Margarita with a Straw: Indie Gem of Pure Content and Character with an Empowering Social Message

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A lot of Indian films don’t stretch to address the wide scope that diversity stands for. Yes we have characters of different backgrounds and heritages, and yes we have stories pertaining to them, but it is very rarely seen for issues like disability and sexuality to be in the forefront. Margarita with a Straw brings it to the forefront, showcases it in its entirety and doesn’t sugar-coat the important aspects, it doesn’t brush it off with a comic interlude, it deals with it, in all the negative and positive reactions it would receive within a working class Indian nuclear family. And that is just one half of the film and story, the primary showcasing of disability and sexuality is boiled down to how the main character, Laila, holds herself and discovers who she is as a girl in a wheelchair who may or may not be bisexual. The film is a social commentary on the beauty of relationships and self-discovery; it is a voice for the marginalised and stigmatised, and taboo communities in a country yet to reach the highest point of a representative, progressive social and cultural order.

Laila, played by Kalki Keochlin, is a girl with cerebral palsy living in New Delhi, India, with her primary caregiver and mother, father and younger brother. They are a close-knit family with nothing but love and acceptance for Laila and her condition, something that is rare and or difficult to do in most families across the world. Her family as a whole exudes an image of cultural progression as her parents hail from differing background; her mother from South India and her father from the north. They are supportive in her desires to live as normally as she wants to, for instance her interest in music, her role in a college band and her choice to move to New York for studies. The only exception that her mother feels strongly about is the notion of love, to which she attributes being in love with boys, something she wants for her child someday but knows that it will be a hard path.

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Feeling the pain of her first heartbreak over a boy in her class, Laila decides to transfer her studies to America, where she meets Khanum, played by Sayani Gupta, a blind girl from Pakistan, with whom she falls in love and thus believes she is a lesbian. She goes through the tumultuous stages of her youth life like any other young girl would, and one prevalent part of that is sexual discovery. Her realisation of her bisexuality, after becoming intimate with a classmate, called Jared, Laila enters that realm of ones youth where confusion settles and overtakes ones moral code. She doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings for boys and girls, she doesn’t know how to tell Khanum what she did, or even her family about who she is. The film beautifully picks up on these rites of passage moments all the while taking our focus away from her disability, sending the message to its viewers that her cerebral palsy does not stop her from living and discovering sexuality, love, relationships and ultimately her identity.

This is just one part of the film, where she immerses herself into the ups and downs of youth. The other parts demonstrate the relationships she has with her family and then the subsequent affects of her life in New York upon her family. The bond Laila shares with her mother, Shubhangini, played by Revathi, is one of two best friends more than a caregiver and patient, or mother and daughter. The attachment and love between them is so strong and warm that it becomes something of a curse when troubles knock on their door. Laila plucks up the courage to come out to her mother and is met with disapproval, but it is not about Shubhangini’s acceptance for her daughter’s sexuality, it is about Laila’s revelation. Whether or not you are accepted, you should reveal your true self because if not, it becomes a hindrance when trying to live your life happily, thus her coming out represents one step in her journey to taking control of her life and completely opening herself up to her loved ones. She doesn’t come out to her father or brother, just Shubhangini, and that bears a significant message in itself as she is the one person that understands her most, she is her right hand and the woman that has stood with her since birth. Later, Shubhangini falls ill and Laila discovers that she has relapsed from fourth stage colon cancer, of which she had no knowledge. From there Laila realises that there will be a time in her life, in the near future, that she will have to take control, lead her own life and become accustomed to being by herself, and she does just that. After her mother’s death, Laila understands and embraces the next chapter in her life, and with whom does she choose to celebrate? Herself. And how does she celebrate? With a margarita and a straw.

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The film is a humanist approach to enduring life in all its good and bad moments, and coming out at the end having found a way to be content with life and all it throws at you. Laila lives without a care for the stigma and taboo connected to her condition, she kisses boys, she has crushes, she curses people who only see her chair and not her, and she feels heartbreak. She is no different, but her condition made her so. Personal freedom was replaced by dependability, but the end scene changed that and you see a young girl just taking off in her new life. The story is so pure and raw that you don’t have to directly relate to Laila, yes you could be LGBT, have a disability, or be Indian, but you don’t have to. You can just be a person trying to find yourself, your identity or your path in life. Escaping into this film for those few hours’ grips you enough to strike a change in yourself, or ignite the urge for change in general.

Sitcoms can be serious too: One Day at a Time…

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Comedy is such a difficult feat at the best of times. You can have a solid ensemble cast and a series of scenarios in which they live, act and stumble, but if the comic dialogue, action and timing is not correct and is not welcomed with the reaction you need and want, the show will suffer. Look at some of the long-running classic sitcoms to grace our screens like Friends or The Big Bang Theory – ten or more seasons, characters that live on and peek into our day-to-day conversation, I mean, there is a friends quote for almost every story or situation. Then you have shows like Baby Daddy and New Girl, which are hilarious in their own rights, but have not had the same effect, the former having been cancelled a few episodes before its current season is to end, and the latter to end after its limited episode seventh season to air later in the year. Comedy is tough to execute, you must have the right characterization, the right scenarios, and most important of all, the consistency to pull it off throughout the season, and future seasons it may or may not have.

So when you throw in some hard-hitting socio-cultural content in the mix, writers have got to have some serious skill to keep audiences attracted to this new age sitcom, or they are just brave and hopeful in their experimentations with a classic form of television. One Day At A Time pushes the boundaries with this classic television show remade and revamped with a fiery Cuban family of three generations; grandmother, mother, and two kids. With jokes, gags and one-liners welcoming audiences into the crazy home of a traditional catholic Cuban abuela, a spunky ex-army turned nurse mother, her 21st century cause of the world ringleader daughter and apple of everyone’s eye tweener son, the show then snatches us away from the standard light heartedness of comedy by lulling us into a false sense of security and dropping huge emotional monologues on us like a tonne of bricks. And it sure as hell grips you.

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Anecdotes about the army, PTSD, religion and God, sexuality, absentee father, and the big ones; love and family, take us on journeys with the characters that you would ditch for a slapstick comic scene in the typical sitcom. This show does funny, jumps to serious and then spins us back in a tizzy of cackling laughter all in the space of thirty minutes. And in all of that we get widespread character profiles, heaps of cultural context into one nook of the vast Latin community, Cuba in particular, and the addressing of important themes and issues being tackled in todays real world. You hear one-liners and jokes in 80s/90s sitcoms, sometimes even the current ones, where significant issues like gender power roles, homosexuality and race/ethnicity labeled or even stigmatized as the subsequent ‘butt.’ Eric were always teased about his role in his relationship with Donna in That 70s Show, Chandler in Friends was always anxious about being assumed gay, and Raj in The Big Bang Theory experiences the ill-advised ‘brown dude’ jokes. Now we all know comedy is not meant to be taken seriously, the comic content is not a reflection of society’s views and/or actions, yet it is refreshing to see a group of writers poking fun at the abuela’s accent, or the daughters goth best friend, or even the extensive topic of religion and then stripping it all back to touch upon the other side to these social, cultural and political matters. Some may love, some may hate it, some may say it’s a fresh outlook of comedy, some may say if I wanted serious TV I would’ve watched Line of Duty, but you can’t please everybody, and if you tried, you will be stuck in writing and development stages until the end of time. It is a different side to comedy, sometimes serious, but it still abides by the primary function – being funny.

So to review, One Day at a Time is new age sitcom, a drama for the family, and a new take on an ever-growing, soon-to-be crowded industry predicated on form and genre. So they turn the tables and instead of having another dark fantasy, or crime drama (which are still awesome) they give us a tough, gritty, real comedy show, and a damn simple one at that. After all it is a show about a family merely going about their day-to-day business, you don’t need to look farther than the title to see that much. It gives us well thought out characterisations, and interesting scenarios and situations, but will they be able to keep a hold of them through to the second season? The real test is not how the first season is received, but how they can top it with the second, third, fourth and so on and so forth, if they are lucky enough to see an abundance of network renewals.

Here’s hoping because the first season had me from the get go.

Rita Moreno

13 Reasons Why – A Story Tragic In Its Content But Strong In Its Message

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For the most part, people watch television for a bit of entertainment, to escape their daily lives and live vicariously through an array of characters, like badass police officers in NCIS or rulers of a kingdom in Game of Thrones, or maybe something lighter like awkwardly funny scientists in The Big Bang Theory. But this show is not among that list; it is much more than an escape into a different world. It is a powerful portrayal of a girl, Hannah Baker, played by Katherine Langford, tormented by bullies and loneliness eventually driven to suicide, and her explanation of why she did it, through a collection of mysterious tapes, each one dedicated to a person and what they did to her. 13 Reasons Why (B.Yorkey, Netflix, 2017) is a story about bullying, isolation, fear, and drunken power, presenting a widely prevalent and important social message that we must open our eyes to the destruction the halls of a high school can house and the teens that think they are above the law, both written and unwritten.

This show, based on the novel of the same name by Jay Asher, is a brutally truthful depiction of the damage that can be done by high schoolers, unto their fellow peers, because they have been conditioned to believe certain behaviour is normative or correct. You have two groups: the ones who act so because they are scared of the kings and queens of the school, and the kings and queens themselves, who believe they are immune to the rules everyone else must follow. This unwritten clique is the reason – housing the 13 reasons Hannah discusses on her tapes – why high school is such a menacing place. Asher’s novel released ten years ago, and the television adaptation just released on Netflix last week, but these issues have been circulating for years and years, and this story has been long overdue. Though, it has come at a time where bullying has taken many forms and faces, its almost as if the world is making it easier for bullies to do their dirty work, and even more so fearsome for victims to come out against it. But with the arrival of this show, all should watch and take the necessary action to make sure there is not a real-life depiction.

Asher went on record to say he wanted the graphic scenes in the novel to be truly represented in the television adaptation, thus, it is certified with an 18 rating, and may be distressing for young audiences. But a huge portion of the demographic aims itself at the parents, teachers and other school staff, older siblings/relatives of these children and/or teens. By association and word of mouth, the social message of 13 Reasons Why can enter the  of almost everyone and the issue of bullying, depression and suicide can be discussed and hopefully dealt with instead of becoming labelled with the dreaded word, ‘taboo.’ After watching all thirteen episodes in the space of a week, I was moved and disturbed by the story, characters and themes, episodes 9-13, in particular, where I actually found myself hating a few characters. It was a tough watch, every scene that conveyed an unsettling tone and displayed a character severely wrong in their action led to a reaction where I gasped or yelled, or even cried. It was a tough watch, but necessary indeed to deliver the message of the story, as Asher has recently argued himself.

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The structure the show takes is clever and artistically strong. Each episode is dedicated to one side of a tape, each side detailing the transpired events between Hannah and her perpetrator, a classmate or supposed friend. Therefore the past/present timeline of sophomore year, when Hannah started at Liberty High and junior year, the year she committed suicide is runs right through the first season, the difference noted by a slight change in filter. The past is brighter and tonally warm, while the present is dampened by a grey, blue tonal shift, symbolic of a before and after Hannah period in the lives of her classmates. I praise the cinematography of the entire season, it was well shot and transitioned, a clear-cut, simplistic justification of the two timelines, as well as including some artistically-motivated scenes, like the revert to present day, with the entry of a solemn Clay listening to Hannah’s voice, while she relays the events of a tape, in the past. The story follows one classmate in particular, Clay Jenson, played by Dylan Minnette, a shy introvert who was hopelessly in love with Hannah but never acted on it, worked with her at the local cinema and one of the rare ‘nice guys’ at the school. Next in line to listen to the collection of thirteen tapes, Clay presented himself as the only student with a heart, a conscience, to approach the contents of the tapes for what they were, dark secrets and incriminating behaviour. And from there it unfolds to reveal a year of rumours, harassment and destruction at the hands of people she thought to be her classmates or even her friends which led to suicide.

The first season ended in a number of ways, and without revealing too much, if there is a season two in the works, it would either be pretty dark or just become a different show. If events of the finale episode are picked up and developed then Hannah becomes a name in one huge investigation into Liberty High and its bleak attempt at being an establishment working to educate kids, both academically and socially. The hook that enticed audiences to the show would just disappear. And leaving that to one side, Clay’s character was left ambiguous in his connection to the tapes and their contents, but his own personal battles and persona in high school seemed to find closure, learning from Hannah’s last words, as he skipped class and just drove off to a day of hanging out with Tony, Skye and Brad. The final episode doesn’t resolve any of the issues that reveal themselves throughout the season one run, so a return for a second season is possible, but there are mixed reviews as to the point of it.

Therefore, if there is any criticism of the show it lies with the ‘too much too soon’ parallel – should the writers and producers have stretched the stories of the tapes across a number of seasons consisting of fewer episodes? Or is the show not expecting a season two at all, is it looking to enter the mini-series territory, despite bearing the bulk of thirteen, not 3 or 6, episodes. The question 13 Reasons Why leaves with its audiences is this; what is next?

Is British TV Underrated?

That all depends on what you class as ‘British TV’ and what does that even mean? Is there a bad connotation attached to the word ‘underrated?’

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America has given us a long list of greats when it comes to TV, covering a wide array of genre and form, from The X Files to Dallas, Cheers to Charmed and Twin Peaks to Seinfeld. And we cannot argue that the profundity of Hollywood has sent the film industry straight into our hearts, minds, and, of course, our pockets. In the face of film, TV always tended to drop and play around in the shadows, with a crossover between the two, in terms of story, cast and crew, just not being feasible and/or desirable. But now, TV has risen out of those shadows and made its own majestic mark in the showbiz, entertainment world, striding alongside film, shoulder to shoulder, stealing its actors, actresses, directors and producers, re-building film’s failed attempts into shows followed so intently by audiences it becomes part of their daily life to catch the latest episode. Now lets not diminish the power of the movies just yet, everyone wants to be a big-time, a-lister movie star, but what will they always remember? Where they got their start. For most of the latest crop, and even some from the past who always found their way back, that start was in TV! Just look at Julia Louis-Dreyfus; found fame on Seinfeld, went on to star in her own sitcom, The New Adventures of Old Christine which was cancelled after a very successful five seasons and once again rose to undeniable, unbeaten fame with the still going strong, Veep. She had film roles in between her TV, but always came back, that’s true loyalty to an industry still trying to flourish in the background of Hollywood. There are many more actors and actresses like Louis-Dreyfus, and because of them, the incredible talent in the writer’s rooms, and most notably in this era, the different viewing platforms, TV has risen to become one of the biggest, baddest industries across the world.

 

But, is it all because of American TV? Not a chance.

 

Some would believe it to be so, especially with most of Britain’s talent jumping ship and finding work across the pond, but that’s their prerogative, a person has to build their career somehow. Even writers, directors and producers have to join forces with their American counterparts in order to make their dreams a reality. It’s all part of the big rat race that is showbiz, and, to put it simply, life. This article isn’t predicated on picking at America’s successful TV industry and all the people behind it like a ratty child throwing their toys out the pram. No, it’s about the other successful TV industry and the many other people responsible for doing it – British TV. It is transcending boundaries and pushing past limits to create and present great stories, characters and messages to its viewers. Some examples are; Midsomer Murders, Peaky Blinders, Prime Suspect and Spooks, Goodness Gracious Me, Cold Feet, Only Fools and Horses and Absolutely Fabulous. These shows all represent Britishness – a way of life Britons can identify with, stories that most can discuss with friends or at parties and say; ‘did you see the latest Cold Feet? That reminded me of the time I…’ or even ‘just re-watched the first series of Spooks, it puts things into perspective…’ They are all still talked about, watched and enjoyed, but if you were to mention one of these names to someone abroad, would they know them straight off the bat? Maybe not these examples, but I can bet any money that if a person dropped these show titles, they would know: Downtown Abbey, The Night Manager, The Crown, Doctor Who, Sherlock, The Office, and why is that? Two words. US backing. So the moral of this article is that British TV has become lost to the power of the American dollar, and the solely British TV of today, like Mrs. Browns Boys, Citizen Khan, Mount Pleasant, Victoria, Death in Paradise and Vera, are going unnoticed by most of the world despite being brilliant in their own right. Thus, wouldn’t you say British TV is underrated?

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Victoria (2016-present)

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Only Fools and Horses (1981-2003)

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Spooks (2002-2011)

We can’t fault those British TV shows that are backed by the States because they are brimming with all the good things TV has to offer; immersive storylines, identifiable characters, socio-political and cultural messages the world needs to have thrown in their faces. And a bonus perk is that these American-backed British shows are winning in the critical acclaim race, with The Golden Globes, SAGs and Emmy’s opening their doors to these British actors/actresses and creators by awarding them with the highest honours. Claire Foy is a recent Golden Globe winner for her work in The Crown, as is Tom Hiddleston for The Night Manager, and in the past years we have seen Wolf Hall win best Mini-series. We know it’s not all about accolades and critics and ratings play a big role in the success of a show, and from pulling in a viewership of 1.6 million, The Night Manager brought a surge of 70% since its premiere. So there work is obviously good as its applauded by the bigwigs and the people tune in to watch. But it’s not completely British, and the ones that are just seem to be hovering in and out of the shadows. Whether they want to come out of the shadows or not, whether they want America to shuttle them towards the limelight or not, they are definitely deserving of worldwide recognition, slots that are being filled up by other shows, and all because they have a foot in its success. Does that sound slightly nepotistic?

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The Crown (2016-present)

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The Night Manager (2016-present)

This may sound like an ‘axe to grind’ article against America and its TV industry but it is actually a call for the hidden gems of British TV to be understood and recognised as primetime players in the big game that is entertainment. And one way that it has already happened is through the art of streaming, where Netflix UK & Ireland stream a wide array of inherently British TV shows, for instance, The Thick of It, Top Boy, Skins, Benidorm, Outnumbered, Blackadder, Whitechapel, the list is endless. It is a big step, but it makes you wonder if all these shows are on the US Netflix, or the European version, and the people who get to watch need to have a subscription, so is it a big step after all?

To counter my own point, is it better for these shows to remain as they are, because if they were to lose their underrated status, would they still be those very British TV shows they started out as? If the whole world knew about them, and they became high-ranking entertainment shows, would the market of British TV cease to exist as just that, British? A market of its own? These conversations tend to strike a chord, but they are also a double-edged sword. So what is the right answer? Is there a right answer? No, there is just an opinion, a POV, and this article is mine. I believe the un-Americanised British TV is underrated, but I also don’t have a solution that won’t taint its reputation as good, solid entertainment, so maybe being underrated is its power, its tool to be a constant in the industry even after its airtime has concluded, because they are the ‘indies’ of TV, the hidden gems that just need to unearthed by the lovers of Television. I mean, even America must have its own version of this; it can’t all be surplus ratings, prestigious honours and huge fan-followings.

There has got to a balance.

 

Sense8: Sci-Fi, Un-Reality and Festive Fun…

A look at the new virtual reality craze of the genre and a review of the latest chapter in the Sense8 story.

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The age of television is changing almost every second, with new ways to watch, new content to watch and new people to create what we watch. Despite this widespread notion of diversity and variation, stories are still boiling down to one form or sub-genre if you wish to call it so, one that transcends boundaries, blurs your perception of reality and allows you to escape into a fantasy, imagined, possibly even re-imagined world of the un-real or even real, but is too progressive and futuristic for the human mind to comprehend (even when we are now in 2017) Fantasy and Science Fiction have been dominating our small screens for a while now, with shows like Doctor Who, Star Trek, Red Dwarf and The X Files. Today’s, lets say, “version” of these forms/sub-genres are more rooted in the archaic or the historic like Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful and Outlander, and then you have the supernatural creatures joining the race with The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf and True Blood. While these examples remain in good spirits, whether its because they are still broadcasting or being kept alive in fans’ memories, other forms of these popular styles of television have surfaced, and they are like no other. Like I said, we are in 2017, and technology is still developing and advancing to new heights, and one of the biggest gadgets to come out of the market recently has been virtual reality, a massively blurred conception that has already made its way into the stories of a TV drama, in the example of Westworld.

Now this was a brief history of fantasy and science fiction television, with a lot of name-dropping, but the one show I am going to discuss here has not been mentioned yet. It complements a previously addressed sci-fi notion, it is helmed by what some may call sci-fi royalty and it adopts a freshly incoherent and untraditional method of storytelling. Sense8, created and written by the Wachowski’s, Lana and Lilly and J. Michael Straczynski, is a Netflix-distributed drama centering around 8 strangers from different corners of the world who find themselves connected in visions, within thoughts and through actions. It is the ultimate sci-fi; destroying what you think you know, distorted reality, expansive extent of ones imagination type of story, and it is insanely good. If you loved The Matrix, then I suggest you watch – 12 episodes and a Christmas Special. I estimate half a day and you will be done and waiting impatiently for season two…in MAY. If you couldn’t tell already, my impatience is wearing thin. I need my Sense8 fix despite just watching the Christmas Special.

Now, about that so-called ‘special’ episode, I was under the impression that season two itself was to be released in place of it. A cheeky Facebook reveal told Sense8 audiences that we must wait 5 more months to delve deeper into the lives of the sensates and how they will overcome the adversities of their powerful connection. A Netflix original is an exciting venture for so many reasons, the progression of streamed entertainment, the freedom of creativity and the downright sass of not having to abide by bogus censorship laws. But, alas one thing overshadows all the good things…the wait. Some say the wait is needed to build the adrenaline for the story’s future, while others rip their hair out the second the end credits roll, wanting the next chapter right that second. I am absolutely, most definitely the latter.

Enough context, exposition and downright ranting.And here begins the review of the Sense8 Christmas Special…

After I finished season one, my mind was blown away by the interesting, unfathomable yet exciting aspects of this TV show. With all its larger-than-life content, it still managed to have heart. Sensates felt a romantic connection, they felt the power of their consciences, they learnt how to handle their connection and all the while they carried on with their own lives, highs and lows in all their glory. There was a story. The Christmas Special picked up where season one left a selection of enigmas and ambiguities, but I found the only significant beats of the 2-hour long episode was Will and Whispers’ tense standoff towards the end, which ultimately acted as an empty basket with the tiniest egg to be cracked in May’s second season, well he hope at least. The rest of the special was unnecessary festive partying, sex and yet another giant orgy. Do we learn anything important and different about the sensates and the progression of their story, possibly?

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The sensates are paired up in this episodes; Kala with Wolfgang, Sun and Capheus and Riley and Will, with a small relation between Nomi and Lito. By forming these duos, the story is able to run smoothly especially when it is confined to two hours. Each pairing takes on a theme or motif to push their stories along; Kala and Wolfgang’s toxic love story, Sun and Capheus’ friendship, Riley and Will’s isolation and Nomi attempts to help Lito in his coming out and the repercussions. Sun and Capheus present a beautiful image of friendship, most notably being there for a complete stranger with whom you strangely connect, a similar storyline to that of Nomi and Lito. Lito suffers at the hands of regressive attitudes in terms of his sexuality after he comes out as gay. These 4 characters present a warm shift from the tumultuous journey Will is undergoing after being seen by their maker, Whispers. They act as the best friend who is willing to be the shoulder their friend can cry on, or in this case, they are the mind the friend can escape to. And that is one of other reasons why this show appeals to its audiences, because as a viewer you can watch the escapism from reality both on your screen, forgetting that you yourself are doing the same thing.

Having said that, I’m not sure escaping into the turmoil of Kala and Wolfgang’s toxic relationship is the best way to take your mind off things. Anyhow, lets discuss…Kala is married, Wolfgang is silently pining for her like the typical man he is, she doesn’t want to lose her virginity to her basic, but sweet husband and when she tries to, she drops into Wolfgang’s mind as he is in the middle of sex. If sex scenes weren’t awkward already, have them make conversation with a nervous bystander, no, its not even a tasteful sex scene, more like soft porn, no actually probably just regular porn. (This is where the lack of giving a shit comes in handy, no to censorship, yes to that 18 and above rating that MUST be abided by) So while Kala tries to seduce Rajan, she awkwardly chats to her former love interest while his one night stand moans naked on top of him. Once you move past the sheer shock of it, the scene is actually quite funny and significant to why Kala and Wolfgang will, sadly, never be able to be a couple. She is vanilla and he is an amalgamation of every other flavor, though I’m still rooting for them after that cute snow fight scene.

Moving on to the next pairing that takes center stage…Will is suddenly a junkie! Will was the good, sweet, fly to Iceland to save some random chick in his head, kind of guy. Although, at least the writing hasn’t strayed too far towards motifs characterized by vice as we are still on the right page with the follow-up to Will being seen by Whispers. They have really tugged on the strings with the spiral his character is tumbling into, good son/cop forced to hide his mind from an Omni-present lunatic by losing it to the blurs of heroin. A sad, brutal path, but artistically written and portrayed. I didn’t appreciate Riley’s role as becoming lost in Will’s lucid states either, she was so lost at the start of season one, we were introduced to the reason behind her lost persona and that gave her some power to then help Will as he realized he will too be lost to a higher force of supremacy. But the Special sees her drop too far down into that guiding light role, she almost becomes his keeper, the woman caring for his needs, providing him with intimacy, drugs and constant reassurance so he doesn’t lose his mind to Whispers. It is admirable to an extent, but the unexpectedness of this change in character remained present in my mind. Now I understand one can only transform characters and develop a story so much within a 2-hour special, but lets hope Riley and Will can escape the haze of their secret Icelandic shack in the second season.

Aside from keeping in theme with the progression of the story, this Christmas special adheres to its title very much – the celebration of Christmas and New Years Eve. Despite being a show embroiled with heavy sci-fi elements and notions, the story allows the sensates to sit down and enjoy the festive holidays with their loved ones, remembering that as long as you are with someone or a group of people who are their to love, guide and support you, life is good. They find it within their families, in different ways; Capheus, Lito and Nomi who considers Amanita’s loved ones as her own, Riley convinces Will to talk to his dad, Wolfgang’s best friend finally awakes from his coma, Kala has a warm moment with Wolfie and Sun finds comfort in her cellmates. While the holidays does bring people together, this special also made for entertaining TV and the progression of the story into season 2. The special still ends on a sour, cliffhanger style note with Wolfgang at the heart of a gangster brawl, summoning the help of his fellow sensates before uttering the now probably infamous words: ‘happy fuckin’ new year.’ Of course, it can’t end all happy and wondrous; it is a Sci-fi TV Drama at the end of the day. So for my final verdict, there is only one thing left to say…May couldn’t come any sooner!