We got a lot of loose ends at the close of season 1: Masters is effectively fired from the hospital (losing everything from his community standing to his research funds), and Virginia is left fielding a marriage proposal from Ethan, and a rain-soaked declaration of love from Bill. So what's in store for season 2? Caution: here be speculation.
* Romantic implications aside, I think it's pretty clear that Virginia will do what's best for the study. And moving to L.A. with Ethan won't exactly be the most conducive to study, will it? I'm guessing she'll want to stay local to St. Louis.
* That said, Ethan has made it clear that he's willing to mold his life to fit Virginia's: will he give up his cherry job at UCLA to stay by her (and her adorable children's) side?
* And onto the romance side of things: both men have pretty serious bugaboos (Ethan physically punched her in the face, and Bill did it metaphorically by basically paying her for sex), but I'm in Bill's corner. (Is that just me? Or is that how the writers of the show want it to be?) Staying with Ethan might mean prolonged drama – we all love a well-crafted love triangle – but is that a storyline that the writers will want to stay with? Perhaps they'll introduce a new love interest all together – somehow, I think it's still too early in the game for Masters and Johnson to ride off into the sunset.
* Executive Producer Michelle Ashford has also mentioned that we're likely to see some temporal jumps – the show has ten years to cover, after all. Maybe we'll find Masters and Johnson carrying on their research in an entirely new hospital a year from now (or rather, a year from then).
* And what of season MVPs Allison Janney and Beau Bridges? With Masters pretty irrevocably fired from the hospital, it's unlikely that they'll be able to be as integral a part of the show as they were this season, alas.
* Oh, and speaking of casting: according to Michelle Ashford, Annaleigh Ashford is in, and Helene York is out. We were all sad to see world-weary Betty go after episode 3 (Annaleigh Ashford had a date with Kinky Boots) – and we'll definitely miss über-frank Jane (like her colleague, she's due to star in Bullets Over Broadway on, well, Broadway). But at least we get Betty back!
The following contains minor spoilers of Beautiful Creatures.
I've never liked the Twilight movies. And I've tried. What turned me off wasn't the romantic lead sparkling in the sun, or the complicated and somewhat creepy concept of imprinting,it wasn't even Edward Cullen's excessive brooding: it was Bella. And upon watching the film billed as the "next Twilight," Warner Bros.'s Beautiful Creatures, I finally found what I was looking for: a fantastic young lead in Lena Ducchane.
On paper, Lena (Alice Englert) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) aren't all that different. They both love to read, they both feel as if they don't belong, and they're both not concerned with wooing the boys at school until the right one arrests their attention. (And that's the reason I never got into Young Adult Fiction: cliches.) But in practice, at least as far as the movies are concerned, Lena is a far better character, especially for a YA audience. Sorry, Twihards.
RELATED: 'Beautiful Creatures' Review
Lena is a bit of a problem child. She's a caster (a more humane word for "witch") and she's got powers she can't quite control that get her in trouble from time to time. It's these growing pains that make her an actual outcast at school, fielding constant cruel jokes about devil worship from her Southern belle classmates. Bella constantly feels she's not like her classmates, and as such, is withdrawn, even when the girls at school befriend her. She mumbles, she broods, she goes after a man who behaves like 30 year-old from the 19th century like a lovestruck little girl. She’s convinced no one understands her, but it’s her own barriers that are keeping her from making connections.
Lena would never behave like that. She's truly outcast and a brain, so her feeling otherness is expressed by pouring herself into reading Charles Bukowski novels and multitudes of poetry. It’s something Bella’s character is supposed to do as well, but Lena’s character actually seems to cull meaning and a sense of self from her literary learnings. She's highly educated, and independent, to the point where she's barely even willing to let her suitor Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) give her a ride home... after her car breaks down... in the rain... on a country road. She’s no damsel in distress, like Bella, whose first encounter with Edward is being saved by his brute strength. This is a girl after my own heart.
Yes, Lena eventually falls hard for Ethan, as even bookworms are wont to do, and of course, it's not long before they're in love (this is a YA story, after all). But it's the way they handle themselves that's truly exemplary. In the Twilight books, Edward is unable to be too affectionate with Bella for fear of hurting her. At the surface, it's because he's a vampire, but the underlying meaning is one of extreme chastity and resistance to temptation. It’s a little 1950s. Every time Bella hopes to go a little further with Edward, he makes her wait, promising to consummate their love when they are married, not when they’re older, or when they’re ready. When he puts a ring on it. Without Bella even attempting to go to college. Why would she? She's going to be 18 forever, so who cares, right?
RELATED: Why Is Viola Davis in 'Beautiful Creatures'?
Lena and Ethan, however, are a little more liberal, a little more modern day. The couple doesn't hop into bed together (although they do literally cuddle in a bed, clothed, at one point), but there are no obnoxious metaphors for chastity and restraint. If anything, their story of love in the face of adults who try to keep them apart is a case for young people being more capable of making their own decisions than their elders give them credit for. It's not a PSA for teens to have sex, but it promotes trust in young people to make the right, educated decisions for themselves while acknowledging the potential for teens to feel something as deeply as Lena and Ethan do. It’s a healthier, more modern picture of young love than the one we get in Twilight. And while both youngsters love each other so much, a makeout session could light a roadside sign on fire (and does), college is a constant element of their plans. The future is not just sex in Rio and eternal marital bliss.
And it’s the element of an educated, rational choice that separates Lena’s story from Bella’s. When Miss Swan decides she wants to change her whole life and give up her relationship with her mother to be with Edward, she’s doing so with passion, and a love so consuming that she’ll give up anything for it (we’re assured of that when she pulls daredevil antics in the second movie to induce visions of Edward). Lena, however, is struggling to find herself and her true path, whether that be light or dark magic, and she’s desperate to figure out how Ethan fits into her plan. She's not trying to figure out how her life could change to make her fit into Ethan's.
RELATED: 'Beautiful Creatures' Director Okay With 'Twilight' Comparisons
Even though her love will do anything to help her find a way to ensure she stays on the side of light magic, Lena eventually sends him away so that she can figure out the plan on her own. This is her cross to bear, it’s not something that Ethan or her uncle can be a part of. She spends her days studying a spell book, seeking a way to deny her family’s dark magic curse and the rules of the caster world that dictate that women cannot choose their own fate. When she finds the answer, which requires Ethan to die, she makes the mature, selfless decision to sacrifice her own happiness to save him. She wipes his memory of her and journeys to her magical claiming solo, where she chooses not light or dark, but a combination of the two. She completely rewrites the norm and forges her own path.
It can be argued that Bella breaks the rules too when she not only bears a human-vampire hybrid, but survives the process and becomes a vampire, however, that happening is something of a miracle. At best, she accomplishes the feat through a stubborn sense of hope. Lena, however, accomplishes the change she seeks in the world through hard work and education. It’s a dry message when it’s spelled out so simply, but that’s why we have things like magic and romance to coat it with.
At the heart of Beautiful Creatures is an obstacle that can only be overcome by the willpower, knowledge, and dedication of our strong heroine. Bella becomes a strong mother by the end of her journey, she follows her heart, and she changes her fate, but it’s not the same. Lena is exactly who she is always going to be at the start of Beautiful Creatures, and she strives throughout the film to maintain that sense of self and to find a way in which the person she is fits into the larger world, whether that includes the girls at school and a boyfriend, or not. In the end, it's the fact that Lena is so well-read and so resolute in who she is that attacts Ethan. It's not some cosmic calling, much like the magnetic pull between Edward and Bella. With Ethan and Lena, it's a matter of mutual respect and admiration.
Lena's story is what young girls should be yearning for: the ability to truly understand themselves, their goals, and their desires, the dedication to make those goals a reality, and if they're really lucky, they'll stumble upon a charismatic, funny, cheerful young man to keep them company along the way.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. (2); Summit Entertainment]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Supposedly Hollywood loves superheros, and yet the actors who play them are routinely put through hell. For starters, many of the costumes that look intimidating in the pages of a comic book are absolutely ridiculous in real life. It's incredible that Lynda Carter managed to become a '70s sex symbol while wearing what's essentially a star-spangled diaper and a sparkly tube top, and George Clooney will be fielding questions about Batman's nipples for the rest of his life. However, in addition to potentially career-ending humiliation, the actors who play superheroes face an even bigger obstacle: Wickedly uncomfortable costumes.
Andrew Garfield is the latest actor to endure a torturous shoot as a masked crime fighter. On Ellen, Garfield revealed that his Amazing Spider-Man suit is so tight that he was forced to go commando. Plus, "It's made of something that is designed to make you irritated," he said "I don't know the material name, but that's the description underneath."
Garfield isn't the only superhero suffering these days. On the set of The Avengers, Mark Ruffalo described the indignities of wearing a motion capture suit to play the Hulk. "It was smoky, it was hell and I felt really uncomfortable," he explained. "I’m not well-endowed, and those suits don’t really show you off in the most…"
Scarlett Johansson might have had it even worse. Like Garfield, nothing came between her and the unitard. "They spray paint her suit on in the morning," Ruffalo said. "But she looks good in it." While CGI has advanced leaps and bounds in the past few decades, it seems stepping into superhero garb is as embarrassing as ever for the mere mortals who play them. Here are a few other stars who've suffered a very private kind of pain for their craft. Hopefully having their own action figure (not to mention the hefty paycheck) made it all worth it! Michelle Pfeiffer, Catwoman in Batman Returns In 1996, Michelle Pfeiffer was asked if she had any advice for George Clooney about playing Batman. "I said, 'Make sure they give you a trapdoor in your Batsuit,'" she answered. "They get you in this contraption, and in order to go to the bathroom you have to completely disrobe, and it takes an hour to get it back on." Malin Akerman, Silk Spectre in The Watchmen While Akerman wore one of the skimpiest costumes in comic book history, like Pfeiffer, she encountered some bathroom trouble. "You dread it more and more every day. The first day, it’s exciting and it’s fun, and by the end of it you just want to burn the thing," she said. "In many different ways, they were all uncomfortable. Mine was made out of latex. It’s always freezing, and they were always hot because they had the foam. It would have been [difficult to go to the bathroom], but I figured out the ‘slide to the side’ technique, because there’s no other way. Sorry to get so graphic, but it’s a graphic novel." George Clooney, Batman in Batman and Robin The nipples weren't the only thing about the Batsuit that bothered Clooney — he couldn't even stand up without assistance. “If Batman had to wear the suit that you have to wear, everyone would die,” Clooney joked. “You’re laying on a board and you can’t move and they just prop you up and you’re like, ‘I’m Batman.’” Rebecca Romijn, Mystique in X2: X-Men United Though Rebecca Romijn didn't have to deal with layers of rubber and spandex, she endured with a different kind of discomfort. While playing Mystique, Romijn was essentially nude, aside from a bit of body paint. "I've been in denial about the nudity: 'No, no, I'm VERY covered up,'" she explained. "I kept checking with the rest of the cast, 'You guys, I'm totally covered up, right?' And they'd tell me, 'No, Rebecca, you're naked.' I'm hoping by X3 they can do it digitally. Maybe I won't even have to show up [laughs]. One time, [director] Bryan [Singer] opened the tent where I was literally bent over a chair getting my crack touched up. And I was like, 'Don't come in here, Bryan! You don't need to see this.'" [E!, Huffington Post, XFinity, The Improper, EW]