Boomin’ BostInno

Boston is a city teeming with various start-up companies. One start-up that is making waves in the media world is BostInno, a news website launched in 2009 by the company Streetwise Media, founded by Kevin McCarthy and Chase Garbarino in 2007.

kevin 1

Kevin McCarthy, co-founder and chief technology officer of Streetwise Media.
Credit: Amanda Ostuni

The first site launched by the duo was CampusWord, a website for college students around the country to read and contribute to. When the two graduated, they passed it on to other college students hoping in vain that it would stay afloat. Their next project, Pinyadda, a news aggregation service, didn’t work out because of technical limitations. So they moved onto their next idea: BostInno.

“The mission of BostInno… for all the publications we’ve started… is to be the number one source that people go to for information in the city,” said McCarthy, the 28-year-old chief technology officer of Streetwise Media.

The third time proved the charm. BostInno took off. It began with the guys just posting a story a week about their experiences with Pinyadda and the start-up scene in Boston. Soon they had other contributors– students, people just out of high school, people with knowledge on certain topics. As its popularity picked up, McCarthy and Garbarino began to build the site further.

Originally focused primarily on business, it now includes local news, sports, various knowledge-specific information, and “Channels,” which allow any organization to create their own page, publish their own content, feature their team members, and share their social networks. Channels is free, but organizations can pay for a premium package, which allows them to do more, such as post career opportunities on BostInno’s job board. According to McCarthy, the more than 500 clients using BostInno’s Channels generate about 80 posts a day, and there are about 20-30 posts a day coming from the editorial side of the website. Channels also brought in a fan base outside their typical audience demographic of 20-30 year old readers.

To promote their content, general manager Melissa Ablett said the BostInno team has learned to efficiently utilize social media, namely, Twitter and Facebook, and it’s become a huge help in  getting traffic to the site.

“Those communities are of huge importance to us and we spend a lot of time engaging with readers,” said Ablett, 27.

Lauren Landry, a 23-year-old education staff writer for the website, believes social media is a huge help for her work. “Social media, especially for someone who’s interacting largely with college students, has been a huge asset because that’s where all of [the college students] are,” said Landry. “You’re on Facebook at night… and at night is when I sort of spend the time doing funnier things that people are going to be reading while they’re not doing homework.”

The BostInno team is committed to maintaining a bond with the community and/or readers. One way they do this is through their use of social media.

“We’re posting pictures from around the office or an argument we’re having… which gives the reader a little bit more behind the scenes,” said McCarthy. “I think that’s what people expect in the social media era– not just what the company does, but what the company’s about and who works there.”

They also connect by arranging meet-ups at bars open to anyone in the community who wants to come and talk about what’s going on in Boston.

The Boston site was doing so well that in the spring of 2012, the Streetwise Media team decided to launch a second property: InTheCapital, a Washington D.C. version of BostInno.

Thanks to the success of both sites, Streetwise recently came into a huge opportunity; On Nov. 16, it was acquired by American City Business Journals, the parent company of Boston Business Journal. In its press release about the acquisition, cited in BostInno’s own announcement of it, American City Business Journals noted that part of what attracted them to Streetwise was that “collectively, the Streetwise sites attracted more than 2.6 million unique visitors in the last month and over 9 million page views.”

Although people associate large companies’ acquisition of start-ups with a likelihood that the start-up will change its tone or cease to exist, McCarthy isn’t worried about that.

“City Business Journals are like a perfect partner for us because what we bring to the table is experience in the digital,” said McCarthy. “They bring decades of experience starting publications in other cities, which would really be helpful for us.”

General manager Ablett said the team also offers ACBJ a fresh take on news and how to engage young people online, and she and McCarthy believe ACBJ realizes they will benefit best from letting BostInno operate as it has.

ACBJ’s CEO Whitney Shaw addressed concerns herself in the announcement of the acquisition. “While I’ll be very involved in working with Streetwise, as will a handful of others in ACBJ, for the most part we’ll keep the entities separate,” Shaw said. “ACBJ will represent Streetwise in national sales but I see little or no overlap locally in sales and editorial.”

The BostInno/Streetwise Media team is intending to take advantage of the new resources it has thanks to ACBJ, and work on plans to further expand and improve the company.

Ablett suggested the company’s next move should be to work on perfecting the organizational structure here and bringing BostInno to the level of popularity where if she asked a random, average person on the street if  he or she knew of BostInno, the answer would be “yes, I read it all the time.” McCarthy said he’d like to expand the features that they give their Channel partners. But their primary focus is growing BostInno itself, as well as InTheCapital, and then eventually get Streetwise Media branching out to other cities.The company will be looking to launch a New York site in 2013.

Staff writer Landry thinks that the organization’s commitment to community is what makes the site so successful. McCarthy said the key to their success is execution.

“There’s publications out there that start up all the time trying to cover either the Boston tech industry or lifestyle here in Boston in the same vein that
“But what we do better than most is have the plan and execute exactly on how it’s supposed to go… I think it comes down to the established community we have and  how well we execute our plans.”we do,” said McCarthy.

streetwise

The home page of Streetwise Media, a start up news company founded in 2007 by Kevin McCarthy and Chase Garbarino. Their first site, BostInno, was created in 2009 and their second, InTheCapital, was created in 2012. In 2013, they will launch their New York site, InTheEmpire.

Check out the photo gallery for this story at Flickr.

And for those of you who like viewing things more than reading, check out the video story about BostInno.

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My Magazine Writing Final Piece: The Fantasy of Three

So this has nothing to do with class or my blog beat, but I wanted some place to publish my final piece. I made a few very slight edits to the one I handed in but I only have that on paper, but this is close enough to what I handed in. Read and enjoy!

***********

On a cold Thursday night in mid-November, Joel and Ester sit side by side at a table under the dim lighting of the Mission Hill Bar and Grill. Joel is a bald, 35-year-old, Caucasian male. His wife, Ester, is a tan-skinned 29-year-old Brazilian woman with dark hair. Tonight, on their weekly date night, he drinks beer while she sips red wine.

Ever since their first child, a girl, was born three months ago, Joel and Ester don’t get out or have sex as much as they used to, like most couples who become parents. Unlike most couples, however, they aren’t just missing sex with each other; they also miss engaging in threesomes. Inviting a third partner into their bed isn’t easy when there’s a baby and the baby’s aunt at home.

Joel had always been sexually adventurous, and in 2006 he suggested to Ester, his wife since 2003, that they experiment with multi-partner sex. Ester, who prides herself on having an open mind, was willing to, so they explored the swinging scene.

“We went to a couple [swinging events] and knew right away… this is not our scene,” says Joel. Both partners realized that they wanted a threesome rather than swapping and/or orgies, and that they didn’t want another man involved.

“If you involve a man it gets too complicated… it involves too much; you have to worry about okay, it’s strange, it’s not comfortable,” says Ester.

“You can’t have too many penises in one room, they start fighting,” jokes Joel, delighted that Ester prefers having a woman as the third partner.

But a single female interested in a threesome with a married couple isn’t easy to find.  When Joel spoke to people at swingers events, they said he was looking for the ‘golden unicorn.’

Despite the supposed rarity of the single female seeking a couple, Joel and Ester have engaged in threesomes with six different women.

The couple, who asked their last name be withheld for anonymity, represent the iconic image of a threesome– two females and one male. However, threesomes are nearly impossible to generalize. For one thing, there are several types of threesomes– from the ‘typical’ female-male-female, to three males, and all other combinations.

“There’s so much diversity in the reasons why people are engaging in them and what their experience is,” said Vanessa Schick, Ph.D., an assistant research scientist in the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University- Bloomington. “There are sometimes male-female partners inviting a woman into the partnership… sometimes all three people are in a relationship together, sometimes it’s just sex… threesomes differ with each encounter as much as any sexual experience.”

Over time, American societal views on sex have gone through phases. For example, in the 1920s conservative society was upended by the explosion of “flappers”– women expressing their sexuality by dressing in more revealing attire, smoking, dancing and drinking in public. The trend faded and with it, the presence of sex in the public sphere. In the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, people began re-exploring sexuality, and clubs for wife-swapping and group sex sprouted up everywhere. Like the flapper era, the “Swinging 60s” eventually ended, but both had sent a message: People can choose to change or defy social rules regarding sex and sexuality.

Today, it seems that mass media portrays sex with few limitations. There are several reality shows where the basic premise is alcohol-induced, sex-fueled romances. However, it begs the question: is the mass media encouraging or simply portraying ‘atypical’ sexualities and behaviors? Barbara Kanal, a licensed clinical social worker with a Ph.D. who specializes in family therapy, believes it’s primarily the latter.

“It’s not normalizing [‘abnormal’ sexual behavior] but it exposes it, we’re smarter now to know that people do what we don’t think they do, and are what we don’t think they are,” said Kanal, who’s based in Huntington, NY. “I don’t think [mass media] encourages [kinky sex] but… they’re making people aware.”

While the mass media may act as just a window into the world of kinky sex, the Internet acts as both a window and door. Hundreds of websites exist that are geared towards various kink. On Craigslist, there are about 30 daily posts by couples seeking a woman for a three-way. In addition, there is a plethora of sites like AdultFriendFinder.com and Swappernet.com where people can find ‘dates,’ and blogs, websites, and forums devoted to discussing kink.

Ester and Joel have in fact, created their own online space for facilitating threesomes; they formed a meet-up group on Meetup.com, a website designed to help people find groups of like-minded individuals anywhere in the world. Joel felt it could be a solution to the ‘golden unicorn’ problem– that single women weren’t going to swingers events because they were afraid of what would be expected of them.

“I said let’s create a group where there’s not as much pressure…we’ll get everyone hanging out, being friends… and what happens, happens,” said Joel.

There are currently about 30 people in Joel and Ester’s meet-up group, and about 100 more applicants waiting to be approved. But to Joel’s dismay, it’s a large majority of couples and the ‘golden unicorn’ remains a rarity.

**************

Threesomes, in any form, are not a novelty activity of today. The idea of non-monogamous relationships, sexual and/or marital, dates back centuries ago. Ancient vases and artwork often contain orgiastic images. In a research paper published in 2008, entitled “Monogamy and Polygyny (having more than one wife or female mate at the same time) in Greece, Rome, and World History,” Walter Scheidel of Stanford University, wrote: “We find that most societies condoned social and genetic polygamy – almost always in the form of polygynous polygamy… Of 1,154 societies described in the Human Relations Area Files, 93% recognize some degree of socially sanctioned polygyny…”

Generally, American society has looked down on sex beyond the traditional image– between a man and a woman, monogamous, within the confines of marriage. But that image has at times, been publicly challenged– such as during the 1920s and Swinging 60s. There is discourse over how influential mass media can be, with its recent increased portrayal of ‘atypical’ sexual behavior and sexualities like homosexuality and kink.

Doctor Howard Glazer, a clinical sexologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital, agrees with Kanal’s sentiment that mass media has made society more aware of kinky sex but hasn’t actually increased the frequency of it.

“Incidence of occurrence has not changed, but awareness has,” said Glazer. “I think people are more aware of these non-traditional forms of relationships; anything we’re exposed to more, we become less shocked by it.”

But some would argue that just by raising awareness of kink, the mass media is in fact encouraging experimentation.

“In the past when people didn’t hear about things, they thought ‘I don’t want to do that, it’d be wrong…,’ ” said Dr. Katherine Ellin, a psychologist and sex therapist based in Cambridge. “What’s happened in the media is it’s allowed people to feel more okay with doing sexual things that they are interested in.”

If Ellin’s theory is correct, this could mean a change in how society defines ‘normal’ sex. Because one thing that is hardly disputable is how much more of a variety of sexual behavior has appeared across the entertainment industry.

One of the earliest shows known for having its character engage in a threesome is the ever-scandalous Sex and the City (1998). In an unofficial survey of college students, respondents mentioned a number of other shows where they have seen threesomes, such as Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, Friends, and The L Word. Threesomes also appear often in reality shows like the Jersey Shore, and nearly every HBO show– i.e., True Blood and Entourage.

In addition, several full-length films over the past decade or so have had three-way sex scenes, such as the 2012 film, On the Road, the 2009 film Watchmen, and the 2000 film American Psycho.

Songs are another branch of popular culture teeming with threesome references. One such song is Britney Spears’ pop number called “3”. It goes: “Countin’ 1,2,3/ Peter, Paul, and Mary/ Gettin’ down with 3P/ … Merrier the more/ triple fun that way/ Twister on the floor/ what do you say?”

Austin Brown, an R &B artist, has a song “Ménage a Trois” which goes: “Caught in between/ Who can be mean? / I`ve got just one, / But with two there`s more fun./ Why miss ménage a trois?”

The long list of other songs referencing threesomes includes “Bounce” by Timbaland, “I U She” by Peaches, and  “Love With the 3 of Us” by Stereo Total.

Due to the lack of statistics on how many people engaged in threesomes at any given time period, it’s hard to say how much more frequently threesomes occur today. But although there’s room for debate about whether it acts more as a door or window into that world, it’s basically indisputable that the prevalence of threesomes/kink in mass media today is unprecedented.

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There are various motivations why groups, and the individuals within them, engage in a threesome.

In the case of one college senior– call her Linda, as she requested anonymity– the reason she engaged in a threesome in her junior year with a male and female friend was different than that of her friend’s. “I had been thinking about it for a while and the time and the guy was right… the one thing that pushed me over the edge was that I didn’t want to look lame, I wanted to be that person who was down for whatever,” said Linda. For her [girl] friend, Linda said it was about getting back at her ex-boyfriend.

Many people engaging in threesomes are young and single like Linda and her friends. But a good number are couples who do it for their relationship. A woman who would not reveal her name but calls herself BoredHouseWifey on the forum-based site Experienceproject.com, arranged a threesome, in part because of personal curiosity, but primarily as a birthday gift for her husband. This concept of gift-giving is a frequent theme in threesomes. In 1998, the late Dr. Arno Karlen, a psychoanalyst, conducted extensive research on threesomes, and published his work in the form of a book called Threesomes: Studies of Sex Power and Intimacy. In Chapter 7, Karlen wrote: “Accounts of threesomes as sexual gifts popped up regularly in this study. Usually it was a woman bringing another woman… to a man she liked…”

Couples also engage in threesomes for other reasons. “Some couples I’ve worked with, they’ve looked at bringing in a third person in feeling like they need to spice up the relationship, bring a different energy or perspective,” said Monica Levine, a clinical social worker and sex therapist. “It’s a sense of experimentation, adventure, they felt they’ve exhausted the physicalities, dimensions of their relationship.”

Often there are more psychological reasons/motivations going on behind the scenes, such as a search for self-assurance or, as BarbaraKanal mentioned, the tactic of triangling a relationship– adding a third person to “diffuse the intensity” between oneself and their primary partner as a way of ensuring their attachment to them.

The only clear indication that someone might be willing/interested to engage in threesomes is their level of open-mindedness and libido. “People with very strong libidos need more adventure so tend to have threesomes, go to nude bars, be simulated by hardcore porn,” said Kanal.

In his study, Arno Karlen did find parallels in how his subjects were raised, what and when their first exposure to sexual intimacy was like, family dynamics, etc. He found that many people who’d engaged in threesomes or triads– longer term relations– had had troubled childhoods, on some level.

One person who falls into this category is Kimberly Harrington, an 18-year-old with a very promiscuous past. Her family moved to New York City from a small town in Kansas and she began ninth grade as a 13-year-old. She soon became friends with people much older than herself, becoming exposed to the world of sex, drugs, and alcohol. She lost her virginity at age 14, and entered a negative cycle; she would sneak out to have sex and party, her parents would get furious with her, she would have sex to cope with their anger, and they would get mad that she was a ‘slut’. She ran away often, and many of these nights away from home led to things like threesomes and sex with strangers who were usually much older than herself. She’s gone to therapy for her apparent sex addiction and has stabilized her life; she and her boyfriend are currently scouring Craigslist for a woman to join them in bed– which would be her first threesome with another female.

Kimberly is an extreme case; her issues led her down a promiscuous path that unsurprisingly included threesomes. But there are plenty of people more like Derick, a 33-year-old Pennsylvania native who withheld his last name. Derick, who never drinks (beyond wine with dinner) or has done drugs, and has a good relationship with his family, has had two male-female-male threesomes (one while in college and one in his 20s with a married couple) and two threesomes with himself and two women (college).

Ester and Joel are two other people with very different stories. Both were raised in middle class, religious families– hers Catholic, his Seventh Day Adventist. But her parents were restrictive. She’d sneak out and lie to go to parties or clubs. She lost her virginity at age 18 with her boyfriend, and she has only had three sexual partners in her lifetime. Ester’s still-married parents were always intimate and she has a very warm relationship with them and her siblings.

Joel was a “latch-key” kid– his parents weren’t home after school and so he experimented with alcohol and drugs at an early age. He lost his virginity at age 15 with his then-girlfriend, and he’s had about 45 sexual partners in his lifetime. His parents were divorced and his relationship with them is and has been very damaged.

Joel revealed that in some way, his parent’s divorce is one reason he wanted to explore threesomes. “Traditional marriage just doesn’t work, it gets kind of boring after a while,” said Joel. “What were our parents doing? They were probably just cheating. I know my father was cheating… Marriage just didn’t work and sex is a big part of that.”

This idea of extradyadic relations “beating divorce/cheating” tends to come up in explanations of open relationships or threesomes. “Basically he has a desire to sleep with other people, have other sex experience and rather than going about them behind the partner’s back and risking putting a rift in the relationship, he’s trying to be open and honest…” said Dr. Carita Anderson, a psychologist and sex therapist based out of Arlington, of Joel’s attitude.

But according to experts, that’s not a fool-proof plan. People can’t always separate sex from emotions, even though they convince themselves otherwise. “Most people going into [a threesome] aren’t prepared for how they’re going to feel and how their partner’s going to feel,” said Anderson.

Jealousy and competitiveness, for example, are strong human emotions that are hard to keep out of any kind of relationship, though some manage them better than others.

“Jealousy is an emotion and like any emotion it can be extreme and dangerous…,” said family therapist and clinical social worker Barbara Kanal. “It can be stimulating and exciting… but can turn into something different and become problematic.”

Things get messy when people aren’t actually as prepared, emotionally mature, or into it as they think they are. For example, sex therapist and clinical social worker, Monica Levine, dealt with a couple in which the husband wanted to invite another man in, thinking he’d be turned on by watching his wife have sex with the man, but it turned into jealousy on the husband’s part, and he held it against his wife.

                BoredHouseWifey, on Experienceproject.com, said her husband became jealous when she continued spending time with the other woman. Another site user, who would not reveal his name but goes by Wufpackj, also had a negative reaction after his threesome. “It makes for an awkward morning after,” he wrote. “It’s never as hot as anyone thought and someone always gets left out. I think it’s better left as a fantasy.”

Like sex between two people, the during is often great, but the aftermath is not always what people expected or hoped.

*****************

Swingers, interviewed by Arno Karlen for his book, who experienced both threesomes and group sex say there is something about triadic sex that makes it so unique, so appealing to people.

“It was extremely passionate in all of [my threesomes], they were very intense, relatively long sessions… I mean it was a very intense, passionate, a very physically enjoyable time,” said Derick.

Experts suggest the appeal for kink is in the excitement of doing the forbidden. Doctor Katherine Ellin offered an explanation of why threesomes are so especially stimulating to people.

“For some people there’s enormous comfort in being held by two people, having more than one person to love and be connected with,” said Ellin. “With four there’s too much going on, with two it’s reciprocal but its’ not two people taking care of you.”

Ester worries about her and her husband’s sexual health and admits fear of becoming jealous or abandoned, but the worry doesn’t outweigh the reward that threesomes bring.

Of her favorite part about threesomes, Ester said: “I think it’s the after, it feels more close… the sex is better between the two of us afterwards because we’re already so stimulated.”

Even though it’s no easy task to find the single female– or golden unicorn– and they are short on free time with a baby in the mix, Joel hopes to continue engaging in three-way sex, as he feels acting out fantasies like threesomes is important.

“You can’t just have sex in bed all the time,” said Joel. “It gets old after a while, you gotta keep it interesting.”

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Fall TV Shows: Freshman Successes and Shipwrecks

At the start of the Fall 2012 television premiere season, a plethora of new comedies, dramas, etc premiered from different networks across the board.

Huffington Post began speculating early which shows wouldn’t survive to see a second season. The ones they tagged to flop based on premiere viewing numbers and ratings? CBS’ Partners, NBC’s Animal Practice and Guys with Kids, Fox’s The Mob Doctor, and ABC’s The Neighbors. 

So let’s take a look at what got cut short, what is airing its season finale as its series finale, and what made it through the first half of its Freshman semester.

THE SHIPWRECKS

CUT SHORT—  TV Guide’s Natalie Abrams reported that the CW has cancelled Emily Owens, M.D., its new medical dramedy starring Mamie Gummer. The network will finish airing the initial 13 episodes it had lined up but won’t pick up the back 9 episodes.

CANCELLED AFTER THE FIRST SEASON- MTV will not be going forward with a second season of it’s remake of the British hit teen comedy The InBetweeners, according to Deadline reporter Nellie Andreava.

 

APPARENTLY CUT SHORT- TVLine reported that Fox’s The Mob Doctor, will air the last of its initial 13-episode run at the end of December, and that while Fox has not announced a decision, “the writing is on the wall.”

 

 

 

 

CUT SHORT, BUT NOT YET LAID IN A GRAVE?- Deadline reported that ABC has cancelled it’s new drama, Last Resort… or has it. The initial 13 episodes of the show will air as planned, but the network did not order the back end episodes, and yet co-creater/executive producer Shawn Ryan Tweeted “Technically #LastResort isn’t cancelled but I understand why some are using the term. Still 6 more eps to air. Miracle unlikely but possible.”

666 Park Avenue, ABC’s spooky drama couldn’t find a strong enough following, and is now in the same predicament as Last Resort. It will have 13 episodes air but did not get a back order.

However, Deadline said ABC  “is not shutting the door on the shows completely, formally keeping them in consideration for next season.” PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN. I am going to devote a later post to talking about these two shows, particularly Last Resort, because they deserves their own post.

CUT SHORT- According to Deadline, CBS has cancelled its freshman comedy Partners, and legal drama Made in Jersey. I’m particularly upset about the Partners cancellation, as I enjoyed the comedy about two life-long friends– one gay, one straight– who are business partners and balance their long relationship with romantic ones. Plus Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill) co-starred as the fiance of the straight partner, and I love her. What makes me most upset is that Partners was cancelled while NBC’s comedy The New Normal made it, despite having forced jokes, a whole lot of incessant babbling, and relying on tired stereotypes to serve as character backgrounds and humor. I don’t hate New Normal but I think Partners was much more naturally funny and its characters were much more like-able. People have terrible taste in shows.

THE SUCCESSES

PICKED UP FOR FULL FIRST SEASON:

— TV Guide’s Natalie Abrams also reported that the CW has declared that Arrow, and Beauty and the Beast will get full first seasons.

– Entertainment Weekly reported in October that NBC’s comedy Go On! starring Friends alum Matthew Perry had already been picked up for a full first season.

———–

In mid- November, the Washington Post published a list of winners and losers of the Fall season.

**Winners**

NBC’s Revolution (YAY). According to the Washington Post article, Revolution is the top rated new TV show and the breakout hit of the season.

CBS’  Elementary. The Sherlock Holmes drama starring Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller had ratings almost as good as Revolution, according to the Post.

CBS’ Vegas. The quasi-western show set in 1960s Las Vegas stars Dennis Quaid, and has successfully managed to grab the audience of the shows airing right before it–NCIS & NCIS: Los Angeles. 

The New Normal (ugh) and Go On! (YAY). 

CW’s superhero show Arrow.

Fox’s comedy The Mindy Project.

Its losers list consists of shows already mentioned as being freshman shipwrecks.

Check out the list to see more about the winners and losers, and see which shows the Post said were hanging on or the jury was still out on. Or see TV Guide’s list of all (new and old) shows that are ending, returning or were picked up for more episodes/seasons.

This is always the worst time of year for TV shows– when I find out which of my new fave shows are goners. These cancellations didn’t hurt me as much as past ones. In the past couple years I lost a lot of shows to network cancellations but this time I only have two to grieve over. I’m sad for Partners, but that’s mostly for Sophia Bush’s sake. I can do without it. But I am very saddened by the loss of 666 Park Avenue, and DEVASTATED by Last Resort, which you’ll see why in a future post.

At least a good number of shows were successes– so far, that is. Here’s hoping for their continued success and for the one-day return of Last Resort and 666.

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Midseason Finale Review/Recaps Part 2: Revenge

I don’t mean to be focusing only on ABC shows, but what can I say, they know TV.

Revenge is ABC’s semi-new hit drama that airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. after Once Upon a Time. Its second season aired in September and will continue in January.

Young Amanda and David Clarke
http://bit.ly/VmCk34

The show is the story of Amanda Clarke’s quest for harsh, total revenge against the Graysons, the family who destroyed her own when they framed her father for murder and fraud. Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny)  and her father, David Clarke (James Tupper)  had been business partners but when Grayson falls responsible for a plane crash that kills dozens, he pins it on Clarke, pays off everyone and anyone he has to to make sure he himself is cleared, and Clarke is sent to prison where he’s later killed, his daughter sent to a children’s psych ward. She is put through the foster system and ends up in juvenile hall. At some point she learns her father really was innocent and becomes determined to avenge his death. She enlists a fellow juvy girl, Emily Thorne to help her. The women swap identities and Clarke returns to the Hamptons, where she and her father once lived and where the Graysons spend their summers, under the name Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp).

            

[“Amanda Clarke”                                                                        “Emily Thorne”]

She seduces Daniel (Joshua Bowman), the son of Conrad and Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) into a relationship to launch her plan. She’s got help from Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann), a tech-genius with his own multi-billion dollar company NolCorp, for whom David Clarke was like a father. The two are a perfect team and the plan progresses through the first and second season, but emotions and unexpected interference throws hitches and setbacks to the plans at every turn. Fake Emily must deal with lying to her long-lost love, childhood friend Jack Porter (Nick Wechsler) and losing any hope of being with him when the real Emily returns under the identity of Amanda Clarke (Margarita Levieva) and Jack falls for her. Fake Emily must also fight to ignore the real feelings she develops for Daniel.

 

[“Emily Thorne” and Daniel Grayson                    Jack Porter and “Amanda Clarke”]

You getting all this?

It sounds a little ridiculous and at times it really is— I’m starting to get a little sick of the insanity and melodrama to be honest, and yet I can’t stop watching. I’m in that kinda wanna be done but too hooked to not stick with it phase, so I’ll keep watching even though I really just want it to end so real Amanda and Jack can be together.

          

[The real Amanda Clarke (“Emily Thorne”) and Jack Porter now and then]

The mid-season finale was set to the tone of the show, as it was complete with all the ingredients of the show itself: sex, scandal, deception, hostile takeovers and betrayals, threats, discovery, romance, alliances and surprise. The Buzz recapped the episode quite well and even had a preview of the rest of season 2.

For some reason there aren’t really any reviews of the mid-season finale, but check out another recap by Zap2It.com for more understanding of what happened.

One criticism I have for the show besides its excessive craziness is the Initiative. What I know about the Initiative: It’s the real culprit behind the murder David Clarke was framed for. It is more evil than Conrad Grayson– and more powerful; it pulls Grayson’s strings like a puppeteer and it’s hell bent on protecting the secret of its existence and its crime, so much so that it’s poised to strike Daniel now that he controls Grayson Global. What I don’t know: What the h-e-double hockey sticks is the Initiative and why and how are the responsible for the plane crash and deaths? Maybe I missed it or forgot but I feel like the Initiative really hasn’t been explained as much as I would like. I’m kind of just like okay they’re bad guys and just accepting my lack of more knowledge but I hope the show comes to explain them more– and soon. In the meantime I’ll try to find out if I just missed that explanation.

The Initiative spies on Daniel Grayson via the cam they set up in his new office
http://bit.ly/YOJfst

Anyway, again I wish I could provide more reviews but there doesn’t seem to be any, so instead, Younghollywood.com has a preview of the next season in terms of what’s in store for Nolan Ross and the key characters he has a relationship with, as told by Gabriel Mann himself.

The concerned, devious, wealthy, and ever-loyal Nolan Ross
http://bit.ly/R82laY

The Examiner foreshadows what’s to come in the rest of the season– Sunday, before the finale, they ran a story that Jack’s boat “The Amanda” would sink, presumably with someone on board, as earlier in the season there was a flash forward of Emily searching the underwater wreckage of the boat and finding a severed arm with a wedding band. The boat sinking didn’t happen; the report was inaccurate, but it could be what happens in January, and the article raised some other good questions.

Well even though Revenge is getting a bit much for me, like I said I’m stuck. I can’t wait to see what happens to Nolan, Emily, Amanda, the Grayson’s and co when season 2 continues.

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Midseason Finale Reviews/Recaps Part 1: Once Upon A Time

What do you get when you mix a great plot, great actors, and Adam Horowitz, one of the men behind TV’s greatest show ever Lost?  The answer is TV’s possible second greatest show ever, Once Upon A Time. 

The show, which launched it’s first season in 2011, is ABC’s gift to fantasy/ fairy tale fans everywhere.

Emma and Henry
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Plot: A woman named Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison, House, MD.) is brought to a small town in Maine called Storybrooke when Henry (Jared Gilmore), the son she gave up for adoption, shows up at her door and convinces her to take him home. The two become attached and she stays in town, but their relationship is strained by Emma’s refusal to believe Henry’s idea that the townspeople are really fairy tale characters who were brought from another land by a curse and can’t remember their true identities. Henry insists Emma is the long lost daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin, Big Love, He’s Just Not That Into You) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and the savior meant to break the curse.

Charming and Snow
http://bit.ly/UFzH05

SPOILER ALERT

Season 1 ended with Henry’s daring attempt to make Emma believe him once and for all. When his adoptive mother Regina (Lana Parrilla), the town mayor whom he says is Snow White’s evil stepmother, tries to get rid of Emma with a poisonous apple pie, Henry eats it instead and goes into a sleeping curse coma. He wakes at Emma’s kiss and she finally believes him. The spell breaks and everyone remembers their fairy tale character selves. But just as it seems it’s happily ever after, a purple haze rushes towards the town; It’s magic that Mr. Gold, or Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle), the powerful, manipulative man who rivals Regina in evilness, has called forth from the other land.

Mr. Gold/ Rumple
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Red Riding Hood/ Ruby
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Sound complicated enough? Well I haven’t even gotten to the best part about the show.The show isn’t just a re-imagining of Snow White, it’s a re-imagining and combination of all fairy tales and Disney movies ever. At this point in the second season, which aired September 30, we have met The Mad Hatter, Belle, Little Red Riding Hood and Granny, The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Phillip, Mulan, Sir Lancelot, Pinocchio, Hansel and Gretel,  the seven dwarfs, Jiminy Cricket, Geppetto, the Blue Fairy, Dr. Frankenstein (called Dr. Whale), the Giant at the top of the beanstalk, Maleficent, and a few others. I can’t wait to see who we have yet to meet!

  

Mulan and Hook

The plot is dynamic, extensive, solid, exciting. Now, the point of this post: the mid-season finale.

In the mid-season finale on December 2, airing in its regular time slot of 8 p.m., good vanquishes evil– or so we think. Snow White/Mary Margaret and Emma had been sucked into the fairy tale land when they fought off an evil creature that came into Storybrooke with the purple haze, leaving husband/ father Prince Charming and son/grandson Henry behind. In the mid-season finale, they had to fight off Cora– Regina’s even more evil mother– and Captain Hook to get into the portal that would bring them back to their family. They succeed, but in the last scene we see Cora (Barbara Hershey) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) approaching the town via Hook’s ship. Looks like the war isn’t over, but round 2 will be at a new venue. Mr. Gold and Regina had been willing to risk killing Emma and Snow just to ensure Cora didn’t get to Storybrooke– she’s that evil. So we know some big stuff is about to go down next season. But we also know Cora can’t rip out Emma’s heart– she’s super powerful since she’s the product of true love (okay that sounds corny, but it’s cool), so our good guys have a chance.

Cora and Hook headed to Storybrooke
http://bit.ly/YzJc51

My thoughts: I loved it. They fed all our emotions. They made us happy the women made it home, scared the evil Cora is on her way, excited during the battle. It was predictable in that the good guys made it home, but unpredictable in other ways.

But my favorite part is what they did with two characters: Regina and Hook. This season they have made us hate Regina, but also feel bad for her and on a small level, root for her. She’s only evil because Cora hurt her so bad and she really does care about Henry. This last episode she almost killed Snow and Emma to protect Henry from the threat of Cora– showing simultaneously, her evil and caring side. She also risked her own life to save them for Henry’s sake.

Hook, a newer character, has already been portrayed to be evil but with a soft side. When Emma was making him lead them to the beanstalk to get the compass they needed to get home, he formed a connection with her. I think he was genuine in being willing to help them, as long as he got to go with them to Storybrooke (he’s got a vendetta against Mr. Gold). Even after Emma betrayed him and he teamed up with Cora, he saved Sleeping Beauty’s heart from being sucked into the abyss– even though he’d been the one to rip it out. He’s headed to Storybrooke with Cora, but I have a feeling that when it comes down to it, he’d help Emma defeat her. I can’t wait to see where they take his character. Duality of characters sometimes infuriates me because I don’t like being unsure if I should like them, but in this case it makes the show all the more awesome.

Here’s what other reviewers had to say:

Fanbolt.com said: “Wow! Talk about an epic winter finale of Once Upon A Time! After being led in every direction possible, leaving us with countless questions, and having shippers everywhere sob… I, for one, was extremely pleased at how they tied in all of the loose pieces. Honestly, I was worried about how this would go. There were so many questions, so little time. Yet, the writers managed to provide us with everything the audience could have asked for.”

Screencrave.com gave the finale episode “Queen of Hearts” a 9/10 rating and said: “Queen of Hearts” was one of the most enjoyable and well-paced episodes, not just this season, but overall. Some threads from the first half were tied up neatly as new plots were hinted at. The worst thing about this week’s episode is knowing we have to wait until January for another one.”

Blastmagazine.com wasn’t as impressed by the season or the episode. They thought the plot was at a stalemate and the writers were just working off a check list. They hope the return of the season will bring the good that was. Clearly, I think they are crazy but, to each his own.

The Huffington Post broke down some of the character relationships of this season and got the cast to hint at what’s coming when the show returns in January.

Think you might like this show? Check out clips from the episode.

January cannot come fast enough. I eagerly await the return of what might be favorite new show. (With contenders being Revolution and Last Resort).

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Website Examination and Presentation

As I said in my presentation to the class, I don’t really have a go-to website for my television and celebrity news. I usually just find links to stories on my Facebook news feed and follow them. Or I have a different place for each need: IMDB.com for my trailers, whosdatedwho for some juice on what celebrity has had a relationship with who; there’s no blog that I’ve been a frequent, obsessive visitor to.

But partly for the project and partly because I was inspired by a classmate’s introduction of the AV Club, I set about finding a future go-to website. Of course, I found a TON.

The one I decided to do my presentation on was Zap2it.com. The site is run under the parent company of Tribune Media Services. It has an editorial staff of nine people at its base in LA and is overseen by general manager Rebecca Baldwin.

The website appealed to me because it has everything a TV addict could want: TV listings, ratings, news, reviews, previews/clips, even some full episodes of shows. It also has celebrity gossip/news and information on movies and DVDs. The reviews are short, enjoyable reads. Even if they’re harsh and/or you don’t agree with them, they are humorous and likable enough. For example, the review of Liz and Dick, the Lifetime biopic starring Lindsay Lohan, isn’t very gentle, but it was an amusing read and I liked the passionate opinion. They have a couple reviews a month– which is something they could work on; I’d like to see a few more. But they make up for their lack of reviews by staying on top of entertainment news. Just today they’ve posted at least about 10 articles and they’ve covered all the trending topics like Dancing with the Stars, and Two and a Half Men star Angus T. Jones’ apology for his comments insulting the nature of his own show and urging people not to watch it. There is so much content on this site, you could spend hours on it (though that might not be a good thing for you).

But the site has a problem: Between all the ads and scattered content everywhere it is extremely overwhelming and distracting. The home page has ads flickering and moving all over the place and it’s quite chaotic. They need to clean that up somehow.

Perhaps they could take some lessons from this other entertainment blog site I found, Givememyremote.com. This site was started in Boston by Kath Skerry and though it became big enough to move to LA, it’s still a relatively small site. It’s simplistic and limited in features but the interface is beautiful. It’s cute, attractive and neat. The ads and extra ‘stuff’ are neatly placed on the side so as not to distract from the actual articles. I really like the interface and it’s a good place to go if one simply wants to be quickly and easily informed of the latest TV News.

But if you can look past the messy interface and you want a lot of things available to you, then Zap2it is a great site. It connects to users via Facebook, Twitter, etc. People can like, Tweet, share, email, and Pinterest a story that they read and enjoy. There is a comment section as well, though I believe another improvement they can make is to make the comment section more visible– it’s placed so far down on the page you don’t even know it’s there; it’s after the related articles, other news, and junk; they could at least make the tab under the headline that says ‘comments’ (which takes you right to them) a little more noticeable. Check out a sample story from the site so you know what I mean.

The only other thing I’d suggest the site managers do to improve it is to include a feature like that of a site called Sidereel.com. On Sidereel, you can look up shows and hit a ‘track show’ button. This means every day Sidereel sends you a list of shows that are airing that day, the day after, and that aired the day before. They say the show, episode name, and air time. It’s a great feature and I think adding that to Zap2it would make the site even more incredible.

I plan on visiting Zap2it from now on to get all the info I need and want on the entertainment world. The Internet gives us so many choices for interest sites, it’s hard to figure out which ones to go to. I’m sure I’ll come across one I like even better some day, but for now Zap2it is what I’ll do.

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TV show throwback: Dawson’s Creek

Since I did an old movie, I thought I should discuss an old TV show as well.

In September 2012, I watched the entire series of Dawson’s Creek via Netflix. It was a show I missed when it was actually on but always wanted to see, since it’s such a staple show of the late 90s. It lasted six seasons, airing in 1998 and concluding in 2003, and it produced two of TV’s most legendary couples– one of the most tortured yet addicting love triangles: Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) and Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), and Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson) and Joey Potter.

It is a coming of age story that revolves around the life-long friends Dawson, Joey, and Pacey, and how their relationship becomes complicated when puberty hits and they begin to explore sex, romance and the pursuit of their dreams.  TV.com summarizes the show perfectly. The author also wrote “The show quickly launched the careers of its stars, turning them into world known celebrities and, in the words of The WB, defined a network.”

Joey, Dawson, Jen and Pacey
http://bit.ly/QI12yc

The trio becomes a foursome, much to Joey’s chagrin, when Jen Lindley comes to town– a big-chested, pretty blonde from NYC trying to get a fresh start after her wild side destroyed her relationship with her parents. Dawson pines for Jen (Academy Award winner Michelle Williams), prompting Joey to realize her true feelings for Dawson, the boy-next-door (across the lake) whom she’d spent countless nights with as friends watching movies.

The group becomes larger when siblings Jack (Kerr Smith) and Andie McPhee (Meredith Monroe) comes to town. Jack develops a strong friendship with Jen, and Andie and Pacey embark on a deep relationship.

Andie, Jack, Jen, Joey, Pacey and Dawson
http://bit.ly/R8BuM5

Over the course of the show, which takes the characters from high school to college [where Andie departs but Audrey (Busy Phillips) is introduced to the mix as Joey’s roommate], Joey and Dawson make attempts at a relationship but the stars never seem to align for them. One pines for the other who is taken, then the roles reverse. Or they get together but then some tragic event tears them apart again. Amidst their attempts, they date other people.

Jack, Jen, Dawson, Joey, Pacey, Audrey
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For Joey, the most significant one was Pacey. Though their relationship had been one of mere tolerance for the sake of mutual friend Dawson, they find their passionate distaste for one another turning into pure passion. Their romance destroys Dawson, though eventually the friendships are mended.

Joey and Pacey
http://bit.ly/UfjYQD

Kerr Smith’s Jack McPhee
http://bit.ly/QI2iBr

Dawson’s Creek had everything. It had an epic love triangle, an epic will-they-won’t-they mystery in Dawson and Joey, and it had one of the first gay characters in a semi-lead role– Jack McPhee. Rolling Stone included McPhee on their list of the 15 most groundbreaking gay roles on television.  In 2007, AfterElton.com reported that McPhee had made Reader’s Choice list of the top 25 gay TV characters. The list explained that “the character can boast having shared the first onscreen gay male kiss on network television.”

EW.online’s Ken Tucker wrote a review at the show’s inception, in 1998, that wasn’t very favorable. But in it, he wrote why the show was then seen as bold and semi-radical. In today’s world, with the existence of shows like the Jersey Shore and Secret Life of the American Teenager, it would be seen as child’s play, but back then, the prevalence in the show of sex or references to that and other teenage sins, while not really new or shocking, was still seen as a bit risque. Tucker writes, “Much has been written about Creek’s sexual frankness, without giving [Kevin] Williamson credit for the cagey way he’s found to be naughty enough for some ratings-grabbing controversy: He flips convention, making the teens the thoughtful moral arbiters and the grown-ups either clueless bluenoses or reckless bed bunnies. And one of the better things about the show is that it’s not afraid to make its young protagonists look the self-absorbed hypocrites teens can so often be.”

The show had a massive following, and the ending was in a way, chosen by that following. All series long– for me– and from what I’ve been told, for the fans who actually watched it when it was on, everyone expected Joey and Dawson to end up together. In fact, that’s how the show’s writer, Kevin Williamson, always intended it. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Williamson explains exactly how and why the series ended the way it did— with the surprise twist that Joey chose Pacey and she and Dawson decided that they didn’t have to be lovers to remain in love and forever connected.

“I wanted Dawson and Joey together till the end of time,” said Williamson. “Originally, I really was going to go down that Dawson and Joey route and something didn’t feel right about it… One of the reasons I wanted to write Dawson’s Creek to begin with was to write my version of the teen drama…This show was supposed to be the spin of the teen drama and if Dawson and Joey had ended up together, that wouldn’t have been the spin…Dawson and Joey are soul mates forever [but] your soul mate is not necessarily your romantic love.”

Dawson and Joey
http://bit.ly/VnfFUi

Julie Plec, who worked with Williamson on Dawson’s Creek said, of how they chose Pacey in the end, “[Williamson] had been agonizing over this… He walked in and he was like, “I got it. I got it. Joey chooses Pacey because her childish love for Dawson has given way to her grown-up love for Pacey but Dawson still gets what he wants. Dawson gets what [he wanted when we] started the show, he gets to work with Spielberg. Dawson’s eternal wish, as a character, was delivered so Dawson found his happiness.”

I was torn to be honest. I loved both couples and I think I would have been happy with either one, but I think Pacey needed Joey more and there was more passion there– with Joey and Dawson it was more history, compatibility and dependence that motivated them; it was a good night’s sleep– with Pacey it was a wonderful dream.

Joey and Pacey
http://bit.ly/TCZ4MH

I wish I’d seen the show when it was actually on because as much as I loved it in September, it would have been that much better. Dawson’s Creek is definitely a show that deserves a throwback, it’s one to share with your kids when you deem they’re old enough for it.

Joey, Pacey, Dawson (and Jen) forever.

Dawson, Joey, and Pacey
http://bit.ly/Vz3b23

BONUS:

Check out the cast of Dawson’s Creek then and now at US Weekly.com 

Dawson’s fans have been begging for a reunion for a long time. And though Van Der Beek’s new show, Don’t trust the B—- in Apartment 23 teased that there would be a reunion via that show, it was only a trick and it didn’t happen. Joshua Jackson has said it wouldn’t happen, and he’s not that into it. But his other cast members, Holmes, Van Der Beek and Williams, have mentioned their interest on interviews before, so maybe it could happen. But hey, here’s hoping. After all, Pacey and Joey taught us to never say never right?

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