Shannon Houston
  • Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /media/www/hollywood/Web/releases/20150325105258/vendor/doctrine/common/lib/Doctrine/Common/Annotations/FileCacheReader.php on line 202 Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /media/www/hollywood/Web/releases/20150325105258/vendor/doctrine/common/lib/Doctrine/Common/Annotations/FileCacheReader.php on line 202 Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /media/www/hollywood/Web/releases/20150325105258/vendor/doctrine/common/lib/Doctrine/Common/Annotations/FileCacheReader.php on line 202 3 Times Sally Draper Was Incredible on 'Mad Men'
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 28, 2014
    AMC Mad Men's final season is officially underway, and since we've looked back at the best of Peggy Olson and Joan Harris' incomparable fashion sensibilities, it's time to celebrate another young woman on the show: Sally Draper. Sally is a strange little girl, to say the least, and it's been truly fascinating watching actress Kiernan Shipka grow up as the daughter of Don and Betty. She's given us plenty of laughs over the years, but she's also brought on some of the most shocking moments on the show. Here are just three of many, many times when Sally Draper was incredibly rad. When She Embraced Her Own Budding Sexuality, Albeit at the Wrong Time Now this was awkward. Watching Sally's self-pleasuring scene in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" was both uncomfortable and fascinating. Some even dubbed the episode "Sally Draper's Sexual Revolution." After her parents' divorce, her mother's re-marriage, and her dad's various ladyfriends-turned babysitters, Sally had had enough. She chopped off her hair, declared that she knows what sex is (she doesn't), and then proceeded to masturbate at a friend's house. On the one hand, you related to Betty's mortification. But you're also impressed with young Sally, boldly going where many people didn't even know to go before Cosmopolitan and The Vagina Monolgues. We appreciate your quest for liberation, Sally. She Knows NYC All Too Well One incredible fashion moment from Sally occured the night Don was receiving his award from the American Cancer Society. She got all dolled up in a gorgeous metallic-colored dress, and some bad-ass white boots (which she immediately had to take off, along with her make-up). But, after walking in on Megan's mother and Roger Sterling in a horribly compromising situation, she gets on the phone with Glen and describes the city with one word, the only word that fits sometimes: "Dirty." Draper's Funny Little Valentine It's difficult to say exactly where Season 7 is going, but in "A Day's Work" we watched Sally finally make amends with her father. After literally catching him with his pants down last season, she finally addressed her father and says some things that Don really needs to hear. Let's face it, Don can be pretty terrible, and sometimes we just want someone to put him in his place. Sally laid it on heavy: “Do you know how hard it was for me to go to your apartment? I could have run into that woman. I could be in the elevator, she could get in, and I’d have to stand there, smiling, wanting to vomit while I smell her hairspray.” But by the end of the episode, she was Don's anchor of sorts, wishing him a Happy Valentine's Day and saying "I love you" to his surprise. Follow @Hollywood_comFollow @shannonmhouston //
  • 3 Women Directors Rocking the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 26, 2014
    Getty Images We are here to put to rest the silly little rumor about a lack of women directors in film. There are plenty of women directors making exciting and interesting things, and the only thing that may be lacking in their work is sufficient buzz and promotion in the industry. So we join the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in showing some love to these talented filmmakers. Here are just three of many camera-weilding women who premiered new works at TFF this year. Remember these names. You'll want to say that you knew them when... Garrett Bradley, Below Dreams Bradley's first time at Tribeca brings us a tale of three individuals trying to navigate troubled times in New Orleans. Inspired by passengers she would meet on long bus rides to Louisiana, Bradley's film looks to be a powerful story of the difficult spaces between struggle, survival, and dreams. You can watch the trailer HERE. Gita Pullapilly, Beneath The Harvest Sky Along with her co-director Aron Gaudet, Pullapilly has created a haunting tale of friendship, crime, and love with Beneath The Harvest Sky. The trailer is reminiscent of last year's The Place Beyond The Pines, and the gritty story has everyone buzzing about Pullapilly as the next big thing. Ondi Timoner, Amanda F***ing Palmer on the Rocks Timoner is certainly not a newcomer, as the only two-time recipient of Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for documentaries. This year she's at Tribeca with her documentary short, Amanda F***ing Palmer on the Rocks. She followed punk-cabaret icon and general badass Amanda Palmer as she prepared for her Red Rocks Amphitheater performance, which means she is quite literally rocking Tribeca. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • 3 Ways This Maya Rudolph Variety Hour Could Be Awesome
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 25, 2014
    Universal Pictures via Everett Collection On May 19 at 10 PM, The Maya Rudolph Show will premiere on NBC. After some time out in Hollywood making films like Grown-Ups and Friends with Kids, and a short stint with Up All Night, the Saturday Night Live veteran is returning to the variety show format to bring us a little song, dance, and live sketches. Right now it sounds like The Maya Rudolph Show is a one-time special that could become a series. And if NBC does pick it up for more, there are a few things we hope to see. As Many Beyoncé Impersonations as Possible The "Drunk in Love" video has been patiently awaiting a Maya Rudolph/Jay Pharoah remake since their unforgettable SNL skit. And the thought of Rudolph in any of those NSFW Mrs. Carter World Tour costumes is enough reason to tune in. More Kristen Wiig, Please Wiig and Rudolph have done so many memorable things together (their skits on SNL, Friends with Kids, and Bridesmaids), so we have every reason to demand a little Wiig cameo or two (even though we also look forward to confirmed guest appearances from Kristen Bell, Andy Samberg, Fred Armisen, Craig Robinson, Sean Hayes, and Chris Parnell). Come to think of it, a Bridesmaids cast reunion moment is long overdue and probably needs to happen as well. The Maya Rudolph Family Hour Maya Rudolph has four children with acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson, and just once it would be nice to see the whole family together... maybe doing a Sound of Music "Edelweiss" thing? Something tells us that people would definitely tune in to watch a room full of little Rudolph Andersons being extremely adorable and wonderful on stage. If Rudolph thinks this is too much, a nice big family photo shown before the first commercial would also be acceptable. Don't make this weird, Rudolph... we just want to bask in your family's talent! Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • 5 Misconceptions About Kim Kardashian
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 23, 2014
    WENN When it comes to Kim Kardashian, everyone considers him or herself an expert. And why shouldn't we? She leads a very public lifestyle, and her personal reputation and career have been built on baring it all for the world. Still, there's plenty that people assume about the reality star that simply is not accurate. And hey, even if you don't like her, you can at least get the facts straight. Here are five common misconceptions about Kimberly Noel Kardashian.1. She Was a Porn Star People love to call Kim a "porn star." Well, no. That's not true. Kim was dating Ray J back in the day (a fact he's since tried to make a comeback career out of), and the young couple decided to make a sex tape. Whether they both went into it with the intention of selling the video and getting rich is another question, but she was in a committed relationship with him when it happened. The video was not professionally made -- it was grainy, had the shaky camera thing going, and -- from what we've heard -- wasn't all that exciting (just like a real home sex video). Repeat: Kim Kardashian has never made a porno, is not famous for being a porn star. If all it took was a single video, we'd have a lot more people with sex tapes dominating reality TV and running empires.2. She Contributes Nothing to the World Kim may not have the Beyoncé talent, but she has the Beyoncé work ethic. Kim puts in work, and it's work that has gone on to benefit every member of her immediate family, as well as a number of worthy charities. In this clip from Keeping Up with the Kardashians she gets into a fight with Kourtney (that turns into a fight between Kourtney and Jonathan) over an appearance that Kourtney did not want to make. Whether people value her work or not, Jonathan was right to say that Kim works every day, all year round. 3. She's a Bad Mother If you think Kim is only concerned with looking perfect all of the time and is totally fake half of the time, then you haven't seen the video of her leaking breastmilk through her nursing pads. Not only did she share this truly intimate moment on her show, she laughed off her siblings practically gagging over the scene. Because, when you're a true mom, leaky nipples are just a part of the game. 4. Her Relationship Is All for Show Because of the Kris Humphries situation, people have always been suspicious of Kanye West and Kim. Two things work against the theory that these two are just together for the attention. First off, there's every Kanye West song in which he obsessively references Kim and proclaims his love for her. He's even rapped about dealing with his developing feelings while she was still with Kris. And then there's the effect the relationship has had on her reality show. The breastmilk leak was such a big deal partly because we hadn't even seen Nori yet! And although Kanye has appeared on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, they were rare appearances where little was revealed about their relationship. Being with Kanye has actually changed Kim in that she has had to curb her sharing (and her mom has surely had to deal Kanye's desire for more privacy as well). Watching Kim and Kanye do things neither has ever publicly done in a relationship suggests that there is something legit there.5.  She Got Pregnant Just for the Publicity and Attention Kim was actually not that thrilled about the idea of a baby shower. She was tired of the negative press (like that TMZ story about the alleged baby shower invites), and even asked that instead of registry gifts, friends and family donate to the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. While she did end up having a baby shower, it was a fairly low-key event that her family put on for her. Looking at Kim and the terrible time the press gave her (and the health issues she had to deal with too), it's not difficult to believe that she was just over the whole thing and ready for Nori to arrive. Now, you are all free to continue loathing, despising, or being totally indifferent to Kim Kardashian. Or loving her! As long as you're well-informed. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • Is Beyonce a Fake Feminist?
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 23, 2014
    CBS Given the recent statements Beyoncé has made along with some backlash she's received from others, it has to be asked: Is Beyoncé a fake feminist? On the one hand she makes grand statements, like this one, taken from a recent Out Magazine interview: There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist—whatever you want to be—and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive. It sure sounds like a feminist sentiment, doesn't it? She is saying all of the right things here. But Beyoncé is an icon, a businesswoman; she's someone whose very career depends on (among many other things) her ability to say the right thing. But what do some of her actions, or inactions, tell us about her true thoughts on feminism?  Thigh Gap and Messages About Body Image Beyoncé recently came under fire with accusations of photoshopping an Instagram shot of herself. In the picture, people claimed that the gap between her thighs was created through photo manipulation (they observed some strange effects on other parts of the picture). If it's true, then that is certainly problematic for a so-called feminist. Obviously, Bey gets photoshopped all of the time for her high-fashion shoots (which are fabulous), but to do so with an Instagram picture sends another message: that her natural, un-retouched body is not something she wants to share with everyone. This is a corrosive message to send to her fans, especially the younger lot, considering our culture's epidemic of body image issues. Beyoncé is often such a great champion of her curves, but this alleged manipulation sends a contradictory message. Mrs. Carter Versus Beyoncé When Bey announced the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour she got a lot of heat from fans who wanted to see their Queen Bey, not Jay Z's wife. The very concept of taking your husband's last name still sparks debate among women and feminists, but to be a pop star known for songs like "Independent Women," "Survivor," and "Run the World (Girls)," calling yourself "Mrs. Carter" is bound to spark some controversy. Around this time, Beyoncé also released the track "Bow Down" which many found offensive to women (due to the repetition of the lyrics "Bow down b**ches"). In her defense, it has to be said that being proud of your husband's name (especially when your husband is Jay Z) should not automatically be deemed anti-feminist. And "Bow Down" was really a playful track that functioned as an ode to Houston trap music. She also used the song to address her break from music and her new position as a wife and mother: "I took some time to live my life/but don't think I'm just his little wife." The "Drunk in Love" Conundrum Bey has been attacked in the past, most recently for her husband Jay Z's lyrics, playfully referencing the abusive relationship between Ike and Tina Turner on Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love" track. But Jay rapping "eat the cake, Anna Mae" is just that — it's playful. The joke may be lost on some — and may, indeed, be inappropriate, but one could argue that asking people to stand by literal interpretations of their music is problematic. Still, Beyoncé never spoke on the issue... but does she ever address specific issues in feminist debate? Gender Equality, According to Bey Now, in Beyoncé's defense, she did write a piece titled "Gender Equality Is a Myth!", and has spoken up about equal pay — props for that! And, sure, that alone could make her a true feminist! But it was another piece filled with clichés. Do we know where Beyoncé stands on harder issues like abortion and birth control? No. And we probably never will, if Beyoncé plans to keep on being Beyoncé. She's not a controversial figure, for the most part. She's loved and enjoyed by feminists and non-feminists alike. So she seems to say just enough to claim the title "feminist," without alienating any other part of her fan base. And the truth is, there's nothing wrong with this. It could even be that she is, simply, a pop star first and a feminist second. If Beyoncé is a fake feminist or a real feminist (a difficult question ultimately, because everyone does not agree on the definition of the word), it's significant that she claims the title, and that she's speaking up (even if in clichés) when she could really say nothing. Some ask, "Who cares?" Who cares if our celebrities are feminists?" But for some of us, feminism is actually a fairly simple idea that should be embraced by everyone. So yes, it matters if Beyoncé is a feminist. And, even if it's difficult to discern her true intentions, it's good to see her bringing awareness to the very idea. Now, if we can just get her (and other celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Kim Kardashian) to stay away from the photoshop tools they have (allegedly) been using on their Instagram pictures, we'd be making great strides over here. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • Rihanna Will Voice The First Black, Animated Heroine Of A DreamWorks Production
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 21, 2014
    DreamWorks Animation/YouTube A new DreamWorks Animation production is on the way, and you have a few reasons to get excited about it. First off, Rihanna is voicing the main character in Home, a little girl named Tip. Secondly, Jim Parsons is voicing another character, named J. Lo, which is particularly hilarious because the real J. Lo AKA Jennifer Lopez is also voicing a character. Although there's little media to go along with the announcement of the film, a prequel titled Almost Home has been released: Home is a 3D animated flick that tells the story of an alien race that displaces all of the humans and takes over Earth. Tip manages to avoid getting captured, and she teams up with J. Lo (Jim Parsons), an outcast among the aliens. The movie is described as a post-apocalyptic-alien-invasion-buddy-comedy, and it sounds like a blast. But, more importantly, it marks the first time that DreamWorks is placing a black child at the forefront of a plot. Some may not see this as a big deal, but it's a significant step towards further diversifying children's movies. The importance of this process lies in the simple fact that children of color should be able to see more representations of themselves in the movies they love. Obviously, true diversification goes far beyond characters in animated movies, but it's all a part of this process. Tip now stands alongside Disney princess Tiana (The Princess Frog) in a small group of black characters from the big names in animation studios. Hopefully, this small group will continue to grow and better reflect the biggest littlest fans of these productions. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • 5 Powerful Movies About Kids Having Sex
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 18, 2014
    New Line Cinema via Everett Collection Here's something that many will consider a terrifying fact: teenagers are having sex. While most films dance around the issues or romanticizes it, there are a few that have boldly depicted the sexual lives of very young people. This year, Gia Coppola may be joining the other directors on our list, as her debut film Palo Alto (starring James Franco and Emma Roberts) is hitting theaters soon. Coppola's film, based on a short story by Franco himself, will follow a group of unsupervised kids who turn to drugs and casual sex for entertainment. And while we look forward to this unique spin on the subject, we have to give it up to a few folks who did it first. Here are five unforgettable movies about the sex lives of kids. It Felt Like Love In Eliza Hittman's feature directorial debut we meet Lila and Chiara, we meet two friends coming of age in Brooklyn, New York. The film follows both girls as they chart out different paths to their first sexual experiences. But the film is especially interested in the performative aspects of youth and sexual identity. Lila is as fascinating a character as she is heartbreaking, and her attempts to either be the woman she is growing into or the woman she thinks the young boys around her want (boys who are also performing their own identities) are often so authentic they're uncomfortable. The influence of Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl weighs heavy on the film, but Hittman's unique, contemporary sensibility peers through. Unlike some other films on this list, It Felt Like Love attempts to be more honest than cautionary, even if that honesty makes us squirm. S#x Acts Johnathan Gurfinkel's intense Israeli drama centers on Gigli, the new girl looking to make a name for herself at school. A difficult film to endure at times, S#x Acts raises questions about sexual consent between teenagers. Gigli goes to greath lengths to gain popularity, and we watch as she pretends to be sexually uninhibited while often being taken advantage of or even raped on multiple occasions. Like many of these films, the focus is on these young people who seem to have little-to-no parental supervision. But the story gets even more interesting when parents get involved, either by choosing to do something, or choosing to look the other way. Fat Girl If you took any course on feminism or film in college, here's hoping you got acquainted with Catherine Breillat. No stranger to controversial pieces (her debut feature, A Real Young Girl, was banned until 1999), Fat Girl stunned audiences with its stark depictions of young sexuality and violence. With a powerful final scene that intertwined both, Breillat's film certainly had its shocking moments. But some of the best scenes showed the conversations between two sisters (Anaïs and Elena), and offered up two very unique views on love and sex. Havoc Anne Hathaway went from The Princess Diaries to this unbelievably indie tale (directed by Barbara Kopple) of super rich kids with nothing but time on their hands in the Pacific Palisades. Alongside Bijou Philips and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hathaway played Allison Lang, a bored high school student who heads to the hood to find trouble and a crowd more interesting than her own. Havoc is as much about race and class in America as it is about sex, but all of these issues collide in a powerful way as Allison learns that crossing invisible borders is much more complicated than it looks. Kids Written by Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine, there can be no discussion about kids having sex in the movies without Kids, the movie. Larry Clark's directorial debut took on sexuality, AIDS, drugs, and New York City in a film that introduced many of us to Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson. Clark unflinchingly presents his subjects as young, free (to a fault), destructive, cruel, and beautiful. He captures the innocence of youth even as it's being corrupted by the curiousity of youth, and an overwhelming desire to be accepted.  Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • Life Lessons from TV Moms: Maya Lewis on 'Scandal'
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 16, 2014
    ABC We know what you're thinking. Mama Pope is horrible! She's a terrorist! She's insane! She tried to kill the President of the United States/her own daughter's boyfriend! Okay, sure. But on Scandal, no bad guy is just a bad guy and even the good guys can't always be trusted. Mama Pope A.K.A. Maya Lewis A.K.A. Marie Wallace (played by the supremely talented Khandi Alexander) is a strange, scary figure, but there are a few things we can all learn from her. As Olivia Pope once said about the baddest of bad guys Hollis Doyle, "even the devil loves his kids." 1. Have a Special, Exclusive Nickname for Your Little One Every time Olivia picks up the phone and hears the name "Livvy" her heart stops a little. Sure, she's partly terrified because her Mom keeps coming back from the dead, and popping up in the States when she was just on a plane to Europe. But there's also something endearing about the whole thing. She may be the Olvia Pope, D.C. Fixer extraordinaire, but it's nice to know that to one person she's just plain "Livvy." Even if Olivia is freaked out every time she gets on the phone with her mom, we know she's also, always secretly happy to be Livvy again, if only for a moment. 2. Don't Be Afraid to Tread on the Dark Side of Motherhood We can't talk about Mama Pope without discussing the one scene that kind of told us everything we needed to know about her. In one of her first appearances, when she was still being imprisoned by her husband Eli Pope (because of that one time she killed all of those people on a plane), Mama Pope kinda, sorta, literally ate through her own wrists so as to break free and make her way to Olivia. Sure, it was dark and gruesome. But motherhood is a dark place sometimes. And every once in a while you have to get a little animalistic if you're going to make it through. 3. Be the One Person Who Keeps It Unbelievably Real with Your Child Some people forget that Mama Pope was the first character on the show to make one brilliantly astute observation about Olivia: Kerry Washington's character is not a very happy person. She's got great coats, she's got great men (sort of), her job is pretty cool, and she's the best fixer around. Her hair is perfect, and her friends and coworkers are loyal. But she doesn't laugh that much and it's kind of a bummer. In a recent episode, Mama Pope even went so far as to call her The Help, and pointed out (rather harshly) that Livvy's world revolves around the people she serves. Mothers are not just meant to cuddle and coddle; they need to keep it all the way real sometimes. And keeping it real is one thing (of many) that Mama Pope is not afraid to do. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • 3 Reasons 'The Hip-Hop Fellow' Is One of the Most Important Documentaries Of 2014
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 16, 2014
    The Hiphop Fellow/Facebook A good documentary can change a person, and a great documentary can change the world. If you've ever wondered why your college isn't offering a course on hip-hop, it's probably because they haven't seen the work going down at Harvard University's Hip-Hop Archives, and they haven't yet seen Kenneth Price's powerful new doc, The Hip-Hop Fellow. Right now Harvard students are getting the chance to study with 9th Wonder, a Grammy Award-winning producer who worked with everyone from Jay Z to Mary J. Blige, and then went on to become one of the first truly hip-hop hip-hop professors. Price's film follows 9th Wonder (and includes interviews with Young Guru, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and DJ Premier) as he teaches his Standards of Hip-Hop course and works on his own thesis project. The documentary has started making its way around the festival circuit, and you're going to want to catch it when it comes to a town near you. Here are just a few reasons The Hip-Hop Fellow is one of the best documentaries so far this year. 1. The Honesty and Intelligence of Professor 9th Wonder  For those of us not attending Harvard right now, The Hip-Hop Fellow allows us to experience the genius that is 9th Wonder. As the tenured professor takes us through the complex and exciting history of rap music (which is also a history of many other musical genres), we get a taste of what it would be like to learn from one of the greats. 2. Hip-Hop Gets Recognized as High Theory With expert analysis from 9thWonder and other well-respected rap producers, as well as theorists at Harvard, this documentary brilliantly puts an end to the question of whether or not hip-hop -- specifically sampling in hip-hop -- can be understood as an art form. If you understand "sampling" as "stealing," or as a lazy way to make music, prepare to be schooled.  3. Because Henry Louis Gates Jr. Says So In terms of literary and cultural theory in America, Harvard University's Henry Louis Gates Jr. is pretty much at the top of the pyramid. As he waxes poetic on the true genius behind many hip-hop productions, it becomes clear that this movement which seeks to link rap music to academia is both hugely important and incredibly exciting. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //
  • Does TV Need to Stop Killing People Off (and Bringing Them Back from the Dead)?
    By: Shannon Houston Apr 15, 2014
    CBS Broadcasting There are few things more powerful than the loss of somebody close to you. There are few concepts that can compete in the realms of emotional or psychological oomph, save perhaps for the long-awaited reunion with a loved one. TV knows this. It seems that television writers are keenly aware that killing off a beloved character or bringing someone back from the dead (either literally, or figuratively with a "they weren't really dead" move) is a surefire way to bring the audience to its knees. Is this fair play? Or is this all too easy — a cheap trick (kind of like the "uh-oh, someone's pregnant" trope) used on too many shows over the years to get viewers to commit to a series for at least a few more episodes? Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will remember that Sarah Michelle Gellar's character died twice throughout the series. In the Season 1 finale, the Master drowned her and she lay dead until Xander and Angel arrived, and Xander was able to resurrect her through CPR. But a more permanent death took place in the Season 5 finale. After her battle royale with Glory, Buffy made the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister and the world. This time she was really, really dead. In the Season 6 opener Willow, Tara, Xander and Anya brought her back to life with a spell; this was and was not the best idea ever. So killing off characters, and bringing characters back is obviously not new to television — in fact, it's starting to feel a bit repetitious. Even on Buffy, it was all a little too convenient at times, but it made for a great plot! Especially when you consider the fact that Buffy came back "wrong" in Season Six and suffered throughout, unable to tell her friends that they had, in a way, ruined her by bringing her back to life. The nature of BtVS also called for this supernatural storyline, but if something like this takes place in a show that isn't partly based on fantasy, it can feel soap-y or trope-y. The Good Wife fans and Scandal Gladiators were each dealt a blow recently via the loss of beloved characters Will Gardner and James Novak. Will's death on The Good Wife was an unbelievable shock and truly hit fans hard, but it was later explained when news broke that actor Josh Charles had asked to be written off the show. Of all the ways the writers could have written his exit (and they had about a year to do it), a courtroom shooting had to be the most dramatic. The death of a character like Will also opens up room for so much more to happen with the other characters. Does Diane become the new Will? Does Alicia totally lose her mind? There are so many possibilities! And, therefore, so many more reasons for viewers to keep watching, to vow to never miss an episode. It should be said though, that The Good Wife does an especially good job of doling out the drama in very realistic ways. The loss of James Novak (played by Dan Bucatinsky) on Scandal was indeed a shock, and writers did some very fascinating stuff with the dialogue surrounding his death. But it could also be argued that this was another "too easy" move to get audiences all hyped up. Scandal may indeed be getting too dramatic for its own good: people keep getting killed off and we are constantly being introduced to characters who we thought were long gone or dead — namely Olivia Pope's parents Eli/Rowan and Maya Pope. Sometimes this works out smoothly (like when we found out Huck had a missing family in the "Seven Fifty-Two" episode), but it frequently crosses the line. Writers should tread carefully. Killing the beloved and raising the dead can bring in more viewers, but it can also alienate those of us who don't want new plot development to be too unrealistic. Shows like ABC's Revenge caught some backlash and lost the interest of many viewers during Season 2, partly in repsonse to so-called plot twists that were getting to be a bit too predictable. And then we have ABC's new series, Resurrection. The entire premise is based on the idea of raising the dead and killing the beloved! Loved ones return to their familes after years and years of being presumed dead. Things, by definition, get all crazy. One has to wonder if these shows are playing on the most basic human emotions — most anyone will react strongly to seeing a parent embrace a child they thought drowned 32 years ago. It's akin to the idea that it's easier to make someone cry than it is to make them laugh. If writers can keep core audiences in tears (or on the brink of 'em), they have a better chance of keeping their audiences. But that doesn't make it good storytelling. So in the end, perhaps we, the viewers, are partly (even largely) to blame. If these shows didn't bring on the drama, would we be as aggressively committed (even as we protest to too much drama)? We have to consider our own role in the decisions that are being made concerning our favorite shows. And if we ask for more unique storylines that aren't dependent on the old tricks of the trade, maybe fresher, more interesting material will develop. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston //