Not Everything Has to Be Dark

Not Everything Has to Be Dark

We don't always need to see a gritty reimagining, especially when the source material doesn't lend itself to one.
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I've said before we're in an era where everything gets remade or rebooted or relaunched. At this point it's practically unavoidable, especially when it comes to adapting stories or trying to cash in on nostalgia. Sometimes it works (Doctor Who, Spider-Man: Homecoming), other times we wonder why they went that way for their project when the original was just fine. This leads to many new takes on previous works as having to be “different” which is pretty much code for “dark and gritty” tone. That's not to say some things work well with that tone, but other times one has to look at something and ask whether or not it needs to be like that, or if it's just trying too hard to be edgy.

When The Dark Knight came out in 2008, people praised it for being realistic and gritty, making the audience feel like Gotham City could be a real place with a way-too-high crime rate. However, this caused Hollywood to think that the reason it was successful was because it was darker than previous Batman movies (sadly, everybody forgets Batman Begins, the one The Dark Knight is a sequel to), so studios looked at what they had and tried to go darker with it. The 2010 remake of Nightmare on Elm Street changed Freddy Krueger's origin and design just to make it more “real” and “grim” when the original film did that just fine because of how Wes Craven handled the story, and MTV launched their adaptation of the 1985 comedy Teen Wolf, as a serious character drama – and while the latter received good reviews and lasted several seasons, its tone was so far off from the source material that one could easily see them as two different projects altogether. On the opposing side is Sherlock, which took classic Sherlock Holmes stories and re-imagined them in the modern era, sometimes making them more grounded in reality, and thus a more gritty style. That works because the stories themselves allow for it, unlike taking comedy films and trying to turn them into a serious matter.

Superhero media also got this treatment, some for the better, others for the worst. Logan was in production long before Deadpool, and was designed as a grim and violent portrayal of Wolverine, while at the same time being a story about mortality, and is widely considered one of the best films in the X-Men series, if not the genre as a whole. Two years prior to this, the same studio that released Logan came out with what is usually considered one of the worst superhero films, Fantastic Four, or Fant4stic if you want to avoid confusion with the 2005-2007 series (and yes, you do). Fant4stic is a darker interpretation of the Fantastic Four mythos, which is exactly what a Fantastic Four movie should not be. It's as if they had a tone they wanted first, then demanded a script fit the tone by any means necessary. And yeah, sometimes a tone is something to aim for – if you're doing an MCU film, there's a specific tone and style for the franchise, but at the same time, you can't go in saying it's going to be grim, dark, and gritty because you can. The DCEU has this issue, with projects like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being a very grounded film that takes itself just a bit too seriously, whereas Suicide Squad didn't take itself seriously enough. Warner Brothers got involved in the final cut of Justice League, demanding it be made more light-hearted, despite contrasting hard with the previous films. A Batman film should be darker than a Superman one, but making the Superman one tonally closer to the former causes a split between the filmmakers and the established character – I personally enjoyed Man of Steel, but I can understand why some didn't.

Currently, a popular show is Riverdale, an adaptation of the Archie comics. The comics are pretty family friendly, light in tone, you can just pick one up and read it without needing a ton of backstory. But the show is a murder mystery, darker and much more grim than the source material. Supergirl is on the same network and is a lighter show, why not give the audience one like that? It would make the series stand out from other comic book shows. Even the rebooted comic series is more serious than it has to be, it's Archie not The Breakfast Club. However, Netflix is doing a reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and that's going to be more into the occult and horror aspects of the modern reboot comics, which works because that's something that naturally calls for a darker take. Stranger Things is a dark murder mystery about kids but it's not like it's based on something known for being all-ages and comedic. Riverdale is so disconnected from the comics that it's practically a different franchise altogether. In the age of grim comic book shows, especially on the CW (their DC shows for the most part get as dark as network TV allows), perhaps we needed a more light comedy based on the series. It would stand out and make it different than shows like Stranger Things and Arrow.

Don't get me wrong – I do enjoy a good dark story from time to time. But I don't think we need to see the gritty version of Powerpuff Girls. Some things just work better playing it light and fun than grim and edgy. And there is a happy medium between those two. The DC Animated Universe was overall targeted to an older audience, but wasn't too much for a kid to handle. Or even the MCU franchises can go from something relatively safe like Spider-Man: Homecoming to a very serious spy thriller like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Tones are important to the way one tells the story they want to tell, but getting the right tone is more important than aiming for a preset. Dark has a place, light has a place. What productions need to do is find that middle ground so they can go either way depending on how the audience reacts. That way, we don't end up seeing the Adult Swim reboot of Courage the Cowardly Dog. Actually, nevermind, that would be awesome. Instead, don't go into making a Hulk movie super-grim and dark for no reason, just make the right movie for the right tone.

Cover Image Credit: The CW

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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