All posts by Susannah Sharpless

Bad Men, Mad Women

Our television schedules have always been packed with crazy characters, but recently there’s been an uptick in characters with diagnosed crazy. Television shows that feature mentally ill characters have recently been receiving a lot of positive attention from critics, experts, and audiences alike. Many have identified this growth in depictions of mentally ill characters, and most pieces on the topic have been congratulatory, and in some sense, rightly so: some of these shows have been doing an excellent job of portraying mental illness accurately. But for all the good that real, human portrayals of mental illness on TV can do, this trend is troubling on a whole different level. Looking at the array of mentally ill characters on TV right now and in recent years, it’s impossible not to notice that the majority of them are female.

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Buffer Oscar Predictions

With the Oscars so close, the Buffer editors love nothing more than to debate the outcomes of each category. Here are our predictions for the winners of some of the top categories for this year’s Academy Awards.

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“Beyoncé” Killed the Radio Star: A Review of a Visual Album

Part of the reason “Beyoncé” surprised everyone was that it was not only an audio album released without fanfare, but a “visual album”’ as well. While I’m still not exactly sure what that means, I know I can’t listen to “Drunk in Love” without envisioning Bey’s windmilling arms or hear “Partition” without picturing Joan Smalls’ red lips forming the word “Yoncé,” so, whatever it is, it works. But these videos aren’t only standard pop music video fare. “Beyoncé” as visual album is a smart, complicated investigation of viewer and viewed, performer and performance. An attentive watcher will see an impressive alchemic performance with Beyoncé as a powerful magician, turning her beauty into power: over her life, over her work, and over her audience.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading. Video-by-video, here’s my take.

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Nashville and My Achy, Breaky Heart: A Review of the First Half of Season 2

It pains me to have to write this. I have staked my reputation on ABC’s Nashville being a good, enjoyable show. In many a gathering of sophisticated, cultured folk I have loudly proclaimed its virtues, defended its honor, called it “great,” called it “smart,” called it “worth watching.” But as season two of Nashville comes out of its midway hiatus I’m no longer so sure it’s worth even that, and I’m so sad, and I’m so sorry.

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The Illogical, Lyrical Morality of Jules and Jim

Though you’d never guess from the title, the most dynamic character in Jules and Jim is not Jules or Jim, but Catherine. Played by a passionate Jeanne Moreau, it is she who makes François Truffaut’s 1962 film—based on Henri Pierre-Roché’s 1953 novel of the same name (which Truffaut purchased on a whim from a street-side Paris book vendor)—great. Catherine is a charming and flirtatious woman who flouts social norms and bewitches the titular characters (Oskar Werner’s ruddy Jules and Henri Serre’s severe Jim) in her quest for lasting happiness. Characterized by jump cuts and sudden transitions, Catherine’s story manages to be one of the most compelling things about a film memorable for its lovable if not entirely sympathetic characters, its ironic, fast-paced, and humorous style, and its powerful, understated symbolism. Overall, I was floored.

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Salinger: “Somebody I Could Respect”

When you, in your freshman year English class, read Holden Caulfield for the first time and came to class the next day and begged your teacher to tell you more about this Salinger dude because he seriously blew your mind, she smiled and said certain words: “recluse,” “private,” “camera-shy,” “hermit,” “genius.” Then you did some Googling and you saw these words over and over again in reviews and interviews. A story formed in your head. When you re-read Catcher in the Rye or read for the first time Salinger’s other stories—which you loved even more than Catcher, and from which you memorized passages you would have tattooed on yourself had your parents let you—you were enamored, consciously or subconsciously, with an image of this man in a snow-covered cabin in the New Hampshire mountains.

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