Love it or Leave it: Sweet Valley High (The TV Show)

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Welcome back! We all have that show. The show that you adore and can quote at the drop of a hat. You love it, but you are the only one. Everyone has one of those shows that just didn’t take off with the masses. We are left with a very limited series that you watch over and over again as they write an analysis on the internet. Probably on a blog.

Ahem…moving on.

This is what this series is about, taking those shows that had a very limited run and deciding if the show deserved better. After all, you may love a show, but after you analyze it, you can understand why it didn’t take off.

What are we looking at this week?

Sweet Valley High (The TV Show)

Background

Sweet Valley High started out as a teen book series.  Francine Pascal had created a teen-oriented soap opera in the 70’s, but no one wanted to produce it. However, her agent ended up seeing the idea to Bantam Books.  Pascal created a “bible” for ghostwriters to write the Sweet Valley High series.  She didn’t have an interest in writing the series because, “…she had no interest in writing them in part because her previous books were for a “sophisticated, educated audience.”The series went on to great success being the first teen title to make the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Francine Pascal’s original plans came together after Sweet Valley High was picked up as a television series.  Sweet Valley High aired from September 5, 1994, to October 14, 1997.  The series was produced by Saban Entertainment. The rights are now held by Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

The series is like the books. It follows sweet and shy Elizabeth Wakefield and her loud and crazy twin Jessica Wakefield. They navigate the typical teen issues with their friends at Sweet Valley High.

Where it Stands in Pop Culture

The series was popular in syndication on Fox stations for three seasons. Then the show moved to UPN for its fourth only to be canceled for low ratings.

Sweet Valley is still popular among 90’s kids who remember the books and series fondly.  Season one of the show was released on DVD by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 2005.

Did it Deserve Better?

No. Not at all. Let me explain.

I watched this show on Saturdays as a kid.  I was a huge fan of the series and wanted to see my favorites in action.  I remember liking the series as a 9-year-old but as a 29-year-old the series has a different look.

After watching a few episodes on YouTube, I couldn’t believe I loved this series. Let us start with the cosmetic issues. The acting from the some of the cast is terrible.  To be fair, though, the actual twins who play Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield (Brittany and Cynthia Daniel) aren’t bad. That explains why they went on to have minor careers while the rest faded away.  The show’s set feel cheap.  You could tell the show had a shoestring budget.

Now onto the deeper issues. The show is highly rooted in 90s lore which is fine. That is the time it exists in, however; it’s all 90s. Nothing timeless was added into the show, so it ages poorly.  I feel like the show was trying to be the teen version of Melrose Place just without the sex.  You could say a very pale imitation of Beverly Hills 90210.  I also felt like the teenage issues covered in the show were already covered by Saved by the Bell. Saved by the Bell had charm while Sweet Valley High was crude and preached too hard at its audience. It drove me nuts while watching.

I understand the nostalgia factor for the books is what drove this show but as that nostalgia fades all we have is this pale copy of a teen show.  It didn’t deserve better than it got. In fact, it got more than it deserved.

One thing I do like? That theme song is catchy. I miss theme songs.

Check out the show on DVD and episodes on YouTube.

Until next time.

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Love it or Leave it: Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23

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Welcome back! We all have that show. The show that you adore and can quote at the drop of a hat. You love it, but you are the only one. Everyone has one of those shows that just didn’t take off with the masses. We are left with a very limited series that you watch over and over again as they write an analysis on the internet. Probably on a blog.

Ahem…moving on.

This is what this series is about, taking those shows that had a very limited run and deciding if the show deserved better. After all, you may love a show, but after you analyze it, you can understand why it didn’t take off.

What are we looking at this week?

ABC’s Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23

Background

Originally Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, created by Nahnatchka Khan, was being developed by Fox in 2009 but was passed on for the Fall schedule.  Then in 2011, it was picked up by ABC for a pilot.  The series was picked up for the 2011-2012 ABC season.

The show now named, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, follows June Colburn as she tries to figure out how life after moving from Indiana to New York City for a job that ended up not existing. She ends up moving in with Chloe who likes to overcharge rent and act outrageously until the roommates leave. June isn’t like the others, and they form a friendship.  The show includes James Van Der Beek playing a fictionalized version of himself (that is a lot of fun) and Mark Reynolds who was supposed to mentor June at her first job but ends up her coworker at a coffee shop.

Where does it stand in Pop Culture History?

The series aired on ABC on Wednesdays then moved around quite a bit during its second season.  The series received positive reviews and was picked by the Critics’ Choice Television Awards as one of the Most Exciting New SeriesThe first season had seven episodes while the second season had only 19 air and eight unaired.

The show was pulled from the schedule and canceled in January 2013.  The eight unaired episodes were streamed on Hulu and the ABC website. Now, it appears on Netflix and Logo TV.

Love it or Leave it?

This show was ahead of its time. I like to think this show was a snappier version of 2 Broke Girls. It has the same elements.  One is crazy and has had a rougher life (the brunette) while there is one that is all sunshine and has had a pretty normal middle-class life (the blonde).  They all have some crazy friends to talk to, and there you go. You have both 2 Broke Girls, and this Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.

That said, this show is a gem.  I watched it live and on Netflix and always find myself giggling at the hijinks of these characters. It is funny. It’s dirty. It’s realistic. It’s a fantasy.  There are times you see yourself in these characters, and there are times when you hate them so much.  James Van Der Beek playing an exaggerated version of himself is great. My inner Dawson’s Creek fangirl loved how much he made fun of his career making character. Mostly because James Van Der Beek was known to be somber. Finally, even he can laugh at the show.

I think the reason it got canceled was that it didn’t fit into the new world ABC was creating. This was before Tuesday and Wednesday nights equaled crazy family nights.  Don’t Trust the B wouldn’t have worked with that new branding.  I’m convinced it would have done better on Fox back then. It would have fit in with New Girl and The Mindy Project.

 

Even though the show was cut short and not too many still talk about it, I think it is worth a watch.  It is funny; you will relate to these characters, and it knew what it wanted. It just wanted to have fun.  Check it out on Netflix to see for yourself.

Until next time.

Love it or Leave it: The Carrie Diaries

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Welcome back! We all have that show. The show that you adore and can quote at the drop of a hat. You love it, but you are the only one. Everyone has one of those shows that just didn’t take off with the masses. We are left with a very limited series that you watch over and over again as they write an analysis on the internet. Probably on a blog.

Ahem…moving on.

This is what this series is about, taking those shows that had a very limited run and deciding if the show deserved better. After all, you may love a show, but after you analyze it, you can understand why it didn’t take off.

What are we looking at this week?

The CW Show The Carrie Diaries.

Background

The Carrie Diaries started its life as a book series. Two books to be exact. The prequel books to Sex and the City was written by Candace Bushnell as a young adult series.  A look at Carrie Bradshaw before Manhattan and before meeting Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte.  The Carrie Diaries was produced for The CW by the Gossip Girl/ The O.C. producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and written by Sex and the City writer Amy B. Harris.

The series follows Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) as a sixteen-year-old judging high school and her secret internship at Interview Magazine in Manhattan. She has a younger sister, Dorrit, and father, Tom (Stefania LaVie Owen and Matt Letscher) and a group of friends she has had since childhood.  The sweet overachiever Mouse (Ellen Wong), the wild Maggie (Katie Findlay) and the sexually confused Walt (Brendan Dooling).  Let us not forget her on and off boyfriend, Sebastian Kidd (Austin Butler).

Larissa (Freema Agyeman) is her boss at Interview who is flighty, silly and Carrie’s mentor and Donna LaDonna (Chloe Bridges) is the most popular girl in school and frenemies with Carrie.

In the second series, we get an introduction to Samantha (Lindsey Gort).  Quite the entrance for such an iconic character.

Rank in Pop Culture History

When the show premiered in 2013, it had mixed reviews.  Some claimed the show was too sweet or played too much on nostalgia.  While other critics argued it could have gone very wrong but turned out surprisingly right.

The series average ratings for season one on Wednesday nights was 1.14 million viewers.  Season two, which was on Friday nights, went down to 0.82.  It was canceled.  The showrunner of the show reviled that if the show were renewed the audience would have met Miranda next.

Did The Carrie Diaries Deserve Better?

Yes. I’m not mincing words on this one.  I think the idea was great. I believe the casting was perfect. I loved the 80’s timeframe and little winks to its sister series, Sex and the City.  It was poised to be great. Not only are you getting those teenagers you would get the kids (like myself) who watched Sex and the City as teenagers.

What went wrong? Well, in my opinion, The CW is what went wrong. The CW was at a crossroads when this series started.  It still had a WB vibe while trying to be edgier. You could see their DC comics revolution on the horizon. They weren’t aware of it yet, but it was there.  A lot of shows were ending that would have been good matches for the show.  If they waited, they could have matched the show with Jane the Virgin or even Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. However, you can tell they didn’t know what to do with the series. The advertising was limited. I wasn’t even aware of the show until a lovely Twitter follower told me about the show. I caught up and fell in love.  The CW just didn’t know what to do with this quiet gem of a series.

I think it deserves more credit because it is a very honest look at being a teenager.  It doesn’t shy away from sex and doesn’t play to type.  The very sweet, Mouse, would typically stay the virgin on this kind of show. However, she is one of the first in the group to lose their virginity.  The main group (Carrie, Walt, Maggie, and Mouse) feel like a real group of friends.  I know these friends. I had these friends in high school. The I also love that Carrie is close with her family.  One thing that drives me nuts in teen shows is the lack of parents. Yeah, parents are very present in a teenager’s life.  Whether it is a lack of parenting (like Maggie’s parents) or Helicopter parenting (Carries Dad). Parents have an effect in their kid’s lives.

Speaking of the parents, Carries dad, Tom has a lot of fun, Sex, and the City type storylines as well.  It asks that question, how and when does a widower start dating? How does he, after twenty years of marriage, move on.  I really liked Carrie’s dad because he felt real to me. I buy he is a widower and a parent.  Same goes for the Interview magazine crew. Larrisa, who is insane, is a lot of fun.  She gets Carrie into so many situations it makes sense that later on, Carrie isn’t all that phased anymore.  She is also a wise woman.

I was never interested in the romantic relationships of the teenagers. Sebastian Kidd (yes, you must say his name like that) is a test run Mr. Big. Carrie has experience dealing with a Mr. Big in this world.  I kept expecting, if we got a season 3, to see Carrie run into Mr. Big at college. My guess would be he is in graduate school or just coming back to give a talk to a class she attends. It would have been funny if she blew him off. Sorry, I just went into fanfiction land.

Yes, I feel like this show deserved more time to develop and a better network. It could have been a fun show for not only long time fans of Sex and the City but teenagers who are just discovering the show for themselves.  I know it been almost two years, but I’d like the show to be revived somehow.

What do you think? Did you watch The Carrie Diaries? Leave your opinion or comment below!

Until next time, before there was sex before there was the city, there was just me. Amanda. Amanda Jane. See you next week.

 

Love it or Leave it: Cristela

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Welcome back! We all have that show. The show that you adore and can quote at the drop of a hat. You love it, but you are the only one.  Everyone has one of those shows that just didn’t take off with the masses. We are left with a very limited series that you watch over and over again as they write an analysis on the internet. Probably on a blog.

Ahem…moving on.

This is what this Saturday series is about.  Taking those shows that had a very limited run and deciding if the show deserved better. After all, you may love a show, but after you analyze it, you can understand why it didn’t take off.

What are we looking at this week?

The ABC show Cristela.

Background

Cristela Alonzo was a standup comedian that got her start in 2003 after getting an office job at the Addison Improv in Texas. A job she got after her mother passed away. According to an audio interview with Latino USA, she started doing stand up to deal with her grief and talk about her family. She moved to Los Angeles where she found success on the road doing college comedy shows. Since then she has appeared on Comedy Central’s The Half Hour and numerous talk shows.

In 2013 she created her semi-autobiographical comedy pilot for ABC. After not being picked up for the 2013-2014 season, the show decided to shoot a pilot presentation and try again. It got a strong testing response from the test audience, and the show was picked up for the 2014-2015 season on ABC.

The series follows Cristela Hernandez, a Mexican-American law school student in Texas.  She works as an unpaid intern at a law firm while living with her sister, her husband, niece/nephew and her mother.  At work, she has her boss who is unintentionally racist, his daughter who seems to be the typical dumb rich blonde and a fellow intern who has a thing for Cristela (and vice versa).

Due to low ratings, the show was canceled after the first season aired.

Rank in Pop Culture History

The show was revolutionary. Cristela Alonzo was the first Latina to create, produce, write and star in a primetime comedy.

The show was met with mixed reviews. As the series went on the reviews of the show improved, some stating that the show has found its footing. When the show was being considered for renewal, many websites called it the model for what modern sitcoms should be.

Being put behind Last Man Standing didn’t help its chances considering the Last Man Standing audience was much different from what Cristela needed to succeed. The show was preempted quite a bit.

In fact, Cristela herself said:

“It was a multi-cam sitcom that SOMETIMES aired on Friday nights,” Alonzo wrote. “I say sometimes because a lot of times we were pre-empted for more important things like an Easter egg hunt happening in real time. Kidding. In reality, we were preempted for other things like a documentary on a parade and some other things I can’t remember. I think one night was a show about Christmas lights?”

The show wasn’t treated well.

Did Cristela Deserve Better?

I watched this show live. I LOVED it. However, as time passed, my memory got fuzzy. So, before I wrote this, I re-watched the series.

Yup. Still love this show. If anything it made me angry the show didn’t get a second season.

This show deserved better than it got. A million times better.  Trillion times better. Not only did the show have great characters and funny stories; it also had lessons that they didn’t beat you over the head.  Cristela had characters that I loved. The plots were funny, and it left you laughing and wanting to see more.

A lot of articles have said it better than me but I love the relationships Cristela has with her family and at the office.  They are not saccharine or downright mean spirited. The way she interacts with her family reminds me of how I interact with my family.  We love each other, but we don’t mind needling each other from time to time. It is how we show love. Yeah, you see that in sitcoms now, but the way Cristela did it felt more natural than the others.

Same with the people she worked with at the law office. They started out stereotypical.  The racist boss. The rich-bitch party blonde and the overachiever law student that will do anything to get to the top.  As time goes on, you find that the boss isn’t trying to be racist and actual believes and trusts in Cristela (I always thought that if the show went on he might have gone from boss to mentor). The boss’s daughter turned out to be smart but was afraid to try. She was starting to become good friends with Cristela. The other law student intern proved to be a great friend and her love interest (never got to see them truly shine).  Every character started out one way until we got to know them and realize there is much more going on under the surface. Much like life.

I honestly believe that the show should have been on Wednesday or Tuesday nights on ABC. The other diverse shows got their shot there but for some reason, ABC didn’t let Cristela shine. Putting it after a show a show that is quite conservative in their views would make it hard to gain viewership. Being on a Friday didn’t help either.

I’m hoping this show can find a new life on a different network or even online. I haven’t heard anything but a fan can hope.

Check the full season of Cristela out on Netflix. I HIGHLY recommend it.  If you want to check it out click below to buy the DVD!

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Until next time, have a great weekend.