All posts by AmandaDougherty

Tea & Review: Harlots – Episode 4

Lucy’s (Eloise Smyth) naiveté lingers in episode 4. Despite a customer leaving her bed agitated and dissatisfied, she still asks Margaret (Samantha Morton) if he is to be her keeper. Shockingly, she believes that to be in the realm of possibility.

Later when she plays cards, Lucy yet again demonstrates her fledgling social skills. Not unlike her time at the Reptons (Tim McInnerny), she attempts to participate in banter and ends up missing the mark. Unfortunately though, to Lord Fallon (Ben Lambert) she sounds enticing. This is, of course, most dangerous given his particular, possibly murderous, sexual preferences.

She becomes increasingly more aware of her weaknesses as a harlot, rather keenly so when she overhears Margaret express concern at the lack of takers. To her credit, Lucy takes some initiative and seeks out Charlotte (Jessica Brown Findlay) for advice. From their conversation though, it’s clear Charlotte didn’t struggle early on to satisfy customers as Lucy has.

It’s hard to tell if Lucy’s bumpy entry into sex work is par for the course or if it veers from the norm. The only other new Harlot whose experiences might provide comparison and insight is Harriet (Pippa Bennett-Warner). Her expert handling of Repton does indeed put Lucy’s amateur fumbling in rather harsh perspective, but we might remember that Harriet is not new to this game. As she says, this is just the first time she’s getting money for it.

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Tea & Review: iZombie- Eat, Pray, Live

After watching “Eat, Pray, Liv,” I think a part of me would actually be totally okay if Ravi (Rahul Kohli) and Peyton (Aly Michalka) end up going their separate ways. Yes, they might love each other but that doesn’t mean two people actually work together.

For his part, Ravi just couldn’t stop himself from one bad decision after another. His well-intentioned effort to be kind, understanding, and compassionate, combined with his sense of moral superiority, comes out as a patronizing attempt to forgive Peyton for sleeping with Blaine (David Anders).

Unfortunately, Ravi makes the fatal assumption that Peyton seeks his forgiveness. It’s here, in the most subtle and unobtrusive way, iZombie touches on that nasty pest of sexual entitlement which thrives in a patriarchy. And more importantly, it demonstrates that this pest infects even the kindest, most well-intentioned, thoughtful and loving of people (e.g. unsuspecting Ravi). It is undiscriminating.

Sexual entitlement is the persistent belief (which we all have likely perpetuated at one time or another) that women owe men both sex and sexual attention. That women owe men a smile on the street. That women owe men their number at a bar. That woman, as in the case of Peyton and Ravi, owe men an apology for sleeping with other people.

Yet the notion that Peyton makes an apology to Ravi is preposterous. Ravi has no claim on Peyton’s body. Ravi is not her keeper. Ravi is not her partner. Ravi is not Blaine’s keeper. Ravi is not Blaine’s partner.

 

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Tea & Review: Harlots – Episode 3

In episode one, the second bidder for Lucy’s (Eloise Smyth) virginity was, of course, Lord Repton (Tim McInnerny). In episode three, he’s here to collect his winnings. Summoning Lucy to a country estate, the Lord and Lady (Fenella Woolgar) tellingly distance themselves from civilization.

The Reptons’ style of foreplay includes asking Lucy to hunt a doe while the kinky couple peppers bullets in Lucy’s direction for their own amusement. Her disorientation and breathy panic– mixed with the cracking of bark under siege of gunfire and the Reptons’ giddy shrieks of delight– savors of a most dangerous game. A game for which she is woefully unprepared.

Though paralyzed by the anxiety of being prey, Lucy’s prospects of survival are made worse still. She fails to appreciate her own unpreparedness. A shortcoming for which Margaret (Fenella Woolgar) may be partially responsible.

Believing Lucy to be special, Margaret has puffed her daughter up over and over. Internalizing Margaret’s words, Lucy tells Kitty (Lottie Tolhurst) and Fanny (Bronwyn James) that they, unlike her, are common whores. She informs Repton’s footman that he’s too lowly and too poor to share her company. She introduces herself as a “famed courtesan” to the stableboy, Jem Curran (Alex Jordan). And the list goes on.

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Tea & Review: iZOMBIE – Zombie Knows Best

The first thing any sane person could think after watching iZombie this week is that Robert Buckley as Major Lilywhite on teenage girl brain is a revelation. What joy! What grace! Writers gave him a sweet set up, and Buckley spiked perfectly.

Aside: Of course, the feminist voice in my head whispers the question, “why do we find men playing women funnier than the reverse of women playing men? Is it that we believe women are sillier by nature, and therefore ripe for the mocking?” To be fair, perhaps there’s more material to play with. Females are generally afforded a greater expressive license. We’re free to exercise wider range in vocal pitch, a speed of speech, and gesticulation. Not to mention, it’s usually women that start linguistic trends that are then adopted by men. So, having thought this through, I’ve determined that I may laugh free of guilt at the comedy gold of Major on teenage girl brain.

The episode follows a nonlinear narrative as we delve into Clive’s (Malcolm Goodwin) back story. We find that during the time he served on vice, Anna (Caitlin Stryker) and Wally (Mataeo Mingo) were his neighbors and a relationship begins with a chance encounter in the hallway between Clive and an endearingly cheeky Wally. It later includes the arrest of Anna’s abusive husband by Clive, making room for him and Anna to grow closer.

After another time jump through flashbacks, and nestled in a cozy family dinner, an intimate friendship has indeed emerged between Anna and Clive. It’s full of romantic potential, but the could-have-been never was. We already know the tragic end which Anna and Wally must meet.

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Tea & Review: Harlots – Episode 2

Last week we glimpsed the freedom of harlotry, where this week we faced its perils (the foulest of which being death).

Margaret Wells (Samatha Morton) is in desperate need of seed money, so she invites a friend to consider her business as a potential investment. This friend, Nathaniel Lennox (Con O’Neil),  makes it clear however that his greatest interest is in Margaret herself.

Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville) faces a far more heinous proposition from her own patron across town. Justice Cunliffe (Richard McCabe), who is both a judge and a customer in Golden Square, visits Quigley and requests that she kidnap a virgin.

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Tea & Review: Harlots – Episode 1

The things we wear to go whoring: ‘Harlots’ and costume

Season 1, Episode 1

Lucy Wells’ blue dress and blonde hair is sufficiently Alice-like for her trip down the rabbit hole (Harlots, Episode 1)

Rejoice, Harlots has arrived on Hulu! It’s a female-centered period piece, which focuses on the entrepreneurs who own and operate brothels in London. Through a feminist lens, and overlaid upon feuding dynasties, this series explores themes of family loyalty, social status, ambition (particularly that of females), sexuality, and gender fluidity.

While I would love to chat about every clever and nuanced decision on the part of the creators, writers, designers, actors, and directors of the show, I thought that (for today) I would comment on costumes.

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Tea & Review: iZOMBIE – Heaven Just Got A Little Bit Smoother

The first episode of iZOMBIE‘s season 3 – Heaven Just Got A little Bit Smoother resumes immediately after the closing scene of season 2. While Liv (Rose McIver), Major (Robert Buckley), and Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) discuss their cover story for the massacre at Max Rager, Vivian Stoll (Andrea Savage)(the Fillmore Graves military contractor and the zombie who’s purchased Supermax), tells them to take cover. Her soldiers then detonate the building. Neatly destroying the remaining evidence of the zombie outbreak. She smugly, and perhaps ominously tells Liv, Major, and Clive, “we think of everything.”

We discover more about Vivian throughout the episode. From the extortion endured by her husband and her promise to avenge the zombie-on-zombie crime to her plans for a schoolhouse on Zombie Island. We develop a respect for her intentions, but reservations for her methods. Stoll’s unwavering commitment to her family of zombies may be virtuous, but it may also make her a formidable enemy.

We also learn of the measures she’s taken to prepare for. As Vivian terms it, D-Day (aka Discovery Day). This is when humans en masse realize the existence of zombies). Keeping in step with the World War II reference are the posters hanging in the hallway. Reminiscent of Allied forces’ propaganda, catchy phrases caution zombies to conserve resources and act with care.

Stoll’s posters instruct, “Waste not want not,” and “Clip your nails, no epic fails.” Indeed, “Don’t be that guy, tan and dye” is the type of rhyming earworm we know all too well in “Loose lips sink ships.” Stoll is training soldiers for combat, but now we know she’s preparing the zombie civilian population too. But what did we expect? She thinks of everything.

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