti)

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However, Alex is now on the outs as his besties have paired off without him. Isabel luckily is “in” on the whole alien thing…because she’s an alien and has had to give some sort of approval of letting Liz and Maria in on the big secret. But Alex is totally out. Liz and Maria have been lying to his face – calling the aliens “Czechoslovakians” when he’s around. I guess they just expected him to just not question them. To not be smart enough to figure out that something has been up with these three new friends that Liz and Maria have been hanging out with.

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Shh, don’t tell Alex.

Honestly, in my first watch of the series, I discounted Alex as well. I figured, if Liz and Maria didn’t let him know the truth from the start, then he must not be that important. I was wrong, though. See, Alex is the conscience of the three humans. His existence keeps me judging the others and wondering whether or not who they are and what they’re doing is right. I mean, it’s very suspicious and questionable to hide aliens and the supernatural. What about the public? Should everyone know what’s around them and what’s really out there? The aliens need to be accountable for their actions, because what if they wanted to invade? What if they wanted to keep the humans in check?

Alex is so right to be pissed at Liz, his best friend, for keeping this huge burden from him. If she really does love him and wants him to trust her with his safety and everyone else’s safety, then she needs to be upfront with him. This is a guy she’s known forever and who has always been there for her. Why put him on the sidelines? Why bench him? What made Maria more important than Alex, to tell the truth to first?

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What kind of friend are you?

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Liz even asks Isabel’s opinion of including Alex in on the big secret. Isabel decides to ‘dream hop’ into Alex’s dreams to see if he is trustworthy. Come to find out that when he sees her in his dreams, he’s charming, charismatic, and sincere. Isabel feels drawn to him. She then feels as if he can be trusted and brings the issue to Max for his opinion. When it’s all said and done, Isabel wants to protect her family and herself, but she feels like Alex can be trusted as well.

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I get it that Liz thinks that she is protecting Alex by lying to him, but I think to leave him in the dark just makes him vulnerable and an easy target for danger. It just always breaks my heart when Liz and Alex are in the jail cell and Alex basically calls quits on their friendship if she doesn’t speak up. It’s painful to see Liz struggle with deciding whether or not she should just let Alex go to protect him or if she should be the friend that he holds her accountable to be and tell him the truth. She eventually tells the truth, but of course how easily can you believe in aliens?

I think the main reason, though, that Liz doesn’t want to tell Alex the truth is that she doesn’t know if she can trust him. He’s well aware that they’re all hiding something and Sheriff Valenti is aware as well. He wants to use Alex to give up the rest of them. Liz doesn’t think that Alex can keep it all hidden from Valenti. However, once Alex knows the truth (whether he believes it or not), he holds out on Valenti after all.

Another great thing about “Heat Wave” is Maria and Michael’s hot and heavy relationship. As they physically get closer, Michael worries that he’s going to hurt Maria somewhere down the line. I mean, he may well have to leave her and go back to his home planet soon. At this point, anything is possible. Getting close is just going to make things harder for the both of them.

Maria is holding him to the standard of being a good human boyfriend, but Michael is still trying to figure out the alien thing. Adding on being human is just a little more than he can handle all at once.They have their little make-out sessions, but someone is going to get hurt in the end.

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“Tess, Lies, and Videotape” from Season One

I guess we have to talk about Tess. We get to meet her in the previous episode “Crazy”, but here we get to see how the new girl affects the rest of the gang. Instantly, I hate Tess. Seriously, why on earth would Max be dreaming about making out with another girl when he has met Liz, the love of his life? He’s probably one of the most loyal boyfriends in all of the teen dramas that I’ve watched, and to see him fantasizing about someone else other than Liz really pisses me off. It’s like, we’ve come so far in getting Max and Liz together and we’ve fallen in love with their love and then here comes Tess.

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Who’s that girl? It’s Tess!

Of course, it has to be some sort of supernatural alien hypnosis that’s drawing Max in, right? The more I try to tell myself during this episode, the less I believe it. The same with Max – he’s trying to convince everyone that something is wrong and that they should be suspicious of Tess, but then he’s still drawn to her and he really does eventually make-out with her. And Liz sees him. Tess’s whole innocent pleas that she doesn’t know why Max is attracted to her is the infuriating part. She makes it so believable that Max is the bad guy and that she’s just innocently caught his eye and it’s a shock that he’s into her.

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Surely, Tess is doing something to Max. I mean, she has to be. It can’t be that Max is actually attracted to her because he’s feeling super guilty for being into another girl beside Liz. When it’s all said and done and the gang figures out that Tess is actually an alien and she’s put some sort of whammy on Max, the damage is done and I trust Max a whole lot less.

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I grew so fond of him and Liz and I believed in their love and to have someone come in and easily tempt him just sickened me. So yes, I hate Tess (trust me, it’s with good reason). And I still get upset watching Max fantasize about her.

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And I’m not the only one who’s upset here. Seriously, my anger has merit as Michael is even pissed about the situation. When he was dreaming about Isabel and they thought that they were having an alien baby a few episodes prior, he fought off the urge and didn’t let his alien nature take over what he was feeling for Maria. So, how dare Max drag Liz down this rabbit hole? She loves him and we all believe that he loves her. He shouldn’t so easily allow Tess to destroy all of this. Michael’s got Liz’s back…and mine!

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“Destiny” from Season One

After the last few episodes of Tess coming in and shaking up everything with Max and co. about their true heritage and nature, the gang decides that they need to know the truth about who they are. They allow Tess to guide them back to the cave where their ship crashed and where they get answers about their home planet and real relationship with one another. On their home planet, Tess is Max’s bride and Isabel and Michael are a couple. It just feels like too much is changing and everything is shattering. What about the humans that they have grown close to? Those relationships are the ones that I care about.

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Liz does not want to be in the way of all of this destiny news, so she breaks up with Max. It’s heartbreaking. I mean, who is she to stand in the way of destiny? She feels insignificant. Max fights to stay with her because he truly does love Liz and it’s as big as all the news of his alien heritage. Michael and Maria also say those 3 little words and the finale is very emotional for all of the characters. Alex and Isabel have also steadily become closer during the season, but just as they’ve gotten somewhere romantic, Isabel chooses destiny.

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Sheriff Valenti now knows what Max, Isabel, and Michael are. However, he’s conflicted about his duty to do something about it, because they save Kyle after the evil FBI guy, Pierce, shoots Kyle. All in all, the events of this episode breaks up the crew that we have come to love, but also clears up a lot of the alien mystery. Kyle and Sheriff Valenti no longer have to be on the outs, but Liz, Maria, and Alex have been pushed aside as their alien lovers are pulled into a world much larger than high school romances.

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That feeling from “Blind Date” all of a sudden comes back with a vengeance as this whole romance with Liz and Max just feels like a dream and I all of a sudden have to wake up.

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“Skin and Bones” from Season Two

For season two, The WB took some cues from Buffy and wanted the teens to look hotter. I saw nothing wrong with how everyone looked in season one, but of course, sex sells. I have no complaints either, but the hotness kind of distracted me from the story at times.

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With all the stuff that went down in season one’s finale, relationships within the group have changed. Max and Liz are now broken up as Liz doesn’t believe that things can go back to how they were in the beginning between her and Max. She’s threatened by Max’s destiny with Tess, but Max tries to assure her that she’s the only one for him.

Michael and Maria are broken up too, as Michael tries to understand his alien-soldier destiny. Maria challenges him, but he stands firm on keeping his distance. You can tell that he still loves her, though, despite the new girl at the Crashdown, Courtney, constantly flirting with him. Turns out that she has a secret of her own. I honestly hated her character, so I’m not going to go into detail. I’m always annoyed when new characters join a season to break up the main cast and start trouble. Courtney was no exception and I became hotheaded every time she was on the screen.

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This episode really hits me, because I’ve fallen in love with the idea that these characters are in love. But now they’re separated and they’re pushing each other away. It’s like I’m being broken up with multiple times. The heart ‘stings’ keep on coming. The best part about this episode is Mackabella’s “The Way You Are” playing in the background as the characters go their separate ways.

“The End of the World” from Season Two

This episode is amazing. It’s probably my favorite out of the entire series. I’ve talked about how addicting and beautiful Max and Liz’s romance is and this episode solidifies their true love while at the same time rips them apart. Seriously, I cry every time I watch this episode because it’s such a tragedy to see true love destroyed.

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The beginning of the episode begins with future Liz and Max as they try to dodge some sort of doom coming their way. Future Liz tells Future Max to go back in time to make sure this doesn’t happen, which means that he needs to make sure that present Max and present Liz do not fall back in love. Their love means a terrible death for Liz in the future. What I love about this scene is seeing how long Max and Liz have been together and how strong their love has grown. It sucks that they’re still battling outside forces, but it’s bittersweet that they’ve grown older together.

Back in the present, Max tries to win Liz back by standing outside her window to serenade her. It’s definitely cheesy, but I can’t help but smile. Present Max isn’t worrying about the doom and gloom. He just wants his girl back. He’s not worrying about what the future holds or his alien destiny – he just wants to be Liz’s Romeo (but we all know how that story ends).

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Future Max appears to present Liz and of course, she’s stunned to see the older version of Max. It’s beautiful to see future Max seeing Liz back as she was when he first fell in love with her. It’s like all of those feelings rush back to him coupled on with the feeling of losing her in the future. He gets to spend time with her once more and she gets to see that for sure, Max is her end-game. However, the bad part is knowing that she meets her end because she falls and stays in love with him.

It hurts Future Max to see himself and Liz fighting and falling out of love and he knows that once she sees his future self and that longing in his eyes, that she still loves him and that he never stopped loving her. So what’s the point of fighting? What’s the point of pushing him away? Well, the point is that he is an alien and there’s a price to pay to be in love with him.

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Future Max needs to get Liz to fall out of love with him, but Liz knows that she loves him and it’s going to hurt her just as much to see present Max broken-hearted. The only way to do that is to enlist Kyle and pretend that they sleep together and to have Max witness them in bed.

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It’s nice to see Liz and Kyle catching up and bonding. Their friendship has surely blossomed over the years. Kyle is aware of the chaos of Liz’s life and how her choice to love an alien has affected everyone’s world. He just does what he can to let her know that he’s around and he still cares.

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Max knows that Kyle is just a friend and that Liz has to be in some sort of trouble to result to something so dire to push him away. However, she insists that she’s not in love with him anymore and Max has to accept this and walk away.

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The little set up does hurt all parties, including me. After all of the hurt, Future Max and Liz dance one last time to their would-be wedding song. Then, he fades away, leaving Liz alone. This episode just crushes me.

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“Meet the Dupes” and “Max in the City” from Season Two

This two-part episode is probably one of the most shockingly COOL episodes in the entire series. I really didn’t see it coming. The fact that we get to see different sides of the alien trio is amazing. Huge kudos to the acting chops of Behr, Fehr, Heigl, and de Ravin.

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I honestly felt bad for Tess and felt her vulnerability. Her dupe character showed a reflection of being the girl in love with a guy that was in love with someone else and she was just a pun in some larger end-game that she wanted no part of. She just wanted her own identity. Her own story. Even the real Tess could see this.

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Also, until this point, Max has been the good guy. He’s always been Mr. Right. Seeing his dupe version being so quickly dismissed and KILLED by his own crew reminded me of how much the real characters take his speeches and holier than thou attitude and self-righteousness. He stands up as a leader and this sometimes puts Michael and Isabel off. However, they love him and choose to follow him. The dupes…not so much.

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Michael and Liz’s relationship started off strained and he resented her for how easily Max exposed their secret identities because he fell in love with her. All of the chaos and big revelations can be traced back to the day in the Crashdown when Liz was shot and Max saved her with his alien powers. So for the most part, Michael and Liz bickered until Michael realized how much Liz loved Max, and Isabel, and himself. And he loved her too. She was now family. By the end of season one, Michael and Liz had an understanding that they were all in this together.

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The hilarious thing about “Meet the Dupes” is an alternate reality of Michael falling for Liz. It’s hilarious, ridiculous, and downright scary.

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Liz and co were lucky to have met the normal aliens and not the dupes, otherwise, this would be a totally different story.

“Heart of Mine” from Season Two

The thing about this episode is that it truly makes your heart hurt. It’s filled will joyous moments and then heartbreaking and then joyous again. You’re on this rollercoaster (as cliche as that sounds) and you feel like your world is spinning. You’re emotionally going through loops, spiraling, and coming to a screeching halt. We travel through this episode mostly from Liz’s perspective as she narrates. At the beginning, she’s seen spinning and dancing in her socks.

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By this time, the group has gone through the most, but they all come together for their junior prom. It’s time to push aside all of the alien destiny explorations, and boogie on the dance floor. Michael and Maria bicker as usual because Michael tells Maria that he’s not going to prom. For the most part, they’ve come to terms with their relationship and keep each other close by even though Michael puts distance in between them. He knows that he loves her. She loves him. They will fight, but they’ll make up somehow. It’s the sweetest thing.

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Michael really has become more human and has given into his love for Maria. She seems to be the only thing that makes sense to him. He even takes dance lessons with a mysterious Juanita to help him make Maria’s prom night perfect. It’s great seeing the look on Michael’s face as Maria realizes that she has been foolish and overacting and jealous. Michael knows it’s all out of love and it’s amazing that someone truly cares about him so much. I’m so glad that he decided to pursue Maria.

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Isabel finally realizes that Alex is the guy for her, and Max and Liz totally have broken up, but they decide to go prom together for old times sake. Liz has been hanging out more with Sean, Maria’s older cousin. By the way, it’s Brian Krackow from My So-Called Life.

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Kyle has been spending a lot of time with Tess as she has moved in with the Valenti’s.

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Since it’s a special occasion, they all put aside their differences and come together as a group, more or less. However, Liz warns us that all may not be smooth sailing as it seems.

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Liz’s narration: “And there we were. All together, with everything we’d all been through over the last two years. The battles we’d fought, the relationships that were formed, the feelings for each other, stronger than any feelings we’d ever known could exist. And somehow in this moment, I had this really strong, really upsetting feeling, that this was the last time we’d all be standing together.” 

Once they are all at prom (minus Michael…because he’s being mysterious about his whereabouts), the truth starts pouring out and the facade of normalcy comes crashing down for some of the gang.

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True feelings are shared: Isabel really does care about Alex…romantically, Tess only sees Kyle like a brother, Liz and Max can’t get back to how things used to be, and Michael shows up to woo Maria with his not-so-learned dancing skills.

But the big exchange of feelings is between Max and Tess. They finally give into their destiny and kiss. This really sucks, because Liz has a last-minute realization that maybe she’s being too stubborn to make things work with Max. But then there’s an awful blow to our guts as Liz sees Tess and Max.

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Oh my god, it’s REALLY OVER! Maybe it’s a good thing for Liz to have a way out from all of this madness and fall in love with someone normal? It’s bittersweet. At the very end, Liz begins writing in her journal again (like she used to in season one) and she states that:

“We try to live responsible, logical lives. But we can’t tell our hearts how to feel. Sometimes our hearts lead us to places we never thought we wanted to go. And sometimes our hearts can be the sweetest, gentlest things we have. Sometimes our hearts can make us feel miserable, angry, excited and confused. All at once. But at least my heart is open. And I’m writing again. I’m feeling. I’m breathing.”

She’s seen dancing and talking with Sean after catching Max and Tess share the passionate kiss. It’s the kiss that she’s been trying to avoid seeing, but she knew that it would come eventually.

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So, it happened…

I think Max was trying to avoid the same thing, but he knew that learning about his true heritage from Tess would bring them closer and through their nature – they were bound to become intimate. I mean she was his “young bride” on their home planet. After a little heart to heart with Liz on the dance floor, they both conclude that it’s “really over” and Max is shattered. Vulnerable. Tess just happens to come in and console him. Seeing Max sitting in the chair after he and Liz really break up really does hurt. He’s been doing all that he can to keep them together despite all of the alien heritage mumbo-jumbo. There’s been so much weirdness going on, but he’s been trying to stay grounded with his love for Liz. How can he love someone so much and not be destined to be with her? It just doesn’t make sense to him. How can someone else be his soulmate?

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Even though Liz knows that she and Max are supposed to end up together, she also knows that it ends in tragedy. Their whole relationship has been filled with love and tragedy. Whenever they would find each other, something else comes crashing in. Like Tess. When it’s all said and done in this episode, Max looks truly lost after sharing a kiss with Tess. Liz looks happy as she comes to terms with the breakup and talking and dancing in her socks with Sean. She’s getting to know someone else.

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On another note, it’s great to see Maria and Kyle bonding in this episode. Kyle has really become one of my favorite characters in the series for his comedic naivete and relationship with the other characters.

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“Cry Your Name” from Season Two

Something I’ve talked about a lot in my grad school personal statements is my attachment to characters in favorite TV series. I oftentimes use TV to escape the real world’s problems…especially today. I understand that TV is fiction, but when the screen begins to mirror reality, it’s a surreal draw into the story. Real life is fleeting and unpredictable. When people die, that’s it. They don’t return as part of some plot twist to explain their absence. Characters on TV become my friends and family and I root for them to survive the craziness of the plot. If they do die, I want them to wait in purgatory and return with stories to tell (cough, Supernatural).

In all seriousness, I only expect this in shows that are supposed to be rooted in science-fiction and fantasy. If a show like Grey’s Anatomy kills a character off (and it certainly does) and they return, there better be a highly logical and rational explanation for their reappearance. When any series, fantasy or drama, suddenly kills a character and they are really gone, I experience a sickening reminder of life and death. The characters have to cope. I have to cope with the loss of those whom I have become attached to. Roswell is no exception as Alex is suddenly killed off in “Cry Your Name”.

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It’s a complete punch in the gut and the episode is so eerie. The first time watching it, I was so sick that I had to pause the episode several times to get through it. I was hoping that it was some sort of alien-twist of fate, but when Max is unable to heal Alex back to life, I lost it. Just like Liz. In fact, Liz is basically me throughout this entire episode. I am upset that the creators allowed Alex to die just like how Liz is upset that her friends easily accept Alex’s death and try to convince her that her theories of foul play are nonsense.

And I’m not going to lie, Liz’s personality this season created some distance between my love for her character. In the beginning, I loved that she and Max had such a strong connection and that she was normal and kind. However, as Tess enters the picture Liz allows herself to give up even before Future Max assures her that the end for them is fatal. I don’t think that she had to accept that. She should have said screw it and fought harder for Max like he did for her. It was like she felt entitled to have Max’s affections and the fact that his destiny sensibly got in the way made her annoyed that he had to deal with things that were entering his life and not 100% focusing on her. She began to have this stone cold look on her face whenever Max would try to talk to her and it chipped away at how much I loved her in earlier episodes.

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You are cold as ice.

“Heart of Mine” actually revived my love for Liz and I accepted her maturity about her situation with Max. Now I was pissed at Max for allowing Tess to screw everything up for him and Liz. If it was true love, he shouldn’t have allowed it to be over. So with all of that, Liz and Max are more distant than they have ever been. At this point, them getting back together seems very unlikely. Coupled on top of that, one of Liz’s best friends is now dead. The person that she put on the back-burner for so long for Max and the alien A-team is now gone forever. Just like that.

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It’s like everything comes rushing to the surface for Liz and she is pissed. It just has to be the aliens fault. Even if they didn’t have a direct hand in killing Alex, the fact that Liz wasn’t paying attention to him as much as she could have been if she wasn’t dealing with Max and Tess could have made her more available to Alex and prevented his death. Liz puts it all on the aliens and doesn’t try to hide that she will figure out the truth. It’s “The Departure” from the once sweet and kind Liz to the ‘somebody-will-pay-for-this’ vengeful Liz. And I don’t blame her.

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This episode is great and a total wake-up call for me to watch these characters more closely and enjoy my time with them. I honestly took Alex for granted just like Liz and his absence certainly cuts deep. At least Michael stands by Maria to help her get through the pain. Alex was her best friend too.

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I also feel bad for Isabel, because she finally let someone in and found someone that she loved and trusted and he’s ripped away from her. If she would have admitted her feelings sooner to Alex, she would have had more time with him. Doesn’t it all feel just too real?

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“The Departure” from Season Two

Liz discovers the truth about what happened to Alex. Spoiler alert – Tess killed him. Liz knew that there was something fishy about the whole situation. Max ended up sleeping with Tess in an earlier episode and now Tess claims that she’s pregnant and the baby can’t survive on earth. How convenient.

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Before she completely fools Max, Michael, and Isabel to going back to their home planet to save the baby, Liz shows up to reveal the truth and it’s ON! Max is wrecked with guilt and pissed that Tess not only seduced him, but she killed Alex and destroyed his relationship with Liz. Now she’s supposedly carrying his baby that he has to save.

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Max ultimately wants to kill Tess, but he makes the right decision (I guess) and just sends her off back to their home planet.

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Tess, bye!

The sad part about this episode is that Tess used her alien powers to whammy Kyle to be her accomplice in Alex’s death. She makes him believe that he is putting luggage in the car, but it’s actually Alex’s body. Yikes! That’s going to scar him for life along with the fact that Alex died the day before Kyle’s birthday. Gosh, I hate Tess.

The best part about this episode is Michael realizing that he truly loves Maria and he doesn’t want to leave her. They sleep together and Michael is the most vulnerable that he’s ever been. He knows where is heart belongs and that is home.

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“The Departure” is actually the departure of the greatness of this show. Season three has poor writing and most of the storyline seems rushed and not thought out too well. I mean there’s also a lot of weird things that go on in season two that are kind of annoying and less interesting (Michael’s human family? The skin aliens? Sean?). I’ll list what I think are highlights from season three and what are just “WTF” plot moments.

Highlights from Season Three

1. Michael is happier and less broody than usual. He’s often smiling, being quirky, and hanging out with Kyle, Maria, and Max. Also, I love his hair this season. When I first watched season three, I obsessed over Michael’s long hair. Also, the ‘Snapple’ episode is hilarious.

2. Liz and Max are back together. It’s great that after everything they have been through, Max and Liz are solid. However, their relationship seems to be off at the beginning of the season. I honestly feel like they have been brainwashed and are not the same Max and Liz from season one. Every once in an episode I’ll catch a glimpse of what they used to be. With all of that, I just love that they get married in the end. It’s beautiful.

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3. Kyle being Kyle and his relationship with everyone, especially Isabel. When Alex was around, I felt like maybe he and Isabel were an odd couple but I accepted that he loved her and she eventually fell for him. Kyle seemed to be focused on Liz’s well-being and later Tess’s. However, Kyle and Isabel are a duo that I totally ship. His comedy plus her sass is a pleasure to watch on the screen.

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Though there is a bit of a problem that gets in the way of Kyle winning over Isabel, and it’s not because he’s now a Buddhist.

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4. Seeing everyone hanging out and just being normal. This show is wild, but the gentle moments of the characters being regular teenagers and hanging out always puts a smile on my face. They’re more relatable.

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WTF Moments from Season Three

1. Liz and Max are rebels who wear a lot of black. When did they become rebels and why is Liz acting all bad-ass? It just doesn’t suit them. Is this another take on “Meet the Dupes”, because I miss my sweet and adorable Liz.

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We’re here for the Snapple.
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That’s better.

May I also include the WTF moment of Liz having alien powers? That whole plot was cringe-worthy.

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2. Isabel is barely recognizable with her new hairdo and she gets married to a new character. I don’t hate the haircut, but it’s so drastic that Isabel just doesn’t look like Isabel. Also, she just does it with little to no explanation. Her marriage is a shocker, because not only does she marry a new character but it just seems so out of character for her to put love at the forefront. If she was going to marry anyone, it should have been Kyle.

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3. Maria pushes Michael away. The fact that Maria plays with Michael’s heart this season frustrates me. I get that she wants him to keep up his place and be more ambitious, but breaking up with him and dating someone else when he’s become so open is just annoying. Look how long it took for him to shake away that hard exterior. In the end, he declares his undying love for her, but I honestly don’t know where they stand. She doesn’t deserve him.

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All in all, this series is amazing and got me through some of the most challenging times in college. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, I had Roswell to keep me sane and entertained. I hate that I missed the reunion at the ATX TV Festival. I was so close by! It seemed like fate that they would reunite so soon after I discovered them and in my location.

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Watch the show, guys! It took me forever to write this and I’m so glad that I can finally share it with you all.

P.S. I really love Kyle and I love how he turned out to be a completely different character than I thought he would from the pilot episode. He turned out to be so lovable and caring and I thought he’d be the typical high school jock/scorn ex-boyfriend that would vow to make Liz and Max’s relationship a living hell. Nope! He’s the greatest.

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‘Til next time!

 

 

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TV: Beverly Hills, 90210 (Part Two)

Music Recommendation: “Three Little Words” by Nu Flavor

As a huge fan of Beverly Hills, 90210, I think that it’s pretty amazing that people are really talking about the show again. I briefly touched on some of my favorite parts and some of the major plots of the series in my previous Beverly Hills, 90210 post. But after noticing how much attention and detail I’ve been giving to my recent television posts, I have to do Beverly Hills, 90210 some better service. I mean, the show is one of my top five favorite television series ever (and trust me, that really says something). I’ve had ten seasons to just melt into and become a very loyal couch potato and I’m not even sorry. So, here’s a part two.

Cue, theme music –

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From the high school years (seasons 1-3) to the college years (seasons 4-7), and to the adult years (seasons 8-10), I was able to grow with the characters through each significant era of their lives. You can’t really say that about too many other series these days. Some perks of such a long series include being able to see the growth of characters and the changes of fashion, music, technology, and lifestyle over time. The series begins in the early 90’s and ends right at the top of the new millennium. I grew up during this decade and clearly remember these significant changes. To this day, I ‘rave’ about 90’s music and pop-culture.

Since this is something of an expansive view of the series, I am going to talk about the major characters and some of their significant plot lines (if not all). The things that I love about them and the things that always bothered me. We of course have to start with –

Brenda’s Send Off

Before I dive into how amazing and crazy the college years were for the characters, I have to briefly touch on Brenda’s descent into the girl that just couldn’t catch a break in terms of trusting her instincts and her friends. In the beginning, she pretty much had things in line until she decided to sleep with Dylan. After that, I felt like the show was punishing her (or maybe it was indeed Shannen’s ‘diva’ behavior off-screen that influenced the writing for her character on-screen). I honestly felt like the whole break up with Dylan kind of spun things out of control for Brenda and she couldn’t catch her grip afterwards. Before, she had made all of these new best friends and had a place with people that loved her. Her character seemed genuinely happy.

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Then, all of a sudden Brenda was more than a basket case than usual and bounced around with taking Dylan back and being utterly jealous when they were apart (when he could fix his eyes on other girls). Kelly became more and more of a rival to Brenda, rather than a best friend. She seemed to be getting all of the attention (more so than usual) and was becoming less of the rich blonde with good fashion choices and more of someone with a brain and had her own goals and aspirations. She was becoming the shinning star in the group. As much as Brenda tried, their friendship was more of an exchange of side-eyes than anything else.

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Keeping up with the fake smiles for the holidays.

It could just be that Brenda was seeing through Kelly and this princess role of hers that she’d had since the beginning. Before, Brenda had to love her to win it in with one of the most popular girls at West Beverly – to become popular herself. But after a while, she just didn’t give a damn anymore and it was all a matter of playing nice to please the rest of her friends.

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Whatever Brenda’s motives were, as just an audience member – I could feel the tension even before Kelly and Dylan had their little fling behind Brenda’s back. After that, all hell broke loose. Brenda, heart-broken and kind of disgusted that her boyfriend (though on and off) an her best friend actually had the audacity to hook up. It was like, what about her feelings and what happened to loyalty? Breakups suck. And high school breakups are probably the most painful, because usually it’s your first love and you have to constantly see them around – sometimes with their new partner. You will most likely feel like the world is against you, because those walls at school will start to close in around you and those that betrayed you. It’s the same for when you’re fighting with a former friend. Loyalties are tested and the rest of your friends have to pick sides. Sometimes, you’re too defeated to even fight for why your side should be the one that they choose to be on.

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But then, something happens and you pick yourself back up and it’s game time. Revenge can seem so sweet, because hurting those after they’ve hurt you seems like the right thing to do. The facade that you once saw on the surface of your ex and your ex-best friend trickle away and they are – crystal clearly – the enemy. Seeking revenge may even be petty, but boy does it seem like a good idea.

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The worst part about these kind of situations is when you’re all stuck in the same circle. You love your other friends so you battle it out with yourself about your tolerance of those other persons that shake you to your core. You spend most of the time day-dreaming about slapping the spit out of their mouths, but then you look at your other friends and remember that it’s not worth it. But, for the record, you let those former friends know that you hate them. Without a single doubt.

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I always have a lot to say about Brenda, because she’s my girl. I closely related to the whole situation and it disgusted me that Kelly and Dylan found it a smart idea to parade their romance around Brenda after she found out. I don’t give a damn if they all had the same friends – distance can heal, they clearly didn’t understand that. No matter how ‘fine’ Brenda seemed about the situation, the truth of the matter is that she had to relive the betrayal over and over again everytime Kelly and Dylan were around.

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I guess she got tired of all the passive aggressiveness and figured leaving was the best idea. I don’t blame her, but the show became something different once she was gone. I certainly missed Brenda’s jabs to Kelly and her over-dramatic tendencies. She was the bad girl, who was actually a gentle spirit. She reminds me of the wicked witch – turned dark only because those closest to her betrayed her trust.

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My Love/ Hate Relationship with Kelly Taylor

I hated Kelly after the Dylan-Brenda fiasco. I felt like she could have been the bigger person and chose friendship over romance. But no, Kelly has to have it all and she always had to get what she wanted and prove that she’s the most desired girl, ever. Underneath all of her beauty, though, I didn’t see much else. She was kind of shallow and was in need of a reality check. And as the years went by, she certainly got paid a few reality checks. Surely, she became a stronger character because of them and I finally started rooting for her. I think I started liking her after she and Brandon got together. I know, I know – she did not deserve Brandon, but she had the audacity to believe that she did and their budding romance was an eye-opener.

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You see Brandon was the good guy. Freaking Captain America if you ask me. He was intelligent and knew how to be the boy-scout. Plus, he was gorgeous. Dylan started to show his true colors, even more so, with Kelly and their incompatibility grew even more apparent once Brenda left. I think they stayed together for as long as they did just to spite Brenda. Once she was gone though, it was like, “Yeah, what the crap were we thinking?” And what I find ironic about Brandon and Kelly in the beginning is that first she betrayed Brenda by stealing her boyfriend, and then she fell for the person the closest to Brenda – her twin brother. Was Kelly’s attraction to Brandon some sort of way to express her regret of hurting Brenda? I don’t know. And I’m probably thinking way to much about this. But, I think she was always jealous of Brenda and wanted Brandon so she could officially take Brenda’s place and become a Walsh. And as much as I love Brandon, he certainly showed his flaws when he (ironically) cheated on Kelly. I’m laughing just thinking about this. And it was with this chick…

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Emily. Freaking. Valentine

Emily was ‘cool’ and someone totally different from Kelly. What’s worse is that Kelly was literally on fire when the cheating was happening. Yes, Kelly was caught in a house fire and her beauty was scarred. I guess it was a metaphor for this thing that Kelly has been using to get what she wants for so long – her beauty – being burned away.  And her most prized possession, Brandon, was lured away. Now, she had to actually show what was inside and grow the hell up. This beauty queen persona needed to disappear, and all of her superficial problems, like boys, needed to go away with it. Who was the real Kelly Taylor?

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It didn’t take long for Kelly to move on to the next guy – this time he was someone outside of the group (because she’d now been with Steve, Dylan, and Brandon – David was her step-brother but he crushed on her too in the beginning). Anyways, Colin was this artist that she fell for in season six after letting Brandon and Dylan know that she wasn’t going to choose between them at the the end of season five. Apparently, both guys believed that Kelly was their true love. And it’s funny, because I love both of them and each of them brought out different attributes of Kelly. Bad and good ones. Initially, Kelly was just too spoiled for my liking and Brandon matured her a bit by making her want to be this semi-wholesome / fit-for-Brandon type of woman for him. Brandon had a way of treating Kelly like she was the girl with the star on her dressing room door. Dylan too matured Kelly, because he needed to grow up himself and he had real issues to deal with (I’ll get to him in a bit). Kelly always got dragged into his mess and this sort of overshadowed the romance. Season five ended with both guys treating Kelly like a prize and may the best man win her. So she had to choose –

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Back to Colin…the only good impact he had on Kelly was her change in style. Kelly always had a good fashion sense, but season six was when she was FLY! Being on the arms of an artist meant that she needed to have all eyes on her…to give him more cred. She cut her hair even shorter (than it was in season five) and wore some of the cutest outfits. She stepped it up, because she was now in the real world with real artists. But stories like this never go too well, especially on this show. This whole allusion of being an artist and knowing the who’s-who’s in Beverly Hills and LA came with a lot of peer pressure. As if Kelly didn’t get enough of this in high school. Colin did cocaine and he graciously extended the bad habit to Kelly. Before long Kelly was a stereotypical coke-head girlfriend of an artist.

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Oh, isn’t this romantic with a side of cocaine.

After hitting rock bottom though, Kelly had the support of her friends and family. She had already went through what drugs and substance-abuse could do to you with her mother, Jackie, back in season 1. She finally realized that a) Colin was no good and b) She had become a monster that she didn’t recognize.

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Before long, Kelly began to grow quite the backbone and she finally became a character that I liked and began to root for! She kicked Colin to the curb.

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Bye, Felicia.

No more was she trying to prove herself to the likes of some guy. Especially one that turned her into something so ugly. Just because he wanted her, doesn’t mean she had to want him. This is where the glorious Kelly Taylor eye rolls really kicked into high gear for me and she became the b*tch that I loved to see side-eye those beneath her…like Valerie (oh, I’m getting there). You couldn’t mess with Kelly without her calling you out. That little entitled blonde from Beverly Hills was gone. Though, she was still catty, but in a good way. She reminded me of the old Brenda in some ways.

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But this show doesn’t like to let characters be happy for very long – especially Kelly. And I don’t want this to be the history of Kelly Taylor, but the girl really went through the worse of the worse. So, I got to lay some of this stuff out. It’s like she’d make it out alive, but then something else terrible came along.

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Also in season six, Kelly met her own single white female, Tara, in rehab after the coke stint. It was ridiculous, because of all of those years in high school when Kelly wanted girls dreaming to be her and following her around (like Donna and Brenda). She had met a girl that was actually ‘dead-set’ on being Kelly Taylor.

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There can only be one Kelly Taylor.

I even think Kelly was starting to catch on that her life was just a bullseye for crappy stuff to be aimed at. When she and Brandon reconnected – they had a miscarriage, called off their wedding, and Kelly was shot and got amnesia. Later on, when she finally met “Mr. Right”, Matt (as boring as he was), she was raped by some guy, who Matt was defending for some other crimes. Oh yeah, Matt was a lawyer. Kelly got revenge by shooting and killing her rapist.

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He won’t get away with this!

And “Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes” Matt also turned out to be not so perfect after all. He also cheated on Kelly, while hanging out with Dylan. They were totally too good to be true.

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Kelly went through the wire, but the worse that happened, the stronger her character became. All of her bad choices in earlier seasons came to bite her in the butt. I hated what she had done to Brenda, but honestly, the girl did her fair share of paying and atoning for her sins. It made me really sad when she would fall in and out of love. Never seeming to find the right guy.

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Apparently she and Dylan had a son together in the future, but I didn’t watch the rebooted 90210 series where that story-line played out. Anyhow, Kelly went from someone I wanted to punch to someone I would punch others for. And speaking of…

Valerie Malone Comes to Shake Things Up

At first, Valerie wasn’t one of my favorite characters, but I thought she was a crucial part to keeping things interesting on Beverly Hills, 90210 after Brenda left the series. There was definitely a hole in the lineup for a brunette with attitude, and Valerie fit the bill perfectly. When she first showed up, I had my doubt about her JUST being a Brenda stand-in and I rolled my eyes when she would to just include herself in the affairs of the other main characters. Like, who are you and why do you just assume that you can hang with Brenda’s crew?

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I never bought the whole story of her being a close family friend of the Walsh’s and that was why she was living in Brenda’s old bedroom. It was a little too convenient for me. But I guess after a few episodes of Brenda’s friends expecting Valerie to BE Brenda, she got fed up and decided to stand out on her own and show them her true colors.

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And when we got to know Valerie Malone and her catty and indecent ways, she became the perfect foil to Kelly Taylor. And let’s be honest, they were both bombshells. Valerie had that natural beauty that could stand paired to Kelly’s. They both wanted to be the center of attention and they both grabbed the attention of the men around them – instantly. They also both couldn’t stand each other, but both knew how to be passive aggressive to the 100th degree. I then, fell in love with Valerie as Beverly Hills’ new villain.

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Keep your enemies close.

After playing ‘nice’ for a few episodes, and Valerie hooking up with Dylan, Steve, David, and Colin – Kelly stopped trying to mask the fact that she hated Valerie and Valerie stopped pretending that she could worship the ground that Kelly walked on like all of her other friends. The two would call each other out on their bullsh*t at any given time. And it was always glorious.

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Even when they knew that they could really hurt each other, the moment couldn’t be sweeter to make the other one look bad in front of their friends. It’s like when one did something shady, the other would come running i to shine the spotlight on the situation.

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Another great thing about the Valerie and Kelly rivalry was the obvious jealousy of the other. Valerie let Kelly know that she could have the men that love Kelly. But, Kelly would let her know that the guys actually did love HER and not Valerie. Kelly thought that Valerie was, more or less, a bimbo for the moment. Then, David actually fell in love with Valerie and started to make her seem more human and sympathetic. Moments came where Valerie and Kelly would have to team up, because someone else was causing trouble for the group. But of course, they had to one-up each other even then.

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Excuse me, but we’re too busy hating each other to hate you right now.

The fact of the matter was, they said to each other what we couldn’t say to them when we hated the two of them for their shenanigans. And because I hated Kelly for the longest time, Valerie made me laugh on many occasions when Kelly was just being obnoxious, irritating, and unabashedly territorial with Brandon. In my head, I would call out the fact that sure Kelly could get Brandon, but she always ruins it with her big mouth or something unfortunate happens to them. So when she paraded around with Brandon, this came to mind…

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Either way you slice it, Valerie was a b*tch. Kelly was a b*tch. And they were at their b*tchiest toward each other. Calling each other out did embarrass the other, but sometimes it shined a light on things that they seriously needed to change about themselves.

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By the way Kelly, I found your coke.

Even though Valerie was brilliant as Kelly’s nemesis, she didn’t limit her terror on just Kelly. The rest of the group got their individual doses of Valerie Malone, giving them good reason to hate her. There would be times where she would go too far and no one was laughing. Those times, I seriously wanted someone to slap her.

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She may not be my favorite character, but I am glad she came to stir the pot as the group stepped into adulthood. Sure, I missed Brenda, but some of the things that Valerie did was specifically made for Valerie. I wouldn’t want Brenda to stoop so low and become downright hated in the process of screwing with the other characters. I loved to hate Valerie and all of her glorious seduction and sabotage.

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Donna. Martin. Graduates. 

Donna was a hard character for me to like in the beginning. I wanted so much more for her. She was just so hollow and  would just follow Kelly around and basically be her little sidekick. Then, season two came along and she became an individual. She stepped out and gave me good reason to love her quirkiness. Instead of being Kelly Taylor’s second-in-command, she was just as much an important part of the squad, because the rest of the group loved her, for her. They adored Donna. Just think about the whole Donna Martin Graduates protest. There was nothing her friends wouldn’t do for her, because she was a sweetheart.

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Nobody messing with my squad.

Donna had her high school sweetie, David Silver and the two were perfect for each other. Donna helped David shake his geekiness and be taken more seriously by the others. David helped Donna rise from under Kelly’s shadow and have more important things to do. Even when they went to college, they shined together.

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However, Donna’s sweetness was taken advantage of by David. David eventually cheated on her, because Donna wanted to wait until marriage for sex. After that situation, Donna had to realign and redesign herself. Then, she started experimenting with some of the most cheeky outfits (though she always had a bold fashion sense). After David though, it was like she had no reason to play it safe with her look and she switched it up quite a bit. Some of her choices really made me scratch my head though…

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Donna, what is this hair though?

Stories soon got more serious for Donna after she and David split. She started dating another ‘wannabe musician’, Ray Pruit. Valerie couldn’t wait to get her hands on him when he was becoming something of a star. Donna, usually the ‘innocent one’ of the group and seemingly easy to be stepped on, had to become a bit more feisty and put on some punching gloves to fight for what she wanted. It just so happened that at the moment, she wanted Ray.

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Ray being someone other than David that Donna fell for meant that she tried to hold on to him even when he didn’t deserve her. The bastard made her his punching bag and Donna had to come up from under his shoes and remember that she was important and deserved to be treated with respect and love. She had to stop opening herself up to jerks that took advantage of her genuine niceness. I think a lot of times they assumed that she was ‘easy’ due to the way she dressed, but she set them straight. They tried to make her feel like they were doing her a favor by being with her or something.

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Please, be gone!

It was always Donna not feeling smart or pretty enough and basically falling prey to guys like these due to her insecurities. She eventually meets “Mr. Right”, football player, Joe Bradley, and he showers her in the respect that she deserves. The two became a happy couple, both sharing the same disbelief in premarital sex.

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It turned out that Joe has a heart condition and Donna did the Powerman 5000 “Strike the Match” music video, making Joe understandably uncomfortable watching Donna parade herself around so explicitly sexual and semi-degrading. His wholesome values became jeopardized, I think, with dating someone who would agree to do something like this. And honestly, I don’t blame him for questioning their relationship after this. I still wonder if Donna was trying to test him or push him – just to see if she could. Anyway, this coupled with all of the stress with Donna’s life and his heart condition, Joe moved back to his hometown. He asked Donna to come with, but of course she belonged in Beverly Hills.

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But you were on the hood of the car!

Donna got a lot of scrutiny for her choice to be a virgin until marriage and for the way she dressed and the guys that she dated. But, her friends had her back even when they were setting her straight on these guys. Kelly remained her best friend through thick and thin. She had her own issues, but she was something of a sister to Donna and knew just what to say when Donna needed advice and cheering up.

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She also had her new roommate, Clare Arnold (Steve’s girlfriend) to be there for her when Kelly was too busy getting high or fighting for her life. No, but seriously, Clare was a nice touch to add a different layer to Donna’s social life. Both were quirky and got into hilarious shenanigans, usually involving David and/or Steve.

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Speaking of David, he and Donna were on-and-off and eventually she decided to sleep with him after they graduated from college. I guess she was like, to hell what other people think! It’s true love. Check out Donna’s red/burgundy hair, though. The girl was not afraid to switch up her style! I actually really liked this color on her. It complimented her features. And she no longer looked like she was trying to look like Kelly.

Well, her and David eventually broke up again and she started dating Noah Hunter. This guy annoyed the heck out of me. He was always brooding or complaining about something while trying to seem like he had it together. His problems just added too much drama for Donna and her big personality seemed to be incompatible with his staleness. Donna actually ended up cheating on Noah. Yeah, I’m still stunned. I didn’t know what was happening with little Miss Martin, but apparently she was bored with him. She felt horrible and regretful after the fact though, and he did his best to make her feel like crap for her mistake. By being with other women and making Donna beg for his forgiveness. I’m still on the fence about this situation. On one hand, yeah, Noah was a bore. On the other, cheating is wrong and Donna should have known that first hand.

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It also turned out that Donna’s cousin, Gina, was actually her half-sister and hated Donna for being the princess in the family. She wanted everything that Donna had, because she felt that Donna didn’t deserve it or that she was too spoiled or that it was she that should have been raised by their (rich) father, Dr. Martin. Donna had to watch her back with Gina, because she was [trying] to be the next Valerie. But, she wasn’t. She was just too pathetic (in my humble opinion). I actually really hated her character.

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Ugh, like why does she even exist?

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But after all of the drama and all of the pain, it was David that Donna truly loved and who loved her. They grew up together and saw each other at their worst…and best. They were there for all of the tears and regret and there for each other even when they weren’t together. They were each other’s first love. The series ended with their wedding day.

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Let’s Talk About David

David started off as the geek who was obsessed with Kelly Taylor and her group of popular friends. He often had these get-to-hang-with-Kelly-quick-schemes that made for some comedic moments, like season one’s slumber party episode. The thing that fascinated me about David though was his dance skills. The guy was a natural at getting the party started. Seeing the rest of the cast try to hang and keep up with him was hilarious. I think the only two characters who could keep up with David’s crazy dance moves were Brenda and Donna.

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David officially became one of the crew when his dad married Kelly’s mom and he started dating Donna. The two of them were a refreshing duo to watch as their romance was more fun and silly vs. all of the drama with Brenda, Kelly, and Dylan. David had this sizzling personality coupled with Donna’s underrated quirk. He was always trying to be on the radio, or make music, or film something. She was his muse, partner, and manager.

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David, we got to show this to everyone. You’re a genius.

Of course, David made some mistakes with the price of trying to get famous and work in the industry. It’s a dirty business. I think he started to mature more when he started dating Valerie. I honestly didn’t see this relationship lasting too long, though. Valerie was a vixen and knew how to get under everyone’s skin. David, for the most part, was the nice guy. I guess Valerie needed a little more humility in her life and David needed to date someone that could teach him a few things. Though they were sort of cute together, it sickened Kelly and hurt Donna to see them getting closer. I always felt like Valerie had an ulterior motive for dating David. She may have fell for him to an extent, but it wasn’t real love.

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David was also Steve’s sidekick and the two of them got into a ton of shenanigans. He was even there to continue his sidekick duties with Steve’s wife, Janet. David and Kelly also had a solid sibling relationship and he would do anything for her and vice versa. I don’t think the two of them ever saw that coming when he was following her around like a lovesick puppy / paparazzi and Kelly was constantly telling him to go away. Their relationship grew to become the ultimate bro/sis combination.

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And again, he and Donna realized that they were crazy not to be together. They were basically one heart beating in two separate bodies. Stronger together.

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Dylan and His Ladies

Oh Dylan. Dylan, Dylan why must you be so handsome? I instantly fell for Dylan during season one’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” episode. The one where he and Brenda have their first hangout / date. Here he was, genuine Beverly Hills material and he was interested in little Miss Minnesota. I don’t say that to be condescending or anything. What I mean is that Brenda thought her ‘in’ to the Beverly Hills group was to impress Kelly, but all she had to do was be herself and this guy was fascinated by her coolness. She actually didn’t have to do all of that crap (like dye her hair blonde) to create a facade of coolness for Kelly to accept her. What Dylan liked the most about Brenda was that she was easy to hang with like Brandon. Without the pressure. Until there was pressure – to be this ultimate boyfriend for such a wholesome girl. Dylan was used to playing the field and doing whatever he wanted, until he saw that this could hurt Brenda. And he didn’t want that. Sure, he was totally cool and suave – but with Brenda he was a normal guy.

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I’ve said it already, but the foreshadowing of the two girls wanting to impress Dylan in season one is just so uncanny. Who would of thought that by just being Brenda, Dylan would fall for her. He was at his most likable when he was with Brenda. Up until they slept together and the show did everything to drive a wedge between them. The funny thing is that when he was with Kelly, they slept together all the time and it was no big deal. This still baffles me.

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So glad that he and Kelly didn’t last too long and Dylan met someone even more sweet than Brenda – Antonia ‘Toni’ Marchette. Dylan was going through the most with Kelly and I have to admit, seeing him with Valerie after they broke up just made me hate watching Dylan’s storylines. I had no attachment to him and I didn’t care for him, until he met Toni in season six.

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Oh, who is this beauty?

Yes, their whole storyline was very soapy and dramatic with the war with her father. The thing that broke my heart though was seeing Dylan so happy and so in love with Toni and having her ripped away from him. I just thought it was cruel.

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Toni was so great that even Kelly couldn’t hate her. She was just what Dylan needed – a light to brighten all of the darkness in his life. When she was killed, I thought it was best for Dylan to leave. I mean, there just wasn’t much for him left in Beverly Hills. I never thought that he and Kelly were soulmates, so why would he stay? Of course, this is television and the show brought him back and put him back in the graces of Kelly. Glad their relationship was open-ended in the series finale.

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Steve Grows Up

Steve’s life seemed to always revolve around women. He was infatuated with the opposite sex. For the longest time, he was the playboy or the boy who lived to have fun. The man-kid, not really growing up. After chasing after Kelly in the early seasons, he seemed to say, screw it, life’s too short. Before we knew it, Steve was chasing the ladies and many of them equally played with his heart. His first serious girlfriend, Celeste, was the sweetest, though.

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Unfortunately, Steve let his immature ways ruin that relationship and she left him. He did meet her at a dating game show, so I knew the relationship was bound to hit the breaks in the long run. Steve soon started dating Clare Arnold. Clare was definitely a match in one-uping Steve. She was witty and kept things interesting for the two of them.

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They actually couldn’t stand each other in the beginning. Clare with her big mouth and Steve with his immaturity. All of their pent-up angst for each other lead to lust, and then love. In between, we got some pretty funny moments of Clare saying things that totally embarrassed Steve and him irritating her. When she left, Steve was heartbroken.

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I’m so confused to why I love you.

Steve became the master of longing after unattainable women. There was a vicious cycle of Steve latching on to a girl and them basically getting the best of him and pretty much (consciously and unconsciously) using him (cough, cough Valerie). Steve desired to be the ultimate bachelor, but after being best friends with Brandon for years, Brandon’s good will and ‘family man’ ethics started to rub off on Steve. He then desired to be a part of something bigger than himself. He later met Janet Sosna, and though their relationship was rough in the beginning with Janet’s parents against the “untraditional” pair and Janet also questioning Steve’s maturity, they later started their own little family and got married. Janet and Steve had their own (tabloid/National Inquirer-inspired) newspaper and Steve was finally a part of something bigger – outside of the group. He had people relying on him and he, though comically, succeeded at being the family man.

How did we let The National Inquirer scoop this story before us?

Brandon Walsh, The Boy Wonder

No, I certainly did not forget about Brandon Walsh. The man with the plan. The good guy. The great guy. The boy scout. Brandon served as the leader of the group and the main character for eight seasons. His big plans and overall, good guy exterior (and interior) was the glue keeping the group together.

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Just look at that smile.

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Even though his Beverly Hills friends all had their different passions and dominant traits, Brandon brought them all together and they all felt wanted and a part of something with Brandon around. Of course, no one is perfect and Brandon surely showed his flaws from time to time. Even though he always strived to do the right thing, and be the symbol for the right thing, his inner desires pulled him left field. Like dating Kelly after (while) her and Dylan went through a rough patch. Kelly was a friend and Dylan was one of his best friends. But, Kelly was like a golden trophy and I think Brandon wanted to prove to himself that he could have her. I already mentioned this before, but Brandon also ended up cheating on Kelly with Emily Valentine, because he was so wanted by Emily and he felt like he had to have her (since their relationship failed in high school).

But let me back up for a second. I always thought that Brandon and Andrea made a really good pair. Sure, I liked him and Kelly together, but Andrea was sort of like his equal. She was smart and goal-oriented and this made Brandon look up to her.

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But maybe that’s why they remained friends. Brandon held Andrea too dear to him. She was like a sister, someone to set him straight and keep him on the right path. Even though she wanted more than friendship for quite some time, Brandon knew that friendship was much more valuable. Romantic relationships are messy and I don’t think Brandon wanted to taint his and Andrea’s friendship with the downfalls of dating.

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Nothing more awkward than waking up next to your best friend…

They certainly were adorable together, though. Both with those million dollar smiles. They felt safe with each other, like they could totally be themselves. Brandon was the first to accept Andrea into the group, despite her not being wealthy like the rest of the Beverly Hills peeps. Andrea also accepted Brandon and took him seriously as more than just a pretty face. They were the ultimate journalists at West Beverly. Getting the scoop on everyone’s business.

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Power couple?

I saw Andrea as Brandon’s mentor and coach when it came to writing and even entering into politics in college. Andrea had her head on straight when it came to academics (she eventually got pregnant and married their freshman year though), and Brandon looked to her for strategy. Maybe they would have been a power couple, but you know, this show wasn’t much for happy endings. Every romance had to have drama and Andrea and Brandon were too much of a pure couple to actually last as more than friends. Even Andrea and her husband hit a snag with him being unfaithful. But Brandon had her back and she had his.

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Make sure you floss those pearly whites!

Emily Valentine seemed to be someone that Brandon was just magnetically attracted to. First in high school and later on when he ran into her in season five. After the whole Emily slipping Brandon drugs in season two, Brandon saw her as a bad influence – but kind of like his Id. Yeah, let’s get Freudian. Emily allowed Brandon to indulge and be bad. A version of himself that wasn’t accepted by the rest of his friends, or at least a side that he didn’t want his friends to see. The annoying thing about Emily was that she didn’t seem to care that she was luring Brandon into darkness. Maybe she meant well, but she certainly wasn’t the right girl for Brandon.

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How about a second round, Brandon?

So even with the temptation from Emily, Brandon seemed to know one thing for certain –

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He loved Kelly Taylor. I’m glad that the two of them didn’t date in high school, because the whole dating your sister’s bestie and your bestie’s (Steve) ex would have just taken away from the longing and beauty of them finally getting together in college. I didn’t see it coming after Kelly and Dylan stole the damn show, but it was big when Brandon finally gave into his desire to be with Kelly (and take her seriously). I was still angry at Dylan for choosing Kelly over Brenda and I wanted to finally see Brandon with someone he could actually have a lasting relationship with. Sure, Kelly was still at her annoying stage, but I felt like there was big change coming for her character with Brandon.

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Let’s watch our soaps, honey.

Their relationship was just grounded in this realistic world. They seemed so stable and grown-up, compared to all of the other pairs. Like, their hearts were tugging for each other. Brandon was the ultimate good-guy that Kelly had been in need of, and Kelly was the beautiful princess that Brandon wanted in high school, but he wasn’t ready for her and she wasn’t ready for him. Yeah, Kelly had more depth than being a princess, but she was just so spoiled and entitled in the earlier seasons and when she started dating Brandon, she allowed herself to be better and switch up some of her life goals. All of her (need to be in charge) issues though pushed Brandon away and his big plans to move forward – and away from Beverly Hills was too much for her. Her home was in the 90210, but it was never Brandon’s real home. He wanted things outside of their little bubble and eventually moved away. I’m still pretty sad that it didn’t work out with the two of them, but it all seemed like a mirage anyway.

I vow to let you grow - without me.
I vow to let you grow – without me.

Well there you go, folks. It took me a little while to get this post up, but I had to give the series a more in depth look. Forever a favorite of mine and I’m glad that I discovered it all of those years ago. Whenever I watch the show, I notice something different and see characters through a different lens – based on where I am in my life. Can’t wait until my next rewatch of the series and the new things that will become more important and clear. Love the characters and love the stories. The series became so much more than a teen drama, and that’s one of the things I hold most dearly.

‘Til next time.

TV: Smallville

Music Recommendation: “Weapon” by Matthew Good Band

Smallville is my favorite show. Hands down, without question. Many come close, but nothing competes with the memories spent watching this show (several times). I love Superman. He honestly gives me this [un]realistic hope that this world isn’t totally screwed up and doomed to destroy itself. There are actual writers out there who have created the ultimate hero. He believes in truth and justice. He fights for our safety. He’s from a world beyond ours, sent to correct our wrongs. He’s courageous and charismatic. He’s strong, but not a macho jerk – too difficult to connect with. He doesn’t let us get pushed around by bullies – including the government (#ARGUS #Checkmate #Cadmus). He’s some guy, to say the least. Plus, his cover is a journalist. Out of all things. He likes to be in the know and have a voice within this world that he’s saving on a reg. Did I mention that he’s easy on the eyes, too?

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Well, hey there good looking.
Ok, ok. Let’s talk Smallville.

I started watching Smallville during it’s fourth season. Flipping through the channels, I caught the episode, Devoted (on The WB), and I was hooked. Like I said, I love Superman and comics in general so automatically I was baited into being a fan of this show. To jump in on this episode was quite the experience. I had no idea who most of the characters were – but it was set in high school. From my previous posts, you know how much I love high school / teen dramas. Then, there was this guy with super strength saving his friends from being pummeled to death by jocks affected by a super gatorade-esque drink spiked with love potion from cheerleaders – WHAT!? Then, I realized the super strong guy’s name was Clark. Clark Kent. And one of the girls’ name was Lois.

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Hold the phone. As in Superman ‘Clark and Lois’?? Let me just read up on the show… It’s called SMALLVILLE. Surely enough this was a show about the teen life of Superman and his journey to becoming Superman. I hurried up and found out what channels were airing the first few seasons and never looked back! Thanks ABC Family.

The show is what got me into my other favorite sci-fi dramas including Charmed, Buffy, Angel, Roswell, Supernatural, Heroes, and Firefly. The list certainly goes on. More than just a high school drama, the show was an interesting interpretation on the story that I thought I already I knew. A funny thing about my experience with this show is that I couldn’t exactly binge watch it like I can do now a days (except for ABC Family’s marathons). I watched a few episodes out of order, because I had to catch it when it was being syndicated on ABC Family. The first episode I watched after Devoted was Zero, from season one. I was also watching season four as it aired on The WB (0:26). Basically, I was all over the place with this show and when I finally circled back to the pilot episode – I wouldn’t let anything or anyone disturb me from catching on to every name, every Superman reference, every romantic moment between Clark and Lana, because I was trying to figure out what had happened with those two while watching the current fourth season. Because you know, Lois was there.

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Clark’s default ‘playing dumb’ face.
Then, after experiencing (watching) the rocky relationship between Clark and Lana during the three seasons, Lois’s entrance to the show was a breathe of fresh air. I mean, I love Clark and Lana’s drama and romance, but after a few seasons of Clark’s lies and Lana’s demands – Lois’s quirkiness and kick-ass attitude coupled with Clark’s awkwardness was amazing to watch.

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Their chemistry was undeniable!
Now that I have watched the entire series (several times over) and own all of the seasons on DVD – I am pretty much something of an expert on all things Smallville. Here are some of the things that I absolutely love about the show, along with things that annoy me as well. There were a few things that I thought I was entitled to seeing on the show and at times (later seasons) the show didn’t live up to my expectations in terms of character interpretations and connections to the comics (and the animated Superman and Justice League series). I mean it’s my favorite show, and I am not shy to talk about some of the crap that I had to put up with while watching it as the writers were really testing me in the later seasons. So, here we go…

Clark Kent

My first impression of Clark was: Wow, he’s pretty. Seriously, Tom Welling is absolutely beautiful and back in 2001, he played the heck out of the high school freshman Clark Kent. From the comics, I expected the stereotypical terribly awkward and clumsy kind of a guy (even though Clark was faking it to mask his totally poised nature). And sure, Tom did ‘justice’ to Clark’s awkward and clumsy nature (see what I did there), but the stereotypical high school (outsider) was NOT an impression that Tom could even try to fake. I mean, the guy looked like a modern day prince charming. Gorgeous.

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His eyes alone could pierce right through you (even without the heat vision)! Now, enough with my semi-objectifying of Tom Welling. His portrayal of how lonely Clark was and how strongly he just wanted to fit in and be a normal teenager in high school was believable, especially scenes where he would tower over everyone as they moved out and about their lives without him.

Due to his burgeoning super powers, early on in the series he had to miss out on being a part of sports (football), being totally honest about this whereabouts (when he was saving people), and dating. He actually only wanted to date one girl in particular, Lana Lang, but she wore a meteor rock (kryptonite) necklace – so she literally made Clark weak to his knees when she was around him. But, he couldn’t take his eyes off of her and I loved seeing their longing stares.

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Other than his love for Lana, Clark had to deal with obeying his father’s wishes (Jonathan Kent) to just blend in and try his best not to get caught using his powers, while at the same time accepting that he is different from everyone else.

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A lot to put on a teenager’s shoulders, huh? Since Clark had the superhero mentality from the beginning, he couldn’t just sit and watch when danger loomed over his town. He was always at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time – depending on how you look at it. So when the time came for questions to be asked, Clark had to lie about his whereabouts or his connection to anything beyond the normal. Most of the time he tried to prove his innocence to his best friend (soon-to-be-arch-nenemis)…

Lex Luthor

Some of the best scenes in Smallville come from Clark trying to convince Lex that he’s totally a normal teen and the fact that he was always at the scene of something out of the normal happening was totally a coincidence. I got to give it to Lex, he does try his best to believe Clark in the beginning and just wants a normal friendship. Clark was like the brother that he didn’t get the chance to have (re: Julian and all of the other bros/siblings (Tess) that popped up later on). He even protects Clark on a number occasions when his money could do the talking.

But, Lex always had something dark inside of him and I think all of the lies and deceit (coming from his end too) just caught up with him and blurred the lines between good and evil. His distrust of Clark after he knew for sure that Clark was lying to his face (Lex’s got resources, so it was only a matter of time when he could buy the truth) ate away at his soul and he couldn’t and wouldn’t take it any more. The same with Clark. Season five’s Mortal allowed both Clark and Lex to punch it out on an even playing field when Clark became mortal.

Mortal 2

Mortal 3

Clark knew that Lex was losing his soul (figuratively and literally) and there would be times when he knew Lex was definitely lying to his face. All of the back and forth – I’m your best friend – I would never lie to you – You can trust me – pretty much crumbled their friendship and Clark made it his mission to catch Lex in his wrong doings and Lex wanted to reveal Clark’s true powers (and take advantage of them).

There’s a perfect example in season four’s Transference. How could Clark explain this situation? Other than the fact that his body was possessed by the evil Lionel Luthor and Lionel was using Clark’s powers against Lex…

choking lex?

Of course, when Clark approached Lex again (having returned to his own body), Lex was prepared for some answers. Like right now!

defend lex 2

defend lex
I’ll just play dumb and hopefully he buys it.
Clark always had to play dumb and convince Lex to believe some story of how he “wasn’t himself” and that the strength was “adrenaline”or something. Slap to the forehead! Really? That wasn’t the only time this type of situation and even crazier situations have happened to prove that Clark and Lex’s relationship would be the stuff of legends. I think Lex’s final descent into darkness came in season four’s Onyx, when Lex is literally split into his two selves – good and evil.

Face / Off, I mean Transference

Season four’s Transference is one of my favorite episodes as it reminds me of one of one of my favorite films, Face / Off, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. Basically, good guy’s identity is held hostage by his nemesis via face swapping. Hmm, I wonder if the writers knew what they were doing here. In any case, it’s a great episode, especially the prison fight scene with Jimmy Eat World’s Pain playing as the soundtrack. But look, am I wrong…

face off 1
I’d like to take his face…off.
lionel prison 3

clark prison 2

And then…

castor troy prison

lionel prison
Come at me, bro.
transference

john travolta face off
Did you catch that reference?
Chloe, The Wall of Weird, and Meteor Freaks

Back at Smallville High School, home of the Smallville Crows…Clark has this genius and adorable bestie named Chloe Sullivan. Chloe was one of the names I didn’t recognized when I first watched Devoted, so I didn’t catch on quick enough that I was watching a show about Superman. Chloe is a character made up specifically for the show as a “Lois Lane proto-type.” She’s the editor and chief at The Torch (high school paper) and the pioneer of the Wall of Weird.

chloe wall of weird

She’s collected clippings and articles about the paranormal and ‘weirdness’ in Smallville after the first meteor shower (Clark’s plight to Earth from the planet Krypton). A mere notebook couldn’t contain all of the strange and questionable happenings, so she used a wall. Of course, she showed the wall to Clark to impress him, but little did she know that Clark is the sole reason that her wall even exists. The wall jumpstarts Clark’s mission to help those that he affected by coming to Earth and allowing people to be transformed by the infected meteors and thus becoming monsters of themselves and wreaking havoc in Smallville. Thanks, Chloe.

clark chloe
And the monster of the week is…
The infected persons are dubbed ‘Meteor Freaks’ (basically meta-humans or mutants). The kryptonite-laced meteor fragments from the meteor shower somehow mixed into their system during some extraordinary event, like getting caught in frozen water littered with kryptonite meteor rocks for an extended period of time (Ice Man-type freak), or having a flock of insects attack you after crashing your car full of kryptonite infected insects (Bug Boy-type freak). After the freaks set their sights on destroying those who’ve wronged them while they were relatively normal teens – Clark comes in to save the day! With a little help from his friends…

clark and pete and chloe

Chloe (along with Pete Ross [who annoys me, so I’m not going to bother writing about him]) is unknowingly and knowingly Clark’s sidekick – filling him in on the freaks and giving him a head start on how to stop them from causing more damage. Once again, thanks Chloe. But of course, Clark has to lie about how and why he can even go toe to toe with the freaks to stop them.

play dumb chloe 2

play dumb chloe
I’ll just play dumb and hopefully she buys it.
Before long, it’s revealed that Chloe is in love with Clark (how could she not be) and just being his sidekick and best friend was not always enough. Clark did love Chloe (how could he not), albeit only as a friend.

chloe adorable
How could you not love this smile?
Their bond grows deeper after she finds out that she was right all along about Clark being extraordinary. All of the lies and dumb excuses start to make sense and Clark can just tell Chloe that he’s going to save the day and she’s like, ‘I got your back’ and gladly embraces her sidekick status! THANKS. CHLOE.

chloe sidekick

Clark’s Loves

I mentioned earlier that the early seasons of Smallville centered around Clark’s love for Lana Lang. And I admit, I rooted for them until I realized that Lois Lane would soon be gracing Smallville with her presence and SHE was Clark’s soulmate. But I was torn (still am) by which girl is rightfully Clark’s true love. I sometimes argue that Chloe is Clark’s true love by her wit and heroism from the earlier seasons – before the writers turned her into some sort of ‘computer wiz’ and living ‘brainiac’ in the later seasons. Seriously, after she leaves The Daily Planet, she loses her Chloe-ness that I grew to love over the years. I mean, she rightfully deserved to be at the Daily Planet and that’s more than I can say for Lois Lane (later on).

chloe daily planet

But Lois’s first few seasons (seasons four – five and some of six) were when I loved her the most. She was strong and quippy. Most of all, she ticked Clark off. Before Lois, Clark tried his best to get along with everyone and was always Mr. Likable until Lois came around to shake things up. There was actually someone to annoy Clark and to get him into ‘normal’ trouble with his folks like in season four’s Gone.

tough lois 5

tough lois 6

tough lois 8
Didn’t know Clark had it in him, huh Mrs. K?
tough lois 7

Lois drove Clark crazy…in an adorable way. The more she spoke up for herself and got herself into hot water, the more Clark had to step in and be HER sidekick. I think he liked that about her.

Lois and Clark usual

However, in later seasons, Lois becomes this whiney damsel, pining after The Blur (Clark’s first attempt of a Superhero name). I got so sick of her meeting in the telephone booth, calling after this mysterious shadow vigilante. I honestly think, their relationship was rushed into a romantic one anyway. Especially since the writers kind of weakened her character after she already dated two other superheroes in previous seasons (Aquaman and Green Arrow). I struggled taking her and Clark seriously. I never saw the romantic-chemistry between the two of them like I saw between Clark and Lana.

25 Clark

25 Lana

I feel like the writers were shoving Lois and Clark down our throats after Lana left the show. The earlier seasons took the time to show Clark falling in love with Lana, and she with him. Clark put Lana through so much crap, because she knew that he loved her and she let him pull her in. But he wasn’t honest with her and all of the lies pushed her away. The fact that she loved him made her forgive him on many occasions and Clark constantly had to try his best to be the best for her while at the same time keeping his responsibilities in check. His true identity could put her in more trouble than he already had by being close to him (re: season three’s Exile). When he did hurt her, it took him time to forgive himself to be close with her again. He had to push her away to keep her safe, but Lana didn’t understand that.

11 Lana

11 Clark

Even at some of Clark’s most vulnerable moments like in season five’s Reckoning, when Jonathan Kent dies. Lana tried to hold on to the threads of her love for Clark, even though he was hardening up and closing himself off. If she knew what he was really going through (Clark going back in time to save her from dying and instead Jonathan’s life is switched for hers), she probably wouldn’t have been so hard on him about the faults in their relationships.

JK funeral Lana

JK funeral Clark

Which is why Lana started to tick me off in later seasons. She treated Clark like he was this horrible person (mainly because he sometimes had to be to keep her safe) who lied and willingly hurt her feelings. I hated the both of them for treating each other terribly (especially Lana marrying Lex in season six’s Promise). I think Clark could have just told her the truth though instead of stringing her along all of those years. She found out eventually, though, and it’s excellent. But, being honest from the start would have saved them both a lot of heartache. However, Reckoning was a gift of an episode where Clark actually told Lana everything and proposed to her.

14 Clark

14 Lana

Their blissfulness led them down a dangerous path, though, as Lana (now knowing Clark’s secret) became a target to Lex’s crazed demand to be in on the truth as well…resulting in Lana dying. Clark (not having that) changes the past and this time around he doesn’t tell her the truth, thus further pushing Lana away, losing her anyway. She’s now the reason Jonathan is gone, Clark unintentionally weighing her life over his own father’s. The episode is beautiful though, especially the ending soundtracked with Peter Gabriel’s I Grieve. The episode is what I had been waiting to see happen between Clark and Lana FOR YEARS, but I also got to see how (why) Lana knowing Clark’s secret was a dangerous idea.

No matter how much in love Clark was with Lana, I don’t think Clark trusted her enough to be strong enough to handle whatever bad could happen to her if she knew his secret. At least, not in the beginning. It could be that he loved her too much to burden her with the task of keeping his secret. Though she found out eventually and we see how well that worked out (Clark ends up with Lois). All of their ups and downs made a relationship worth watching on television, though.

playing dumb lana
I’ll just play dumb and hopefully…

playing dumb lana 2
Not this time, Clark!
When the Comics Invade Smallville

I think Smallville finally became Superman’s story, when more other DC superheroes and villains made their way to town. Season four introduced a few comic characters like Myxlplyx in Jinx, Bart Allen (“Impulse” / The Flash) in Runand of course Lois Lane in Crusade. Also, Clark (as Kal-El) actually flies in this episode and it’s amazing!

clark flies

Season five introduces fan favorites like Brainiac (played by Buffy alum James Masters), Aquaman, and Cyborg. I think season six is where the series and comics smash-collide in a great way. Green Arrow becomes a re-occurring character, later to become a series regular, played by Justin Hartley.

His presence pushes Clark to finally see that he can’t do this whole saving the world thing alone and needs a little help from others like him – superheroes. You gotta love season six’s Justice. Seeing so many of DC’s finest in live action was something Smallville fans (DC fans in general) had been waiting on for a long time. Can you imagine how stoked I am for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad next year?

justice league smallville

We get a full view of Martian Manhunter in season six’s Phantom (he’s introduced in season six’s Static). Season seven introduces Kara Kent (Supergirl) who’s a series regular that season. Clark basically gets to train her to get used to her abilities just as he had to do in earlier seasons. He became something of a big brother figure. His relationship with Kara was strong, because he had to protect her from those willing to exploit her (cough, Lex) and teach her about the importance of having a secret identity. The thing was, Kara wasn’t raised by humans and she didn’t like to think of her powers as a secret or burden. Well, until she meets Jimmy Olsen (introduced in season six). Then, she wants to be a relatively normal girl. Overall, Kara and Clark’s relationship on the show is a great nod to the comics.

kara smallville

In the case of other characters like Davis Bloome, Tess Mercer, and ‘Major’ Zod – I could have lived without on the show. Surely they tried to fill the void of the villain / anti-hero after Lex Luthor left in season seven. I mean, maybe if they had more time to develop and they started their origins in earlier seasons, I would have taken them more seriously. But honestly, after seeing Lex from season one to his last episode (not including his return in season ten’s series finale) and him developing as the villain, any other bad guy was just filler. Tess Mercer was forced on us and I grew annoyed by how she was supposedly bad, but also good. What made Lex’s villain status so amazing was his chemistry with Clark. Something the later villains lacked.

Characters like Hawkman, Black Canary, and Dr. Fate’s time on the show was just so rushed and I didn’t care about their characters other than the fact they were from the comics. That’s what pains me the most about the series – rushed storylines and empty-important characters. Yeah, sure it’s great to see the Justice League coming into fruition, but what about filling out the characters more? Major props to the costume department though. At least the characters looked great!

canary and flash
…before they were on The Flash

Hanging with my favorite Martian.
Hanging with my favorite Martian.

Anyway, I love the show and I’m sure that if I watch the series again (for the hundredth time), I’ll spot even more things that I love and hate about it. I grew with the show as a teen and now that I am an adult, my perspective of certain characters could possibly change. Maybe. In any case, I hold the show dear and there’s so much more that I could say about it. I mean season eight through ten deserve their own blog (Post-Lex Smallville). Then there’s my love/hate view of what the series did with The Daily Planet and how Lois and Clark somehow became journalists without finishing college. Or even, community college. Then I could rant about Chloe’s character evolution.

Plus, there’s all of the actors that started on Smallville and went into their own series or starred in other DC related films: Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), Adam Brody (The OC), Amy Adams (Man of Steel), Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), and Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries). Then, there’s appearance from Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling (Beverly Hills, 90210), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman series), Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), and so on! Also, Smallville set the tone for new DC comic-centric shows on The CW like Arrow, The Flash, and even Gotham (on Fox). So much to discuss, and maybe I’ll do a part two. Maybe. Watch the series if you have enough time for ten seasons!

‘Til Next Time.

P.S. I do not own any of the photos (or videos) and I do not claim any credit for any of their edits. 🙂

TV: My So-Called Life

Music Recommendation: “Pressure” by Sunscreem

I bet you guys knew this one was coming, especially after the Felicity post. What can I say, I have a knack for teen dramas, especially smart ones, and most especially from the 90’s. To know that My So-Called Life had only ONE season still puzzles me, because it’s brilliant and basically serves as a guide to LIFE [in high school] and as a human being. One of the most amazing aspects of the show is how we’re allowed to be inside of Angela’s head, the protagonist. We’re up close and personal and some of the things that she says or experiences sometimes makes us blush of embarrassment, because we’re just too close to the moment. Then, her relationship with her parents can be quite unnerving (a word said a lot in the show), because you know – she’s a teenage girl trying to find her footing and her parents are trying to figure out how to continue to be her parents without activating a ticking bomb. I remember those days quite clearly and I am thankful to be passed them! High school was all about waiting for something more interesting and amazing to happen later on. Down the line.

MY SO CALLED LIFE
Sitting, waiting, wishing…

The show is a gem and maybe it is best that there’s only one season. There wasn’t a chance for the show to over-saturate us with the unnerving teenage mind or for it to jump the shark with the college years (cough, Saved by the Bell). Then again, the college years could have been great (a la Felicity or Boy Meets World). Guess we’ll never know. The ending is left to our own interpretations and we can let our imaginations decide what eventually happens to Angela, Rayanne, Ricky, Brian, Sharon, Jordan, and the rest of the gang. I hold the show dear and here are some of my favorite aspects of the show.

Being Inside of Angela’s Head

Angela says some of the darnedest things. She’s often observing her fellow classmates, friends, and family experiencing some of life’s tedious and coming of age moments. Often times she gets lost in her own head as she tries to sort out what’s happening in the moment and then offers up some of her ‘teenangsty’ wisdom. She points out the obvious, but her tone emphasizes either her disgust, irritation, boredom, happiness, or whatever (another phase often said in the show).

angela 2

angela 3

The fact that we’re inside her head reveals the truthfulness in situations. I think for the most part she’s honest with herself, so reading her mind (listening to her thoughts) allows us to see the true Angela. The raw truth in the situation. But…

Angela 1

His name is Jordan Catalano

Do you all remember what it was like to have that time/life consuming crush in high school? Or even in junior high? Heck, or college? I certainly do and you know what, I would give anything to visit my younger self and say – snap out of it! Seriously, there would be moments where I would totally ignore the real world around me because I would be so love-sick about the boy that had no idea how amazing I thought he was. He could sneeze and I would think that it was the cutest thing ever. And if he said something to me, I would over-analyze the hell out of whatever he said. Even if he was asking me about homework. His tone, his eye contact, his poise – everything would be going a million miles an hour through my head. I can just slap myself for wasting so much time just thinking when I could have accomplished greater things like learning how to swim, drive, or play the guitar. But that’s being a teenage girl for ya.

jordan love

Angela goes through the same thing. She is totally in love with Jordan Catalano, a boy in her class who was held back a few times. Sounds like a catch, huh? He’s the typical ‘semi-bad’ boy with issues. Brooding and mysterious. He’s in a band and he loves his car. He’s also played by the gorgeous Jared Leto…so yeah I can kind of cut Angela some slack in that regard.

frozen embryos

Angela is so love-struck by Jordan that she totally obsesses over the tiniest things about him like the small hole in his shirt, the way he blinks, and…

leans

Yes, she even gets her friends in on the obsession and they are glad to point out when he’s near in the hallways at school or where he’s hanging out later on. I remember how my friends used to swoon whenever my crush would step inside the classroom or if he looked in my direction. I would die a little inside of embarrassment and they would laugh their heads off. Angela got plenty of that from her two besties, Ricky and Rayanne.

I think some of the best moments with Jordan came from when Angela somehow got maneuvered to be alone with him or she self-orcistrated their alone time. Their two totally different personalities and body language would scream incompatibility, but you just wanted Jordan to want Angela, because you wanted Jordan.

stop talking

I mean, sure he was into Angela (she was the good girl), but she was way too into him because he was ‘cool’. They weren’t compatible or anything though. I think high school and even junior high is where you have to kiss a few frogs to figure out that just because the guy is gorgeous and mysterious, doesn’t mean that you should date him! But their moments were cute and all too realistic that it would be painful to watch them sometimes. angela 4

Here’s one of my favorite Angela and Jordan moments

New friends, Old friends, and Maybe friends

So being in high school means a lot of growing up and changing. Sometimes the changes mean desiring different settings, different clothes, different friends. The show begins with Angela hanging out with her new best friend, Rayanne – the outsider. She is often described as something of a slut with a heart of gold. She drinks a lot and her wardrobe is on the atrocious side…even accounting for it being the 90’s. But Angela is indeed fascinated by Rayanne’s bold personality and independence. Rayanne is always on some sort of high and she just goes with the flow. She knows what’s ‘happening’ and who’s-who’s. Angela is Rayanne’s opposite and desires more of Rayanne’s hipness.

Rayanne hat
Rayanne, the cool cat

With that said, this means that Angela ends up leaving her old friends behind, like Sharon. Sharon is Angela’s childhood best friend. Her family is close with Angela’s family and she’s basically Angela’s sister.

sharon
Hangouts with Sharon

But Sharon is a different type of friend than Rayanne. Sharon is growing up too and is landing more on the popular/ homecoming queen end of the high school spectrum. Angela notices how their bodies are developing at different rates and she begins to feel inferior to someone that she has known to be just like her most of her life.

different ways

Angela wants to be someone different. Her friendship with Sharon was predictable in a way and even though Sharon is loyal and sweet, Angela wants to dare herself to experience life through Rayanne’s lens. That means dying her hair red (because Rayanne says it’s cool) and becoming an ‘outsider’. Sharon loathes Rayanne for stealing away her friend and brainwashing her in a way. But Sharon has to see both Angela and Rayanne at school and it can get pretty awkward.

Ricky, Rayanne’s sidekick and the fashionista questioning his sexuality. He certainly has a beautiful soul and anchors Rayanne when she’s at her worst. Angela also learns what loyalty is from Ricky’s tolerance for Rayanne’s wild behavior and screw-ups.

friends2
Kickin’ it in the ladies room

Ricky also teaches Angela to love herself and be appreciative of her family and support.

friends3
The lovely Ricky Vasquez

The beauty of high school though is learning to identify with more than one friend and bringing old friends and new friends together. Everyone admires somebody, even if they hate to admit it. Surely there’s a curiosity of what it’s like to be someone else or to hang out with so-and-so. Sharon eventually gets onboard with Angela’s new squad, because what they all have in common is that they love Angela.

friends
We can all share Angela

I also love how Angela’s squad eventually includes Brian Krakow and Jordan Catalano. Sure Brian is Angela’s annoying, nosey, know-it-all neighbor who always has some critique about how Angela is living her life and Jordan is well…Jordan. I think Brian stays close to Angela and the gang because yeah, he’s in love with her, but he’s also inspired by how Angela allows herself to change and associate with different people. Brian can be somewhat awkward, cold, and judgmental – but I think he’s more hard on himself than anyone.

bryan

He wants Angela to stay the way that he is comfortable with, but he also wants her to be different and blossom so that he can challenge himself to do the same. In the mean time, he knows how to piss people off and be brutally honest. Which is fun to watch.

or whatever

Jordan ends up in the circle mostly because he and Angela start dating, but also because he begins to learn from her and her friends, like Ricky and Brian. Here are two very different guys in Angela’s life that can teach him a thing or two. Ricky teaches him to be more personable and Brian teaches him to use his brain and not be a stereotypical airhead-hot guy without any prospects after high school.

whatever happens

Falling for Angela means stepping up and trying to be a better version of himself, because Angela deserves that. She and her friends teach him, but he also teaches Angela to loosen up and stop over-analyzing life.

big deal

Family Matters

Some of the most powerful moments in the show focus on Angela’s relationship with her family. Her mom is the overbearing, ‘I know what’s best for you’ type. She overanalyzes the changes that Angela makes with her appearance and her friends. Angela has to fight back her irritation with her mom on many occasions. 

angela 5

But Patricia ‘Patty’ Chase, is played by the stunning and talented Bess Armstrong though so the more you hate her, the more you love her. She just exudes beauty and strength. Her strong judgment of Angela is her way of trying to figure out how to parent a teenager while making sure that her daughter doesn’t lose her identity all too quickly. Patty was adopted and spent her high school years as the prom queen, popular girl. She knows how cruel the kids can be to those on the ‘outside’ and she certainly knows how it feels to be estranged from your family. Angela may want to stab her mom at times, but deep down she just wants to be accepted and live up to the standards that Patty holds for her.

angela and mom
Bess knows best

While Patty was prom queen, Angela’s dad, Graham Chase was on the other end of the spectrum in high school. He went to the same high school as Patty, but she never noticed him. Doesn’t that say something about relationships in high school, or am I over thinking it? I just know that my goal was always to fit in with everyone: popular, smart, outsiders, and even the rebels. I just enjoyed everyone’s view of high school and their expectations of life after high school. It was refreshing to be neutral on the spectrum, but I know that many other people saw me as whatever they believed I was. Popular. Smart. Outsider. Rebel. Or, whatever.

The fact that Patty ends up marrying someone that she didn’t even know existed in her little high school bubble is quite interesting. She passed her future husband in the halls, probably looked right at him on more than one occasion and didn’t feel a thing. Funny how things turn out.

patty and graham

Anyway, Angela and Graham’s relationship becomes uncomfortable as Angela grows up. She notices things about her dad that make her question his faithfulness to her mom. It’s like she stops viewing him as dad and sees him as a man, which unnerves her.

graham and some other woman
That’s not Patty

The older Angela gets the more disgusted she becomes with her parents relationship, because she’s no longer blinded by the innocent lens of a child towards them. She sees them as people, flaws and all. Graham struggles with Patty’s overbearingness and need for perfection and he slightly strays from his marriage, having a mental affair. Angela catches on and doesn’t like what she sees.

Removing the unfaithful husband factor, Angela grows further from Graham because she’s becoming a woman and it’s just not comfortable being around her dad anymore. I think many women can relate going through that phase. Plus, your parents just know things about you that are too personal – because they went through it already.

Parents 1

I can also relate to Angela’s relationship with her younger sister, Danielle. As Angela grows up and becomes interested in boys and makes these new friends, Danielle is left to wonder about Angela’s more interesting life. She can’t go out to parties or make-out with guys. She can’t dye her hair and her mom still picks out most of her clothes. Her sister is the coolest person she knows, which makes her feel uncool, uninteresting, and unworthy of attention. Which makes Danielle envy and become more of a nuisance toward Angela.

I went through the same thing with my older cousin. She started dating and hung out with some rebellious chicks. I just felt like she had forgotten about me and our moments playing with Barbie dolls and riding our bikes in the yard. Suddenly her life was more interesting and I was left to be treated like a child, while she had freedom. The funny thing is that I became an Angela to my own little sister. I took my cousin’s place and my sister had to watch me grow up and do things that she still wasn’t allowed to do. It just sucks watching the person you admire the most pass you up and you get stuck on the sidelines.

angela sister
Be the person that inspires you for Halloween

Oh 90’s, how I miss thee

I love that the show is set in the mid-90’s. Cue alternative tracks from bands like The Cranberries, Buffalo Tom, and Stone Temple Pilots. Cue the grunge culture with the numerous oversized plaid flannels. I love it. I absolutely love it. The dyed/ spiked/ bobbed/ long and wavy hair with barrettes. The dark lip liner. The floral dresses and floppy hats. The combat boots over tube socks, over tights. The references to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s unfortunate suicide in 1994.

dreams2

cobain

This was the era of rave culture and laptop-less DJs. The era of note passing in class. You had to show up and hang with your friends instead of texting from afar. The times seemed easier, but more complicated at the same time. Looking back at the style, I can’t help but wonder what on earth were we thinking? I was a kid at the time, but my parents didn’t shy away from dressing me in the attire. I miss it though. Skateboards and cut off long shorts with Chuck Taylor’s. The 90’s pioneered the grungy-skater look while people today kind of just pose in what has already transpired and expired. Certainly the music will never be the same and I can go on and on about how house, techno, rock and alternative music today is just NOT the same quality and doesn’t hold a candle to the 90’s or even the early 00’s. I’ll forever be nostalgic to the times and this show is a nice little time machine.

angela style

style
There’s so much going on with Rayanne’s outfit, but she’s still fabulous

rayanne style

ryanne style
I see you rocking’ those tights and barrettes, girlfriend

The Elusive Tino

Whenever there’s a party or something cool happening, Rayanne or Jordan assured the squad that Tino would hook them up with access, a ride, or fake IDs.

tino 1

The thing is, Tino is never shown. He’s the running gag on the show: the coolest person ever with the keys to the kingdom, but we never see him. We just know that if Tino will be at the party, then you know it’s the place to be! At the same time though, he’s like the flimsiest guy ever and not that dependable. He even quits Jordan’s band.

tino2

tino3

At the end of the day, Angela, though seemingly self-absorbed and overly obsessive, eventually acknowledges that the people around her inspired her to change for the better and that she also inspired them. Life extends beyond high school and it’s important to enjoy the different people while you can before your teenage years are over. Angela’s friends mattered. Her family mattered. She mattered. All of the moments as a teenager seemed so important, and they taught her what it meant to grow up, love, forgive, and be comfortable in one’s own skin.

small things

‘Til next time.

P.S. Count how many times Shannon Leto pops up throughout the show. Who else is a 30 Seconds to Mars fan?

shannon leto

TV: One Tree Hill

Music Recommendation(s): “Scream” by Chris Cornell  / “Ride” by Cary Brothers

Cue Gavin Degraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” and let’s head back over to the fictional town of Tree Hill, North Carolina.

I’m a huge fan of One Tree Hill. The show is inspirational. I mean, some of the things that it touched on would hit my core and I would either be in tears, start thinking about how short life can be (while feeling ever ending at times). Thinking about how PEOPLE walk into our lives, and back out again. How we’re stuck with memories or regrets based on their momentary impacts.

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FAMILY can shape us and sometimes break us if we let them. FRIENDS are a gift to us. Think about it: With family, we can’t pick and choose, but friends are these people that we connect with and they essentially become our family. I think the idea of friendship can be taken for granted, because these people voluntarily love us and choose to be around us. And I am not talking about normal acquaintances – I mean the people that know us better than we know ourselves and will do anything for us (and vise versa). The next time you see your friends, hug it out – just because. Then again, this too can be said for family.

Here’s a little background: One Tree Hill begins about the story of Lucas and Nathan Scott, half brothers fathered by Dan Scott (the funniest and most hated guy on the show). Lucas is the rejected son, but grew up with a supportive mother, Karen, and loving uncle, Keith Scott. Nathan is the spoiled rich brother who had a dad growing up, but was subject to the mental abuse of Dan. You see, Dan always wanted to win and be the best. When he didn’t go all the way in his basketball career, he pushed Nathan to be the best. And oh yeah, basketball is the common thread in the show – along with music, literature, and art. Both brothers have talent, but their different upbringings make them competitive and the game becomes more than a just a sport.

basketball

One Tree Hill is essentially about life, family, friendship, love, and loyalty. The show really allows the audience to grow with the characters and over time, you can look back at the spectrum of the characters’ growth and it is a beautiful thing.

growth

Here’s what I love about the show: 

Family 

I mentioned earlier that Lucas, the protagonist of the show, grew up without a father. However, I should rephrase that by saying that he grew up without his biological father, Dan. But, the thing is that he was better off without the SOB. Lucas had Karen and Keith, two people that raised him to have character and to be the best version of himself – no matter what life threw at him (and it threw some mean curve balls). When Lucas decided to go for his dreams (basketball and later writing), the lessons that Karen and Keith taught him shaped him to be a person that would inspire his friends and family.

karen lucas

lucas keith karen

Though Brooke Davis virtually grew up without any sort of parental support, she managed to allow her friends to teach her valuable lessons and to let her own mistakes shape her to be and do better. Her parents financially supported her, but love was the missing factor for a while. Until she became a successful fashion designer, her parents were no where to be found. Her mother, Victoria, became her MANAGER and their relationship was vile until Brooke had the strength to rise up and teach her own mother what it meant to love.

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As a teen, Nathan was the most grown up in his household (and that’s saying a lot). His parents couldn’t seem to grow up and rise up. Dan was probably the worse person to be raised by and Deb (Nathan’s mom) was too strung out on prescription pills (because she was married to Dan) to be coherent enough to be a mom to Nathan. Nathan’s love came from Haley and their support of each other lead him to teach his parents a thing or two about being a family. Through all of the crap that Nathan had to put up with (including Dan’s “betrayal” of his own brother), Nathan had enough love from Haley and their own family to forgive the broken one that he was raised by.

nathanhaley jamie

dan dies

Off camera, Haley grew up with a large and supportive family, but Lucas and Karen were her surrogate family while hers travelled and led their own lives. It seemed that she was the most adept to “staying” (until she left) among her parents and many sisters. Her parents idea of parenting was teaching their children valuable lessons, and once they were adults – they were on their own to use those lessons to be whoever they wanted to become. A very loose way of parenting, I think. They were free spirits, though and Haley was mature for her age. Haley and Lucas’s close friendship kept her grounded until she fell in love with Nathan (and later music) and was starting to find her own way. One of the saddest moments in the show is when her mother, Lydia, returns to Tree Hill only to spend one last moment with her daughters.

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Adopted, Peyton also grew up with a limited amount of parenting. You know something, all of the (teen) characters basically had a fractured family. I don’t know if that can be said about ‘real life’, but jeez, this is kind of sad the more I think about it. Anyway, Peyton lost her adoptive mother when she was young and her adoptive father travelled a lot for work and was hardly ever present. But, Peyton was truly loved by the both of them and this made her kind of a downer (but very artistic). Eventually, a handful of Peyton’s ‘real’ family walked back into her life and she struggled with not having them growing up and allowing them to affect her present life. Again, another sad moment is when Peyton’s biological mother, Ellie, comes back – and (you guessed it) leaves again.

ellie peyton

Music, Art, and Literature 

The lives of the characters are very much affected and shaped by their natural talents. Peyton is the artist and music enthusiast, Lucas is the writer (he too is very skilled at b-ball, but it’s not his first gift if you ask me), Brooke is the fashion designer, Haley is the brain and musician, and Nathan is the athlete. These talents connect the characters to one another and ‘save’ them in their darkest moments – but as well as produce some of their happiest moments.

Lucas’s love of literature and his first published work, An Unkindness of Ravens, lends to some of the show’s most inspirational quotes and narration.

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Haley’s gift of music nearly destroyed her relationship with Nathan, but it also made them closer than ever. She was her truest self when she was able to sing and be surrounded by music. This also taught Nathan to value his gift of playing basketball and to become even greater at it. Music played a huge part in the show (the show has one of my favorite soundtracks ever). Artists such as Gavin Degraw, Fall Out Boy, Explosions in the Sky, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Eat World, Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and The Wreckers, Tyler Hilton, and many were featured. New artists debuted on the show and Bethany Joy Lenz’s (Haley) real life musical ability was spotlighted. 

haley singing

p.sawyer
DJ. P. Sawyer

“The boy saw the comet, and suddenly his life had meaning”

Lucas and Peyton’s relationship was the stuff of legend. In the beginning, the two of them were connected by their mutual brooding, but their connection exceeded that throughout the show. Again, because they were both artists in their own rights, they found a connection that out-phased everything else.

comet lucas

When Peyton was too afraid to let someone love her, Lucas moved on to Brooke, which I think was genuine, but not true love. Brooke was merely a substitution and Lucas was someone that made Brooke feel insecure about herself. He never truly let her in as he was subconsciously (and consciously) waiting for Peyton to realize the truth. Of course with all love triangles – things got very messy, especially since Brooke and Peyton were best friends.

lucas brooke peyton
Torn between two lovers

number 3 heart

When the three of them were honest with themselves and each other, Lucas and Peyton finally got together. But with love, the road is filled with many obstacles and detours. For years, these two continued to fight for each other (even when others were in their places – cough Lindsay, cough Julian). Both of Lucas’s novels were about Peyton, even when he thought they weren’t. The Comet He subconsciously wrote to her to let her know – “It’s you, Peyton.”

peyton happy lucas

lucas peyton wedding

“Always and Forever”

Nathan and Haley had one of the most surprising, but beautiful relationships. They started on the opposite ends of the high school totem pole – the jock and the brainiac. Yeah I know, stereotypes, but they come from somewhere right? Anyway, while Nathan was getting tutored by Haley, he fell in love with her and she with him. Kind of a Cinderella story.

Haley Nathan s1

But again, love is not this smooth sailing thing. They got married in high school –  so they still had a lot of growing up to do on their own ends. They had yet to realize what they wanted for themselves and from each other. Indeed it was a bumpy ride, but this couple seemed to be the one that the others admired and aspired to be. For the most part, they were together through the length of the series. Always and…

nathanhaley100

“Brooke Davis is going to change the world someday, and I’m not sure she even knows it”

Brooke is my favorite character in the show. She began as the stereotypical cheerleader – boy crazy and kind of ditzy. She ‘slutted’ herself around during the first few years of high school, until she had her heart-broken by Lucas. Actually, she still kind of ‘worked her magic’ after both big splits with Lucas. Brooke fell so hard for him that somewhere in the process, she lost herself, but eventually found someone that she didn’t even know that she could be. For a while, she put all of her energy into partying and dating, because the alternative – the big picture- was something that she didn’t want to think about.

brooke2

After being the third wheel in Lucas and Peyton’s love story for far too long, Brooke made a name for herself by creating her own fashion line and grew up to be a responsible and tough as nails chick.

Clothes Over Bros, yo!

Eventually though, she wanted more than just work and money, and sought after forming her own family – because hers sucked. After fighting with her mother and dating the wrong guys, she wanted a family that was truly her own.

Brooke1

Eventually though, she got everything that she could ever want – literally taking a few cuts and bruises to get there.

brooke babies

“Every good story needs a villain, I’m sorry but I’m yours”

Dan Scott. The most hated guy in Tree Hill. Like the quote says above, every good story needs a good villain, and this guy takes the cake. I’ll try to list some of the crap Dan did in the series and you try to figure out how he continued to worm his way into his family’s lives. First and foremost, he truly was a self-righteous guy.

Dan and Nathan

The next thing (and creating the premise of the show) he left Karen while she was pregnant with Lucas. He then knocked up Deb and stayed with her all in a matter of months. Then, he pit Nathan against Lucas, making Nathan feel more superior. He chastised Keith for sticking around and supporting Lucas, when he was too proud to do so himself. Few years later, after all of the pushing to be the best, he alienated Nathan and Deb – making them two more people to hate him. There’s also a bunch of crap that he pulled with Whitey – the basketball coach and voice of reason in the show’s the show’s early seasons. Their feud made up for some great moments.

dan and whitey

I can skip all of the bullying that he continued to do, including paying someone to fall in love with and break Keith’s heart. I mean, the guy was truly an ass, but there’s one thing that he did that sent the characters and the show on a painful path – shooting and killing Keith – his own brother. Yep, he took away the person that everyone loved, because he envied him. Pretty Shakespearian, huh?

dan and keith

As you can imagine, the characters would never be the same again and Dan could never truly be a part of his family. Though honestly, Nathan was someone that he truly loved and in some way, he tried to make him a better man than he ever was or could be. When Nathan became a NBA player and had a family of his own, the thing Dan regretted the most was not being a part of it. Hey, he even regretted not being a part of Lucas’s family. Their hatred didn’t stop him from trying though, because –

dan scott kill

An Unkindness of Ravens 

As mentioned before, basketball is a huge part of One Tree Hill. In the beginning, it was used to pit Lucas and Nathan against each other, but before long, it was the game that brought ALL of the characters together. Though I enjoyed all of the competitiveness and how the feud made for comedic moments – it was when the game fostered moments of joy that made it special.

nathan lucas

bond brothers

For a while, Lucas and Nathan fought over the game and kept score of who was the best, but it was indeed Nathan that was the most gifted at it. From being someone raised to be competitive and have little character, the game was something that he truly loved. Before we knew it, Nathan was training to be the best – not just at the game – at being a husband, a brother, a father, and a son (to Deb). He rose above Dan, but became all that Dan wanted him to be and more.

nathan scott

Lucas also loved the game, but his role exceeded being just a player. Inspired by Keith and Whitey, Lucas became a coach to share with the next generation all that he learned from the game. He even helped Nathan get back on track after his accident.

lucas coach

I’ll end this, because my caffeine high is coming to a halt. There’s so much more to talk about, but the best way to appreciate the show is to watch it. So yeah, pop some popcorn and binge watch. Don’t forget to take in all of the inspiring moments. Dance to the music. Cry when the ones you start to love – leave. And laugh at all of Dan’s belittling and Nathan and Whitey’s incredible comebacks.

dan whitey 2

‘Til next time.