Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Television’

On “shipping”: When fandom becomes a crusade, things get ugly

August 14, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Psychology, Television 6 Comments →

G-rated Johnlock fanart


Shipping is as old as fandom itself. But traditionally, fans never expected their particular pairing to “become canon” — that is, to officially happen on a show or in a storyline. In modern fandoms, however, fans of movies and TV shows often root for their ships to become canon the way sports fans root for their teams. If the football fans’ goal is to see their team win the Super Bowl, the shipper’s goal is to see their ship “win” by entering the narrative as an official storyline.

These shippers collectively form group narratives about their favorite ship. More and more, these group narratives are evolving into unshakable belief systems that usually take one of three increasingly common forms:

1) The belief that the ship in question is unquestionably going to become canon

Historically in fandom, liking a ship meant just that: You liked a ship. Anything more than that would get you a lot of side-eyeing. In the Harry Potter fandom, the advent of Ron and Hermione becoming a couple in the sixth book led to a very famous (and still ongoing) meltdown among Harry/Hermione shippers.

At the time — fandom in 2005 — their unwavering faith that Harry/Hermione would eventually become canon was widely seen by fandom at large as extreme, because shipping was typically viewed as something that existed outside of canon and generally had no particular relationship to the course of canon at all.

Today, expecting your ship to become canon is more or less the norm. But there are lots of complications with this line of thinking. Even if a ship does become canon, it might not become canon in a way that fans like — Buffy/Spike, anyone? And of course it might not be guaranteed to remain canon. Breakups happen, actors leave shows, and, as The 100 fans were brutally reminded earlier this spring, characters die.

Read it.

Rx: Pop culture therapy for anxiety, ennui, the fear that you’ve wasted your life

August 03, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies, Music, Television 2 Comments →

Symptoms: Fear and despair over the state of the world

Treatment: Stranger Things.

It’s supposed to be a horror series—bizarre stuff happens, and some of it is quite scary—but its real hook is nostalgia. Specifically 80s nostalgia: Steven Spielberg of the Close Encounters and E.T. era; Stephen King’s The Body/Stand By Me, It, Firestarter; Goonies; a smattering of 80s music from The Clash, Joy Division, Foreigner, The Bangles and others; Winona Ryder as a harried single mom whose Dungeons and Dragons-playing kid goes missing. The early episodes are the best: they create a mood of unease and “What the hell!” while telling us nothing. When they start explaining the baffling events, the intensity slackens. The series becomes less interesting, but by that time you’re emotionally invested and you have to see it through. Part of the fun lies in identifying the movie references and predicting what happens next. Kids protecting a fugitive and fleeing the authorities on bikes: Will they fly?

Effects: Watching horror mysteries makes us feel that we can make sense of the absurd. And nostalgia is very comforting: it takes us back to a past in which we believed we could understand what was going on.


Symptoms: Life has lost its flavor, and you are mired in ennui.

Treatment: The Great British Bake-Off.

I’ve never been much interested in reality show cooking competitions in which judges terrorize the contestants and reduce them to tearful blobs of jelly. That does not happen here. Everyone is polite, the hosts are funny, the competitors don’t try to destroy each other (if they do, it’s not in the final edit), and the criticism is constructive (The judges soften the blow because life is hard enough as it is).

Effects: Observing the process of creating cakes and pastries is deeply soothing.

Symptoms: You suspect you will never fulfill your ambitions and that you have wasted your life.

Treatment: Sing Street

This musical drama-comedy by the guy who made Once and Begin Again (and got a lot of flak for bad-mouthing Keira Knightley) is about a bunch of kids in economically-depressed Ireland in the 80s who deal with domestic strife and school bullies by forming a band, writing songs and making primitive music videos. The pastiches of songs by Duran Duran, The Cure, Hall and Oates are actually good. I would buy “Drive It Like You Stole It”. The film features the best brother in the world, who makes the nerdy kid listen to Joe Jackson and tells him to follow his dreams while everyone else is mocking or ignoring him. Listen, it’s corny and it’s usually an over-promise, but everyone needs to hear some variation of the “Go for it” speech as a kid. (Technically I got a lot of “Go for it” speeches but they were couched as “Why are you wasting your time when you could be blah blah blah.”) Jack Reynor plays the big brother, and Littlefinger Mayor Carcetti is the dad. Think of it as The Commitments, junior edition.

Effects: The film has a contagious joyfulness, and may remind you of your younger, brasher, more optimistic self.

The North remembers to send handwritten letters.

July 25, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Notebooks, Television 1 Comment →

because sending ravens doesn’t tell the full story.

open box

Dear Jon,

The DNA test results are in. You are a Stark. . .on your mother’s side.


I am writing this on House stationery so you know I’m not Littlefinger. The information could fill the notebook but the blasted thing has lines and I cannot write on lined paper.


Here is my seal.

House Stark and House Targaryen stationery boxes, Php1679 at National Bookstores.

Congratulations to the winner of our GoT Moleskine contest

July 17, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest, Television No Comments →

That’s abcabc’s canine housemate, who looks like a handsome young Chewbacca.

The easiest way to get into Tolstoy’s War and Peace

July 13, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television No Comments →


There have been many film and TV adaptations of War and Peace, but the 2016 BBC series written by Andrew Davies and directed by Tom Harper is especially accessible to the contemporary audience. In this case accessible is a good thing because it will drive viewers to the source. The Louise and Aylmer Maude translation, okay, we have learned our lesson.

The novel is huge and sprawling and this version is abridged to fit into six one-hour episodes. It makes short work of those pages and pages of scheming relatives trying to keep Pierre from his inheritance. You get just enough of a taste of the good stuff: Pierre getting roped into marriage with Helene who sleeps around, the dashing Prince Andrei who is sick of life, the lovely Natasha pining for her fiancé and seduced by that terrible Kuragin, the battles of Austerlitz and Borodino, Helene’s comeuppance, the heartbreaking dog. The cast is wonderful: Paul Dano as Pierre, James Norton (now the frontrunner in the betting for the next James Bond) as Andrei, Stephen Rea as Prince Vassily and Gillian Anderson as Princess Scherer.

Of course everything depends on our falling in love with Natasha, and Lily James has to compete with the ghost of Audrey Hepburn, but she acquits herself gracefully. That ballroom scene: we really, really want Andrei to ask her to dance.

And like Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, which also takes place during the Napoleonic Wars, the Rostov matriarch is the one who worries about money.

Who are the worst parents on Game of Thrones? Answer this and win a limited edition Moleskine.

July 05, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Contest, Television 23 Comments →

Update: The winner of the Worst Parents in Westeros contest is abcabc.

# 18 abcabc Says:
July 7th, 2016 at 18:20 e
Craster is the worst parent for me. Imagine being his daughter or granddaughter. The daughters were raped and forced to bear his offspring. It might be confusing for the daughter because yes, she must have loathed the baby, but then there’s love too. And then if it turns out it’s a boy, it will get killed. If it’s a woman, well, she’s in for a lifetime of slavery. Craster is the worst because unlike the children of other GOT characters, his did not have the luxury of a friend’s company. They cannot leave. They were forced to be in that situation without recourse. Imagine all the things that hurt you never going away and knowing you will never escape.

Congratulations! You can claim your limited edition Game of Thrones Moleskine at the Customer Service counter of National Bookstore at Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati, any day starting Wednesday. Just give the name you used to register on this site (Your initials and surname). Enjoy your Moleskine.

* * * * *

Jon Snow may be a bastard and an orphan, but given the state of parenting in Westeros, he may be one of the lucky ones. He was raised by the honorable Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark, who was mean to him but admitted she was mean to him. Good parents are rarer than Valyrian steel in the Seven Kingdoms. There’s Tywin Lannister, who hated his youngest child Tyrion and withheld his affection from the twins. Cersei’s one redeeming quality apart from her cheekbones was her love for her children, but now she’s dead inside.


There’s bonkers Lysa Arryn, who breastfed Robin till he was ten and was moved to instigate the game by her enduring lust for Petyr Baelish. Stannis Baratheon loved his daughter Shireen and would not give up the search for a cure for greyscale (hope for Jorah Mormont), but had her burned at the stake. Walder Frey and Balon Greyjoy are just horrible. Randyll Tarly maltreated Samwell and wished him dead. We almost forgot the loathsome Craster, Gilly’s father.

Who are the worst parents on Game of Thrones? (Let’s limit the field to the TV show because if we bring in the books and the histories this discussion would go on for months.) Post your answer in Comments, along with a brief explanation of your choice. The winner will receive this limited edition Game of Thrones Moleskine pocket notebook.


Valar Morghulis.

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Our Worst Parents in Westeros raises an interesting set of questions.

What is a bad parent?
Is it possible to be a terrible human being but a good parent?
Is it possible to be a decent human being but a horrible parent?
How much responsibility do parents have over how their offspring turn out? There are nice people who have awful spawn, and there are monsters who somehow produce decent people.
What about redeeming qualities?
Nature or Nurture?
Are some people just bad?

Your nominees are:

Roose Bolton, for fathering Ramsay. Granted, Roose is a murderous traitor, and it’s hard to find redeeming qualities for a House that flays its enemies alive. But is Roose completely responsible for his monster son?

Craster, for raping and enslaving his daughters and granddaughters, and then giving all the male children to the White Walkers.

Randyll Tarly, for hating his fat, nerdy son Samwell (Samwell Tarly = Samwise Gamgee). Who nevertheless turns out to be a mensch.

Daenerys Targaryen, for sacrificing her unborn child to save her husband Khal Drogo. In her defence, the witch was not clear about the terms of the deal. Also I don’t think we can fault her for raising dragons rather than children. She can’t have children, plus you can’t conquer Westeros without an air force. (What about Aerys II Targaryen who wanted to burn everyone?)

Walder Frey, lecherous traitor who hosted the Red Wedding. Father to many, many unhappy children. But should responsibility for the Red Wedding not be shared by Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister?

Mace Tyrell, for total cluelessness. On the other hand, his children had fabulous wardrobes and made their own choices. (Did Lady Olenna emasculate her son?)

Cersei and Jaime Lannister, incestuous twins, parents of the horror that was Joffrey. Myrcella and Tommen turned out okay, but were just pawns for Cersei. Shouldn’t Jaime be held accountable as well? Shouldn’t Robert Baratheon, who was officially Joffrey’s father? Then again, Cersei had Robert killed.

Melisandre, mother of the smoke baby that killed Renly Baratheon. Though she didn’t really raise it, just kind of farted it out. She is a murderous religious fundamentalist. Does she get points for bringing back Jon Snow? (One could argue that Jon would’ve come back anyway.)

Clegane, father of Gregor “The Mountain” and Sandor “The Hound”. Even as a child Gregor was a monster abetted by his father. But Sandor is an interesting character–there’s good in him, though it may be too late for redemption.

Eddard Stark, for leaving Winterfell and valuing his honor more than the lives of his children. In his defense, he confessed to treason in exchange for the safety of Sansa and Arya. The deal was for him to take the black, but Joffrey had his head cut off. (What about Catelyn, who left little Bran–whom their enemies had tried to kill twice//and Rickon to rule Winterfell?)

Lysa Arryn overindulged her son and turned him into a spoiled wimp who will be a pawn forever. Baelish used her to set the Game of Thrones in motion, endangering parents and children throughout the Seven Kingdoms.

Stannis Baratheon, killed his brother and his daughter in his futile quest to be king. And had no sense of humor.

Mommy Direwolf can’t really be blamed for dying. (May as well fault Lyanna Stark for dying in childbirth.) If the Starks hadn’t adopted the pups they’d be dead, too.

Keep sending your answers.

Number of people who have told me they are worried for Lyanna Mormont: 10.

Westerosi Parents of the Year shortlist:

Oberyn and Ellaria Martell seemed like cool parents, but their daughters turned out to be surly killers.
Davos Seaworth
Selwyn Tarth, whom we have never seen, allowed his daughter Brienne to be a warrior.