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I Ship It: The Tomorrow People’s John and Astrid-Hope for the Hopeless

Prior to the pizza stare, John and Astrid did not register in my mind as a possible romance. I did want someone better for John than Cara, because she keeps giving him the kicked puppy treatment. She slept with Stephen, made him expose killing Roger to the Tomorrow People and she stole his job. However, her worse crime was continuously making him feel like an outsider to his own people. Cara keeps putting knives further in his wounds; John would never do this to her. Therefore, I’m firmly against them continuing a romance. They’re forcing it, and it’s time to move on.

Astrid is an outsider to the Tomorrow People world. Before Stephen broke out, she had no ties to them. This makes Astrid the only truly human character on the show. She has a hope and innocence not common to their world. Astrid is necessary to the current characters’ growth, mainly John.

Astrid and John

The Astrid-John pairing’s biggest appeal is what it represents for each character. We saw a glimpse of this in last week’s “Sitting Duck” episode.  When Astrid disclosed her bucket list items to John, and he had no list, a thousand hearts broke from sadness. But for me, I saw it as a clear contrasting of the characters. John has basically been in pain all his life. He lacked true happiness, even with Cara. I believe he felt so guilty about Roger that he never really allowed himself happiness with her.  Over and over again the show says that John shuts people out. But what do we see him doing at the end of episode 13? He lets Stephen into one of his memories. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think this is the first time John allows someone easily into his mind. This could be a result of Astrid being in his orbit (pun intended), or it could be because he almost died, either way John has changed. And I believe Astrid will guide this change.

On the other end of the spectrum, Astrid has transformed. She’s no longer completely untarnished by this world. In the bucket list scene, John blames Stephen for Astrid’s life being in danger.  Then she defends him because of blindly loving him. But the episode ends with Astrid blaming Stephen for endangering her life. Their relationship (whether friends or romance) brings hope for John, which he desperately needs. I am sure they’ll continue to bond and have an open relationship. I can see John leaning on Astrid because she doesn’t know about his past, nor would she judge him for it. Astrid will grow stronger for their relationship. She’ll see the darkness John has endured and their struggle to survive.

My only fear with this pair (besides the huge no-no age difference) is that the writers are planning to erase Astrid’s memory for her protection. Therefore, the character development between them will be erased. It’ll be an “I Will Remember You” Angel and Buffy moment all over again. And my heart will die a thousand times.  For now, I’ll eagerly await the next episodes to see how the John and Astrid relationship grows. So I ship it (cautiously).

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Opinion Piece: The Need for More Fat Heroines

Recently, a couple articles surfaced about how plus-size figures influence young women. After the “fat Barbie” article, the internet started spitting venom about this being a terrible idea. Most people argued that Barbie is a figure to be idolized, and by creating a fat version, it encourages girls to be fat. Barbie or no Barbie, fat girls and boys exist. It’s time the media gives these people a voice.

The main reason the media, specifically television programs, need more fat heroines is because girls and women need to be deprogrammed about their bodies defining them. Movies, books and television shows encourage these ideologies by their lack of body diversity. The 2013/2014 television season took a major step towards diversifying the racial images on TV. Most major shows picked up for full seasons contained at least one lead character that was a minority. This change deserves praise and admiration, but it’s not enough. Of all the shows on American television right now, I can count a handful with plus-sized main characters. We need more of them.

mike and molly

From my understanding of the television world, several reasons prohibit shows from banking on a plus-size lead. The first is lack of appeal. The studio heads don’t believe many people will tune into a big girl falling in love, dealing with life or just being normal. We’ve seen endless amounts of reality shows that cast pretty people over interesting ones. Many shows even lack characters who wear more than a size 2-dress. But shows with plus-size leads have proven very successful in the past.  Ugly Betty aired for four seasons.  America Ferrera did slim down through the course of the series but the show’s premise was an “ugly” girl trying to make it in the fashion world. Right now Lifetime’s Drop Dead Divas is preparing to air its sixth season. Then we’ve seen how Melissa McCartney has become an America sweetheart due to Mike & Molly.  But the success of these shows seems more like the exception rather than the normal for producers.

In 2010, ABCFamily attempted to create a show surrounding plus-size teens. The show entitled Huge didn’t last a full season. There were many problems with this series, but it doesn’t represent the appeal of a show following a plus size teen. The UK show My Mad Fat Diary has huge cult following that includes American viewers. It’s becoming one of the few teen shows to unite people of all cultures.  It seems that plus-size characters do not discourage viewers, it’s badly written storylines and terrible marketing that do.

uktv-my-mad-fat-diary-5

A second factor that stops producers from creating more plus-size friendly programming is they feel it’ll be too controversial, or it will encourage teen girls to be fat. This argument is crap. Not only has television become more racially diverse, it’s been more sexually diverse. Almost every show has (or will have) a gay character. Now even more shows are adding transgender characters. Many religious extremist argue this encourages homosexuality. Yet people still add these characters. Why? Because they represent real people who need their voices heard and seen in the media to incite change.  Then what makes being fat so taboo for the television industry?  A fat girl on television doesn’t cause people to be fat, just like seeing a gay person on TV doesn’t make someone gay. I personally believe people are born gay. It is beyond their control. People aren’t born fat, but they shouldn’t be shamed and disregarded for it either.

By showing more variety, it helps women and girls build confidence, because they see bodies similar to their own. If anything, this can be an opportunity to educate. Too often, things are written about plus-sized women or girls that rely heavily on stereotypes. We need more shows not afraid to show society’s cruelty towards them.  We need shows that humanize plus-size individuals. Many TV programs have these characters just as someone to abuse for comedic purposes. This needs to stop. A plus-size or fat person is not synonymous with a clown.

ugly Betty

Isn’t it time for America to include more plus-size women and men on television?  Why not develop a show that doesn’t ostracize them, but one that shows their struggles? One that doesn’t feel the need to constantly say, “You’re fat, so you’re worthless.” Why must all the shows with fat reality characters be about their weight loss?  We as a nation don’t just need plus-size Disney princesses or Barbies, but plus-size romantic leads, political figures, superheroes, best friends, etc. We just need more plus-size humans on television shows, films,  and in books.