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SpoilerTV's Weekly Round Table: 5th Edition


Welcome to another week of Roundtable goodness from your friends at SpoilerTV! I will be filling in for Marko this week. (Please, let me know how I did!) Despite the news being slow this week, I was still able to come up with a few relevant topics for discussion. We will be hearing from myself (LS), Abi (BK), Jamie (JC), Jaz (JZ), Laura (DL), Louis (LR), Milo (MI), Nirat (NA), and Samantha (SB). Here's what we had to say:



1. LIVE-ACTION REBOOTS OF ANIMATED SHOWS & MOVIES

The trailer for Death Note dropped, as well as an announcement of a live action Jetsons movie in development. Despite live action remakes of animated properties pretty much being becoming a forgone conclusion at this point, what do you think of them? Is there any hope that any of them can be satisfying to the source material? And aren't there just some things that can't be captured in live action like they can in animation?


LS: Hollywood is just obsessed with remakes and reboots and re-imaginings that it's hard to root for them when any new announcement seems like it's yet another checkmark in the failure box. Some remakes have been great, there's no denying this, however they seem few and far between, especially with the sheer amount of them that they're making. It's just hard to get a nice ratio going with the frequency of them. Although I have never watched either property, I don't wish them any ill will. I mean, we could've all done without the whitewashing from Death Note, but that's also another Hollywood obsession that's not getting any better. But on another note, I truly believe there are just some things you cannot reboot in a live action setting. Take this year's episode nomination from BoJack Horseman. This was an episode created almost entirely in an underwater setting. There's just no f'ing way they could ever pull this off with real people and real sets! It would probably have to succumb to a CGI-infested mess, and nobody would want this anyway since the original was such a masterpiece! There are many episodes of Rick and Morty and Steven Universe as well that I believe could not be captured properly in a live setting. I doubt I would be around for the time that Hollywood would get so desperate as to have rebooted everything up until the cartoons of the 2010's, but I certainly hope this time never comes. That would be a sad day.

MI: I think the main thing that creators have to ask themselves when making a remake is what can we do that makes this stand out on its own? Is it a shot-for-shot remake in live action? In that case, it's completely unnecessary. But at the same time, finding the balance between something new and something that stays close to the source material is hard, look at how badly The Last Airbender did for example, one of the worst movies I've ever seen and I like M. Night Shyamalan (Check out The Sixth Sense & Split if you haven't already). At the end of the day it all depends on the quality of the end product, if it's good I won't mind, but at the same time, I'd still prefer an original idea.

BK: Have any remakes ever been as good as the originals? I don't think it's possible for that to be the case and considering some of the online controversy that surrounded the Death Note casting (i.e. the whitewashing of the characters) and what has probably been brought up again following the release of the trailer, I don't think it is possible for a remake to live up to the original/source material. People have clear visions of how something should be and if it differs in any way from the original, I think people are quick to jump on those differences and can sometimes see them as a bad thing. You will probably never find a remake or reboot that is independent to the original and therefore there will always be that comparison and there will always be a certain level of disappointment. I think CGI helps bridge the gap between live action and animation, but they will be tonally different so there might be certain elements that can't be captured with live-action media.

DL: I personally think Death Note already looks like it will have better adaptability than The Jetsons, simply because a lot of anime and manga tend to lend themselves to diversifying adult situations and can have really great mythology and McGuffins, but the key is not to not over personify the adaptation and not to expect certain kinds "anime" mentality to work on film . Now if Jetsons would be featured on a cable channel, become a sci-fi/futuristic dramedy, and would be coming from someone like Matthew Weiner, I would believe that the adaptation would be cinematic, sociopolitical, well-cast, and thought provoking, but I'm doubtful we'll get something like that.

NA: Unfortunately, I’m too young and don’t really know/ have a connection to The Jetsons (like many of these remakes/reboots from way before the late 90’s) but I’m open to trying it out. Death Note, like many western adaptations of Asian properties, worries me. If not for the very obvious whitewashing, it’s taking away roles from actors who are very rarely seen on TV and in movies. As well as the fact certain stories are very much suited to actors of an Asian background. These stories of spirituality, death, life etc are very much eastern philosophies, a lot of which I’ve been raised under, so it’s always troubling to see your upbringing washed down to become easily accessed to a public audience. I personally always felt so happy to see Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra talking about such philosophies, like meditation, reincarnation etc, because so often, children’s programming can be very simplistic and usually not representative of multiple cultures. I personally never want to see anime’s whitewashed and poorly told like The Last Airbender which tarnished one of my favorite shows as a child. In terms of other animated properties coming to life, so few work. There is a beauty in animation that allows you to transcend the boundaries of physical television. Not everything translates properly and sometimes the mannerisms/characteristics of a character just seem better suited for animation, like that of Rugrats, Fairly Odd Parents, etc. Additionally, I think, some animated shows just would struggle to find a tone in live-action, like Danny Phantom for example. Networks/showrunners might want to go down the serious route but then there's also the comedic route, that could also be way too cheesy and cheap looking. Some things are best left in the hearts of kids.



2. "BURY YOUR GAYS" AND DEATH PORTRAYAL IN 2017

As Pride Month came to a close, we must remember that July comes shortly after May Sweeps, which has been home to not only fatalities (legitimate and possible ones) of straight characters but also some beloved (or some rarely seen) LGBT+ characters. What do we think of the ever-growing trope known as "Bury Your Gays"? Isn't it about time some of them have a happy ending? And what about the notion of all of these 'possible' fatalities? Do characters even stay dead anymore? Why do some shows feel the need to create such a spectacle with these deaths? Is it merely for shock value or do these deaths actually serve a purpose? What constitutes a great death in 2017?


LS: Hello darkness, my old friend. Trust me when I say I didn't include this question solely because I wanted to run this topic into the ground even further, but something still has to be said about this prolific trope. Pride Month is always such a great and happy time, at least in my experience, that I almost forgot that the media still has a ton of shit to sort out in regards to LGBT+ representation. The website Autostraddle encapsulates it pretty much better than I ever could with their detailed list of every single female LGBT+ character that has been killed, so I'll just let you open that link and then come back here and read the rest of my response. Okay? Alright. So you see the issue here. A lot of people in this very Roundtable say it a lot better than I ever could (which is truly great, really. I was worried bringing up this hot topic to anyone, let alone my colleagues here. But there seems to be so many allies and now I feel better.) so I'll try not to be repetitive. But the notion of these senseless and often useless deaths everywhere is just silly at this point. I've read that list quite a bit and at this point I start to laugh halfway through it. The manners some writers went to just get these characters off their shows is eye-opening, to say the least. Yes, there are shows that have the other trope of "Anyone Can Die At Any Moment - No One Is Safe - Not Even The Gays" and that might be fine if maybe even one gay or bisexual character in this genre of TV would survive. And I'm not just talking about survival here. I'm talking about living to the end with their stories being truly fulfilled. Maybe they're even happy. You know, like countless heterosexual characters have experienced since the beginning of time? That seems like I'm asking for too much, huh? But with so much death going on in the television landscape, I'm not even sure what a "good" death on TV even looks like anymore. I'm immensely tired of seeing characters that so many people feel they can finally, truly connect with being killed off by stray bullets, bitter exes, and homophobic showrunners. If we had more LGBT+ characters, of all shapes, sizes, traits, and nuances - well, there wouldn't be such an outcry. That's probably the most important thing to take away from this trope. We need to do better. We must.

(Spoiler Warning for Person of Interest & Black Sails)

MI: "The Bury Your Gays" trope is becoming a cliche at this point and it's really sad that it's become this way. I mean, granted in some cases there is reasonable justification for killing off the characters (I feel like Root's storyline in Person of Interest was justified for example, she spent her life dedicated to protecting the machine so she died defending it), but when it is done for shock value it feels completely unnecessary and really cheap. A better approach would be having more characters survive like in the case of Flint from Black Sails, whose character did get a completed arc and was given a "happy" ending - even if he was locked in what basically amounts to a prison camp at the end, he got to spend his remaining years with Thomas and leave his persona behind. What I'm trying to say is basically is that yes - characters can be killed off, as long as their deaths matter and aren't just done for cheap, shock value. And maybe sometimes, people should get their happy endings too...

BK: Oh boy, bury your gays. I think the networks have learned their lesson a little after a disastrous 2016, but of course it's still a problem. You could go the Orphan Black way, and have an 'unbury your gays' moment and bring back an LGBTQ+ character that was previously assumed deceased. I think what doesn't help the problem is that a lot of the time, these characters are fan favourites because they represent people who are usually marginalised, and that makes the impacts of their deaths even bigger than they normally would be. Bury Your Gays is a problem that has gotten increasingly worse over the last 20 years, but it does seem like we may have reached the height of it, and writers may take into consideration fan reaction to deaths like these a little bit more now. A great death would be one that truly serves or drives the storyline in a meaningful way, and the sexuality of the character shouldn't really factor into it. A lot of deaths on TV now seem really cheap because it is just a quick and easy way to create a bit of drama, and the idea of multiple character deaths on one show in one season (particularly in finales) is just a little bit stale. There are definitely other ways to create drama that should be focused on that won't affect minority viewers negatively as much as a trope like this.

DL: I can't think of any shows I'm currently watching that have done that or shows where it didn't make "story" sense/wasn't alone in being signaled out (BSG, POI, GOT). But if it is happening on a lot of shows I don't watch, I hope they stop, because it clearly gives a bad and unjust message. --But, speaking of Pride Month, I am looking forward to one of my new favorite gay characters, Lord John Grey, joining Outlander in the upcoming season. He's a fun witty character and great juxtaposition to Captain "Black Jack" Randall. I'm looking forward to his interaction with Jamie. I hope David Berry works out and that they might spin it off like the books do! In terms of character deaths and resurrection/immortality, I think it just depends on what the theme and genre of a show is. There are some shows, like Game of Thrones where resurrection and death is really thematic and most of the characters that experience one and/or another tend to have a heavy impact and/or move the story forward, as part of the show is about a process of elimination by playing, 'the game of thrones'.

LR: I was completely unaware of the Bury Your Gays trope for quite some time until the huge backlash to Lexa's death on The 100 alerted me to the controversy, and ever since, it's been depressingly easy to spot examples of the trope. I think the toxicity of it, and the reason why it makes so many people angry, is that it makes the death of LGBT characters cheap, as if less effort and meaning has been put into their character than straight characters, and paradoxically brings a sense that a relatively rare type of character is being taken entirely for granted. TV has become a little more aware of this in recent times, and some genuinely satisfying takes on the trope have been established such as the fate of Bill on Doctor Who, which suggested a problematic 'death by stray bullet' only to give her control of her own fate and a chance for love with the women she didn't have time to know in life, but it's a long, long way from shaking off its problems.

JC: I despise the "Bury Your Gays" trope. I've lost many favorite characters to it. And most of them are just for shock value, it's like some writers don't know how to do a finale without a "shocking death". For a good death it needs to be relevant to the story and also have an impact for longer than just a couple of episodes. Also if an actor decides to leave, the go-to move shouldn't be to kill them off. I once said that the Grey's Anatomy writers didn't know how to write off a character without killing them and I still stand by that (their alternative is character assasination). People like seeing happy endings, for a lot of us TV is an escape from real life so why would we want to see our favorites die? As for the possible fatalities, I don't have too much of an issue with it. I know most of it is just for the sake of cliffhangers but some shows do take it too far *cough* Supernatural *cough*.

JZ: I think most shows took extreme care to avoid the “Bury Your Gay” trope this season. Standout examples would have to be Maggie and Keelin over on the CW. Both were new characters which could have been easily written off to extend the suffering of the main characters they were involved with but instead the writers chose to make these characters indispensable with the emotional support they provide their partners. Beyond that, they are valuable to the mythology of their respective worlds. What superhero show doesn’t need a kick ass police officer and who doesn’t love a courageous werewolf with skill in combining science with the supernatural on a vampire show? They both finished the season happy and healthy, so I count that as a win! Quantico is another show which last year had some of the most offensive Queer representation I’ve seen on television. However, this season the writers really took the time to personalise their queer characters, giving them life beyond clichés and their sexuality. While none of these gay characters have not gotten “a happy ending”, just the mere fact they’re still breathing and had importance beyond their sexuality was a step up from season one and I applaud their improvement this season.

Regardless of sexuality, I think “happy endings” are subjective to the viewer and the writers. It also depends on the character’s motivations and the context of the show they’re in. I kind of resent the statement “happy ending” because it seems almost like characters need to have a fairy-tale arc in order to be received well and that is highly unrealistic. Sometimes death and conflict is necessary. I prefer the term, “satisfying conclusion” because sometimes a character’s ending isn’t happy but their conclusions have reasonable sense and that can also be gratifying. Personally, that is better than watching a character being wasted on a series because the writers don’t know what to do with them. “Possible fatalities” were a joke this season and I’m honestly desensitised to the whole situation. Shows like Gotham and Supernatural ended their seasons trying to clear house and it was to the point where there was just far too many “deaths” for me to suspend my belief that most were gone for good and thus they lost their shock value. Writers use death as a tactic far too often that it becomes a shock when someone doesn’t die. On top of this, we live in a digital age where we’re only one click away from googling show post mortems, looking up an actress or actor’s social media or seeing set photos that tell us whether an actor is truly gone from a series. There’s no longer mystery surrounding “cliff-hangers deaths” despite the many ways producers try to avoid shows being spoilt. I think writers need realise this and start coming up with new ways to excite and engage their audiences because it’s clear “deaths” no longer work.

SB: Ahhh, bury your gays. Resisting the urge to go into another full blown rant as it's a topic I come across a lot, I'll say that I hate it. There is more that can be done with LGBT characters in screen than killing them off, or creating them for the purpose of killing them off. I know showrunners claim that killing off an LGBT character isn't something that they deliberately do, and occurring often is an unfortunate coincidence of storytelling but I don't buy it as it's been a problem for too long. I'm glad after the backlash last year there were less LGBT deaths in the 16/17 season, but I also noticed in shows I watched less LGBT characters in itself which still isn't great.

NA: I personally feel that killing characters for the sake of cliffhangers and shock value is way overdone. We’ve become accustomed to certain network dramas promoting huge cliffhangers during midseason and season finales as a way to drive Twitter aflame with trends, an aim to increase network ratings, as well as also keep audiences worried for the entire hiatus and bring them bring to the season premiere. Certain shows have done this and it does feel a bit unnecessary. I feel like if a death feels natural to the story then it’s warranted. Death is inevitable, we cannot escape it, it comes for everyone, just at least try to have a somewhat satisfactory end. We see main characters usually, (not all the time) given strong goodbyes, so I think having a similar exit isn't asking for too much. I recognize this is television where everything is usually a bit theatrical but it’s also where people go to escape. Characters, those are usually who the audience attach themselves onto, if you take too many away, you will lose them, and with the consistent decline in television ratings, huge shockers aren’t a lasting solution. No one can tell anyone how to fell about death on television, that is an exclusive reaction an individual will receive. Also, not everyone will understand why people feel hurt by this trope but try to. You cannot expect there not to be an uproar with the death of gay characters when LGBT roles are already scarce on TV/film. I think the main reason this trope feels so pronounced is that these roles are so little in comparison to other roles, it’s more noticeable, like the minority computer guy in the background. If underrepresented characters/actors had more opportunities in TV/film, then it’d become more normalized and wouldn’t have such a prominent effect on people. That’s not to say it wouldn’t hurt any less, I’m just saying people would have more fictional role models.

I think all characters should have the chance to have fully developed lives/interactions, cutting them short for the sake of entertainment isn’t always the greatest idea. Similarly to POC roles, those who find themselves on the fringes of a group, find solace in these characters who they can relate too and when they are taken away, it’s rare to find them again. I’m not expecting all writers to go in with a magnifying glass and place fragile packaging tape over certain characters but I think they should recognize that there are people who look up to them. I also think people shouldn’t bully people online over who they think should die instead, that idea of weighing one life for another, even if it’s fictional, feels really inhuman. Some people will also find that life, regardless of who you are, shouldn’t be dictated by who you are, but I would just like to say that representation will allow that feeling of unaffectedness to transcend over all kinds of people but until it’s realized, that idealized way of thinking won’t apply to everyone. People should remember that everyone works differently and their perception of a show will not align with another person. Regardless of the show, please always try to put yourself in someone else shoe to see where they are coming from. Don’t let them feel like they don’t matter/similarly don’t bully others into seeing your vision. This comment again is a bit generalized but I truly hope you all understand the message I’m conveying even though we will all feel different on the matter. (Please try to see that everyone should feel as represented as our expansive world is).



3. TV CROSSOVERS

FOX announced they're thinking of having an Empire/Star crossover in the vein of their previous ones (Bones/Sleepy Hollow & B99/New Girl). How do you think this one will go in relation to the others? Are crossovers even worth the time? Or is there a dream crossover that hasn't been thought of yet that you're dying for?


LS: "What is this, a crossover episode?", Mr. Peanutbutter asks almost every time he's in the same room as BoJack Horseman. (Wow, another reference to BoJack from me. Clearly I'm subliminally trying to get you to watch the show. You should.) From this list of shows, I only watch B99, and I watched its crossover with New Girl. Like many others, I thought it missed the mark for what a crossover should be. I've seen only a handful of legitimate crossovers in my day but with the right energy, passion, and ideas behind it any crossover should be able to succeed. This Rick and Morty/The Simpsons crossover gag is just the kind of thing I'm talking about. I see no reason why the Empire/Star crossover should fail. As for DREAM crossovers? Well, just about any cartoon airing right now paired up with Rick and Morty cannot fail in my mind. Archer. BoJack Horseman. Steven Universe. A very short revival of Gravity Falls. Anything is possible today. And as for live action shows? B99/It's Always Sunny might be kind of funny. I don't watch The Mick yet but I know that is probably another good one. Maybe even some weird AU where the characters in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend show up to sing some songs with Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven on Steven Universe. Just go for it, networks, don't be afraid to get silly with it. It could do wonders for you.

MI: A crossover between Empire and Star actually makes sense compared to the bizzare Bones/Sleepy Hollow ones as they're technically sister shows. The Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover felt completely forced but whilst the B99 parts of the crossover didn't work the New Girl ones did (and this is as someone who doesn't watch New Girl) so it depends on how well it plays out, I guess. I'd basically take a Doctor Who crossover with anything at this point - seeing The Doctor show up in say The 100 would be really cool, and I also wouldn't be averse to having the Legends of Tomorrow show up in The 100 either. Crossovers can be done well though where they make sense like The Flash and Arrow, but when it feels like a cheap ratings grab it should be avoided. I'd also take a Silicon Valley/Halt and Catch Fire crossover with the older HACF cast showing up on Silicon Valley as the two shows could reasonably share the same universe, as could Veep/House of Cards/The Thick of It/Scandal, Person of Interest/Elementary and a return for Constantine on Supernatural would be awesome as well. Or for that matter, Preacher or Supernatural crossing over with The Originals opens up a whole world of potential. And that's before you bring in older shows like Buffy crossing over with The Originals and the crew of Battlestar Galactica finding the earth occupied by The 100 characters... Regardless though, I'm really curious to see how Supernatural handles the upcoming animated Scooby Doo crossover. Sounds completely bizarre but unlike Bones/Sleepy Hollow, I have faith that it could work as Supernatural normally does episodes like these really well.

BK: I think this is going to be an annual tradition for FOX now. An Empire/Star crossover would make sense as aren't they in the same universe? They're definitely in the same family of shows so it definitely makes more sense than other shows they could pair together. I don't think FOX crossovers are ever as exciting as they market them to be which is a shame. The B99/New Girl crossover could've been so so funny but I don't think the writing quite came together for it. I think the Empire/Star crossover could work as tonally I presume they're quite similar (both soapy musical dramas) but it's clearly they're only considering a crossover to boost Star's ratings. I think if there's a great reason to do a crossover, then go for it! But mainly they're just standalone episodes that don't really add anything to the show, and the time could probably be used for a better purpose. If they hadn't already done a B99 crossover, I definitely wouldn't have minded a B99/The Mick crossover.

DL: Since Star and Empire are both musical dramas and from the same creator, it would seem natural to have a crossover episode. I think with Sleepy Hallow and Bones you just had shows that I think didn't really go well together, but I never saw the episode to know for sure how odd I would imagine it to be. I don't know if I have a dream crossover at the moment, but I always thought it would be neat if somehow a network would pick up two seemingly different shows that would bleed into each other and occasionally crossover and maybe even merge in the final season--but for this to really work, it would need to be thought out ahead of time and start at the same time, otherwise it will just feel like a spin-off.

SB: I don't think crossovers have the effect they use to have because the audience is too used to them. The only crossover I watched last season was the annual DC ones on The CW & both of them were horrible. 4-way crossovers didn't move the story forward on any show, or have any lasting impact and the less said about the musical one the better. The Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover should never have happened, and I have no idea what the FOX execs were thinking when they gave it the green light. I'm a new watcher to B99 so that crossover is too far ahead for me at the moment, but given Empire/Star are run by the same type of people and are both massive musical soapy messes (I mean that in the kindest way possible) I think it has a better chance of working. Not a crossover as such but I enjoyed Constantine's 1 episode guest stint on Arrow so much I'd love him back again.

NA: Personally, the B99 and New Girl crossover felt not as strong. If there was actually sharing of scenes between multiple characters instead of the guest starring role for Zoey, which is what it felt like, it could have been better. B99 has a fantastic cast and to not let them interact with the cast of New Girl was a real waste. I’ve said it before, but I would absolutely love some crossover between the ABC comedies, few care about them, I love them. I just think the interactions and scenes for moms like Frankie and Beverly would be just golden. The kids from Modern Family hanging out with the Huang’s and Heck’s would be quite entertaining and you just know Beverly Goldberg would be smothering many kids. They all come from different producers so it’d be tricky and likely not one of the ones ABC might be thinking of, they’d probably be leaning towards the Shondaland dramas but I’d love to see it. In general though, if a crossover happens, I'd like to see proper usage of all characters in the show.



As usual, please feel free to sound off in the comments below with your thoughts and answers to these questions. And let us know what kinds of questions you want to see answered in the future! Thanks for reading!

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