Tag Archives: television

Scandals, Secrets, and Subversion: Why I’m hooked on CW’s Riverdale

14 Apr

riverdale

Die hard fans of Archie and Betty and Veronica Comics will either love or hate the CWs new series Riverdale. Aside from the characters names and appearances, pretty much the only thing that is consistent with the old school comic series is the setting–the small, idyllic, East coast, town of Riverdale. Most everything else everything is different and way more scandalous. The series pushes the boundaries for sure and, as a die hard vintage Archie Comics fan, I’m here to say I love it.

**Spoiler warning: from here on out I will tell you some things about the story-line. Not enough to ruin it, only enough to entice you.

The series starts with the death of Cheryl Blossom’s brother, Jason Blossom. A suspicious death isn’t scandalous but the near incestuous relationship between the twins it. Its hard to ignore the did they or didn’t they questions the relationship provokes. Don’t believe they’d put that on mainstream  TV? Check out this picture.

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Many of the relationships go beyond what you typically see in a teen series. All-American high school football player, Archie Andrews, and Mrs. Grundy, the music teacher, are making music. But not in the classroom.

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The characters are awesome too.

Moose, a stereotypical dense jock in the 1950’s Riverdale, is a more realistic, complex, and actualized human in this new version. He has a brief  fling with Kevin Keller who quickly moves on to the town’s bad boy.  Who could blame Kevin? We’ve all fallen for the bad boy. At least in our minds.

riverdale

Is it wrong of me to think the brooding writer Jughead is hot?

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Vixen Veronica provides a continual vintage-inspired fashion show.

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Want more of the scoop? Check out the trailer for next week’s episode:

Already checked out Riverdale? Love gritty, scandalous YA stories? Tell us about it in the comments.

Follow Lady SmuOne Queen (1)t … all the way to Atlanta! Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more. Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Link: https://www.rtconvention.com/event/never-have-you-ever-ever-ever

Isabelle Drake writes erotica, erotic romance, urban fantasy, and young adult thrillers.

Turned on by wires & circuits? Intrigued by the opportunity to pre-program your experience? Robot fetish 101

13 Jan

By Isabelle Drake

Want to get busy with a techno man?  Interested in androids? Love the AMC show Humans?

If you are a Duran, Duran fan, or remember the old school video to Electric Barbarella, the sexy robot thing is nothing new to you.

Here’s something that might be new. Robot fetishism, considered part of technosexuality, is divided into two usually separate fantasies:

  • Sex with a person dressed in a robot costume, a person acting like a robot, or sex with pre-made sex android robot.
  • Sex with person who has been willingly or unwillingly transformed into a robot or being transformed into a robot oneself and subsequently having sex. The transformation is of key interest in this fantasy.

Both of these interests stem from the uncanniness of the android.

Ernst Jentsch, credited with being the first to identify the state of the uncanny in a 1906 essay, “On the Psychology of the Uncanny,” defines the state as a person’s “doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might be, in fact, animate.” He was quick to note that awareness and understanding of such a state is important to a fiction writer. “In telling a story one of the most successful devices for easily creating uncanny effects is to leave the reader in uncertainty whether a particular figure in the story is a human being or an automaton and to do it in such a way that his attention is not focused directly upon his uncertainty, so that he may not be led to go into the matter and clear it up immediately.”

In the show, Humans, Anita confesses her love for Ed the scene is both compelling and disturbing. According to Sigmund Freud the basis for this reaction in the uncanny.

In his essay, “The Uncanny” Freud expanded this concept of the uncanny state being linked to the relationship between the animate and the innate. Additionally, he examined concepts of human development in regard to maturation as having a key relationship to a person’s perception of what is uncanny. For example, in childhood humans enjoy repetition. This appreciation begins before the child is old enough to desire, or even understand, control. As the child matures, and begins to understand the advantage of control and thus desires it, the child takes less pleasure in repetition.

Therefore, continued, undesired, and uncontrollable repetition is disturbing because it represents a lack of control and thus regression and is therefore potentially alarming. Freud asserted that the state of the uncanny is linked to the subconscious in additional way. He stated that a person experiences something as uncanny because it reminds the individual of the conflict between their repressed desires, desires which the individual presumably struggles to control, and feared punishment for deviating from societal norms.

Tell us what you think in the comments. Are human-like robots sexy or scary? Want to get busy with an android?7818008_f260

And – follow us here at Lady Smut. We’re always here to inform, entertain, and keep you up to date.

Isabelle Drake writes erotica, erotic romance, urban fantasy, and young adult thrillers. She’s also working on her own sexy android erotica.

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.

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Reality TV Done Right with Slow TV

20 Sep
Like being there, but warmer and closer to your kitchen.

Like being there, but warmer and closer to your kitchen.

By Alexa Day

Slow TV has been around for years, apparently, but I heard about it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Lunchtime conversation with some learned colleagues turned to what each of us was watching on television. The summer is a tough time for me in this regard. Basically, I’m watching Law & Order reruns until The Walking Dead comes back on. Project Runway returned last week to break things up a little, but that’s a new addition.

I’m trying to keep up with the discussion when one of my colleagues mentions Slow TV. Born in Norway in 2009, Slow TV basically shows an ordinary event in real time. In this instance, “ordinary” includes a train trip from Bergen to Oslo, or people knitting, or a cruise. Slow TV is, I suppose, so named because the subject matter does not aspire to be terribly exciting, and because the shows tend to be long. The train ride to Oslo runs over 7 hours, the length of the trip in real time.

Incredulous, my colleague asked, “Who’s watching that?”

I started watching it on Netflix this past weekend. It’s amazing.

At the outset, I’ve never been to Norway, so the virtual train ride was a bit of tourism for me. I don’t need anything flashy. I love traveling with the locals.

It's a long way to Oslo, friends.

It’s a long way to Oslo, friends.

Slow TV is a bare bones, no frills affair. On the Bergensbanen, the camera is pointed through the front window of the train. You hear people milling around and the conductor’s announcements, and something pops up on screen to show you which station you’re arriving at, but that’s really all there is to it. The track winds ahead of you, through tunnels, past stations and other trains, alongside the highway, with the countryside sliding by. It’s like actually being on the train, which is an absolutely perfect place to write or read or do all those things I would otherwise be doing if I weren’t watching Law & Order for hours at a time.

Remember the buzz about the Amtrak writers’ residency on rails? Well, as of last weekend, I have a writers’ residency on rails right here at my house, with my own bathroom.

Before you sniff at this, consider that Slow TV in one form or another has been around, right here in America for a pretty long time. The Yule Log — the footage of a blazing fireplace with a soundtrack of holiday music (or without, if you want) — has been on American televisions since the 60s. And what is Slow TV, really, but the Cat Sitter videos for humans?

Best of all, the absence of distractions presented by Slow TV is good for the imagination. There will always be times when I need to absorb other stories and check out those weird, quirky little movies and shows that Netflix supplies in such abundance. (Another quick recommendation — the stark, ruthless Charlie Victor Romeo.)

But between the day job and my regularly scheduled programs, my muse needs some space to breathe … and to speak. The muse loves the train as much as he loves the airport. Every stop presents its own possibilities.

And is there anything hotter than quiet time with the muse, with hours and hours of possibilities?

Follow Lady Smut, where things worth doing are worth doing slowly.

A Hollow Farewell: Abbie Mills Deserved Better

12 Apr
It's half past time to start holding writers accountable.

It’s half past time to start holding writers accountable.

By Alexa Day

(OMG, I’m so late. I hope all of you had ice cream while you were waiting!)

I don’t remember where I was when I found out Sleepy Hollow had killed off Abbie Mills. I do remember that I responded with a shrug. It’s not that I’m not grieving. I’m certainly not happy about this. But I’m not surprised.

Truth is, I didn’t start watching Sleepy Hollow for Nicole Beharie. I started watching for John Cho. I can refuse John Cho nothing. Sleepy Hollow killed John Cho off (the first time) at the end of the pilot. You see how they do.

By then, I was all about Abbie Mills, though.

It took a really long time for things to go wrong.

Abbie Mills and her fellow Witness, Ichabod Crane, had amazing chemistry right from the start. He didn’t understand a whole lot about modern life, but he was a strong and steady male influence in her world, where family and friends rarely stick around for long. An easy affection started to deepen into something else.

I was really looking forward to Something Else. I wanted this in large part because of how well the writers handled John Cho’s character, Andy Brooks. You want to see someone absolutely destroyed by unrequited love, obsession, and the eternal consequences of his actions? Watch John Cho act the hell out of that role.

I figured the writers knew how to handle Something Else. Sadly, it gradually became clear that the Sleepy Hollow writers and Powers That Be were willing to move heaven and earth (and other dimensions) to prevent Something Else from happening.

Katrina appeared at the front of a long line of More Appropriate Companions. When that soured, Betsy Ross was shipped in from God knows where, as someone who had apparently dated Ichabod in the past. It looked to me like the writers were actually really excited about pairing Ichabod with a feisty, independent, lady bad ass — they just didn’t want him with Abbie. Nor did it seem that they wanted Abbie with anyone else.

So. The female lead on a major network television show is just not supposed to have a love interest. Certainly not the male lead. Wonder why?

Because she’s black.

I complained about this with Magic Mike XXL. There’s really no reason for such an important character as Rome, in such a sexual movie as Magic Mike XXL, to be left in the corner. Except that she’s black.

Hollywood has no problem at all marginalizing black female characters. For many, many years, characters who look like me have served a single purpose.

They’re here to help the white characters.

Here’s one now.

Never has not knowing nothing worked out so well.

Never has not knowing nothing worked out so well.

Here’s another.

She is smart. She really is.

She is smart. She really is.

Look, here’s one more.

Don't be fooled. Rome spent the whole movie in the background.

Don’t be fooled. Rome spent the whole movie in the background.

And now there’s Abbie. I saw the writing on the wall when Ichabod stood over her hospital bed and reassured her sister, Jenny, that Abbie would pull through. She was so, so strong, he said.

Of course she is. She’ll have to pull through and be strong if she’s going to keep helping out, right?

But seriously, I knew this was the end of Ichabbie because I knew that in Hollywood, the strong black woman never finds a companion. That’s not why she’s in the story.

I worry sometimes that you all think I’m the only person angry about this. Please be assured that I am not.

Orlando Jones, whose departure from the series is its own story, raises a brow here.

Colleague Sasha Devlin.

Rebekah Witherspoon tweeted at some length, but this is one of the real takeaways.

The Washington Post sees it. Take note, especially, of Nicole Beharie’s now-deleted report that she wasn’t even included in the first incarnation of DVD commentaries.

The final insult is the suggestion that as a Witness, Abbie’s “spirit” might return one day. An awful lot of people wonder what shape the spirit will inhabit.

Actually, that’s not the final insult. The final insult was that the writers crushed Jenny’s hope for love and happiness by killing Joe (her mentor’s smoking-hot, super tormented son), too. Those two were just lovely for each other — their baggage matched — and the writers actually made her the instrument of his destruction.

Explain to me again why Joe here had to die?

Explain to me again why Joe here had to die?

Hope lies at the bottom of Pandora’s box. And there is hope here.

It looks like this.

Hope springs eternal.

Hope springs eternal.

Someone does know how to write a relationship that looks like the one Ichabod and Abbie should have had. A few weeks ago, I literally cheered when I saw the strong black woman start a romantic relationship with a popular television show’s male lead. I made a lot of joyful noises and a lot of joyful tweets, and loads and loads of fans are ecstatic that Richonne is real at last.

The rest of television needs to take notice.

Now.

I see a lot of people promising to right the ship by writing their own sci-fi and horror projects, projects that don’t put people of color first in line to be killed or marginalized. But should that long, long overdue job really be relegated to writers of color, whose projects are, in turn, often diverted far from mainstream outlets? Is there any reason in the world that Hollywood writers’ rooms can’t manage this right the hell now?

I left Sleepy Hollow a while back because I thought Abbie Mills deserved better. I know Nicole Beharie does. And while I’m optimistic about the rise of Richonne, I’m not letting anyone else off the hook.

It’s high time Hollywood was held accountable.

Are you following Lady Smut? We believe in having it all.

Dead On! Rejoicing for Richonne

23 Feb
Stuff, thangs, and a touch of bow chicka wow wow.

Stuff, thangs, and a touch of bow chicka wow wow.

By Alexa Day

I’m writing this on Monday, almost a full day after watching the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, “The New World.” I’ve spent most of the day staring off into space and smiling. Everything is right in my little television world.

Why?

I’ll tell you. Of course, here’s the usual spoiler warning, with the usual classic music video to give the spoiler-averse the chance to slip away.

Still here? Good. I bet some of you will want to play that video again so you can sing. I needed three or four times, so I absolutely endorse that. Go for it. This post will still be here in fifteen minutes.

Is it any surprise that “The New World” is a world of love? Apparently it is a surprise to some folks. But I’ll get to that in a few minutes. I want to hit some highlights first.

Daryl teasingly echoing Doctor Denise’s jazz hands.

Rick playing the annoying older brother to the hilt — subjecting Daryl to his music and later swerving so that Jesus tips over onto Daryl’s shoulder. I’m an older sibling myself, so I loved watching Rick enforce the ‘my ride, my music’ rule.

Rick playing the loving older brother to the hilt — reassuring Daryl as they watch a truck full of supplies descend into a lake.

Maggie reaching out to Emo Enid, to let her know she needn’t be alone now that she’s helped both Maggie and her husband.

Carl teaching his baby sister how to find her way home.

Michonne telling Spencer that he still has a home and people who see the best in him, even though his mother has died.

And then things got real.

Carl explaining to Michonne that he didn’t kill zombie Deanna because it wasn’t his place. The job belonged to her family, he said, to someone who loved her.

And then Carl says, “I’d do it for you.”

Michonne, hearing Carl say that he is her family and that he loves her in this deep, dark, zombie-apocalypse way, returns his promise and embraces him.

Damn, right?

I really didn’t think we would get any more than that. And I was good with it. You know I love anything that gives Michonne and Carl the chance to be family.

But there’s more.

Rick and Michonne wind up on the couch, asking each other about their day. Conversations like that are always kind of intimate. I mean, anyone can ask how your day went, but we only tell the truth to our loved ones.

They watch baby Judith on the monitor.

Rick offers Michonne the roll of mints he got for her in lieu of the toothpaste she requested.

In the quiet, they hold hands.

They lace their fingers.

They turn toward each other.

I realized after a moment that I was actually trying to get my eyes to open wider.

They kiss.

I was afraid that if I moved or breathed or blinked, this would all be taken away somehow.

They look at each other — okay, yeah! And they kiss some more.

An astonished little squeak popped out of my mouth.

Rick and Michonne are making out on their couch.

This can’t possibly be real. Is this real?

Is Richonne real?

And then we cut to an overhead view of the two of them in bed, naked and entwined with each other, their weapons leaning against their respective nightstands.

Aww, check out the weapons on their nightstands!

Aww, check out the weapons on their nightstands!

Seriously, superfan and longtime Richonne shipper Yvette Nicole Brown had the same reaction I did. She just didn’t spend as much time shouting delighted profanities at the screen.

#LifeGiven #Richonne! Thanks to whoever made this pic collage!

A post shared by Yvette Nicole Brown (@yvettenicolebrown) on

So let’s be clear.

Richonne is real. Holy shit.

I’m surprised that all of this happened so soon after last week’s episode, yes, but only because my expectations have been lowered by Television As Usual. Television As Usual would have made us wait forever for this. We’d have gotten innuendo first, then hand-holding a few weeks later, and then interrupted kisses, delays to protect the feelings of others, and then did-they-didn’t-they for the season finale.

I should know better by now. The Walking Dead is not Television As Usual. The Walking Dead goes There. Now. Whether you’re ready or not.

I was ready. Richonne shippers everywhere were ready.

A great many people, however, are evidently surprised by this.

Nathan Fillion, on Sunday’s episode of Talking Dead, said he didn’t see it coming. And before I could ask what television show that dude has been watching, I saw headlines from Entertainment Weekly about the “huge Rick-Michonne shocker.” The Hollywood Reporter calls this “Rick and Michonne’s Surprising New Dynamic,” but it should be noted that neither Andrew Lincoln nor Danai Gurira seems terribly surprised by the nature of their characters’ relationship. Danai in particular saw this coming some time ago, and so have the people who have been stopping her on the street to ask when this was happening.

Is this a huge shocker? On one level, yes. If I hadn’t been surprised, I wouldn’t have launched into joyful hysterics back there. I’m surprised to have gotten everything I wanted in the space of two episodes. But I’m not surprised to see these two together. Rick and Michonne have been a great idea for a pretty long time.

I mentioned it here. Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds raised the matter three years ago. Yvette Nicole Brown (who should have been on the Talking Dead couch on Sunday — yes, I said it) started shipping Richonne back in season three.

So who is surprised? I don’t think the comics purists can claim to be shocked by this, honestly. TWD established a long time ago that the television series is not bound by the comics.

I’ll make a suggestion.

The same people who are totally okay with the marginalization of Rome in Magic Mike XXL are probably astonished to see that Richonne is real.

The same people who were good with relegating the Storm-Wolverine smooch from X-Men: Days of Future Past to the deleted scenes are probably shocked to discover that Richonne is real.

People who are confused by my use of “marginalization” and “relegating” just now probably didn’t see Richonne coming.

Ordinarily, I’d be bothered by that.

But I’m not going to let the easily shocked people of the world steal my joy.

Richonne is real. And to hear the powers that be tell it, Richonne is not going anywhere right away.

We’ll go easy on the told-you-so.

Follow Lady Smut. We love it when two good people come together and see Jesus.

Alexa Day writes erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent and fictional worlds where strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and recovering attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.

Readers, Consider This Gift for the Writer Who Has Everything

15 Dec
Heat Miser knows you can't stop singing his song.

Heat Miser knows you can’t stop singing his song.

By Alexa Day

This is supposed to be a joyous time of year.

No matter which winter holiday you call your own, this season is supposed to be marked by generosity and kindness and anticipation and excitement.

Because we’re close, you all and I, I feel I can tell you that this most of this holiday season has fallen short of expectations.

I don’t want to look too hard at current events, but the news lately is filled with non-joyous thoughts.

Honestly, I’m surprised by how many people seem determined to go out of their way to rub their special brand of bullshit over the joyous holiday season. Tough to remember you’re supposed to be happy when you’re faced with current events.

Television is my only oasis. Television and I have big plans between right now and the new year, friends. Right now, while my regular shows are taking some time off, I’ve got the venerable Rankin-Bass Christmas specials to occupy my time. Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius and all the various incarnations of Santa Claus are sometimes the only way I know Christmas is coming.

The Year Without a Santa Claus is one of my favorites. Most of you who remember it know it because of the Miser Brothers, Heat Miser and Snow Miser. But there are a couple of other gems, too. “It’s Gonna Snow Right Here in Dixie” usually sticks in my head for days. “I Could Be Santa Claus,” a number in which Mrs. Claus says she could do her husband’s job, definitely holds new relevance for modern viewers. And I absolutely love the duet, “I Believe in Santa Claus,” in which a young boy’s father explains that one is never too old for Christmas magic.

The gist of the story is simple enough. Sidelined by a cold and reassured by his cynical doctor that no one cares about Christmas anymore, Santa wonders if he can take the year off. Would anyone miss him? Does anyone even believe in Santa anymore?

In the special, Mrs. Claus, two elves, and all the children of the world prove that they can manage the business of Christmas without Santa’s intervention. He can have that year off. And so he spends his holiday a bit out of sorts. The toy shop is quiet. The reindeer are asleep.

He’s well rested, but now he has a new question.

If Christmas isn’t obsolete, is he?

Into this self-doubt, a cute little stop-motion bird delivers a letter. I’m not going to embed it here, but have a look at it over on the YouTube.

Christmas is possible without Santa Claus, it seems. But it is far more pleasant with him.

This isn’t what I came to talk about. I came to suggest a gift for your writer friends.

Your writer friends are probably spending this year reflecting on their successes and making plans to set the world on fire next year. At least, that’s what I hope they’re doing. Some of us are coming to the end of an “interesting” year and wondering if next year will be even more “interesting.” As I sat in front of the TV — or next to it, since my TV is still teetering on the edge of the couch — I found that my heart was with Santa. Would anyone notice if I hit the pause button? Just to step back for a while? Try something with a regular paycheck and real benefits?

Anybody out there?

Where am I going with this?

A lot of writers — not all of us, but more than you suspect — ask themselves regularly whether the world at large would give a single damn if we stopped writing altogether. The business of publishing would continue without us. Books would come out and people would read them. Hell, we’d read them.

Are we necessary? Are we obsolete? Were we ever relevant?

We need the little stop-motion bird with that letter.

We need you.

Santa was nearly convinced that Christmas would be just fine without him … right up until one voice, a single plea, said otherwise. “You matter. You are important. You would be missed.”

Writers are the same way.

Your words, either in a review or in an email or on social media or by cute little stop-motion bird, matter more than we can say. The message that takes just a few minutes matters a hell of a lot.

The review that tells the world how much a story meant to you. The Facebook post that invites your friends to tag an author everyone should try. The email that says you’re looking forward to our next work and asks when it will be available.

That message — the one that says we are heard, that we matter, that we would be missed if we did something sensible like find a so-called real job to take seriously — that’s a big deal.

It means someone does care if we ever put out another story.

Someone does care.

It only takes a few minutes to tell a writer you care, and you just might be the voice that person needs to hear at that moment.

And you have a few minutes, right?

Follow Lady Smut. If you play your cards right, we’ll tell you how to get the Miser Brothers’ song out of your head.

Searching for Satisfaction in the Season of Sweeps

17 Nov
Sorry, guys. Not even your super cute matching haircuts could save you.

Sorry, guys. Not even your super cute matching haircuts could save you.

By Alexa Day

This used to be my favorite time of year. Not because of the holidays. Not because of the change in the seasons.

This is the season of sweeps. I’m a TV junkie, and I used to love watching my favorite shows pull out all the stops to get my attention during this run for the ratings.

Who would become pregnant? Who has an evil twin? Would someone fall down an elevator shaft?

Anything could happen, and nothing appeals to me more as a writer than a world where anything at all can happen.

This year has been disappointing. I haven’t written TV off altogether, but my old standbys have let me down.

I was on the fence about Sleepy Hollow at the end of its second season. This season, it’s been scheduled opposite Scandal, which sends a pretty powerful message, right? I figured I had to choose between an actual (if dysfunctional) interracial relationship and the mere hope of one, so I chose Scandal. A couple of weeks in, I wondered if I’d been wrong (I’ll get to that in a second), so I took a peek at Ichabod and company during a Scandal commercial break.

During my peek, I gathered that Something Awful had happened to my second favorite lady bad-ass; Abbie had been hospitalized after a run in with the supernatural enemy of the week. Ichabod looked on, concerned, but he still manages to comfort Abbie’s sister and fellow bad-ass, Jenny.

“She’s strong,” he says. That’s right. He says Abbie’s so, so strong.

Well, so much for that, I thought. Abbie has officially crossed over from potential love interest (I know, I saw potential long after most people threw in the towel) and became Strong Black Woman. Now, I don’t necessarily have to have an interracial relationship in everything I watch, but you all know how much I hate seeing a perfectly available, perfectly compatible black woman passed over for no good reason. This was my issue with Magic Mike XXL, remember?

Why did we pass on Jake again?

Why did we pass on Jake again?

I went back to Scandal, but all is not well in the land of Olitz, either.

I’m relieved to find that Jake has finally wised the hell up and stopped chasing after Liv. I figured he’d be pouty and kind of psycho for a really long time once he came to grips with the idea that Olivia would never choose him, no matter what he did for her (and to her — the man’s a machine). But Jake is done. Liv doesn’t seem to understand that, but he’s been doing a great job of moving on.

As for Olivia, she has everything she wants. The most powerful man in the world has chosen a side — and it’s hers. Everyone knows they’re together. She’s sleeping in the White House. He’s popped the question.

And true to form, Olivia is pushing him away. Again.

She keeps calling Jake, though. Big ups to him for reminding her that he is now nothing to her.

I think this is part of the Olivia Pope mystique. I don’t think she’ll be able to make a choice that makes her happy — at least not for long. I don’t know why she feels this need to deny herself happiness, but I’m worn out. I’m tired. I don’t think I have time for any more of this.

Hope, however, springs eternal.

I don’t want to delve too deeply into The Walking Dead because it deserves its own post, but I will say that I am willing to overlook Rick’s little smooch with Jessie. For the time being. I can give Rick a pass because there’s enough story elsewhere to keep me occupied (are we about to find that Glenn and Negan are in the same place?) and because, honestly, this whole Jessie thing just started. I let Ichabod ignore Abbie for two seasons before I gave up.

Anyway, still watching The Walking Dead.

I’m also returning to Satisfaction.

Put very simply, Satisfaction is the story of a man, Neil Truman, who discovers that his wife Grace has been seeing a male escort. He responds, ultimately, by becoming a male escort himself.

Satisfaction is absolutely loaded with sex, my friends. Oh my, yes. If you’re not sure your TV regimen is sexy enough, consider adding Satisfaction.

I don’t know why I let go of Satisfaction during its first season, but when I peeked at it again a couple of weeks ago, well into the current season, I found that Grace has responded to Neil’s career choices by launching a male escort business with her husband.

Grace, I salute you, madam. Nothing like a joint venture to bring two people closer together, right?

I want to admit now, publicly, that I was wrong to ditch Satisfaction. I was led astray by two other shows that I knew or had reason to know would ultimately betray and disappoint me. I’m just glad Neil and Grace and their complicated, sex-laden lives are still here for me. I hope we can all make it up to each other during a lovely Thanksgiving binge.

But what about you, fellow TV junkies? What are you getting into? What are you giving up on?

And are you following Lady Smut? We won’t jump the shark on you.

Magically Sexy: Strange & Norrell

7 Jul

I hear that Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has made it over to the other side of the pond now, so I want to say a few things about how much I love this show. I’m reading the novel now and it’s one of those rare cases where the pleasure of the programme increases the pleasure of the reading. It hits all the marks for me because it’s magical and historical with a stellar cast — and costuming. I’ve already found several tumblrs that go crazy over the clothes.

Bertie Carvel plays Jonathan Stange and is just about as dashing a magician as you could wish, though perhaps the most attractive thing about him is how he dotes on his singular wife, Arabella (played by Charlotte Riley whom made a great Catherine Earnshaw opposite Tom Hardy’s Heathcliffe). I said on Twitter that I’d love to see an offshoot series, Arabella Strange Learns the Language of Birds. She’s such a terrific character.

It’s a delight to see the machinations of The Gentleman with the thistle down hair as he tries to move people around like chess pieces, though you rather hope that the utterly elegant Stephen Black (played with amazing power by Ariyone Bakare) and poor Lady Pole (Alice Englart) manage to survive. You don’t have to know anything about the period to love the characters, for their plights are totally engaging.

I haven’t mention Mr Norrell yet, have I? He’s played by the absolutely riveting Eddie Marsan. But he’s a bit of a fusspot to be honest. Not that I don’t totally envy his library with great drooling desire. And I completely identify with his preference for books to people and parties.

But I feel more in tune with Strange’s trust of his intuition and enjoy his cheerful buoyant optimism in the face of all kinds of adversity — and there is adversity to spare in this tale. Here’s to practical magicians in preference to theoretical ones!

Oh, but I haven’t got to the most appealing character, have I? Well, let me now turn to the curmudgeonly, gruff, unpolished, Northerner (of course 😉 ) Childermass. He’s nominally Norrell’s servant, but he’s so much more. The horrible Londoners who bewitch the magician overlook him at their peril. It is the power of the ignored to see so much more. I’d gladly spent an evening in a rundown pub with Childermass and his hand drawn tarot cards than with the finest of the ton in London. But that’s me.

Are you on Goodreads? Join the Lady Smut crew there and enter to win one of four copies of The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires. Hurry, time’s running out! And always follow us — we have such sights to show you…

Put Your Witch Hat On

22 Nov

rs_634x951-130903134107-634.American-Horror-Coven-Poster.mh.090313by C. Margery Kempe

I could not resist watching American Horror Story: Coven even though I usually have to laugh at portrayals of witches in popular culture. I don’t think doctors would find much to relate to in the way medical dramas show their lives and professions, so I can’t really take it personally (if you want some thoughtful yet fun pagan analysis, I’d suggest you check out the discussions by my pal Peg Aloi and her colleague Lilith Dorsey over at Patheos).

There’s no doubt that the witch has been (and continues to be) a scapegoat for fear. But she has also long been an icon of sexual strength and power, and that is one of the tropes that actually has some power in the series. As silly as the plot threads have been and as random as the actions of the characters are (and oh, they are random and senseless — committee writing at its best) this is a show about powerful women and for that alone it is wonderful.

There’s no doubt that the real draw of series is the fine cast: Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates are all legends and they bring so much to the series. Bates is under used since her introduction, but Lange and Bassett show just how sexy a powerful woman can be. The two of them facing off is always a pleasure and despite the goofiness of some of the story it is such a joy to watch a show that features a mostly female cast who don’t spend all their time bitching about the men in their lives!

I hated the first episode because it made Lange’s character seem all about “staying young” at any price. Now her search for youth turns out not to have been about being “pretty” but about retaining power as the “Supreme” of the witches, even though she has mostly squandered her power to date. Now that she’s stirred up the fractions between her witches and Bassett’s voudoun folk, war seems inevitable. Meanwhile the two of them get to look good and lay waste to the people who stand in their path. It’s fun to watch even as you’re cringing at the mishmash of history, race and culture of the great city of New Orleans.

But there are generic conventions to consider: this is horror after all. It can be sexy but somebody’s got to die, so things are bound to go badly.

What if they didn’t have to?

What sexy witch stories would you like to see? What if it were romance or erotic romance instead? What witch stories do you like? Sweeping historicals like Mists of Avalon? Or something contemporary like The Craft dealing with the here and now? What’s your idea of a good sexy witch? I’ve got an idea on the back burner, but I haven’t had time to get anywhere near it on my to-do list.

Hocus pocus —

And don’t forget to follow the Lady Smut crew so you don’t miss a thing!

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