‘The Sopranos’ and its relevance today

By: Teah Henry 

I recently finished my first watch through of ‘The Sopranos’, and I wasn’t the only one who was binging the show. According to HBO, the show’s viewership went up 179% at the start of the pandemic. ‘The Sopranos’ still manages to be relevant today with its commentary on mental health, social issues, and American capitalism despite its finale airing in 2007. 

The show cemented itself as a staple in television history with its realistic, complex characters and being one of the first shows that proved T.V. could be just as effective as film.

It was also one of the first to utilize the anti-hero; a protagonist that the viewer isn’t meant to agree with or even like. ‘The Sopranos’ paved the way for other shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Rescue Me’. 

It’s not far fetched to say that most mafia stories are critiques of capitalism. They take place in a system that encourages cheating and competitiveness, and the members are often not happy with the way things are. The way that only a few in the mafia make a large profit while sending out lower ranking members to do the dangerous work is reminiscent of the small amount of people that hold the majority of wealth while most Americans are stuck working for a living. Christopher’s frustrations with Tony are the same as workers towards their own bosses; feeling used and not cared about. 

During the pandemic, the rich got insanely richer while the working class struggled to make ends meet. Congress couldn’t agree to send out another stimulus check a year after the first one, while other countries were consistently sending them out monthly. A lot of people became aware of America’s unfair distribution of wealth, and ‘The Sopranos’ bleak look at how capitalism only keeps its citizens unhappy helped people feel heard. 

Tony’s struggle with his mental health was also something viewers could relate to. Struggling with depression and panic attacks, Tony has to hide his problems to nearly everyone in his life due to social stigma. Tony’s inability to feel completely happy and satisfied is something a lot of people deal with, especially now as living conditions in America become worse.

Teens may also see themselves in the character AJ, Tony’s son, who is a teen throughout most of the show. He inherited his father’s mental health issues. His struggle with school and finding a purpose in his life is familiar to many. 

While almost all of the characters in ‘The Sopranos’ are irredeemable, there is something relatable about their feelings and struggles, and the commentary it makes will always ring true with American culture. 

‘Attack on Titan’ season 4 review

By: Mohamed Ahmed

As you may know, ‘Attack on Titan’ season 4, is coming out weekly. As of March 24th there are 16 episodes out. This anime is arguably the most watched seasonal anime coming out right now. Apparently, season 4 is the final season of the anime, and this is what I think about the season so far. 

Animation 

The animation for this last season is really good. The studio in charge is most known for doing another anime called ‘Vinland Saga’. The animation studio is WIT studio.

They have the task of animating much harder things and details than the other seasons, like the technological advancements in this series during the timeskip. Trains, guns, and explosions are rampant in this season making it a much more difficult task to animate. Even with all that, they are doing a great job with consistency and the animation is much better than expected. 

Voice acting 

For this season, you have good news for both sub (Japanese) and dub (English), because the voice acting is phenomenal. Especially in Japanese, this part of the anime is flawless.

The octaves of the voices changed according to what they used to sound like, and for me personally, they sound exactly like what four years would do to someone; older characters sound the same as younger characters grew up. 

Designs 

The designs are really good for most characters. The main character, his sister, and his best friend have all aged and the designs were really good. On top of that, the change in animation really made the designs look significantly better because we were unfamiliar with this animation style.

Changes 

This is by far the worst part of this season. The changes they made to save time cheapens the story. They keep the most important parts intact, but the foreshadowing and other details, like character interaction and buildup, were removed. The more time passes the worse it will get, and the more they will skip.

They are claiming that this is the final season, but to this day, the manga is still coming out.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview with Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, March 7, 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, gave an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Here are some of the main takeaways from this interview:

They got married early

In the interview, Meghan told Oprah that she and Harry got married three days before the actual ceremony on national television was viewed by over a million people. They confirmed that they performed a ceremony in their backyard because they wanted to have a private union between them.

Kate made Meghan cry

Before the wedding, the British tabloids reported that Meghan made Kate Middleton cry because of a fight about the flower girl dress Princess Charlotte would wear. But in the interview, Meghan said “It was the other way around that Kate made her cry about the outfit.” Meghan also said that Kate apologized and sent her some flowers. Due to that incident, she said that was the “turning point” in her relationship with the royals because, when the story got out, the royal family didn’t fix the story.

Baby Archie’s skin color

Back in 2019, when Meghan was pregnant with Archie, they said there were “concerns and conversations” with Prince Harry about “how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” Later, when Prince Harry joined the interview, Winfrey asked him if he’d give the name of who made comments about skin color. He didn’t answer. 

Meghan’s suicidal thoughts

Meghan told Winfrey that she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” and that killing herself would “solve everything for everyone.” She also said that she confided in her husband about her thoughts of suicide, and also to a senior royal to seek inpatient care, but was told it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

Gender reveal of their baby

When Prince Harry joined the interview, the couple revealed that they were expecting a baby girl. This child will be eighth in line for the throne, following her brother Archie. They also revealed that they will not be having any more babies; that their family is now complete.

Loss of royal protection

Every royal family has received bodyguards. During Harry and Meghan’s move to Canada though, and then California, their security detail was cut off. Meghan told Winfrey that she has been the “target of death threats, some based on her race.” Meghan said that the royal family announced their security cut off during their move to California, a time where they were at their most vulnerable. 

Financially cut off

During their interview, Prince Harry said that they “literally cut me off financially.” Harry said he used the money that his late mother, Princess Diana, left for him, and Meghan has had her money from her acting career on the hit TV series ‘Suits.’

The Royals have put out a statement saying: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.” Prince William has also spoken out when asked if he talked to his brother, and if the royals are racist. He said: “He had not yet spoken to Harry, but would soon” and “No, we are not a racist family.” This is not surprising though as no one is going to say “Yes” to being asked if they’re racist. 

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‘Freaked’ review

By: Teah Henry

‘Freaked’ is a 1993 comedy written and directed by Alex Winter and Tom Stern. It stars Alex Winter as smug celebrity Ricky Coogin, who is hired by the company Everything Except Shoes, or E.E.S. for short, as a spokesperson to speak against accusations that the company is producing a harmful toxic waste. Sent to South America by E.E.S., Ricky and two of his friends end up taking a detour to visit a freak show, only to find that it’s run by a mad scientist who kidnaps them and turns them into freaks for his show. 

The movie was originally an ‘Evil Dead’ style horror movie starring the band Butthole Surfers. After some rewrites, it became a surrealist comedy more in line with the directors’ MTV show, ‘The Idiot Box’.

When they pitched the film to Fox, Joe Roth was the studio head, and he gave them twelve million dollars as a budget. Unfortunately, Roth would be fired during ‘Freaked’ being filmed, and was replaced by Peter Chernin, who did not like the film and cut the budget.

‘Freaked’ made only $30,000 dollars in theaters, mostly due to the cutting down Chernin and Fox did to the budget and publicity. 

It’s a shame the movie didn’t do well at its release, because it’s one of the most creative comedies out there. It feels like it easily could have become a classic alongside other movies such as ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.

It’s surreal humor features jokes where an outhouse is humongous on the inside, or how the villain character can’t hear a loud crash but can hear a styrofoam cup falling to the floor. It never misses a beat with the laughs, and the script is actually pretty smart with some jokes being cleverly set up in the beginning of the movie, only for the punchline to appear near the end. 

If the humor isn’t your thing, its special effects are worth watching the movie for on their own. Done by three different companies, the effects in ‘Freaked’ create an ensemble of people turned into freaks such as a human worm and a man with a nose bigger than his face. It’s all done incredibly well, especially the make-up for Ricky Coogin, once he’s turned into a half-human, half-beast. It was even nominated for a Saturn Award for best make-up. 

Despite its troubled release, ‘Freaked’ has become somewhat of a cult hit. It’s not available anywhere to watch officially, but the movie has been uploaded on YouTube in its entirety and has nearly one million views. Most people that have seen it agree that it’s a good movie while being very, very weird. 

‘Freaked’ is a look at how films and their creators can get shortchanged by a big studio, but luckily, some films are able to gain a decent fan base based simply on the quality of the movie alone. If you need a movie to watch, ‘Freaked’ is a good one to check out. 

‘The Last Man On Earth’ review

By: Bijou Kruszka

Phil “Tandy” Miller is the last man on Earth. The year is 2020, and he has found himself alone due to a global pandemic. Yeah, you read that right. This 2015 comedy series somehow predicted COVID-19, and it’s one of the best shows to watch while quarantining.

Image taken from: https://bit.ly/3uT4Cvu

Let’s start with the characters. Tandy, played by Will Forte, is the main character. The pilot follows him in his post-apocalyptic life. He spray-paints billboards across America, saying that he is alive in Tucson, Arizona. He talks to sports balls with faces on them, after watching Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’.

He is in peak despair when he finds Carol Pilbasian, played by Kristen Schall, the believed last woman on Earth, and my favorite character.

As the series goes on, the cast expands, all with their own interesting personalities and arcs. One of my favorite running jokes in the show is that a celebrity comedian will be introduced, only to get killed off halfway through their first line.

The show is hilarious, but also still dark. Of course, the central cast are the last people on Earth, and they have to deal with all sorts of consequences because of it. They are forced to flee from their homes because of nuclear meltdowns, there are hardly any animals left, and they have to deal with trying to repopulate the planet, and that barely scratches the surface. The series does a great job balancing the seriousness of living in a post-apocalyptic world though and the humor of being a sitcom, which many other shows struggle to do.

Later on, we meet Pamela, played by Kristen Wiig. Pamela is special because her first episode features none of the central cast, just her, in a prologue before the virus killed everyone.

In “Got Milk?”, the 10th episode, of the 3rd season, we follow life as the pandemic spreads, and the parallels to COVID-19 will make you wonder how much of the writing staff had the ability to see the future. People everywhere are seen wearing masks. Pamela goes grocery shopping in a homemade hazmat suit, and all the aisles have been heavily picked over. She keeps saying over time that the vaccines are going to come any day now. This episode is almost unsettling to watch, considering it aired in 2017.

Of course, no show is without its flaws. The first season is incredibly rough, as they are trying to introduce all the characters, but over a span of an entire season. Plus, Tandy is completely unlikeable until the second season. He’s a self-centered, rude person who can’t stop lying, which is one of my least favorite tropes. But as the seasons go on, he becomes funny, he cares for people, and sure, he still lies for plot reasons from time to time, but it’s more justified.

In 2018, the season 4 finale aired, ending with a huge cliffhanger that I won’t spoil here. Unfortunately, after that, NBC cancelled the show, letting fans suffer on the unresolved plotline forever. I do hope that the show gets picked up again, and that it will get a good ending.

My final rating for ‘The Last Man On Earth’ is an 8/10.

‘Death Note’ recommendation 

By: Mohamed Ahmed 

‘Death Note’. Have you heard of if?

No. All right then, this article is meant to see if you would like ‘Death Note’. 

‘Death Note’ is an anime/manga series that aired back in 2006. It was a very successful manga and had a live action based of the anime adaptation. 

The story of ‘Death Note’ revolves around a high school student named Light Yagami. He lives a decent life, his dad is a cop and makes enough to support him and his family. He was a genius and school was a breeze.

One day, when he looked out the window, he saw a book fall from the sky. That was when he discovered the Death Note.

I won’t explain the terms or conditions, but in the end, he makes a deal with a shinigami, otherwise known as a god of death in Japanese folklore. Know that shinigami are not the grim reaper or Satan. They’re are not pure evil or good either. 

Then he murders hundreds of criminals before catching the eye of L, the world’s best detective. L proceeds to narrow down the suspects of who Kira.(Light’s nickname) is.

The rest of the show is a mind game where Light has to find ways to prove that he is not Kira, and the extreme lengths he goes to hide that he is a mass murderer.

The characters in this show aren’t one dimensional and are based in reality. They have problems and other things going on in their life. They have issues, priorities, and they all come together to make the story realistic and feel like reality. For example, the police chief is shown to have other responsibilities along with his police work that focuses on Kira. His whole life, and story line, isn’t just connected to the Kira case.

The thing that makes ‘Death Note’ so intriguing is the moral dilemmas in the show. There are naive, sadistic, and morally ambiguous characters.

To what extent is it okay to go to catch a criminal? How much are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good?

Human nature, morality, and greed are major themes in ‘Death Note’. 

If you like mind games, thrillers and supernatural elements in your story, then just give ‘Death Note’ a chance.

Review on Netflix’s ‘100 Humans’

By: Joxery Mezen Camacho

While I was browsing Netflix, the show ‘100 Humans’ came up.

The slogan “Life’s Questions. Answered.” is what compelled me to click on it and see what the show is about.

The Netflix synopsis states that the show has humans of different backgrounds partake in a multitude of experiments that explore different aspects of life. This easily convinced me to watch it because of my heavy interest in psychology. 

The show looked at people’s difference in abilities and in perspectives. The whole thing is set out to be a social experiment. The experiments done on these 100 humans were all quite interesting, and the reasoning behind most of them did make me interested in watching to the end to find out the results. However, at times the experiments didn’t use all of the 100 humans available which made their end results to be less accurate. 

I would also say that 100 humans doesn’t mean 100% accuracy on the end results, since there are over 7 billion people living in this world. Nevertheless, the topics and questions that are brought up do make one question and reflect what their own perspectives are and what society’s perspectives are. The show did this by bringing in people who are knowledgeable about the different topics mentioned to further speak about them and explain what the results meant, and why those were the results they arrived at. 

The experiments done were also quite interesting. Many of them were funny, and some took a more serious approach. But overall, they were all light-hearted.

The show went through a few experiments each episode and would switch off from each as everything went on. I didn’t mind the approach and thought it worked well because it left little room for boredom of a question. 

The show was funny and interesting and the episodes were about half an hour each. And while the show and experiments weren’t all that accurate, and could’ve probably been done better, I liked most of the questions they posed and how they made me think and reflect on the experiment results.

I’d rate this show a 9/10. 

Remy the Ratatouille: how a TikTok trend became a full musical

By: Bijou Kruszka

It’s the year 2007, and the Pixar movie ‘Ratatouille’ just came out in theaters. Now, nearly 14 years later, the musical version of the movie, composed by TikTok creators, is performed by Broadway actors. How did we get here?

It all started with Emily Jacobson in August of 2020, who had just read an article on a new ‘Ratatouille’-themed ride at Disney World, according to an Inside Edition interview with Jacobson. She started singing an improvised song about the main character, Remy, and decided to post it to TikTok. The song’s lyrics were “Remy the ratatouille, the rat of all my dreams. I praise you, oh ratatouille. May the world remember your name.”

In a Buzzfeed interview, Jacobson said that she had “pretty much forgotten about it” until 2 months later, when she “woke up to hundreds of notifications.” The song had blown up and got the attention of composer Daniel Mertzluff. Mertzluff added ensemble-like vocals and instrumentation to Jacobson’s song, and pitched the idea of a ‘Ratatouille’ musical.

People all over TikTok quickly jumped on to this idea, composing songs, choreographing said songs, dreaming up costume and set designs, and even creating a Playbill cover. The 15-second song, consisting of 4 short lines, had somehow created an entire community on TikTok.

In the Buzzfeed interview, Jacobson stated that she was concerned that she was going to get copyrighted by Disney, but Disney seemed to encourage the trend. Patton Oswalt, who voiced Remy in the movie, showed his support as well.

In December of 2020, it was announced a virtual performance of this ‘Ratatouille’ musical would be live streamed, with the proceeds going to the Actors Fund, which benefits actors, especially during the pandemic. The production streamed from January 1st to January 4th, and it raised $2,000,000 for the Actors Fund.

The performance starred Titus Burgess as Remy, Wayne Brady as his father, Andrew Barth Feldman as Linguini, Ashley Park as Colette and Andre de Shields as Anton Ego. The show got good reception, with critics agreeing that though it was odd, it was very enjoyable.

In the end, we can see that somehow ‘Ratatouille’, in the middle of a pandemic, pulled thousands of people together to create something. Perhaps, Remy really is the rat of all our dreams.

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‘Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison defending a racist contestant

‘Bachelor’ host Chris Harrison came under fire after an interview with Rachel Lindsay, on ‘The Extra’, defending one of the contestants, Rachel Kirkconnel’s racist past. Kirkconnell was photographed dressed as a Native American at a South Antebellum Plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018, she liked racist posts, and shared QAnon conspiracy theories (that falsely claimed that former President Trump is facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles) online.

The Antebellum period was from the late 18th century until the start of the American Civil War, in 1861. During those years, societal standards were created establishing ideals of Southern white manhood and womanhood. The Antebellum parties of the Old South are celebrations of the Antebellum-era and the Confederacy. Attending these parties, or throwing one, is symbolizing and paying respect to the Confederate South and the violent racism of that era.

Here is the interaction between Harrison and Lindsay on ‘The Extra’ about the photos of Kirkconnell: 

Harrison: “Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference.”

Linsay: “It’s not a good look ever.” She added, “If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”

Harrison: “You’re 100 percent right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018. And again, I’m not defending Rachael. I just know that I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018. That was the type of party that a lot of people went to. And again, I’m not defending it. I didn’t go to it.”

After facing criticism about his comments. Harrison’s took to Twitter and Instagram the following day posting: 

“To my Bachelor Nation family — I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology. I  have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed.”

The following day, after weeks of being silent, Kirkconnell apologized on her Instagram for not recognizing “how offensive and racist” her actions were. She wrote:

“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended. I am ashamed of my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me”, She wrote, “If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.”

The female contestants on the current season, the most diverse group of contestants in the franchise’s history, took a stand in support of Lindsay and condemned the defense of racism. 

“We are the women of ‘Bachelor’ Season 25,” the women posted. “Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change. We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Rachel Lindsay continued to advocate with grace” they added, “We stand with her, we hear her, and we advocate for change alongside her.”

After the backlash from Harrison’s interview, he announced in an Instagram and Twitter post that he will be stepping aside for a while to get educated on a more profound and productive level, and that also, he will not join the “After the Final Rose” special.

In the interview Harrison did with Lindsay, I think what he wanted was for everyone to give Kirkconnell a chance to speak out, but then he went on to defend her racist actions and said since it was back in 2018 her actions should be excused. Attending an Antebellum party is not a good look ever, and being in attendance at this kind of party is offensive and racist, even if it was 5 years ago.

Even though I think Kirkconnell’s apology was sincere, white people in her comments are excusing her behavior saying “You did nothing wrong” and that Lindsay is the one who should be apologizing. Due to the negative and racist messages that have been sent to Lindsay, the one who did Harrison interview, she has had to delete her Instagram.

When someone apologizes for their racist actions, or for saying the N-word, white people should not decide what was racist or accept the apology; the apology is not for you. Kirkconnell didn’t offend you, and instead of Kirkconnell being held accountable for her actions, Lindsay had to delete her Instagram because of the racist messages she received.

Kirkconnell is responsible for her actions and Harrison got himself fired, not Lindsay.

Review on documentary: ‘Dolores’

By: Joxery Mezen Camacho

“Then we see the racism that we’re looking at today, we see the misogyny, homophobia and all that. And that’s because our histories are not being told, they are not included in our school books. So then what happens is that people will  grow up ignorant of the contributions of people of color or of women or of the LGBT community, of labor unions, etc. We have this abysmal ignorance of women inside America. I think that it’s not only important for women, but it’s important for our  whole society that our stories be told and that our victories and our achievements can be recorded in history. “ – Dolores Huerta, Huffington Post

Dolores Huerta has spent most of her life being an activist; however, many don’t know who she is or find her to be a subordinate when compared to her work partner, Cesar Chavez. This documentary shows her life as a dedicated activist and the problems she had to face because of it. 

The documentary mainly focuses on her time spent making change for farm workers through the Farmworkers Movement in the 1960’s. However, it begins retelling her earlier years of when she wasn’t an activist. We’re shown the inequality and the state of the society she lived in. The documentary captures it well. It also captures her want to do something about it by showing her actions and everything she has to sacrifice. 

It goes on to further show her sacrifices and struggles in her work as an activist through videos. Some showed the sexism she faced and the difficulties that came with being a single mother. Some of her children are also in the documentary, and they speak of their own perspectives and thoughts. This helped when trying to understand the struggles that come with the dedication of activism. 

The documentary pays careful attention to the outside things that impacted Huerta’s work, such as the people who worked around her and those that she met through her work. We see her grow as an activist and as a person who becomes more confident. 

Once the end of the documentary is near, there is a focus on who Huerta has become and what she has accomplished, as well as her own opinions on the way she has lived her life. 

Overall, the documentary uses a good mix of interviews of people in Huerta’s life, historians, past interview clips, and commentary in order to get her story across. It was able to captivate my interest and had many scenes where I felt as though I was actually there experiencing the events unfolding.

I give the documentary a 10/10 and strongly recommend it for its ability to show different perspectives while keeping everything interesting and informative. 

I believe that this documentary is important because it spreads the importance of who Dolores Huerta is, giving her the credit she deserves.