10 shows that have inspired me (2nd Edition)

Welcome to the second edition of the television shows that have inspired me; be it story-wise, visually, or overall. While the first list featured a set a older shows that made a difference in my life, this new list focuses on the newer shows and how they have inspired me in any way.

  1. Vikings (History Channel; Starring: Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Katheryn Winnick) – I love Vikings, their whole myth and reality of exploration, import, export I think it’s absolutely fascinating and have been reading up on the things Vikings have done since I can remember. One of the reasons why I love them so much: they were the first society that treated women with equality. There were shield maidens who fought side by side with men, and made their own decisions when it came to marriage, divorce, children, etc. So when History Channel decided they were going to make a show based on the lives of Ragnar Lothbrok, Rollo (who ended up being King of Normandy) and Shield Maiden Lagertha, I was thrilled! While some pieces of the show are not entirely accurate, the fact that Lagertha (Winnick) is such a strong and independent character from both Ragnar (Fimmel) and Rollo (Standen) reflects the realities of how women in Viking society were treated – including being able to hold positions on their own.
  2. Bates Motel (A&E Network; Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Nestor Carbonell) – Let’s face it, for anyone who has seen Psycho the idea of Norman Bates being THAT obsessed with his mother is unnerving. However, I wanted to know, HOW, did he get to be that obsessed with his mother…Bates Motel gives a good look at the origin of Norman Bates, his relationship with his mother and brother and how he came to be, with a mixture of modern and retro looks this series is quite entertaining, unnerving and engaging, and Highmore is the perfect Norman!
  3. Fuller House (Netflix; Starring: Candice Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber) – I cannot make a list of shows without including the sequels to my childhood favorites. When the announcement came that they were going to revamp the series, I was worried, but after watching the first episode of the Netflix hit and laughing my face off, and crying during some episodes and laughing like crazy again – Fuller House is one of my new favorites. One thing that I would like is if they’d stop featuring the old characters (Danny Tanner, Uncle Jesse & Becky and Joey) so that the Fuller clan can shine on their own – because they’re more than capable of doing so.
  4. The Last Kingdom (BBC; Starring: Alexander Dreymon, Ian Hart, David Dawson) – Back to Viking land! This historical fiction drama that focuses on two characters that actually existed (it has been stated that they lived an estimated 200 years from one another in history) Uhtred of Bebbanburg and King Alfred of Wessex tells the story of how the ambition of man can lead to mixed loyalties and what men who have power ultimately want for their country. It’s greatly written, performed and engaging. Uhtred (Dreymon) is a young lord who saw his father killed in battle, was kidnapped by a gang of invading Vikings and raised as one of them, when he’s older he’s forced to flee from the land he grew to call his own and seek refuge in his former homeland where he is now considered and outsider. The story has multiple layers, lots of battle, some witchcraft and a Ragnar – although this one is called Ragnar the Young.
  5. The Get Down (Netflix; Starring: Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Herizen Guardiola) – What is better than Hip-Hop, 1977 Bronx, Disco and Baz Luhrman put together? Nothing, the answer is nothing. The Get Down is also a historical fiction take on the rise of hip-hop from the poverty stricken South Bronx a-la-Luhrman, the filmmaker who has a passion for music but makes incredible films. The performances are amazing, the young actors cast a spell on you when you see them on screen navigating the realistic sets that resemble that of a broken down Bronx in the mid to late 70’s that brought me back to when I was a baby and my mother would take me down the street to the little shop my Dad set up to sell tostones, pollo frito, bacalaitos and other Puerto Rican favorites. The only thing I can’t get over is the forced Puerto Rican phrases from the actors, but everything else is fantastic.
  6. Chelsea & Chelsea Does… (Netflix; Starring: Chelsea Handler) – I’m a big fan of Handler’s, she tells it to you straight and I think that moving to Netflix from the E! Network is the best thing she could have done to her career. Many thought it was a crazy gamble because not all of us understood how late night and streaming would fit in. Still, it worked. Her transition show Chelsea Does, had her exploring tons of topics: drugs, marriage, children, racism while showcasing a more human, vulnerable Handler that not all of us knew existed. In Chelsea – she continues with the tone set up by her docu-series and talks about things that matter: politics, education, medicine, science, history, money with a dash of celebrity guests and skits. It’s fun to watch as she educates herself through what she’s called the Netflix University. Stream it, you’ll love it too.
  7. Stranger Things (Netflix; Starring: Winona Rider, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp) – Thank you Duffer Brothers for scaring the bejezuz out of me! I haven’t watched anything like this in a very long time. The mystery, the performances, the story, the reveal, it’s all amazing. I couldn’t stop watching it! Set in 1983, the time when kids could ride their bikes home at night after playing Dungeons and Dragons for hours in their BFF’s house and the parents were okay and not accused of child abuse for letting them be independent. When Will Byers (Schnapp) mysteriously disappears one night his friends set out to look for him and find an equally mysterious girl (Brown) close to where Will was last seen. What happens from there is a story of friendship that covers everything from bullying, homophobia, monsters, and a serious case of alternate reality that will make you think twice about your current universe.
  8. Tormenta de Passiones or Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (WAPA, Kanal D – Turkey; Starring: Ayca Bingol, Yildiz Cagri Aksoy, Aras Bulut Iynemli, Mete Horozoglu) – set from the 1960’s to the 1970’s – this series tells the true story of the Akarsu family, beginning with the events that were to change their family’s story in 1967: their father’s infidelity. The show is filled with riveting performances, two strong matriarchs and situations that are seems too unreal to be true – but isn’t that what life is filled with?
  9. Heartless (Netflix, Kanal 5 – Denmark; Starring: Sebastian Jessen, Julie Zangenberg, Nicolaj Kopernikus) I was intrigued by the description of this show “Two siblings with a deep dark and fatal secret. In order to survive they must suck the energy out of other people” – truth is, they are twins and they are a Succubae and Incubus set of twins who don’t know what they are, and go on a journey to find out why they need to feed off other people. The young actors portraying the (fraternal) twins have a great deal of chemistry and are amazing in each of their performances. The secrets are big and never obvious when they’re revealed, also – there’s tons of gruesome killings and cover ups. The interesting show is filled with magic, and how it can pragmatically work in the real world, tons of death, and tons of Danish sex – which I have to say has proven to be quite sexy from what I’ve seen on their shows…
  10. Queen of the South (USA Networks; Starring: Alice Braga, Veronica Falcón, Peter Gadiot) this much better version of La Reina del Sur follows the story of Teresa Mendoza (Braga) and her rise to power in the drug world. Reluctantly guided by the most badass, take no prisoners, no excuses, no-fucks-given-attitude-having Camila Vargas (Falcón) Teresa tries to do her best to stay alive, but her future self appears in the first episode and quickly guides her to doing much more. Camila is a character to be reckoned with – Falcón plays her with ease, poise and dangerous seduction that makes any person pee a little bit in their pants. She’s cunning and she likes to be underestimated because she will shut you down in two seconds flat. Each episode is full of moments that will make you tighten your grip, scream at the television and sometimes cover your eyes. Falcón, Braga and Justina Machado who plays the always hustling Brenda, shows women will do anything to not only come on top, but survive and protect their family and loved ones – even if it’s in the drug world.

Top 10 Influential TV Shows (1st Edition)

television-antiguaSince I’m still in the mood for sharing, and yesterday’s list of Top 25 Movies (1st Edition) was so well received. I’m making a list of top 10 television shows that influenced my life, because it wasn’t always about the movies.

These shows opened my eyes to the possibilities of something other than my reality. They opened me up to love, determination, to the ability of wanting something with arduous and unwavering passion. Most importantly, these shows taught me that it was more than okay to want to be better and that everyone makes mistakes.

Again, the list is in no particular order, but they are all very special to me.

  1. Full House (1987 – 1995) – yes, the Tanner clan were very influential to my life. With their dubbed (Spanish) programming their messages of understanding and family bond wasn’t lost in translation. While at first I thought their constant hugging was a bit strange along with the fact that their parents had dark hair and all the daughters were blonde – I learned much from the Tanners. They were such a stark contrast to my own reality. The Tanners were the ones who sparked the curiosity in me of “well, if someone wrote this, it has to be somewhat true – that’s what writers do isn’t it? draw from reality?” watching them navigate the troubles in life with family talks and hugging them out made me realize that we can and should have more “hugging it out” moments, and not fear of our family not loving us. Also, Michelle was pretty funny, but my favorite was the misunderstood Stephanie who you can watch here.
  2. The Jeffersons (1975 – 1985) – even though I was quite young to understand the premise of this show, I enjoyed it nonetheless. The fact that Mr. Jefferson black and wealthy, moving from his shoddy neighborhood in Queens to a penthouse apartment in the sky of the East Side in Manhattan was pretty spectacular. This was before African Americans were ‘forced’ into the Eurocentric standards of beauty, as everyone wore their manes au natural, and were like the neighbor from down the hall in my own building. The Jeffersons had a sassy maid who was rude to him, as he was rude to his everyone, including his quirky white neighbor and didn’t get in trouble for it. This family was the closest people on television I could find that sort of resembled my own in color – something that was rare during the early 1980’s. You can watch Florence getting ready for her Mr. Right here.
  3. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990 – 1996) – As a teenager, coming from a poor/working class background I was often told that we had a place in life and it wasn’t in a mansion – unless of course, we were hired to clean it. Will, Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian (Janet Hubert) let me know that with hard work and determination one can indeed change their situation. Coming from a similar socio-economic background as my own family, the Bank’s gave me hope for a better life as they made their way from poverty-stricken Philadephia to affluent Bel-Air and even employing the wonderfully sassy Geoffrey (who often stole the show with his snarky quips). The show was incredibly hilarious as it broke endless stereotypes for people of color, and struck nerves with dramatic episodes where Will and James Avery’s Uncle Phil’s relationship was tested and strengthened, best examples of which can be seen here and here (trigger warning, this might make you cry ugly). This show let me know that my skin color didn’t determine my position in life, nor did my first socio-economic status in life, I could change my life by dedicating myself to be a better human being and working incredibly hard. Also, Hillary was way funnier in Spanish.
  4. El Chavo del Ocho (1972 – 1979) – Roberto Gómez Bolaños better known as Chespirito, was a staple in many Latin households. His characters that included an orphan child living in a barrel in a housing complex, a clumsy superhero, and a sort of odd couple pairing was the sort of show that was educational, motivational, and pure. Chavo (the aforementioned orphan) was a kid who didn’t have a conventional family, but was adopted by the people who lived in the housing complex where he’d sleep in a barrel. Filled with quirky adventures, he and his bestie/girlfriend La Chilindrina were the best compinches one could find on television for decades (reruns that still can be seen on many Spanish-speaking networks). You can see a little bit of what I’m talking about here.
  5. Punky Brewster (1984 – 1988) – This show taught me so much. I mean, who doesn’t want to take control of their life? Penelope “Punky” Brewster was abandoned with her dog by her mother at a supermarket by her mother and refuses to stay at the orphanage, so she does what any person would do, takes her dog and leaves to stay at the tree house.  Punky’s style of clothing was colorful and fit perfectly with the traditional way Puerto Ricans dressed. I even had some crazy colored high topped shoes inspired by her style. Punky was more spunky than anything else, wise beyond her years, so it was appropriate that she was adopted by the much older and incredibly caring Henry. Sometimes parents aren’t the ones you’re biologically linked to, but the one your heart adopts. Watch Punky find a home here.
  6. Diff’rent Strokes (1978 – 1986) – talking about orphans…Arnold and Willis Jackson were my top on my list to watch. The family dynamics of this show were groundbreaking. I mean, two African American boys adopted by a wealthy rich man who didn’t see them for their color, but who they were and loved them as they were their own? Who can’t fall in love with that? The episode where the Willis boys want to change their name – tear jerker! This show taught me that doesn’t matter how different we all are, where there’s love there’s a family. Watch the first episode here.
  7. Knight Rider (1982 – 1986) – my passion for cars began at an early age thanks to my father. Enamored with KITT, I was introduced to the first female mechanic /engineer Bonnie Barstow who knew more about taking care of a car than Michael did. Patricia McPherson’s character and presence empowered me as a girl child. My fascination with cars, and transformers was not ‘boyish’ or reason to be concerning. Furthermore, my heart broke when KITT was destroyed – I forever will hate KARR…that bastard. You can watch the death and rebirth of KITT here.
  8. Sesame Street (1969 – Present) – What child hasn’t watched this show? My favorite character was the amazing Grover. His craziness taught me to be myself – even if that meant not everyone was going to like me. As we discoed to the ABC’s I learned that it’s okay to not be the boss, it’s okay to be tired, it’s okay to not be able to fly perfectly as he constantly crashed as Super Grover, because sometimes even supers need to take the bus.
  9. She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985 – 1987) – A strong princess that rebels against evil forces and doesn’t need saving because she’s the one doing all the saving? Yes please! Even at an early age I was a little tired of seeing the damsel in distress both in animated and acted films that couldn’t do anything without a man. She-Ra defied all that and swung her sword kicking ass and taking names – it’s unfortunate she didn’t get the recognition her cousin He-Man and the Masters of the Universe You can watch She-Ra here.
  10. Thundercats (1985 – 1989) – Adventure, strong female character, crazy kittens causing a ruckus? This cult classic was the best animated program for decades. I’m sure many will agree with me on that. I’m still waiting for the movie to come out; in the meantime I’ll share the first episode with you here.