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Lightening review: Year of Yes

People, get Shonda Rimes‘ Year of Yes on your library waiting list right now. You might even want to go down to the bookstore and pick up your own copy, because it could become a favourite that you want to read over and over. The woman behind Grey’s Anatamy, Scandal, and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, Shonda Rimes is fantastic.

Confession: this is my second time reading Year of Yes. Last year, in early summer, I read it and enjoyed it so much I binged through the first eleven seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I figured if someone could write a book like that, her TV show must be fantastic as well. (Although I was startled to realize what a huge commitment the show was – I’d imagined a three- or four-season show.)

Somehow both entertaining and instructive, Rimes’s book details how an offhand comment from her sister made her realize that she was letting life slip by while she worked and went home without really living. In a comfortable, effortless style, she invites you in, and then takes you through the journey she went on through her Year of Yes.

She tells about making Thanksgiving dinner with her sister and having the light bulb moment not long after; she describes being oblivious to flirting attempts in an elevator; she learns how to receive a compliment. But she also talks about the joy and the privilege and the challenge of being a mother and having a job – and how saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something else; she talks about how saying ‘yes’ wound up with her losing over a hundred pounds and delves into why she gained all the weight; she talks about how women learn to be invisible rather than awesome badasses. She even defines badassery, after describing her realization that she needs more of it in her life.

Insightful, wise, and snorting-laugh hilarious, this book was a pleasure to read. Don’t waste more time – go out and get it.


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Scandal, season 1

It’s been on my Netflix list for quite some time, but I finally got around to starting Scandal. For some reason I thought it was a new show, but clearly I’m mistaken – there are six seasons ready and waiting for me to watch them.

The show starts with doe-eyed Quinn Perkins on a blind-date-turned-job-interview, and follows along as she confusedly starts her job with the revered “Pope & Associates,” a firm with a murky purpose and sometimes sketchy clients. It follows along as she learns about her new job and the people she works with – particularly Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) herself.

In the first episode it seems the show will follow Quinn as she discovers the fast-paced world of Pope & Associates, but then the story broadens to revolve around Olivia Pope herself. It tags along, straight into the scandal-laced political world where she works as a professional “fixer;” it storms into her former workplace, the White House, which naturally is at the centre of the politics and secrecy Pope works to smooth over, flare up, and otherwise handle for her clients.

The show is fast, smart, and funny. The intelligent sass reminds me of Suits, but Scandal is set in a very political world, which – combined with Olivia’s willingness to do the wrong things for the right reasons – kept me on my toes.

And I hate that this is even something I need to take note of, but the main character is smart, powerful, respected, even feared – think Harvey Specter, Don Draper, Danny Ocean. But THIS main character is a woman. Woman of colour. She’s not perfect, but she’s strong. And she’s a powerhouse. Looking forward to the day when this won’t be something that stands out.

The first season is only 7 episodes and I was into season 2 before I knew it. I’d expect nothing less from Shonda Rimes (who is clearly brilliant), but I’ll let you know when I’m finished!

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Quantico: Season 1

The week after I got home from Ireland, I burned through season 1 of Quantico, an ABC drama that premiered in September 2015.

The story follows Alex Parrish (played by Priyanka Chopra), a star in FBI training academy Quantico, who wakes up among the rubble of a terrorist attick on Grand Central Station. The season follows her as she races the clock to find who is really behind the attack, and to evade capture as she’s been framed and the FBI is after her.

The first few episodes were fascinating and thrilling and I was kept on the edge of my seat (very useful as I was fighting jet lag to get back into a normal schedule), but as the season progressed, each reveal seemed larger than the last. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the whole thing, but the season finale brought what felt like a sigh of relief. The heart-stopping pace of the season made shocking reveals seem normal – so much so that the “big” reveal at the end of the season merely felt like more of the same. I didn’t even feel surprised. I knew I was supposed to, but I didn’t.

Although I enjoyed getting to know the characters and learning about them as the present-day timeline unfolded along with flashbacks to the training at Quantico, it seemed like the stakes were always so high it was tough to get to know who the characters really were. Plenty of shocking moments but not a lot of quiet character development underneath.

As an action series, it was enjoyable and interesting, and I’m looking forward to watching season 2 when it becomes available on Netflix.