Category Archives: Television

How Boy Meets World Depressed Me


By Alexander Pereira

Television, books, video games and Taylor Swift’s first album lied about Romance and dating to all of us. We were promised and taught to expect a certain type of future that was so incredibly unrealistic that it’s amazing any of us would’ve been stupid enough to fall for it. Except I did. This is what it did to me.

I’m an unfortunate mix of the bitter cynic, chronically shy person and a hopeless romantic all jumbled into a great bundle of angst and social awkwardness. I grew up with my head wedged deeply between the pages of Tolkien and Tamora Pierce, of Fantasy and Science Fiction with its might heroes and star-struck romances. I took to the idea of being a fantasy knight seriously. True love and fate became a part of my expectations for life in a way that still affect how I approach romance to this day. That stuff? Not really that bad. It makes things like casual dating or the idea of casual sex really hard to stomach for me personally but I don’t feel like it’s hurt me, just put me in hard mode.

The stuff I really want to talk about is the nonsense television shows like Kim Possible, Lizzie McGuire, and Boy Meets World ingrained in younger me. Those shows all promised you that no matter how awkward and social weird you were; you could find your soulmate in high school. Even more importantly, that soulmate was your attractive best girl/boy friend who you’ve known forever. The lessons were that you both know you like each other but neither of you wants to admit it. So I came to expect that the path to true happiness was to realize my soulmate was that best friend I’d grown up, fall in love with her, date through college with a series of sickeningly adorable adventures, get married after graduation and have 2.5 kids by the time we were 28. Simple. Easy. It’s exactly what everything society was saying happened after all. Now, I don’t know if I’m just an idiot or if this happened to a bunch of us but I got really invested in this model for life. I knew in my bones that I was destine for a story of true love and early life bliss. Everything would be perfect and we’d choose our colleges together, figure out our careers and build our life together. I became so married to this idea I could hardly conceive of a world where this wasn’t my life.

It goes without saying that this plan for a perfect life didn’t happen. It didn’t even come close. The first real love of mine broke up with me after three months (summer time fling), and we spent our entire senior year of High school sniping and claw at each other. It took us years to figure out what it meant to be friends and not ex’s and work through the anger and hurt but eventually we figured out how to be friends. We’re best of friends now. – Yes if you’re wondering, I wrote really bad angst blog posts and some fiction about it too here go check it out:  — This shocking state of affairs left me genuinely feeling like something was broken with me. It was as if I wasn’t a proper person because I didn’t have the same romantic arc of Lizzie and Gordon; Ron and Kim; or Cory and Topanga. I just knew that since I didn’t find that perfect happiness in high school, I’d lost that entire future forever. No family, no adorable daughter or beautiful woman to come home too (or hell, to have come home to me). Not even the white picket fence. I was heartbroken and I started panicking as I rolled into my freshman year of University because I didn’t know what my life was supposed to look like anymore. I thought my life couldn’t have meaning any more. There is another post to be told about me dealing with the depression I faced, and may still face, through my freshman year of university but I know for a fact that this helped contribute to it.

The older me, looking back at that time is really glad things worked out the way they have. I’ve seen a few classmates marry the high school sweethearts and it feels myopic. Like the people of Plato’s Cave ignore the existence of an outside world. Not that I don’t harbor a quiet mourning for that childhood dream but I know I’m a better me for having had to grow past it. I thought for years that I was the kind of person who’d be happy staying in the same town for ever. I thought about how wonderful it would be to raise my future kids in the same place. I’ve been slowly learning that this isn’t true. That I’m not actually someone who enjoys stagnation like that. I have a tendency to let myself become stagnated but I don’t enjoy it.

I’m also thankful that I didn’t end up falling in love with my childhood best friend because guess what? We’d have been (still would be) an awful couple. The things I’ve learned I need from a partner and the things I know she needs don’t remotely match. This post-knowledge didn’t keep me from confusing genuine, almost familial, affection toward her for romantic feelings several times over the years though. Every time I realized I was trying to force a square peg into the round hole of my expectations before I genuinely damaged our relationship but it was a near thing at times.

I’ve moved beyond the expectations for a high school soulmate, for obvious reasons of course, but I’ve also managed to uncouple my sense of self-worth and identity from the ideal.  I’ve become self-aware enough to figure out where other unrealistic expectations are come from. Things that Romantic Comedies have hammered in with their stalking ideation or even the idea that College is a sexual banquet for everyone. That last one did its own number on my ideas of self-worth but I’m running out of space. I’ve very careful to be mindful the media I consume, especially as we move in on Valentine’s Day because I know it can still knock me into a depressive cycle. I don’t like being single and the upcoming deluge of happy couples and “only couples are complete people” is always dangerous. For all of you, I hope this made you feel a little less alone.

Doctor Who and the Zygon Cease Fire

Welcome to Earth. Time period: Now. Population: Approximately 7 billion H umans and 20 million Zygons, plus sundry and assorted other aliens. Universe: Doctor Who.

Hey Everyone! It’s finally time [no pun intended]. PLIS is finally going to post in the elusive “TV” tab. And of course, as tradition would have it, it’s going to be nerdy, political and written by me. So let’s get nerdy.

In the finest traditions of Cold War paranoia, the Zygons (first introduced in 1975) were a race of shapeshifting aliens who can steal the identity and memory of their victim, provided they remain alive. In a time where the fear of the Other became obscured by the fact that the Other could be anyone, the Alien Infiltration trope gave birth to classic sci-fi such as the Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. The Zygons remerged in 2013 as part of the 50th Anniversary Special Episode “Day of the Doctor” and only the intervention of the Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctors prevented catastrophe. As part of the treaty brokered, the President of the World aka The Doctor  agreed to accept 20 million Zygon refugees provided they disguise themselves as humans and live incognito amongst humanity. Refugees who were created as a result of the Time War—a great cataclysmic war fought between the Doctor’s species (The Timelords) and the ‘perfect warrior race’ the Daleks that spanned time and space itself, trashing across the universe. This is where it gets good.

While the “Day of the Doctor” brokered a deal in which Earth accepted war refugees from a war only the Doctor himself can claim direct connection with, it didn’t explore the ideas any further. The ninth season (counting from the reboot) returns to the Zygon plight in the two-part arc “Zygon Invasion”/”Zygon Inversion”. The episodes aired on October 31st and November 7th of 2015 respectively… just a week before the November 13th terror attacks in Paris. The truce brokered in “Day of the Doctor” is breaking down. While the majority of Zygons wish to live in peace, a radical splinter group, primarily made up of younger Zygons, has become fed up with the conditions of assimilation they live under. This splinter group begins pushing for a change to the treaty, to allow them to live as they want (un-shapeshifted) and “Truth or Consequences” becomes their rallying cry. You later find out that Truth or Consequences is also a town in New Mexico where a young Zygon had accidentally reverted back to its natural form, only to be killed by twitchy Americans and starting a whole war. The splinter group plans to unveil their own existence to the world, backing the majority of the peaceful Zygon population into a corner where they’ll be forced to either join their movement or die, either at the hands of the splinter group or the humans. Shenanigans happen, Peter Capald as the Twelfth Doctor finally gets to have his moment, in which the true nature of this incarnation of the Doctor shines through and the fans can start to understand him. (Seriously, I’m going to link to the speech, it’s that amazing) And in the end, tensions are dismantled and the splinter group returns to the fold but lives remain lost.

Does this sound familiar yet? In a brilliant bit of prescience and political astuteness, Peter Harness managed to encapsulate our current immigration and refugee crises while also exploring the nature of radicalization. The two-part comes complete with commentary about the effect drone strikes can have on their operators and civilians, a fake country called Turmeszistan and sleeper cells having infiltrated UNIT (the global earth defense force). It explores American paranoia of immigrants. The splinter cell uses a bold, easily tagged logo (Top picture) to mark its own operations. Even more impressively, Harness uses the now familiar imagery of Al-Qaida and Daesh propaganda videos with prisoners reading prepared statements and being executed and those videos being posted to the internet to reach their intended audience. The entire arc, and its conclusion especially (see video) are a scathing condemnation of our current societal panic and fear of the hidden enemy while also being a companionate warning about the horror and futility of war itself.

There is something else from this arc that I fell in love with and that’s how it depicts the Osgoods. A UNIT scientist Osgood finds herself duplicated in the aftermath of the “Day of the Doctor” and the two of them, coexisting as Zygon and Human consider themselves neither Zygon nor Human and come to embody the spirit of the treaty. One of them is later killed by the Mistress (the Doctor’s arch-nemesis and foil). Throughout the arc, various characters, including the Doctor, try to figure out which Osgood survived. Osgood however rebuffs the questions by simply replying “I’m Osgood”. Osgood gently but consistently demands the right to define her identity herself, pushing off the rest of the world’s attempts to define her as either Human or Zygon. This self-determined identity even rebuffs the Doctor’s attempt to logic his way to an answer, when Osgood reveals that the rules have changed and the host ‘body print’ doesn’t need to be alive if the Zygon has spent years sharing the identity.  We leave the story with the Doctor finally accepting Osgood’s chosen self-identity and I think it’s a beautiful subplot. Now as a cis heterosexual male, I’m not about to make any sweeping claims about how closely Osgood’s struggle to define her own identity mirrors the struggles of the LGBTQ community but from my own point of view, I found it a great analogy for the side of the struggle I’ve seen. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this, so drop a comment below!

I ended up watching this arc on November 14th and in the newly sparked American panic about refugees, terrorists and Muslims it stuck with me. Because of the context it was left to stew in, I think this might actually be my favorite two-part in Doctor Who. It was poignant and timely that I think very few other moments can match it.