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Alternative Endings to the Bachelor

16 Mar

Huzzah! Rachel Lindsay–The first POC bachelorette.

by Madeline Iva

I saw the very first season of the Bachlorette while packing for a Big Move to the South.  I made it through a few seasons after that because I was fascinated by watching grown women aggressively fight for the attention of one man–while pretending not to. So deliciously perverse! Alexa Day posted about the announcement of the latest bachelorette on Tuesday, and the rest below is just one long riff about The Bachelor and other thoughts her post inspired.

I loved how the most interesting women (to me) on The Bachelor in the end ultimately had to be–I mean HAD TO BE–there for the money. (Student loans, I’m guessing.) Top ways to tell:

  1. They were very popular with the other women in the house. This, I think, is a key sign. But at the same time, they didn’t seem to have a secret boyfriend at home, or were there for some kind of acting career –and thus could dodge the “you’re not here for the right reasons” attack.   (BTW has anyone ever gone up and attacked a contestant saying “You’re just here to pay off your student loans—aren’t you, bitch?”)
  2. Often they would acknowledge being on the fence about their feelings for the guy. Why? Because they weren’t that into Mr. Available.  This only helps them not seem like a threat to the other women, of course.
  3. The fact that they weren’t so into the bachelor often seemed to make the bachelor far more into them.  Like he wanted to chase them hard.  After all, for most men, chasing is their comfort zone.  (Some of us are challenged when it comes to being adored.) Logically, enlightened men *know* it’s okay for a girl to chase a guy.  But they’re not actually comfortable with it.  It’s not their usual pattern–and sometimes breaking patterns feels odd.
  4. Because these women were just “passing time” to earn their paycheck, they could neatly avoid conflict in the house with the rest of the women–and work on soothing things out.  This is where their attention was.  It’s like they reguard the other women in the house as their fellow co-workers and wanted to be team players more than they were actually vying for the heart of one man.
  5. There’s almost an instant, quick and quiet break up following the conclusion of the show when one of these women was chosen.  The fact that a break up would immediately follow seemed like wonderful karma to me.  That’s what you get, you bachelor guy, for going for the girl that’s “not that into you” and ignoring the ones who were good people and desperate for your man-love.

At any rate — I’m glad that the show chose a POC bachelorette.

But I gotta wonder: how is this show going to continue to appeal to any but the most conservative audience? Because with polyamory becoming an accepted thing amongst all the hipsters and millenials, doesn’t the idea of picking ‘the one’ seem just a wee bit old fashioned?

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being a monogamous type of person (I’m one myself). I’m just saying that when the Batchelor says “OMG, I’m in love with BOTH of these women” is this still the shockingly upsetting drama that it used to be?  Aren’t twenty and thirty somethings across the land saying “And? This is a problem why?”

Or–a more radical theory still–was the repetition of season after season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette actually paving the way for widespread polyamory across our heartland over these last ***seventeen*** years by making TV America overly familiar with the idea that one person can easily fall in love with two (or more) people at the same time?  I mean, think back to when polyamory started becoming a thing–right? Amiright?

I’m just waiting for the season when the Bachelor/Bachelorette decides to propose to *both* women or accept a proposal from *both* guys.  Now that would be a ratings booster.

Maybe if this this new bachelorette says yes to a black man AND a white man we can all have our cake and eat it too.

MEANWHILE — Idris Elba for Bond.  Seriously.  Accept no other substitutes.  Unless it’s Tom Hiddleston.  Then we’ll have to talk.

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

Half Past Time: Rachel Lindsay as the Next Bachelorette

14 Mar

Not sure what lies ahead for Rachel, but she seems to have done pretty well so far, no?

By Alexa Day

Her name is Rachel Lindsay, she’s 31 years old, and she’s an attorney working for a very supportive law firm.

She’s the next Bachelorette. And she’s black.

Some of you can’t be bothered to care, and that’s fine. I will defend to the death your right to apathy. Just understand that this is a really big deal for a great many people.

I’ve never really watched the Bachelor; I could only watch so many grown women burst into real tears on camera over some dude they just met. By the time, I stopped paying attention years ago, the show’s few black cast members were usually on the show long enough to make the network look good. Then they were gone before anyone started to think that the Bachelor, usually a white man, would actually choose a black woman as a romantic partner and potential spouse.

Gradually, black women garnered longer stays on the Bachelor. But before Nick Viall, whose run as the Bachelor will end tonight, none had cracked the final three. Indeed, Nick had a more diverse selection of women than many Bachelors. In the history of the franchise, going back 21 years, the Bachelor and Bachelorette have had only 43 black cast members, and eight of them were with Nick this season.

Rachel left the Bachelor last week, leaving Vanessa and Raven to vie for the final rose. This is about the time I found out that Rachel would be the next Bachelorette, and after I shook my head in wonder that it only took ABC thirteen years to make a black woman the show’s lead, I started to pick through the press coverage.

I liked Rachel immediately. She said her law firm is holding her job open while she films the show, something she knows to be an anomaly in the legal industry. She said she had no desire to know what her dad and Nick talked about, when the two of them apparently had their suitor-parent conference. And then, in The New York Times, she said, “Even though I’m an African-American woman, it’s not different from any other bachelorette.”

You might be asking, at this point, what the big deal is. She says she’s going to be just like any other bachelorette.

That’s the big deal. That’s a huge deal.

I’ve got a few years on Rachel, and so my experience with popular culture’s expectations of black women is probably a little different. Today, we have Rick and Michonne on The Walking Dead, who have moved beyond being the zombie apocalypse’s most dangerous couple and become its most adorable couple as well. On Scandal, Fitz’s adulterous relationship with Olivia might be a thing of the past, but he’s involved in another, similarly complicated interracial relationship with Angela, the director of the FBI … and his ex-wife, Mellie, is flirting across racial lines with her aide, Marcus. Not that long ago, I was delighted to spread the news about the immense but understated magnetism of Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in Loving.

My point here is that we’re seeing black women with white men in the popular culture. We’re seeing it frequently. What’s so different about this?

The headline that sent me down this Bachelorette rabbit hole was this one, from The Hollywood Reporter: “History-Making ‘Bachelorette’ Opens Up About Pressure to Pick a Black Man.”

Rachel hasn’t even started production yet. And she knows there’s going to be some pressure for her to pick a black man, because to some person or persons out there, it’s okay for her romantic options to be limited by her skin color.
In short, she knows that a lot of people think that black people should be with other black people, to the exclusion of all other people. Whether this view is espoused by enough people to affect her pool of suitors remains to be seen. But she knows the truth about people’s perceptions, and she is willing to tell The Hollywood Reporter about it. In spite of this, she’s determined to pursue her reality-TV romance just like any other woman, of any other race.

“It’s my journey in finding love,” she said. “And whether that person is black, white, red, whatever — it’s my journey. I’m not choosing a man for America, I’m choosing a man for me.”

I hope the network is prepared to support her in this mission.

If Zack and Lisa mattered to you back in the day, then Rachel probably ought to matter to you now.

Because I’m older than Rachel, I remember how many a television show would bring on a completely random black character for the sole purpose of being an appropriate, but temporary, love interest for a more permanent black character. I’m also aware of the longstanding TV trope of pairing the black character with the least romantically desirable character on the show. We’ve made progress, sure. But let’s be honest. Popular culture is still very comfortable with black romance (interracial and otherwise) on the sidelines, leaving black characters with societally appropriate partners who have no chemistry with them, with some grand mission to assist other characters at the expense of their own love lives, or with no partners at all. Honestly, I’m still a bit annoyed with Magic Mike XXL for pushing Rome into the corner. I’m enjoying the rise of Richonne because part of me is afraid it’s going to be taken away soon. Please don’t start me talking about Sleepy Hollow again.

I’m not going to sit here with you and suggest that the Bachelorette is the flagship of romance. I did just say I couldn’t bear to watch grown women devastated to discover that they wouldn’t be marrying some dude they just met a little while ago. But Ali Barthwell from Vulture says it best in “Why a Black Bachelorette is a Big Deal.”

“Celebrating black womanhood in the context of marriage and motherhood might seem reductive to some, but because they’ve so often been denied those roles in pop culture, it’s in fact, revolutionary,” she writes. “Seeing a black woman as the woman pursued, riding off into the sunset, would do so much to diversify the narratives of black romance.”

Will I tune in for Rachel? Well, just last night, one of her future suitors apparently greeted her, on international television, with the promise that he was “ready to go black and never go back.” I have to support a woman who could hear a man say that and not punch him in the face, cameras be damned.

In the meantime, let me present two tales of reality TV romance where black women take center stage.

In The One, by Danielle Allen, heroine Zoe is a reality-TV skeptic who suddenly finds herself on a Bachelor-style show. And Bridget Midway’s Love series, starting with Love My Way, features a reality TV show that pairs Doms with their submissives.

Still looking for excitement? Try this on for size.

Let the Confessional Games Begin!

Have you ever had mad monkey love on a motorcycle? A three-way in an alley? Been roped, tied and pleasured? Have you never, ever, never done any of this? Be rewarded for your naughty or sweet past and win crowns, toys, books and more at the Lady Smut special reader event, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the RT Booklovers Convention.

Follow Lady Smut. This is where the fun starts.

 

 

I Was Enjoying DARK MATTER ‘Til They ****ing Killed My Favorite Character

23 Feb

by Madeline Iva

***Yeah, this post is chock full of spoilers.  You’ve been warned.*** Dark Matter is a successful comic book made into a Canadian television show that you can binge watch on Netflix–which is what I did.  The gloomy ship, the tough characters and the cloudy mystery about their identity sucked me right in until I was devouring episodes left and right.

One. He's the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

One. He’s the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

WHY I LOOOOOOOOVED DARK MATTER SO MUCH:

The premise is pretty brilliant.  Six people wake up in sleep pods on a dark ship in space.  Their memories have been wiped.  In addition to that, the android that sort of runs the ship wakes up and starts attacking them, so they knock her out and end up injuring her.  To get her back up requires a memory wipe, so she too doesn’t know what happened to them all.  It’s science-fiction, but it’s also mystery.  Who are they? Who did this to them? Why? 

darkmattertwo

Two. She’s hot.

They give themselves numbers and I knew that they’d eventually run into their pasts and get names, but it made me extraordinarily satisfied that they call each other by numbers.  It becomes an alternative identity.  Later on Three learns his name is Marcus–but if the others still call him Three, it’s like they’re disavowing his messed up Marcus past and saying that he can go back to being their three–i.e. annoying, but not a completely heartless dick.

I like One best.  He is a good looking guy–but I mean, they’re all good looking, so really, it isn’t only that. However, in a ship full of tough people, he’s the good guy.  Which is a little scary, because the rest (Five excepted) so obviously are not. I usually don’t like the super good guys.  I like the maybe-villains.  But One is played by a very talented actor, who via subtle expressions and delivery squeezes a three-dimensional performance out of a two dimensional character.

Three is all walking id, questioning every decision that isn’t based on pure selfishness–so of course, he is fun to watch and a bit of a wild card. Later on, we see Three has a real soft spot for women. At one point we think Two has been executed and Three’s face is really something to see in that moment.  Three, also, is one of the best actors on the show–at certain moments.

THREE

THREE. Also the show’s id character. Also kinda hot. Sometimes. Also a good actor.

Two is the toughest character in the beginning.  Played by an asian female with some extraordinary thighs, she takes command of the ship with her bad-ass attitude.  One is quickly drawn to her, but when she wants to scratch her bootie itch and have a little meaningless sex, it’s Three she calls upon, not One. Which makes One smart.  So there are tensions between One and Two because: love triangle!  Not to mention that One and Three are diametrically opposed in terms of morality.

Yet pretty soon, it turns out that One discovers he’s got a BIG secret to keep and Three is right there when this secret is revealed to One.  So the two are connected in that way for a while and it’s massively uncomfortable for One. Which is great! (Although I hope you can follow what I’m saying, because it’s starting to sound like weird SFF algebra.)

Probably the most handsome guy on the show. But....meh.

Four is probably the most handsome guy on the show. But….meh. He adds the most in ensemble moments.

The show delivers Big Secrets every so often and they are mostly yummy.  The show is at it’s best when it returns to its gloomy mystery origins: you just don’t know who you can trust.  Goodie!

It’s often young Five who circles us around to these gripping plot reversals. I think I liked her at first simply because I associated her with these moments. But I also delight in Five being a Young Adult character–a main character and a girl–in a sci-fi television show.  I’m trying to think of another major adult SFF show where that’s the case, and I can’t.

Five aka "The Kid."

Five aka “The Kid.”

I enjoyed watching the Android–though you and I know her as Lauren  from LOST GIRL.  She gets dinged up from the git go and starts to go “off program”. For instance, she starts seeking approval from the humans.  The “right” thing to do would be to wipe her system and reboot–a kind of android seppuku. At one point there’s the potential to “upgrade her system” to make her feel and seem more like a human and a ‘rouge android’ element is introduced.  The program upgrade makes the Android seem like a whole other character.  The actress performs this well, but…ugh! (more later below).

So there was something here for everyone–I thought a lot of the ideas in the show were fabulous.

WHAT WENT WRONG…

I’m not saying this show was perfect.  One problem I had with five is that she’s so obviously an older actress playing a younger character.  She and Two are equally short, and she has far larger breasts, so buying that she was a teen was a challenge (She’s was twenty-two when they filmed).  I had to keep squinting to suspend disbelief about her.  I mean, it’s not just that they all decide she’s a young teen when she looks anywhere from sixteen to twenty-three, it’s that they keep saying things like: “She’s just a KID!” like she’s only twelve or something…But that’s not saying anything against the actress, who is quite good. Another thing is that she keeps having new clothes to wear when a) she was a stowaway, presumably on the ship without luggage, and b) everyone else on the show seems to be in the same-o, same-old clothes.

Android fail. Every few episodes she's getting zapped and it's lights out.

Android fail. Every few episodes she’s getting zapped and it’s lights out.

I had problems with the android ‘upgrade program’, although it was more like an epiphany. The plot of this particular episode struck my robot-romance fixated nerve.  It made me realize that the ‘upgrade’ shortcut would never work for a successful robot/human romance.  What do we love about idea of a cyborg/AI/robot/android romance if it’s not that the android represents the most difficult challenge of all? Huge boundaries (impossible boundaries some would say) exist in terms of getting a cold and emotionless being to develop attraction, love, and passion. That’s a HUGE obstacle. A quick upgrade to the system???? That’s just cheating. )

I delighted in watching Six waiting in a doctor’s office for a very long time where they continuously ran ads about adventuring off world via clone proxies.  Your body and mind are scanned in a pod, and your look-a-like clone wakes up on some other world.  Your clone enjoys your vacay and then all the memories from your clone are downloaded back into your memory while you’re in the pod.  You wake up and come out of the scanner remembering the events and sensations of your vacation.  Meanwhile, the cyborg that looks like you and is walking around as you, is taken somewhere, has a memory wipe and is put into a vat for recycling…

Six

Six. Nobody trusts nobody–not even the android.

I thought the show was creating an ironic situation in which Six was ignoring a bit of information crucial (and funny) in terms of unravelling the core mystery.   My hope was that someone had wanted a bad guy dream team to go do bad deeds across the universe.  So they made clones of the original criminals and when those deeds were done, wiped the clone memories–but for some reason the clones weren’t put in the vat.  Instead they ended up in the sleep pods on the ship — To me this TOTALLY explained the mystery of how they wound up on the ship together and why they had no memories…

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod...

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod…

Alas, that was not the actual solution to the mystery.  This was the writer in me, weaving together my own plot soup based on ingredients provided by the show.

My sweetie hated the clone device.  He hated it because real clones (one day) are/will be real people. This show perpetuates the idea of clones as objects to purchase and discard.  The clone thing is used as a plot device later on in other ways, but the clones when badly hurt tend to simply disintegrate a la Buffy stabbing the vampires and making them go poof. Why would a clone do that, he asked? It’s stupid. A clone–because it’s an actual human body–would go splat, not poof. It would not disintegrate into a cloud of clumpy dust.

Yeah, so that was kind of a regrettable choice.  Meanwhile, I loved my idea of the crew being memory-wiped clones.  The show has them on the ship starting from square one in a state of distrust, but circumstances make them pull together.  We know they were probably very bad in their former lives, but rallied by the influence of Five, aka ‘The Kid’, they have a chance to become new, better people. (Insert here your own philosophical discussion with a friend over the role of memory in personhood and if one can change merely by starting over. This is the good kind of sci-fi.)  As they slowly pull together to become a unit they build loyalty to each other and we know that many of the forms their enemy will take are elements of their past coming to haunt them. Everyone knows karma is a bitch–but it’s very enjoyable to watch.

One finds out that there is indeed a very bad guy out there with One’s face. (See! One is a clone!) Unfortunately, however, for my pet theory, the bad guy Derek Moss says something like “I’d think you were a clone, but someone would have had to scan my body to do that, and no one did.”

Booooooooo!

dark-matter-season-2-coverHowever, I was still delighted that One had this evil Doppleganger out in the world that could cause him no end of trouble.

But here’s the big problem.  They f**king killed One.  Whyyyyyyy? It seemed gratuitous and unnecessary given that they never really followed the conspiracy plot path the killing seemed based upon.  You eventually find out where the crew’s memories are stored and I knew that Evil One aka Derek Moss was still out there.  So my FTL plotting muscles realized ‘the gang’ was going to kidnap Evil Derek and stick One’s memories into him.  But that didn’t happen either. 😦

But! When Derek reappeared, I was like: Yay! Evil Derek is better than no One at all.  Alas, in that very episode the show killed off Evil Derek.

Oh people.  I was so disgruntled.  One was the glue that kept my interest in the show at super-high levels. Yeah, I liked all these ideas about the others and sometimes their interactions were okaaaaaay, but for me, One was the secret sauce.  Yes, the whole prison break thing was good. Yes, finding out Two’s backstory was pretty cool.

Frankly, since One/Derek’s death, I’ve only made it through about four more episodes while mostly folding laundry and checking email.  I just don’t care anymore–Maybe other audience members, more familiar with the comic books than I am, are looking forward to what’s around the corner.  Maybe they know stuff that I don’t.  Apparently DARK MATTER  has a very loyal following.  But I, good people, am done.

If you know the Dark Matter comics, tell me — is there reason to hope? Should I give the show another chance?

Have you ever suffered torment from the character you were rooting for being killed off? (I’m looking at you SLEEPY HOLLOW fans.) Did you slog onward or just give up?  I’ve resorted to writing DARK MATTER fan fic as a way of detoxing.  Sigh.  It’s premised on my rogue clone idea…Maybe it’ll become its own thing one day.

Follow us at Lady Smut where we make the darkness matter.  And subscribe to our newsletter if you want fabulous free reads. ; >

Meanwhile, here’s something to pluck up your spirits — we ran a giveaway from Lux Aromatica last week, and to say thank you to our readers Lux made a coupon just for you.  2017-02-ladysmut-flash-sale

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

My Obsession with Jamie Dornan in THE FALL

11 Feb
You want intensity? I'll show you intensity.

You want intensity? I’ll show you intensity.

by Madeline Iva

I know, I know, some people worship Jamie Dornan for being Christian Grey in the 50 Shades franchise. I didn’t.  I perfectly indifferent until I saw him in a television show called THE FALL.  Then I got on board the Christian Grey/Jamie Dornan train. And how.

THE FALL gripped me by the scruff of the neck and won’t let go.  Speaking of scruff–Jamie Dornan wears scruff like no other.  Purrrrr.

One caveat — the show is slow.  It takes it’s time, both in being understatedly sensual, and in terms of deliberate pacing.  That’s its one flaw.  But other than that, the show just got to me, and how.

It feels so incredibly wrong to be hot for a character who is a serial killer.  I was hoping 50 Shades would give me a Jamie injection without all the, well, evil.  (But he’s a *good* father!) Rolling my eyes at myself.

Serial killer. Good father. You know how it is.

Serial killer. Good father. You know how it is.

So here are some reasons to check out Jamie Dornan in THE FALL and just become a fan in general.

  1. THE IRISH LILT.  Seriously, I could listen to him all day. It was a shock to start watching 50 shades and he had an American accent.  WTH????
  2. HE’S SUCH A GOOD DAD. I remember appreciating how hard it must have been for Jamie Dornan, who just had a wee little innocent baby to turn around and play a very hard-core decadent guy who’s into everything that’s the opposite of happy.  Yet in this role, it’s clear that Jamie Dornan found his way into the character through the character’s identity as a father and his emotional engagement with his daughter.  It’s touching. I know from doing research on serial killers that in fact, some serial killers actually do sincerely care about others in their lives and take actions to prove it.  Of course, if serial killers aren’t really monsters — if they are human, at least some of the time, then this is what makes them so horribly hard to catch.  This show shows the serial killer not as monster, but as human. A father and a husband.
  3. YOU LIKE CHRISTIAN GREY’S INTENSITY? Paul Pector is intensity squared.  Those haunted eyes. Shivers.
  4. HE DOESN’T ALWAYS KILL What I hate about myself watching these serial killer shows is that I keep wanting to not believe in absolute evil.  This show does a good job of exploiting that–but reveals how *stupid* it is for women to believe that someone who’s done violence to women won’t do it again.  The Fall also exploits how much we women want excuse bad behavior in men. He didn’t kill everyone.  He left some water for that one girl.  He didn’t physically harm his family. Yet it’s extremely dangerous to look for that kernel of goodness and grow it up into something bigger than it really is. How easy it is for the characters to forget he’s extremely dangerous–even for a second–even when he’s behind bars–and make a mistake.
  5. HE’S DILIGENT This is another true-to-life aspect of the show, and another trick for audiences. We admire hard work, and as he gets into a tight spot, but keeps working hard and diligently to get out of it–we are almost rooting for him.  There’s almost a giddy feeling that he pulled it off–and he is wondering over how he didn’t get caught that time.  Jamie Dornan does a wonderful, nuanced job–the scenes where he bathes the corpses–OMG. I have to give a lot of credit to the director–because everyone else in the show is just as good. But they’re not Jamie Dornan.
  6. HE NOTICES THE SMALL THINGS ABOUT A WOMAN Gillian Anderson wants to pry open his soul by the end and get him to admit what he did.  She knows that her sexuality will be effective–and it is.  He notices the details that Anderson’s character chooses when she interviews him.  He notices and at the same time he knows exactly what she’s doing.  Yet the conundrum of humanity is that he still ends up responding to it.  Her interview is akin to a seduction.  He does open up — and what happens is along the same lines as a romance.  The woman who had no power took on the mysterious, silent man, and now she wins everything she wanted– because of her femininity, and the man’s unwilling subconscious response to it.  Only in this situation, she doesn’t want a mansion and kids, she wants him behind bars for the rest of his life.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t further twists and challenges ahead.  This show does not go easy on women–and in doing so it gets across the gritty reality of the world we live in.  I LOVE IT SO MUCH for that reason alone.  But the real genius to the show is it uses the compelling form, face, and eyes of Jamie Dornan to turn me into Paul Spector’s willing victim.

One Hot Zombie Husband, Please!–And Other Lustful Zombie Stuff

2 Feb
santaclaritadiet

Let that repressed manic side out, Timothy Olyphant.

by Madeline Iva

On Friday night I’m watching a new show called THE SANTA CLARITA DIET on Netflix. Why? Two words: Timothy Olyphant. The guy has a kind of restrained mayhem vibe that makes women purr. He’s good when he’s a bad boy, and I like it when he does the humor thing, but really underplays it. Let’s hope he gets to do both in this new TV show.

What’s unusual is for Olyphant to be part of a duo, for he often plays the lone wolf.  Yet he’s a supportive husband (awwww) as his wife’s body goes undead and her twisted feral id coming to life. (Peeps, this could be my own marriage we’re talking about—esp. when I’m on deadline.)

As for the rest of the show–we shall see.  I lurv Drew Barrymore and early reviews say the supporting cast is excellent.  The creator is Victor Fresco who did the short lived but great (!) show BETTER OFF TED, which walked the line of absurdism and also had a supportive, understanding, and munch-a-licious lead.

But hey, let me be your zombie pimp and recommend some other zombie joy you may have overlooked. My preference is for zombie comedy/satire. Take R in WARM BODIES.  So cute and so protective in his own teenage, shuffling, groan-y way.

Click to buy the DVD

Click to buy the DVD

 

There’s also a wonderful funny little book call BREATHERS.  Subversive and with a sexy element that I quite enjoyed.

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Have you seen the movie SEAN OF THE DEAD? It’s a bit like The Office meets zombies. Quite surprisingly daffy and satiric all the way through.

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD...

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD…

Meanwhile, let us not forget some serious Zombie smut, like what you’ll find with our own Isabelle Drake’s SERVANT OF THE UNDEAD along with Daisy Harris’ mix of not-quite-human stuff.  I lurved Hariss’ “Steins” and sex bots.  In BUILT FOR IT Harris discovered M/M erotic romance and never looked back. (Can you even get these books anymore Daisy?)

 

557e4e368babb5e201b7f2d2b531d8cbOnce upon a time, Lexi waxed philosophical on the ethics of sex with an undead body. I, dear readers, completely understand.  Who really wants to kiss decaying flesh?  On the other hand, a zombie is nothing if not a metaphor.  Give me your metaphors–satiric, comedic or full of pathos and killed by societal excess and ennui.  Sometimes we all seem a little rotten to the core.  Zombies get to wear their decay on the outside where it’s all embarrassing and visible.  Ultimately, they’re monsters and I dearly love a monster-hero, even if his heart is dead and cold.

That’s not to say that one can’t enjoy zombie horror.  Lexi has traced the path of an end-of-the-world romance on the Walking Dead that I’ve followed probably with more enjoyment that I took in watching the actual show.  Check out her posts:

LIFE AMONG THE DEAD: IS MICHONNE READY TO LOVE AGAIN?

THE DEAD DELIVER: IS THIS THE SEASON FOR RICHONNE? 

DEAD ON! REJOICING FOR RICHONNE

If you do like your zombies with a lot of blood splatter, there’s a movie coming out called THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

You'll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

You’ll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

The book was gripping–I stayed up all night reading it.  I’m sure the movie will be excellent too, but check out the book first. It’s post apocalyptic, British, and I liked how the balance of characters in the book were female.  They seemed to have deliberately switched around the race of the characters in the movie.  Hmmmmmm.

There’s also World War Z — not your typical zombie genre book.  It’s totally different and only about a thousand times better than the movie. (Sorry Brad Pitt.)

Another book I've read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Another book I’ve read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Well, time for me to do some groaning and shuffling myself as I sign off to go jog, shower, and write. Follow us at Lady Smut.  We give you reasons to live.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

For Your Amusement: Three Diversions to Occupy Your Impatient Mind

24 Jan
Dorothy and Lucas, from Emerald City. This ain't Kansas, and that guy's no scarecrow.

Dorothy and Lucas, from Emerald City. This ain’t Kansas, and that guy’s no scarecrow.

By Alexa Day

Three weeks until The Walking Dead comes back.

Eight months until Pitch returns.

Day 3 of the new President’s first 100.

These are hard times for an impatient woman. I found myself in search of diversions, something to take my mind off the political clusterf*ck that is social media. Something that would make time go by much, much faster.

I got lucky this week and found three.

1. Emerald City. Mixed opinions follow Emerald City, an NBC series inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. It’s a dark reimagining of the stories many of us know best through the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. But the Oz books were darker than the film, and the series is darker still. Just within the first few episodes, the story reveals prostitution, ritual suicide, and the introduction of gun violence into a world that’s already a pretty dangerous place.

I love it.

Visually, Emerald City is quite a spectacle. The spires of the titular city rise high over the sea, and we’re treated to a variety of sweeping landscapes. Everything looks just unreal enough. It’s a big change from the Technicolor experimentation of the film.

Women dominate Emerald City’s storylines. The Wizard has forbidden magic in the realm of Oz … and magic is used primarily, if not exclusively, by women. The story traces several women’s relationships with their powers, whether their magic is stifled, latent, or on full, startling display. Morality, identity and power come together in fascinating ways, and before long, the Oz of Emerald City starts to raise questions that have troubled women for a long, long time.

Oh … and the Scarecrow’s never looked quite like this.

Give it a try. It’ll make you think.

2. Playboy. I wrote a while ago about what Playboy would be like without its nudes. I popped over there last weekend, looking for something to read, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Playboy has always upheld a somewhat proud literary tradition; its track record with short fiction is long and impressive. And then there’s the Playboy interview, whose question-and-answer format gave Alex Haley a way to use laconic jazz legend Miles Davis’s curt responses. When I read Playboy, I really was there for the articles. But I’ll confess that I haven’t read any part of it in a pretty long time.

I don’t know if the disappearance of the print pictorial has anything to do with it, but my recent visit to the website revealed a wealth of women writers, alongside their male counterparts. The lineup of articles includes coverage of the Women’s March (including the best of the signs), questions about women, jazz and La La Land, a critique of modern journalism, and my favorite — a peek at how much better sex can be with an unattractive partner.

Are there still scantily clad women on the Playboy website? Sure. But I work in a world of scantily clad men. I will not now be seen to point fingers.

3. Exhibit Unadorned. In its struggle to redeem itself this past week, Facebook introduced me to a new-to-me blog, Exhibit Unadorned. Kayla Lords, a woman I’m proud to call a Facebook friend, wrote this interview with Exhibit A, a male sex blogger from London. Exhibit A didn’t match my stereotypes of what a male sex blogger would sound like. Sure, his blog has a whole page of links to dick pics sprinkled generously through his posts. But his post about a sex party he attended with his girlfriend would be at home in any erotic romance. A his-and-hers commentary about a shabbily written list of sex don’ts is too cute for words, and all too true.

I feel bad for being surprised by this. I don’t really have a reason, other than being narrow-minded, to think that a male sex blogger can’t produce this kind of inviting, fun, sex-positive work. Perhaps Snctm left a bad taste in my mouth.

If you’re looking for a diversion for the next 98 days and beyond, I hope I’ve given you a lot to click on! We’re all in this together, after all. And if you’ve got diversions to share, hit me up in the comments.

And follow Lady Smut. The time will just fly by.

Pitch Is Perfect

3 Jan
Is hair like that the secret to happiness? Can I give it a whirl and get back to you?

Is hair like that the secret to happiness? Can I give it a whirl and get back to you?

By Alexa Day

Right up until the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, I was prepared to complain about the direction the show had taken. I’d spent most of the seventh season tuning in to listen to the endless rambling of Negan, who is basically a schoolyard bully with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. I could not figure out why people who had driven glass into their enemies’ eyes or torn out their enemies’ throats with their teeth were afraid of a big Chatty Cathy doll with a bat, and I’d started to lose interest in that particular mystery.

But I have to thank Negan for something. If he hadn’t annoyed the living daylights out of me, I might never have spent half an episode looking for other things to watch. If I hadn’t gone shopping for alternatives, I would never have found Pitch. I think I may be the last person in North America to have found the Fox series about the first woman to play major league baseball, but my tardiness meant I could binge-watch the whole season, so I’m grateful for it.

Pitch rescued me from the depths of television despair. It’s amazing. It’s given me reason to believe in regular network television again.

How?

Well, the easy answer is that it’s clearly put together by people who give a damn about what they’re doing and have the talent to do it well. I think that’s getting lost in television these days. How much television is being produced by people writing random stories that don’t make sense because they don’t think you’ll ever quit watching? Too much.

The true beauty of Pitch is that it isn’t about baseball at all. It’s about a large group of tight-knit characters who interact with each other and each other’s issues against the backdrop of baseball. Baseball is more of a setting in the way that New York City is a setting. It’s important but it doesn’t drive the story.

A lot of other things make Pitch beautiful.

1. There are no one-dimensional characters, even in the secondary cast. We know that Ginny’s agent, Amelia, used to represent celebrities, and so we know why she needs to protect Ginny from herself. We also know that Amelia’s struggle with infertility cost her a relationship, which adds a touch of vulnerability to her hard-charging facade. The general manager (Mark Consuelos, looking good) recruits a Cuban player by pitching a doll’s head at him. It’s the opening to a very well written conversation about two immigrants whose lives were changed by an all-American game. Ginny’s teammate, Blip, and his glamorous wife have an argument about how their marriage is not built on what they each wanted from life. It’s hard to create an entire cast of well-rounded characters, but there is a giant payoff in feeling every character’s fears, joys, and crushing disappointments. There’s a bigger payoff in not knowing whether a beloved character will find the happiness they want so badly or face another setback.

2. Complex feminism. I missed Pitch when it first showed up in September because I thought it was going to depend on one-note feminism. If I knew that a woman could do the job, and she knew she could do the job, I didn’t want to spend a whole season watching her prove it to the world at large. (In September, that felt a lot like the real world.) Pitch establishes right away that Ginny can do the job well enough to stay on the team. Much of the rest of the season touches on the kind of things women have to deal with in the universe outside professional baseball. Ginny has to balance her job with her social life; her groupies are all female and with her job, she struggles to find time to date. Ginny and her agent have to deal with leaked nude photos. (Their solution, which involves the ESPN Body Issue, is brilliant.) Ginny’s entire family has always wanted her to achieve this level of success, but once she’s arrived, they all have different issues with her. None of us are strangers to the pressure to maintain an image, build friendships, find romance, and establish a solid professional standing. Watching Ginny try, and sometimes fail, to do it live on the JumboTron made me want to cheer for her all the more.

I was surprised by how badly and how quickly I wanted to put my face against all that beard. Very badly. Very quickly.

I was surprised by how badly and how quickly I wanted to put my face against all that beard. Very badly. Very quickly.

3. Mike Lawson. Mike’s not the typical sports hero. The bottom half of his face is hidden beneath a thick beard. He’s starting to go to seed. Much is made of his bad knees. Age is catching up to him and he knows it. He’s the team captain, and he keeps the younger guys in line with the knowledge and wisdom that come with a long career. But that career has cost him just about everything, and when we join the story, we’re watching him deal with the ruins of the marriage he sacrificed to baseball, the erosion of his body, and the threat of being replaced. Mike’s earned his alpha status with the team, but we get to see him in private, too, at his most vulnerable. I’m not sure that we as romance writers are creating enough characters like Mike, but he’s the reason I keep coming back. I have the highest hopes for him, along with the deepest fears.

Of course, there’s bad news. Nothing’s free in this world, right?

As magnificent as Pitch is, we won’t see new episodes until next fall. That’s criminal, but I can see how it might have happened. It just bothers me that I have to wait that long to rejoin the story, and I’m scared that Fox will come up with some baseless reason to get rid of it.

I’m also worried about what will happen to Pitch if it does come back. Right after watching the world fall apart for all these wonderful characters, in exactly the way the world should fall apart in a season finale, I sat back with a contented sigh and wondered if I’d ever felt so happy with a television show. That’s when I remembered Sleepy Hollow. That first season finale was a thing of beauty. After that, it was like the writers became jealous of its glory and tried to destroy it. They finally succeeded by killing one of the leads, but they worked really hard to wreck that show before then.

(Sleepy Hollow isn’t completely dead, by the way. It’s just dead to me.)

So while I’m working through the next several months, waiting for Pitch to return, I’m on the lookout for other distractions. Fanfiction writers are already linking Ginny and Mike, which sounds just lovely to me but might not be the best idea for them. And I imagine I could be seeking out more sports romances during this long interval.

Just be warned. Pitch has presented me with an appropriately diverse professional baseball team. I will be pretty disappointed to find that romance can’t do the same.

Follow Lady Smut.

I’VE SEEN STRANGER THINGS THAN BAD MOMS WEARING CROWNS

1 Dec

 

by Madeline Iva

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was inspired. As promised, I binge-watched a ton of TV and movies letting my brain waves rest for a few days. And yes, I’ll be talking about foreskin before I’m through with this post. But let’s talk about STRANGER THINGS***–before we get to the turtleneck.

STRANGER THINGS takes place in the 80’s and yet I noted how it was different from the actual movies of the 80’s:

1) Weirdness wins!

2) Unlike any proper 80’s horror movie, the popular ‘slut’ doesn’t get slaughtered in the first act. Instead her stodgy ‘good girl’ friend is the one who ends up bloody and eventually missing. Huzzah!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder--so 80's it hurts!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder–so 80’s it hurts!

3) The weirdest of the weird in this show is a girl named Eleven–AND I LOVED HER CHARACTER SO HARD. She’s beautifully androgynous, as well as full of raging destructive and weird powers.

Note to self: Why am I not writing characters like this?

Warning: you're about to get a skewed sense of this TV series, as scene through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

Warning: the skewed sense you’re getting of this TV series is because it’s through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

4) The single mom Winona Ryder (who’s a mess) doesn’t need a man in the end.  I walk around with romance colored spectacles all the time, so I’ll admit I kept a keen eye on Winona, wondering if she and the gruff, hulking chief would connect as they started working together to find her missing son. Nope. By the end of the season she’s still a single, shambolic mom–and perfectly content to stay that way. For her it’s a happy ending (but not for everyone else—bwa-ha-ha!)

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

Ultimately, this show was mega-inspiring. Totally rad. Hella bitchin cool. To the max.

Speaking of BAD MOMS–No—I can’t go there yet.

Let’s talk about the Bad Mom with a Crown first.

THE CROWN — It’s like Mad Men for women. Elizabeth is not well educated, or at all prepared to be queen. She was only in her twenties when her father surprised everyone by dying and leaving her to inherit the crown. Her work in the first season is to repair her own deficiencies in the very best British way—by honestly admitting them and tackling them head on.

THE CROWN--in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

THE CROWN–in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

I like this show. Yes it’s British propaganda and yes, the attitudes of the people are excruciatingly conservative. But upholding traditions four hundred years old necessitates a bit of a conservatism, doesn’t it?

What I enjoy is that Elizabeth is not the kind of person who glitters, charms, or has brilliant moments of insight. She’s not the princess in a fairy tale who sweeps through the grand palace. She is excruciatingly ordinary.  She sighs over the necessity of living in a giant, ugly, palace and she dresses up with the same stoic attitude I have while doing stomach crunches at the gym. She’s also not really a mummy. Charles and Anne have their nurse, and that should be sufficient. Elizabeth seems at her most content as a mother watching from a distance while her handsome husband plays with the children out in the yard. The show portrays her without a maternal bone in her body. (Why is this so exciting to me?)

Huzzah to Clair Foy, meanwhile.  She’s the actress playing Elizabeth AND also Anne Boleyn in WOLF HALL.  Nice work if you can get it.

While I’m not saying Elizabeth’s not smart, at the same time she clearly wasn’t precocious or intellectually curious as a child. Punctilious in her duties, she’s a bit of a worker drone all in all. She loves horses, her husband, and her sister–perhaps in that order.  But in the beginning she makes mistakes in these most important relationships, promising her husband and sister things that she can’t deliver because she didn’t at first understand the forces who control and apply pressure to someone in her position.

At the same time she must face up to people seeing her exactly as she is–warts and all. I admire this and I cringe.  She doesn’t hide or lie about who she is–ever. I, meanwhile, constantly vacillate between anxiously wanting to please people only to swing right around in the other direction where I’m being so intensely, brutally myself that I alienate them. Gah!

In her role as queen, Elizabeth is not nurturing, motherly, or accommodating to others in ways we tend to expect of women; she’s simply in charge. She does her job with exactitude and diligence. Elizabeth learns the very difficult task of figuring out what this other persona is that she’s expected to inhabit–being The Crown. We see her negotiate being that persona out in the world and at home, and perhaps it’s because she has such a firm grip on herself in terms of who she is and who she isn’t that she gets through smoothly most of the time.

When people (i.e. politicians) attempt to walk all over her, she reminds them—in the very best British way–that she is the queen, and a woman of character, and in her own stead-fast way, a force to be reckoned with.

SPEAKING OF BAD MOMS – No. I still can’t.

SPEAKING OF THE 80’s: If you’re looking for a light comedy—check out WORKING GIRL on Netflix. I’d seen it when I was very young and really loved it. Seeing it again, I realized it is a transgressive fairy tale for the 80’s.  (I assume it was made in the 80’s.  The hair is REALLY big, and shoulder pads are everywhere.) It’s a million times better than Pretty Women, IMHO.

Transgressive 80's Cinderella story.

Transgressive 80’s Cinderella story.

Despite what the title suggests, Melanie Griffith is a lowly Staten Island secretary who wants to leave her life as a wage slave and become an executive. (Become an executive–snort–such an 80’s theme!) Her new female boss, Katherine (played SO WELL by Signorney Weaver) points out that

  • you have to finesse the scum bags—Hey, hasn’t Megyn Kelly has been telling us the same thing lately? Nuts to that, a lot of feminists say.
  • you have to make your own opportunities.

Yes! I hadn’t realized how much this movie influenced me.  When I saw it the first time I was a lowly minimum wage worker.  I then managed to become a creative writing instructor through creating opportunities for myself—and not always asking for permission before doing so, mind you.

Although the female boss Katherine turns out to be the villain of the movie, Melanie Griffith takes her advice. She makes her own opportunities. She doesn’t ask for permission. No guts, no glory. And with a lot of support from Harrison Ford, she succeeds.

OKAY – so now let’s all embrace foreskins and talk about BAD MOMS.

The best part of bad moms--the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits...

The best part of bad moms–the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits…

I watched it at my sweetie’s insistence.  Poor guy, he’s been so sick, he was looking for some light-light-light comedy to watch and because we both really like Kristen Bell, we decided to check it out. But I came to the film with very low expectations having seen Jezebel’s review/snarl/yawn.

Even so, I was mightily underwhelmed. Let us be clear—there was one bad mom in this film.  One. And she was not the lead–she was the rebel side-kick.  But let’s not dwell upon all that was meh about the movie. Let’s dwell instead over the one weird pause in the film where the women stop to have a frank discussion about foreskin.

–Particularly about how to deal with it face to face when knocking boots with a guy.

Let me first confess that the only foreskin I’ve ever seen is on baby boys while changing diapers when I was a nanny. Sweetie says based on what he sees at the gym (not that he’s looking closely or anything) foreskin was once rare for U.S. men his age or older, but now it’s something you’re probably going to encounter as a single woman dating men of the millennial generation.

Just the same I have to wonder–is this really a big deal? Is this a thing? I mean, yes, the evil world of marketing strives to make us cripplingly insecure about our bodies in every possible way. (Vaginoplasty anyone?) Are men being subjected to the same twisted pressures? Are they now expected to feel less-than because of a perfectly natural part of their bodies?

I vaguely recall some TV episode (was it House?) where a teenage kid took a razor to himself because he felt less attractive to girls. Are we really going there?

On one hand, Bad Moms seems to validate this ‘issue’ by showing some anxiety about encountering foreskin.  Yet they also seem intent upon delivering a message of acceptance.

And how could you not love the moment where the rebel Bad Mom side-kick tells Mila Kunis how to manipulate the foreskin during foreplay while using Kristen Bell’s head to demonstrate?

On the other hand, I’m just goggling over the fact that the movie kind of comes to a dead halt to deliver this rather hilarious PSA.

Oh well. Thanksgiving is over. Back to the daily grind for me.

I’m writing my next book about a Wicked Enchantress–who is NOW going to be a beautifully androgynous character full of raging destructive and weird powers. Huzzah!

And if you like weird, powerful, smexy women, then follow us at Lady Smut.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

***I must offer up a humble apology to my writer friend S.A. Hunter. She recommended STRANGER THINGS to me back in September before anyone else was talking about it. People, life is too short to sort through all the crap out there. When a good friend makes excellent recommendations, you listen to her. You treasure her. You don’t turn up your nose and shrug off her suggestion as I did. I was wrong to do so, and hang my head in shame. You are the more discerning, better friend, S. A..

 

Good Behavior. The Dark Romance You Should Be Watching

21 Nov

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

That’s right, I said watching. Good Behavior is a television show, newly debuted on the TNT network last week and holy cats, is it a doozy. It’s like the best dark romance we’ve never before had on TV and didn’t realize we were missing, with an unlikable heroine you wanna root for despite the jail time and the drugs and the booze, and a villainous bad boy with potential alpha hole tendencies you want to climb like a tree despite, ya know, that whole pesky hit man thing.

good-behavior-5

Also, it’s *seriously* hot. They are seriously hot together, and they’re not even sure whether they like one another yet, but they’re stuck together and, holy hopping snot, do they spark.

Lately in Romancelandia, the dark romance has become a thing–or a thing again as some form of dark romance has been around since the late eighteenth century. In its current conception, these are romances where the hero is a mobster or something nefarious and comes into the heroine’s orbit through some criminal manner. He proceeds to do some pretty terrible things to the heroine, despite having feelings for her. Often, these terrible things are sexual and there’s a lot of explanation about how the heroine shouldn’t like what she’s doing and oh this is so bad but she can’t stop it or A Bad Thing will happen. Things proceed, bad guys often show up putting lives in danger, feelings grow, behavior is forgiven, lather, rinse, repeat. I’m blasé about this sub genre because to me, it smacks too much of the rapetastic, forced seduction, Great Misunderstanding historicals of the 80s and early 90s only updated from disenfranchised Scottish bandits and English roses to Russian Bratva and the daughters of their mortal enemy. That’s not to say I don’t like romances with heroes and heroines of dubious character and motivation. Done right, I *love* them, but I’ve yet to find a “dark romance” that makes me care enough to send my very best. Even after reading all of the Dark Mafia Prince books and Kresley Cole’s The Master, The Professional, and The Player series, both highly recommend dark romances series, yet I remain unmoved. Though I will add the caveat that the biker romance sub genre could absolutely be seen as dark romances and, as any regular Lady Smut reader will know by now, with those books I am totally on board.

I DVRd Good Behavior because TNT advertised the crap outta of it for the last two months and that usually annoys me enough to either tune in to see what all the hype is about or tune out completely (which is what I did with that Animal Kingdom show despite the fact that it features the great Ellen Barkin). It took me till midway through the second episode to realize I was basically watching a dark romance, and, this time, I was loving it.

Given the lack of a comparable “blurb”, here’s the gist of this show: con artist, meth head, alcoholic, Letty Raines (Michelle Dockery, late of Downton Abbey) has just been let out of jail early for good behavior. She’s trying to stick to the straight and narrow, as ugly as that often becomes, in order to get back her parental rights to her son. But she can’t keep from her thieving ways, ways that include robbing high-end hotels (and that also involve ever entertaining costume and wig changes). While she’s robbing one hotel room, the guest returns early. As she hides in the closet, Letty overhears a hit man planning a murder with the soon-to-be victim’s husband.

Eventually, Letty makes her escape, but she can’t stop thinking about the woman who is about to be killed. She goes back to the hotel in a different disguise and tracks the hit man to a nearby club. After manipulating their version of a meet cute, she and Javier (for such is his name) proceed to have the best date ever, during which Letty gets totally hammered. They totally lie to each other nonstop through the entire date, but they’re both also having an outstanding time, sparking off one another second by second on multiple levels. They are totally into each other.

good-behavior-3

Dinner leads to some smoking hot sex, as it so often does, thank sweet baby Jesus. In the morning, Letty manages to sneak a peek at the information for the hit. She tries to warn the woman who is to be killed, but Javier (Juan Diego Botto) is right behind her and, when she and the victim confront him over a shotgun, he tells the victim that she knows why she’s been targeted even if he doesn’t. It’s here that the victim grabs the shotgun from Letty and holds it on Javier. So clearly, she definitely does know why she’s been targeted. By now, sirens can be heard as they called the cops before confronting the hit man. Javier, mostly unruffled by this chain of events, orders Letty to take the car out front, along with the money in it, and go. Letty, still a work in progress, goes, leaving the other two to whatever will play out.

Shaken by what’s happened, Letty decides to do a swan dive off the wagon, buying up a bunch of meth and washing it down with vodka. First though she calls her parole officer and leaves him a broken message about how she’s giving up and giving in. In the middle of her bender, Javier finds her (making a wildly dramatic entrance). He flushes the rest of her meth down the toilet and tells her that, since she took his money, she now works for him.

That’s just episode one.

tweet-screen-shot

In episode two, Javier forces Letty to play his wife at an exclusive hotel in the Smokey Mountains. He’s on a job and he needs her to play the role. Role-playing is what Letty does best–both on the job and in her life–and she can’t escape the siren song of all the wealthy trappings that surround her, waiting to be plucked. Plus, there’s the fact that Javier will kill her if she tries to run.

good-behavior-1

And he absolutely will do this. He might not want to and he might hate doing it, but make no mistake, Javier is more than capable of killing Letty. She knows this and believes this, but she’s also deeply attracted to him and not just sexually, though that continues to flare. It’s like once the light goes on and Javier realizes she’s a thief and a con artist, all the pieces click for him and he really likes the puzzle that falls into place. He doesn’t like the drugs and self-destructive behavior, but he does like the woman he sees is there once Letty gets over and past her own shit. She genuinely wants to be a better person, she just keeps giving up. Javier doesn’t pat her hand and placate by saying, “I know you’re trying,” he tells her “Try harder. You could do if you’d just stop screwing up.”

Javier gets her. He gets all of her. By the time he catches up with her, he knows her entire past, her rap sheet, her sentencing, what made her lose her parental rights, even how many abortions she’s had, for crying out loud. The guy’s information is damn thorough. And when he reads down the laundry list of her crimes, ticking off her life in one line item after another, the despair that engulfs Letty to hear her life encapsulated like that is palpable. When, seconds later, Javier points the gun at her forehead, Letty closes her eyes, waiting to die because, after that list, what really does she have to live for?

Initially, Javier does seem to plan to kill her, but in that moment, he sees something in her that stops him. I think he sees how broken she is and just can’t put her out of her misery. Because he also sees (as does her parole officer, ironically) that she has immense potential to live an extraordinary life if she’d just stop screwing it up. So instead, he kidnaps her and forces her compliance in his next hit.

Letty is drawn to him. She disgusted by and terrified of him, but she’s also keeps coming back to him. She could’ve seen him go to the club and, knowing he was out of the hotel, go back to his room and find the information on the hit. But she follows him instead and forces a meet, then goes to dinner with him and then to bed. She feels that pull too and despite ongoing attempts, can’t shake loose of him. Part of this is because Javier knows she’s a runner and is constantly in her path. He doesn’t want to kill her and more doesn’t want to lose her, and so he puts in considerable effort into keeping on top of her. But this is still a seriously scary dude.

Established as a couple on the 10th anniversary trip, Letty makes friends (as ordered by Javier) with the wife of his mark. She can’t keep herself from lifting a necklace from the woman’s friend, though, and later models it for Javier. They commiserate over the gullibility of the woman and sink more deeply into their role play, spinning out the fiction of how they met ten years prior and how he won her. This leads to some sexy times–like, uncomfortably sensual without being exploitative or extraneous–in the middle of which Javier whispers, “Happy Anniversary, baby,” with a wicked grin. And Letty laughs, full and unabashed, no calculation, because in that moment, they’re still role-playing their fiction, but yet there’s a level on which it’s deeply real, and they both know it. They get it. They get them. (This was also the moment when I was completely done and totally in.)

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Afterwards, he again orders her to return the necklace and he gets pretty damn scary about it too when she bucks, all while still inside her. Yeesh, it’s awful but still so sexy. It’s the dark romance!

good-behavior-4

This is Letty’s last straw and she finally bolts, but she’s waylaid out the back of the resort by the mark and his wife who are sneaking a joint. Forced by the role-play to smoke with her new friends, Letty’s still there a moment later when Javier comes around the bend. He immediately hauls Letty in and kisses her, a hard kiss of genuine relief, and tells her sincerely, “I’m so glad you didn’t leave,” which manages to bewilder Letty even more.

Look, I don’t know if or how the show is going to maintain and expand this initial premise going forward, but even if it winds up being Letty and Javier pulling of con jobs and arguing and struggling with each other and with themselves to be better people and what that might mean in the kind of lives they’re leading, I’d totally watch that. Their chemistry alone is compelling, but there’s also the complexity of their characters. We’ve already been given hints that Javier’s murderous business may have a noble patina (though murder for hire is bad! Bad, I say!) and while Letty is an adept thief and grifter (and Meth is bad. Bad, I say!), she often displays an emotional fragility and vulnerability at odds with her history and felonious bent. She wants good things, she wants to do good things, she wants to be a better person, she just has no idea what that means in real life. It’s possible, Javier could help her find out.

The romances–dark or otherwise–that compel me the most as a reader and are at the core of what I want to create as a writer, are ones where the heroine and hero “get” one another like no one else can, and where they love one another not in spite of what may be their worst traits, but almost because of them too. They’re the romances where they ultimately make one another better people (and that being better might have dark tints to it depending on the story) and that intimacy that grows between them enriches who they are and who they can be together. I see those things Letty and Javier in Good Behavior. I can’t wait to see more.

To sum up, here are some quotes from behind the scenes videos on Letty and Javier from their portrayers.

Juan Diego Botto on Javier: When Javier looks at Letty, he sees a beautiful, smart, intelligent, sensitive woman, and he’s absolutely fascinated by her. He’s fallen in love with her. We’re, all the time, fighting. I like you but I hate you. I want to be with you but I want to be alone, I’ve always been alone. That is happening all the time.

Michelle Dockery on Javier and Letty: Him being a hit man is in some ways irrelevant to Letty. She’s not attracted to him because he’s a cold-blooded murderer. It’s not about that, in fact she wants him to stop doing that. It’s more about this connection that they have from the get go that makes him want to be a better person.

Juan Diego Botto on Javier’s role in Letty’s sobriety: He’s very on top of her not to drink, but I think the main role that he plays in her being sober is confidence; I think I make her feel better about herself, and that’s, I think, the bigger role that I play in her recovery.

Good Behavior is on Tuesday night on the TNT channel. Check your local listings. Past episodes are available at TNT.com.

Follow Lady Smut. Dark, light, or in between, we got your romance right here.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities strait is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

I’ve Got a Plan & It’s Just Not That Complicated

17 Nov

by Madeline Iva

Sometimes you need to retreat, huddle up, hunker down, and regroup.  For introverts like me, this is actually our natural state of being.  The thing is–you gotta have a plan.

I love the part in BOURNE LEGACY, where Jeremy Renner (yum!) needs some information from Rachel Weisz who is sputtering over her suddenly-everyone-wants-to-kill-me reality.  Jeremy Renner cuts through her confusion and says, “Now I’ve got a plan, and it’s just not that complicated.  What I’m going to do is wait for the next person to come and kill you.  Maybe they can help me.”  Well, I’ve got a plan, Lady Smut readers, and it’s just not that complicated.

  1. There’s a romance plot spinning in my brain.
  2. I’m going to binge write all weekend long and get as much of it out of my head and splatted onto the page as I can.

That’s the good kind of binge, of course.

westworld

I’m going to try HBO NOW to watch Westworld. This is their new streaming subscription. (Like Netflix only all HBO.) First month is free…

Then there are the other kinds of binging.  Hey, let’s face it, I’m a binge-y kind of woman.  If a little is good, a lot is better.  My favorite types of binges: TV, movies, food, and romance novels.  But first, I will be productive.  I will lay down five thousand words a day (eek!)  and only then will I reach out to find other forms of comfort.

TV Series to Binge:

  • Westworld
  • The Crown
  • Luke Cage

    Dr. Who? Who knew Matt Smith could play the perfect consort?

    Dr. Who? Who knew Matt Smith could play the perfect consort?

At the movie theatre:

  • DR. STRANGE
  • ARRIVAL
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS
  • MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

    Hey look--it's Jeremy Renner again!

    Hey look–it’s Jeremy Renner again!

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is next week.  We’re making two pies: cherry and sour-cream apple pie. Well, it’s vegan sour cream apple pie, but it’s still completely awesome.

Along with the usual suspects: garlic green beans with toasted almonds, mashed potatoes, and homemade stuffing, (though my grandmother always called it ‘dressing’) we’re in the midst of deciding what the main dish will be.  You might think as vegans we’d be terribly limited for options.  Not so, my friends.  Here are the candidates:

  • chickpea crepes with cauliflower & shiitake mushroom filling
  • panko crusted sweet potato cakes with mushroom ragout
  • black bean & acorn squash empanadas
  • pumpkin gnocchi
  • three-sisters savory pie–with corn, beans, and pumpkin
Add yummy mushroom sauce and devour! I have it out for T-day dinners that are only shades of tan. Get some color on that plate, people!

Add yummy mushroom sauce and devour! I have a grudge against T-day feasts that are only shades of tan. Get some color on that plate, people!

Finally, I’ve been reading Patrick Rothfuss’s NAME OF THE WIND, (so good!) but I’m almost done.  There’s a whole world of  fantasy goodness by new authors on my kindle just waiting for me to dive on in and check them out.

I ***LOVE*** this cover!

I ***LOVE*** this cover!

And an advanced copy of Cara McKenna’s BRUTAL GAME is in there as well — Think of it as a kind of sexy, contemporary palate cleanser for all the fantasy.

Click to buy

Click to buy–.99 cents!

So that’s the plan.  This afternoon, I’m piling on the sweaters and slippers over the pj’s and sinking into the primordial stew of my creative subconscious.

When I emerge after the holiday, the anxious stew in my brain will be quiet.  I will be ready to be fed–both literally and metaphorically.  At that point, I think I’ll be fit to rejoin the world again.

See you on the other side.

–Madeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

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