My Scattered Brain…

So, what have I been doing lately? Well, aside from work (geriatric nursing), I took a couple of weeks off in March to go visit my sister and her family in Ontario. Driving. Which meant two days of driving at either end. I also took the time whilst there to go visit a friend in London, ON, that I hadn’t seen in over ten years, probably closer to over fifteen years, and another friend who lives down in Detroit, MI. All in all, it was a good trip.

I also managed to finish doing the re-formatting of the Otalia Virtual Seasons (season 3) into eReader formats (ePub and PDF). That was a long time in coming. There’s still a bit of work to do on incorporating the links throughout the OVS website.

Writing. I’m working on the beginning stages of an original novel…well, I’ve got as far as the first chapter almost finished. I’ve been storyboarding other chapters. And since I managed to luck in to a 50% off sale on Scrivener writing program, I bought it, and it’s been nice to storyboard using that. An idea for a scene comes up and I just put it in an index card and work on it as the scene begins to get filled in. As it’s a pet project with no deadline, I have the unfortunate knack of procrastination…except when the characters start talking, then I have to pay a bit more attention.

Reading. Currently split between different sources. Books: Kerry Howard’s Dear Codebreaker: The Letters of Margaret Rock (Bletchley Park Code Breaker) & John Rock (Parachute & Glider Forces Pioneer), Peter Robinson’s Gallows View (the first of the DCI Banks series of books), along with various fan-fiction stories that interest me. And that is when I haven’t been spending inordinate amounts of time on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr primarily).

Watching. Most of the time I wait until a series is over and just marathon the heck out of it, particularly with British television stuff that I’ve acquired. Of North American stuff this winter/spring: Lost Girl, Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy, Republic of Doyle, The Fosters, Rizzoli & Isles. Waiting on new seasons of Warehouse 13 and Orphan Black. Of British stuff, I’ve marathoned some older stuff in preparation for the most current series of shows: Last Tango in Halifax, DCI Banks, Shetland, The Bletchley Circle, Line of Duty, Law & Order UK, Endeavour, along with some slightly older stuff, just because I found it: Single Father, Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, Doctor Who, The Escape Artist. Last night I came across a new series with some favourite actresses – Hermione Norris and Suranne Jones, in The Crimson Field about a group of British nurses on the fields in France during World War I. So far it looks very intriguing, and I’m looking forward to much more. Shows I’m looking forward to that are up-coming and returning: Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley and a new series of Scott & Bailey, an 8th series of Lewis, and various other things along the way. The RadioTimes website’s is a wonderful place to spot new and returning series, for which I write on sticky notes and attach to my calendar (or wall next to calendar).

Photography. Working on putting some of my UK 2013 travel pictures into a photo book. In organization process right now. I also need to go through some of the photos I took whilst away last month. Procrastination rears its head again. Well that and the need for food and sleep, both of which I need to get to soonish, in that order.

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Otalia Virtual Seasons: Creation to Completion

Before the daytime serial, Guiding Light was to go off the airwaves, a group of fans decided to start planning the Otalia Virtual Season, which would continue the stories of the citizens of Springfield in a different format. That format would be in a prose style medium, rather than in a video format, and as the name of the OVS suggests, the storyline would deal with the families of Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera in front-burner storylines. Though as with any ensemble drama, Otalia doesn’t operate in a vacuum, isolated from other characters, so there are always other character storylines.

The preparation was quite extensive but before we could get started on writing the series and start editing, compiling artwork to accompany each episode, and direction of the OVS, we had to wait until the end of the show to provide a sense of direction. The actual ending of the series with a year’s jump ahead part way through provided a wonderful jump-off point: What happened to each of the characters in that year’s ‘unaired’ time?

And so, the producers of the series got together to plan how the series was going to run. The first season was going to stay within canon, that is, it we were keeping as much to the show’s core elements of the characters; we knew how they would be by the year’s end jump. There was a team of writers, editors, and artists that had been chosen to join the project. We were ambitious our first year. There were seventeen full episodes and five minisodes. Subsequent seasons, the decision was made to have less episodes, especially as there were less writers than previously to draw from, as with many fandoms, writers move on after a while to other interests. So, series two and three had ten full episodes each, and an assortment of minisodes. After the first season, there was more freedom in where to take the characters and explore other characters, bring in new characters, and explore other storyline ideas.

One particular aspect that made our virtual season different than the aired version was that our characters were not limited in their affections, love scenes, or swearing where appropriate for the characters or scene. If Olivia and Natalia wanted to be more sexually physical in their relationship, they could be. This pertained to other characters as well. In the online (HTML) version, the more sexually explicit sections of the scenes are put behind an Afterdark cut-away, so that if people wanted to read it they could click on the separated text, and those for whom the more explicit aspects are not their thing could just continue reading on. However, for coding purposes in putting the files available to read in PDF or EPUB formats to read on mobile devices, the Afterdark sections are included with the rest of the text. If more graphic content is not your thing, you can skim over the text.

I had the privilege to be part of the OVS for three years in various capacities: editor, writer, continuity checking, web site coding and maintenance (mostly just series three and beyond, though incorporated series one and two as hosting site responsibilities changed). It was a wonderful experience of which I’m proud to have been a participant as it was a unique challenge to work with a team of different writers and editors, compiling ideas into stories. I am thankful for our executive producers of the OVS: Calliopes Muse and Geekgrrllurking, as well as many of our other writers, editors and artists, for which this project could not have been accomplished. I also have to thank Irma Phillips for creating the show in the first place, and the team of writers, crews, actors at Guiding Light who brought this series through rough periods into some strong storytelling over the last year.

This year, 2014, marks the fifth anniversary of the end of Guiding Light’s departure from the airwaves. This spring, I have finally gotten round to complete the digital coding of the third season of episodes into e-reader formats (PDF and EPUB), during which time I read through the final series again, bringing back fond memories. If you haven’t read the series, or if you have and are looking to re-read, go and enjoy!

The Otalia Virtual Season is located at:

Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Mini-sodes / All Downloads

Otalia Virtual Season Banner

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Last Tango in Halifax – Series Two Comes to an End

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post, Playing Devil’s Advocate with ‘Last Tango in Halifax’: Caroline & Kate to just look as realistically in the framework of a drama as we can before we make judgements on the characters and direction of the story lines.

I tweeted the link with the hashtag of #LastTangoInHalifax, and surprisingly I got a tweet back from series writer, Sally Wainwright, and she started following my twitter acct. Major fangirling moment. 🙂

Christmas Eve marked the end of the second series, and what an ending. In advance of the final episode, BBC announced its official recommissioning of a third series of the BAFTA and Royal Television Society NorthWest (RTSNW) award winning series. This second series has averaged 5½ million viewers (24-26% share).

Series two brought us over the course of six episodes an internal timeline of six-seven month period of time, that picks up from the end of series one with Alan Buttershaw’s heart attack and his improving health. He and Celia continue to buck any and all tradition and decide to go ahead and arrange to get married without telling anyone, including their immediate family. Gillian’s and Caroline’s lives get ever more complicated and put stresses on their personal relationships with family and loved ones. This oft-times heart-warming series about a couple of seniors falling in love again, and their families took a darker turn this series, but it was also not without its comedic moments, quite often between Caroline and Celia, and the absolutely brilliant hotel scene in episode 5 between Gillian and Caroline.

Gillian’s storyline got increasingly dark this series, fractures in her relationship with her father, John, Robbie, and a growing sisterly friendship dynamic with Caroline over the series. Though there does have a few lighter moments to balance out the dark.

Caroline’s storyline arc, in the beginning of series one, not feeling ready to advance her feelings and relationship with her colleague Kate, to Caroline’s realizing she’s too old to pretend to be something she isn’t and decides to go after Kate. Series 2, Caroline’s gotten to the point of wanting to progress things further with Kate on a personal level but not ready on a professional outting. At the end of series 2, while not without considerable heartbreak, she makes a huge step forward with Kate that ended up making me smile for long after the show finished for the night.

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Playing Devil’s Advocate with ‘Last Tango in Halifax’: Caroline & Kate.

I’ve been reading comments over the past couple of days on different forums with regards to Caroline and Kate’s storyline in this second series of Last Tango in Halifax. Now, I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here for a bit for these fictional characters whom we’ve come to love. While many are overall positive, some of these comments I have seen have been quite negative specifically with regards to the direction of the pregnancy storyline. Right now, for the purpose of this argument, I’m going to put that aside for the moment.

We all form ideas and decisions, good or bad, based on our past experiences, and environments, our family dynamics and support systems (or lack thereof), and we all have our biases, which sometimes – intentionally or not – we transpose what we would do or might do, or expect on/for the fictional characters that we on some level identify with. We like to see ourselves represented in the media, and in that respect not everyone is going to feel represented in each story. Given the continued dearth of shows with lesbian and bisexual characters and pairings, we tend to latch on to these representations with all the hopes and ideas and biases of our lives for directions of the character development and character decisions.

Just pretending for a moment that these characters are real people, with real faults, desires, needs, etc., who are we as individuals to judge another person’s decisions based on our own experiences? As the saying goes ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge them’ (paraphrased).

To give my own background as an example, I’m a forty year-old woman who identifies as a lesbian. I came out when I was twenty-one. I’m the oldest of three siblings (a younger brother and sister), and my parents who’ve been happily married for forty three years. I grew up in a progressive Catholic family (though I haven’t been a practicing Catholic for about twenty years or so), and my family – immediate and extended – have been supportive of me. For the past several years I’ve been single, mostly as I haven’t found anyone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’ve got a great group of friends – mostly straight (but not narrow) that I hang around with when I’m not working. Probably once or twice in twenty years have I even possibly, not seriously – considered having a child, with one of my best friends who is a gay male. However, it was never a serious consideration, as I really don’t have much of a maternal bone in me, aside from the care of my dog(s) and cat.

How many of us have personally been in similar situations to Caroline or Kate, really?

Caroline’s a forty-six year old woman, who is successful in her career but her personal life has been falling apart for years. Here’s a woman who grew up in a family that was emotionally pretty cut off – at least from her father, and from parents who didn’t have a happy relationship; barely talked to each other unless they had to. She was reasonably close to her mother still, until she hit university. She went away to get her education, to Oxford and also started to figure out her own sexual identity. When she returned home to the north, she tried to come out to her mother who tried to shut that down and who was completely unsupportive. So, she pushed those feelings down and away and did was expected of her. She married and had a family. More emotional dissonance from who she really was. She was married to a philandering idiot but she stayed – much like her mother did with her father. And while John was out having his latest (possibly) affair with Judith, Caroline found a friend in Kate, with whom she developed an attachment and began to actually start to explore that part of her that she shut out for twenty years. As she tells her mother at the end of the first series, she’s tired of pretending to be something she isn’t.

Caroline’s learned to emotionally compartmentalize her life separately from her professional life, which resulted in a fairly severe depression, especially in the months John had left. With Kate, she was starting to come back out of that depression. Even still, she’s dealing with her at times caustic mother who’s found her own new old love. A mother who, without Alan’s influence and leaving, was completely unsupportive of Caroline’s relationship with Kate. Caroline’s got one supportive elder son, while her younger son starts falling in the direction of his idiot father, an ex-husband who is lazy, indecisive, and lead by the seat of his pants, and who couldn’t buy a clue to get out of the house. Alan’s supportive of Caroline’s relationship more than the rest of her family (aside from William). Mind you, Celia has improved some this series.

Caroline’s essentially got a shit load of baggage as she enters this relationship with Kate. She wants to make it work with her, and yes, she has made some missteps along the way. That’s only human. It’s not necessarily an excuse from her decisions, she still has to own up to them. But half a lifetime of hiding who she is, with no support systems for that development as she learns to love Kate, it’s not surprising that she’s not yet fully comfortable with being officially out of the closet, especially in an environment (school) where she is the Headmistress. It’s one thing for the students and fellow faculty to suspect or even know that she and Kate are together, it’s another for Caroline to feel comfortable with being out. It would be nice for Caroline to find a support group (or therapist), aside from Kate, for her to talk to about her feelings and some guidance to help her make her relationship more successful. She wants to move forward with Kate and I truly believe that she wants to spend the rest of her life with her, but the issue around the housing was not one of Caroline’s best thought out ideas. It came from a desire to keep a house that she loves and has put a lot of work into, but unless there’s a severe infusion of cash to buy John out, which she’d hoped would come from her mother and Alan, and Kate, that wouldn’t be possible. In the most recent episode, Caroline’s come to the realization that yet again, part of her ‘old’ life is falling to the wayside.

Kate, however much we’ve seen of her character thus far, is a single, divorced forty-two year old woman. We don’t know exactly how long she was married to Richard for; presumably at least for a few years. She’s had four miscarriages that she’s lost at around the twelve-week (roughly end of first trimester) point. She’d also had a relationship with this Greg friend of hers many years ago. She’s got a father with dementia but other than that, we don’t know much about her family dynamics, whether there was support for her or not at the time of her divorce and coming out. She’s been out for at least a few years (undetermined), but the students at school knew she was a lesbian – Lawrence had apparently told John, so she’s out at the school and comfortable enough with that. We also don’t know how if Caroline’s the first person since her divorce that she’s been secure enough with/stable with to consider trying to have a child. Options after forty become less of a guarantee, take time and can be expensive (not sure how much longer the NHS will be supporting IVF, given the financial restraints and reductions in service the NHS is under). Kate’s obviously feeling that as she gets older her chances – especially given her past history – are getting more and more limited and there’s a certain degree of desperation involved there. She’s not wrong to be feeling that, but the method to conceive was perhaps not well thought out as she had hoped, and not really explained to Caroline well enough, when she learned Caroline was less than thrilled about starting a new family. Especially bringing someone else into the equation for something as big as having a child, when you’re still both fairly new to the relationship is not really conducive to a healthy relationship.

Both women are still working through compromises they each have to make in their relationship. That needs proper communication. For both Caroline and Kate, their decisions have been rushed, due to internal and external pressures. And yes, decisions have been been made without thinking it all the way through. That is also true of real life. I’m probably fairly certain we’ve each made some decisions without really thinking through the consequences and have to live with those decisions afterwards. So much of Last Tango in Halifax is living life, dealing with consequences of actions, whether they like them or not, whether they’re popular decisions or not. Life is not always pretty or turns out the way we’d like it to. That’s as true to Last Tango as it is to life in general.

While I can acknowledge and respect that some of the decisions Caroline and Kate have been making aren’t ones that I chose for myself, I don’t really think it’s fair to expect that decisions I would make be written as choices for them…or to expect that the writing choices for the characters fully represent my life. Or that the choices made are wrong ones simply because one doesn’t agree with the direction of a character’s decision making. If I wanted that, I’d write my own original story.

Caroline and Kate’s story isn’t over. Yes, there will be more mis-steps as in any normal relationship with another person. But for now, I’m going to stick with their story and see where it leads. Relationships and family dynamics, whether on screen or in real life, can be messy and complicated. Caroline and Kate’s relationship is also only part of the overall story – a multi-generational, combined family story, which has completely enthralled me. As dysfunctional as Caroline’s story has been, it’s partially balanced out by how dysfunctional Gillian’s decisions about relationships (Robbie, Eddie, Paul, John, Robbie and presumably others between Eddie and Paul) have been.

There is so much going on in a six episode span for all the characters that it requires repeated viewing to catch all the nuances; it’s even better when the episodes are marathoned as a whole to see the overall picture more clearly. I can hardly wait until Christmas for the last episode so I can do exactly that.



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Last Tango in Halifax – Series 1 – Missing Scenes (eps 4-6)

As I’ve watched the first series of “Last Tango in Halifax” (UK BBC aired version plus the DVDs) enough times, I began to notice when full scenes (even if short) or parts of scenes, were dropped during the PBS airing in September/October 2013.

I regret that I didn’t get round to writing up about the missing scenes in the first three episodes of Last Tango in Halifax when they were aired on PBS, but it wasn’t really something much that I’d picked up on until later on. There were a couple of scenes here and there that were slightly altered – in particular, I remember a scene in the second episode where Caroline had come home after work, John was in the kitchen cooking and making a mess, and he said “I’m cooking!” and Caroline replied with, “No shit, Sherlock” before turning to her sons. This reply from Caroline was dropped.

Continue reading

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Bomb Girls: Taking A Glimpse Into Our Past

An Interview with Co-creators Michael MacLennan & Adrienne Mitchell
By J. Lynn Stapleton

Photo: © 2013 Bomb Girls II Productions (Ontario) Inc. 
(L-R: Charlotte Hegele, Antonio Cupo, Ali Liebert, Jodi Balfour, Meg Tilly, Michael Seater, Anastasia Phillips)

As the Canadian series Bomb Girls continues into its second series, I had the opportunity to interview the show’s creators and writers Michael MacLennan and Adrienne Mitchell on how they came to create the series about a group of individuals working in a munitions factory in Ontario during World War II, doing their bit to contribute to the war effort. From wonderful strongly-written female characters, accurate props, and strong story-telling, this series has easily become a favourite, not only to Canadians but also with viewers around the world, thanks to word of mouth over social media.

LS: It’s been fantastic seeing this series being a reflection of Canada’s past, and something I’ve never seen before, learning more about that part of our past. For those who maybe haven’t already heard, what prompted the development of this series and made it reality?

AM: A few years ago, Maureen Jennings (the author of the Murdoch Mysteries book series) and Deb Drennan ( a make-up artist) brought this series idea to Janis Lundman and myself as they thought we would be a good fit. Deb Drennan’s grandmother was a Bomb Girl and worked in a munitions plant called GECO in Scarborough, so the subject matter was very dear to her. Janis and I jumped on this idea; this was a piece of history that was rarely talked about or depicted. How many Canadians knew that by 1943 thousands upon thousands of women were working for the war effort in very dangerous conditions building munitions and for the most part, having never worked outside the home. We knew that the stakes, the drama and challenges for these women would provide for excellent and compelling drama. Next, we needed a talented, experienced writer with a penchant for WW2 history and a strong illustrious background in serialized character-based drama. Enter – Michael MacLennan who was our dream writer! He responded to the material immediately. Michael and I soon dove deep into this world to create this exciting series with the immediate support of Global TV ( Shaw Media). The network jumped on immediately and has been a strong supporter and advocate of the series at all stages with our co-producer Muse Entertainment.

LS: Each of the characters has an interesting and diverse background. How did you go about developing each of the characters?

MM: When it comes to the initial main characters, we looked at “orchestrating” the world of the show, to make sure that we were able to sustain many seasons of story from the core characters. This isn’t a show that lives and dies on its guest characters. My belief is basically this: if we don’t invest in our series regulars, then how can we ask our audience to? There was much research into various women who worked the lines, and for me they formed various archetypes which in turn became the main characters of the series.

LS: The concept of freedom holds meaning for each of the characters, both freedom for themselves in as much as they’re coming to this new world of working in the factories, building the bombs for Allied forces, but also freedom from their family, from their own identity, from societal expectations. In what ways would you like to see this concept of freedom further explored in the series?

AM: I’d like to further explore the consequences of the freedom our characters are experiencing. I’d love to depict how difficult it is for our characters to taste this freedom, knowing that when the war is over they’ll have to go back to their traditional and more domestic lives. It would be fascinating to show how this sudden freedom is changing them, and whether they like who they are becoming It would be exciting to probe further into their fears and doubts surrounding their newfound freedom and show their struggles to hold onto it in the face of temptation and crossing boundaries. I’d love to look more into the cost of their sudden freedom, but dramatize this in a way that allows our characters to find ways to prevail.

LS: The attention to detail when it comes to the props and backgrounds to make everything authentic to the period is phenomenal, including sourcing out newspapers. What has been a challenge when it comes to finding props as new storylines progress?

MM: Everything — from each line of dialogue to a newspaper headline, only be a second’s shot in an episode — is researched and tested before it’s finalized. Setting a series in the 1940s is a tricky blessing. It’s far enough in the past that we need to do deep research to know the world. And yet it’s close enough to us that we know, if we ever get something wrong, we’ll be called out. So we’re careful to source it all. We’re blessed with an amazing props and set department that have been able to find everything we’ve asked for and more. We’re still waiting to tell a storyline about a gal sitting under a sun-lamp, 1940s style — since we went and bought one of these contraptions!

LS: Within the context of WWII there’s a lot of stories to tell and for the past season and a half there’s been lots of love, heartache, delving into social expectations and constraints, religious oppression & expression, pregnancy, suicide, sexuality, dealing with soldier (and Vera’s) PTSD. Ali Liebert has already expressed in a video interview ( that she’s already got ideas for her character for a third season. Is there anything you’d like to tackle but haven’t already?

MM:There’s such an amazing societal shift that’s starting to happen in 1942 and 1943… that’s what I’m eager to explore. I want to see how Vera comes to appreciate her intelligence, how Gladys witnesses a breakdown of class structure. How Betty comes to find her own self-confidence, and how Marco and Bob face their individual futures once their barriers begin to crumble. How Kate comes to find a real and authentic voice that’s separate from the narratives she’s been taught to accept. How Lorna opens herself enough to experience grace. In short… we’ve only begun.

LS: This series is one of Canada’s little success stories. The initial small 6-part period miniseries about (primarily) women in World War II set in Toronto has grown into a 12 episode second season, so far. The show has been critically acclaimed and a genuine hit, and it seemed to take off on-line thanks to social media and word of mouth. What about the story lines seem to garner such a great response to the show, both domestically and abroad?

AM: Our modern high-tech world with its advances in communication through the internet and social media has created this vast sprawling global village of interconnectedness. However it also has created a world that is steeped in information overload, where our attentions can be easily fractured and splintered, leaving us strangely alienated by it all. Bomb Girls, harkening back to a simpler time where women and men had a clear, common goal to fight an imminent threat, has a galvanizing force for our audiences. During WW2, women entering the workforce were enjoying a camaraderie and freedom that they had never experienced. Our characters and story-lines set in the factory, jazz clubs, music halls, workers’ rooming houses, and venues of the social elite exemplifies this freedom in a way that is compelling, seductive and charming. I think the series is a breath of fresh air for the audience and is a welcome contrast to our more complicated lives today.

LS: You’ve got a fantastic website with a lot of interviews, photographs (historical and set), video clips about the design and look. It’s very interactive, including the Facebook page and actor twitter accounts, something which a number of shows are doing at present. It’s a far cry from what was available back in the forties when people received their news and information on the radio. What do you think about the growing popularity of the show via social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, etc?

AM: With a period show we did so much research and tried to be as accurate as possible down to the last detail. However some of those details may have only ended up on screen for a second. The website was a great way to get into all of the fascinating stuff we’d unearthed about the era that didn’t make it into the show. Social media is such a growing trend with TV viewers nowadays; people are always looking for supplemental content and wanting to interact with and discuss the show between the weekly airings. One thing that’s so different about Twitter and Facebook is its a new way to receive a very instant response on what people are thinking of the show. We’ve also found it a great way to give back to our fans with various contests and giveaways. We’re also so impressed with all of the creativity coming from the fans on sites like Tumblr, the drawings and screen caps, and the deep analysis of the show. As for the actor’s twitter accounts, that’s all them. A lot of the actors are very active on social media and have been so great about interacting with fans and talking about the show. Some of them have gotten in on the fun with live tweeting during the episodes which has given the fans added value and new insights into the characters the actors have portrayed.

LS: You’ve been exploring Betty’s sexuality throughout the series. Her falling in love with her best friend over the first season and then learning to protect herself and her heart in the second season so far. I can’t remember ever seeing something so well written and established for a character of this time period (let alone any other), and it’s done so with respect and dignity. And having Gladys learn and accept that about Betty without judgement, and Leon. Thank you. How did you decide that this was a story that you’d like to see explored for this character?

MM: Thanks for the kind words. It may seem strange coming from a guy here, but Betty and Kate’s individual experiences are deeply connected to my own. It was a courageous thing for our broadcaster to buy into — remember, this is an 8pm network series — but I promised them that Betty and Kate would be the great love story of season 1. Seems I wasn’t wrong. Still, the challenge moving forward is to be true, as we always are, to the time. There are many times when I want one of them to speak her truth, to use language to break through the barriers of fear and deeply felt emotions… but the truth is, there just weren’t the words back then, to allow those kinds of conversations. I’ll say this: no one’s rooting for these two as much as I am. And all I can hope for is that the world of the 40s… and the world of today… can work towards a resolution that we all feel is true and right for these two remarkable characters. As for the Leons and Gladys’s of the world… what I found amazing is how, despite the lack of cultural visibility, there was in fact great tolerance and understanding for the wonky loves that arose due to the unique circumstances of WWII. You couldn’t find two more different people than Leon and Gladys. And yet, in their own way, each has a similar attitude of tolerance. With Leon, he assures that the series not deliver some kind of anti-religious message. Yes, there are men like Vernon Rowley. But his is only one interpretation of the holy and the good. Leon offers another… and we’ll see Kate torn between both, as she comes to fold together the various disparate elements of her being.

© 2011 Bomb Girls (Ontario) Inc. 
(L-R: Antonio Cupo, Charlotte Hegele, Meg Tilly, Ali Liebert, Jodi Balfour)

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Bomb Girls – a Canadian gem

Last year, a little Canadian 6-part miniseries, Bomb Girls aired with critical acclaim, enough so that they were given a second season with double the number of episodes. The show takes place in the 1940s during World War II, around the women (and few men) who work at the Victory Munitions (VicMu) factory, building bombs for the Allied forces. There’s a fantastic writing team who delve into the relationships of the characters.

Lorna Corbett (Meg Tilly) – the Matron of the VicMu, she oversees the women on the floor of the factory building the bombs – tough but straight forward and supportive of ‘her girls’. Her husband, Bob (Peter Outerbridge), is a WWI war vet who’s paralyzed and has many resentments of his time. They’ve got three grown kids; 2 sons that are also military and serving in the war and their daughter is a nurse.

Betty McRae (Ali Liebert) – one of the best workers of the VicMu, and helps train some of the new recruits. She feels like an outsider because she’s gay but not out – at the time she can’t be. Over time she falls for one of the new recruits, Kate Andrews.

Kate Andrews (Charlotte Hegele) – after escaping from her abusive father’s home with the help of her mother, Kate takes on her new identity (formerly Marion Rowly) and begins to work at the VicMu. She was close to losing her job due to an error made, but Betty gave her a rare second chance. She’s got a singing voice of an angel and quite naieve to the world because of her preacher father’s influence. She’s terrified that her father is going to find her so she wants to make sure her room at the boarding house locks, but Betty tells her she’ll keep her safe.

Gladys Whitham (Jodi Balfour) – a society girl who’s father and fiance are determined to use the war to make money by selling their food line for war rations for the soldiers. She’s determined to make a difference, and while her parents think she’s working in the office at VicMu (which they really don’t think she needs to be doing), Gladys decides she wants to make a difference and to do so works down on the factory floor building bombs with the other women. It takes time but she eventually makes friends with some of the other women, particularly Betty & Kate.

Vera Burr (Anastasia Phillips) – one of the floor girls that has an injury that changes her future.

Marco Moretti (Antonio Culpo) – an Italian-born Canadian, who works as a bomb inspector at the factory because the military refuses to admit him to serve because of his Italian background. His father has been interred at military facility for the past two years. He fancies himself a ladies man and sets his sights on Lorna.

Bomb Girls airs on Global here in Canada, and in the US the show has aired on Reelz and will possibly start airing season two in March. Unfortunately the DVDs of season one are hard to get hold of.

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The Rescues: Living life and creating music on their own terms

The Rescues. Photograph by Piper Ferguson, 2013

As the release of The Rescues new album, ‘Blah Blah Love and War’ nears, I had the chance to ask the band members, Adrianne Gonzalez, Gabriel Mann, Kyler England and Rob Giles, some questions this fall about how the album came together, what changes they’ve had to overcome as they put together the album and what drives them to make music together. The PledgeMusic release of the album is set for 30th September.

The Rescues launched their PledgeMusic campaign on 13th June, with the release of the following video, entitled, “The Rescues want YOU to be their label”. Within twenty four hours, they had reached 50% of their pledge goals, two days later they were at 75%, and by the 21st of June the project had been fully funded, and pledges have still been coming in. One of the things I like about PledgeMusic and The Rescues campaign has been their frequent updates including fun videos of the band, and releases of songs that were recorded live, alternative mixes of songs, blended mixes with other songs and blog posts of their progression in recording. That is in addition to the Pledge Exclusives such as a Rescues Collection on USB, Skype with the band, lyric sheets to the songs, lithographs, house concerts and so much more. So, without further adieu, here are The Rescues.

LS: With “Crazy Ever After” under Adrenaline Records in 2008, then “Let Loose the Horses” under Universal Republic in 2010, you made the conscious choice to produce this album independently, with the help from your fanbase via PledgeMusic, meeting your pledge goals in an impressive 8 days. With this change, it seems like there is a renewed sense of vigor, a sense of fun, and getting back what it means to be a collaborative band. What was the impetus to change? And how are you enjoying the change in freedom being able to do the album (and publicity) on your own terms?

Adrianne Gonzalez: It was really a choice made by necessity. To keep us alive, we had to go out and do things our own way, and by our own rules. They needed a huge radio hit for us to really be successful in their system, and we even tried working with some of the big “hit maker songwriters” to make what radio wanted. In the end, the songs just didn’t feel natural to us, and we felt we could do better on our own. We learned a lot going through the major label machine though, and doing it ourselves is definitely an exciting way to further challenge ourselves. It’s hard, but definitely rewarding work.

LS: The spirit of flying, wings stretched in freedom, a tenacity of belief in yourselves (individually and collaboratively) and not giving up seems to be an overlying theme to this album. What were some of the challenges you faced prior to laying the groundwork for this album & how has it made you stronger together?

Adrianne Gonzalez: The biggest challenge was for us to just getting along and learning how to communicate with each other again, and not letting the little stuff bring us down. We wrote in pairs mostly this time around, and many of the songs are very therapeutic and let us say a lot of the things we wanted to say but couldn’t before. It made us stronger, because it really showed us how much this band really matters to us all.

LS: From the beautiful haunting ballad blend of “My Heart With You” (a capella version on The Rescues EP) to the lovely cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” [of which I prefer The Rescues cover :)] (The Rescues – Single), the teenage social awkwardness in “New Kind of Cool” (Crazy Ever After), to the belt out fun of “Break Me Out” (‘Crazy Ever After’ & ‘Let Loose The Horses’), and the quirky “Can’t Stand the Rain” (Let Loose the Horses), The Rescues covers a gamut of song styles. As solo musicians you each have your own styles and methods of writing songs, so in a collaborative effort what do you each bring creativly to the table?

Gabriel Mann: We are each solo artists, so we are used to handling it all ourselves. that said, when we get together there is a bit of a division of labor that seems to happen naturally. adri and kyler come with a full arsenal of beautiful melodies, gabe has the world of music at his fingertips, and rob is a walking rhyming dictionary.

LS: What inspires you creatively?

Gabriel Mann: I am inspired by fear. mostly the fear of repetition. I dont like to do the same thing, musically, as I have done in the past, so I am usually looking for new ways to express myself in music. this often involves getting really into one artist or another (recently that means thomas Newman, the film composer, and the violent femmes first album), or exploring a group of chords over and over until I’ve exhausted it and can move on. lyrically I like to make up stories and tell them as though they’re about myself. usually about high school.

LS: The growing power of social media in the last few years has become a more tangible way for artists to interact with their fans. The Rescues have embraced the power of this format to promote and publicize the band’s new album via PledgeMusic, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, etc., by having fans also spread word & support of the band via ‘Word of mouth’ – or in this case also via computers, cell phones, and tablets. That can be a powerful tool for an independent group. Your initial video for this album, ‘The Rescues Want You To Be Our Label’ acknowledges the strength of the benefical social connections between musicians and fans. How has this affected you as individuals and as a group?

Kyler England: It’s funny, we were all independent singer-songwriters before the band formed and our careers lived and breathed thanks to being able to connect with fans directly. social media wasn’t as important then, it was more about websites and mailing lists. while the band was on a major label we had a lot of great people working for us in the label’s digital marketing department and in radio and in press but there was a disconnect. with such a big machine working for us, inevitably over time we became more hands off in the daily details.

Now that we’re back at the helm, we’re getting our hands in the engine, we have grease up to our elbows. there are a thousand little decisions to be made every day and we’re making them. in the last few years social media has grown exponentially in importance and we’re really grateful for the autonomy it affords us, as well as the closeness it allows us to have with the people that love our music around the world.

LS: As part of this interaction, through PledgeMusic, The Rescues is offering a limited re-release of your “Crazy Ever After” album, lyric sheets, autographed albums, shirts, skype with the band, among many other neat things for pledgers, in addition to the blogs, videos, and unreleased songs. What made you choose the things you did?

Kyler England: Ha! to be a fly on the wall during that decision making process! what you see on our pledge page is about 1/10th of what we actually came up with. the narrowing down process was painful but we’re used to it. there’s always a wealth of ideas in this band. but to better answer your question, we tried to come up with pledge exclusives connected to the music and that we would have wanted to have from our favorite bands when we were 18.

LS: These days, many independent musicians have their music appear in television shows, web shows, or film as a way to get into the collective consciousness. More often than not, that’s how I find out about new musicians & groups like Vienna Teng, Naimee Coleman, Jeremy Silver, The Rescues & more. Many of the artists I have in my iTunes playlists actually came from hearing songs on the daytime soap opera, ‘Guiding Light’, and the primetime drama, “Grey’s Anatomy”, among others. If you could have a song of yours be on any show – television or web-based – (that you haven’t yet done), what song & what show?

Rob Giles: Man, I think I would love to have a movie written around our music, like PTA did for Aimee Mann in Magnolia. That would be the dream. But as of songs and shows now, I think I would love to have all of our songs on Private PRactice, especially with that hot Dr. Amelia Shepherd.

LS: For a lot of folks, for different reasons, a song sticks in their memory because it holds an emotional resonance in them; the lyrics and/or melody – to use a cliched term – strike a chord of meaning for them. Of the new album, which song is your favourite and why does it have meaning for you?

Rob Giles: I love Be My Cure as a feeling, the whole drums and strings thing. And the fact that Kyler and I wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote again and again until we got it right. Makes a song special. I also love Under the Weather. I love when the Rescues are creepy the best.

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‘Hospital Central’: a Spanish love affair

So, in the last few weeks, I’ve been marathoning episodes of the Spanish series, “Hospital Central”, which for anyone not familiar with it, it is a prime time ensemble soap like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “ER”, set in the city of Madrid. I first heard about this show several years ago because of the lesbian relationship that started between the new peadiatrician, Doctora Macarena [Maca] Fernandez Wilson (played by Patricia Vico) and ER Nurse Esther Garcia (played by Fátima Baeza).

Hospital Central’s Fatima Baeza & Patricia Vico

The story of Maca and Esther starts in the 8th season on a bit of a rough note – Maca arrives and Esther mistakenly thinks she’s the new nurse that’s supposed to be orientating but is late. Maca’s a bit rude to her and they have a couple run ins over the course of a couple episodes. Maca’s family are fairly wealthy but she uses her mother’s maiden name rather than her father’s when she moved to Madrid (from Jerez) after a bad break up, but the Central staff soon learn of her family background. Over a cooking class they start to form a friendship.

In episode 8×04, the episode starts off with Esther walking to work to find out someone is following beside her on a motorcycle, which it turns out to be Maca. Maca offers Esther a ride to work on the back of her bike, which Esther does despite initial trepidation. When they arrive at the hospital, Maca parks her bike and Esther says that her legs are still a little wobbly. [Ed note: okay, *I* would have been wobbly sitting right behind Maca on that bike, but it would NOT have been about nerves of riding on a motorcycle – rather a whole different kinda tension]. they work very well together taking care of patients.

After a long, crappy shift (8×06), Esther goes into the break room and flops down on the couch, where Maca’s been absently flicking through a magazine [it’s been a relatively quieter day for her and several times she’s looked for Esther to go for tea/coffee]. Maca offers to give Esther’s shoulders a massage and tries on a bit of seduction with Esther, kissing the other woman on the neck, which kinda freaks her out a bit. But by the next episode, Esther keeps trying to hunt down Maca. Finding the peaditrician doing some paperwork in cafeteria, she wants to talk about Maca’s kisses. Maca apologizes that she didn’t mean to offend Esther, but what surprises her is that not only is Esther not offended, she wants to repeat the kisses. Maca’s elated but says they have time (also, they’re in the cafeteria at the moment). As Maca leaves the room, Esther’s relieved and excited. Esther and Hector (another ER doc) are treating a young couple of women, both injured from diving. After a little bit of time with them, it becomes apparent to Esther and Hector that the two women love each other. As Hector and Esther head to the elevator, talking about the couple, when they get there, Maca’s already in the elevator. Hector keeps talking about the young lesbian couple and how sweet he thinks the couple is, precious love, meanwhile Maca & Esther keep looking at each other with barely contained tension. When the elevator dings for the next floor, Esther all but rushes him out and before the door closes, she lands a kiss on Maca’s lips, then tightly hugs her, nuzzling into the taller woman’s neck. They get caught by Rusti when the door opens again. Maca apologizes before they both break out in laughter. Thus begins the Maca y Esther love story.

Lots of kisses, many interrupted (which rather becomes a running joke on the show during the first year or two), and the lovely thing about their relationship was that no one really minded that the two women were together. Okay, initially, Teresa (receptionist in the ER) was concerned for Esther since it was her first time in a relationship with another woman, but she was happy that Esther was happy.

Despite the usual soapy nature of things, they married, had a baby boy via IVF, temporarily separated when Maca returned home with baby to help care for her father [allowing Patricia Vico maternity leave], Esther has a one night stand and of course an accidental pregnancy (Fátima’s real life pregnancy), they get back together (sort of), a sick baby needed a sibling stem cell donation (so Esther’s second pregnancy is an IVF one with same father. Maca starts an affair with a new psychiatrist, Veronica (Vero), but Maca decides she wants to get back with her family. Maca has an unexpected medical diagnosis of Sclerosis but is treated for it. Esther starts a relationship w/ a married woman, Bea, but dumps her as she’s fallen back under Maca’s spell. Crazy ex decides to take a dive from a multi-storey building, pulling Esther with her. Maca & Esther get back together, again. All of this over 11 seasons. Despite the break ups and craziness typical of soaps, there’s still a deep love between them that keeps pulling them back to each other. A super-couple. In fact, theirs is one of the longest running love stories on the show that’s been on the air since 2000 (the show sometimes ran 2 seasons/year as there were 15-22 eps per season).

Season 19 (2010/2011) would be the last for the couple as the network and producers decided to wrap up their storyline. Mid season, Fátima Baeza (Esther) and Patricia Vico (Maca) left the show; Fátima in episode 8 (though reappeared at the end of ep 10), and Patricia in episode 10. Both also appeared together briefly in the final episode of Season 19 (ep20). Maca’s end story involved a young lesbian couple, one of whom was a patient who was on dialysis and required a kidney transplant. Because the patient (Sol) was a minor (17), the hospital was legally obligated to call them, although they hadn’t been part of her life recently. Alma, her partner had been the one to take care of Sol while she was sick. Once the parents were called in, the father didn’t want Alma anywhere near Sol. Thankfully, Maca advocated strongly for the couple, and for Alma’s right to look after Sol, who’s fire and spirit reminded her of Esther (who had already moved with the kids to Buenos Aires for a job). Below are the scenes for that final story. It was a nice bookend to the show’s love story for Maca & Esther to have a young lesbian couple bring them once back together again (Esther had a job offer in Buenos Aires which was why she left first; Maca’s love for Esther made her overcome her fear of flying.

Maca & Esther 19×09 – Part 1
Maca & Esther 19×09 – Part 2
Maca & Esther 19×10 – Part 1
Maca & Esther 19×10 – Part 2

Over the course of the show, since I have seen full episodes of much of the show, I grew to really like many other characters: Dra Cruz Gandara, Dr. Rodolfo Vilches (occasionally, when he wasn’t being an ass), Dra Claudia Castillo, Dra Laura Llanos, Dr David Gimeno, Receptionist Teresa Montoro, Dra Leire Duran, Dra Veronica Sole, nurses Alicia Monastiero, Eva Mendez, and Monica de la Fuente, & Guille Vilches, Dr Hector Behar, Dr. Javier Satomayor (occasionally, when he wasn’t being an ass), Dra Lola Sans, Rusti, Diego. Some were only present for a couple years, others for many years.

Telecinco now has full episodes (~1hr10-1h15 min length each, with no ads) from S1-19 streaming online, though as I mentioned above the Maca and Esther storyline starts in series 8.

All these Maca and Esther have to do is smile at each other and I go to mush. It’s like GL’s Otalia, but on speed. 🙂 and the bonus is that it has improved my Spanish language comprehension. The fact that I’m a nurse myself makes the medical terminology easier to understand.

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‘Bad Girls’: A look back on some exceptional television drama

Recently, I’ve felt a little nostalgic and I’ve gone back to re-watch the UK ITV1 drama, “Bad Girls” on DVD; a show which started airing in the UK in 1999. Being fortunate to have a PAL/NTSC player, I have all eight series of the show on DVD. I first was introduced to “Bad Girls” when the Canadian Showcase channel was running a marathon of episodes from series 1-4, back in 2003 or 2004, and I was immediately drawn to the tight storytelling that was often times raw, sarcastic, engaging, maddening and occasionally campy.

The controversial programme about a women’s prison set in East London delved into all manners of what it was like for inmates of the fictional Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP Larkhall), including pregnancy & miscarriage, drugs, sexuality, suicide, bullying, power and abuse of said power by prison officers…and that was just in the first episode. The show also explored issues such as women dealing with issues of parenting, or lack thereof, when the children are taken into care of social services because there is no family or friends that can and will take them in, or trying to provide for them if they’re lucky enough to have someone look after them while the mums are incarcerated. But what really drew me to the series was honest portrayals of a long-running (3 series) front-burner, show-driving storyline of a lesbian love story, that was well built over the three seasons.

Nicola (Nikki) Wade was a woman in her early thirties, co-owner of a lesbian bar in London who had come to help her partner (business & personal), Trisha, close up their club for the night. Nikki’s intelligent, and has a strong sense fighting injustice. They routinely were hassled by local police, and one night a Detective Sergeant Gossard took it upon himself to show Trisha what she was missing and attempted to rape her. Nikki walked in and saw what was going on and saw red. She took a bottle from the bar and broke it over the copper`s head to try to get him to stop. When he didn’t, and rather laughed at her, she stuck what was left of the bottle in his neck – leaving him to bleed to death. So, Nikki received a life sentence.

Helen Stewart was a woman, also in early thirties, who was a university graduate and had worked her way into a fast-track in the Prison Services as a Wing Governor at HMP Larkhall. She was ambitious, but at the same time, she actually cared about the welfare of the women inmates and wanted to do some good for them, much to the dismay, disgust and distrust of two of her senior officers, Jim Fenner and Sylvia (Bodybag) Hollamby, two of the laziest officers on the wing, and from the misogynistic attitudes from her boss, the Governing Governor of Larkhall, Simon Stubberfield. She was doing her best to fight The Old Boy’s Club mentality of the Prison Service, but it took a lot out of her doing so.

Nikki and Helen started off in the first episode with a huge confrontation on the wing wherein a fellow inmate (and friend) had had a miscarriage in her cell the previous night and nearly bled to death, while several of the wing’s inmates were preparing for a fashion show Prison PR event. Helen’s investigation (or rather what she was told to conclude) was that it had been a tragic set of circumstances. Nikki (and others) take objection to that conclusion, and delivers a powerful statement, in front of Helen, with guards and inmates around, which got her sent down the block (to the solitary confinement cells):

No, let me say it for her. What she’s telling us, is that none of us are safe in here, isn’t she? Cause even if we’re bleeding to death, we don’t get believed. Well, I’m telling her from us, you lot can’t run this prison unless we help you. And if we don’t get respect from your screws, don’t think we’re gonna make you look good in front of your VIP visitors, cause we’re not. So you can shove your stupid fashion show up your arse.

Later, when Helen learned that Nikki was in strips (stripped of clothing – only had a blanket around her in a draughty old castle prison cell), she was furious. Hollamby (and Fenner) hated Nikki for many reasons, not least because she was a lesbian cop killer, but because she wouldn’t `put up & shut up` whenever they told her. Helen orders Nikki’s clothing returned to her and requests help from Nikki – agreeing that without the help of the inmates, the order of Larkhall would be chaos. Nikki’s not entirely sure what to make of the Wing Governor, but she’s glad to get out of the Block. In a show of support, Nikki returns to G-Wing and informs her fellow inmates that they’re back in the show if they behave themselves.

It would not be the last disagreement or public confrontation between the two women, on either side of the bars and doors, yet they build a mutual trust and start to rely on each other and protect each other when necessary, and begin to fall in love. The change in relationship over the three years is fraught with issues of distrust, jealousy, power imbalance at times, but also with great support and love. Their personal morals and senses of justice are tested as events with prison officers and inmates conflict (such as the suicide of a young girl who had been bullied by other inmates and abused by one of the officers (Fenner), and it’s aftermath, the death of one of the inmates (Monica’s) Downs Syndrome son while she was imprisoned and Monica’s attempted suicide, riots and the like.

Nikki was, by hierarchy, one of the Top Dogs, though not by choice; she detested the thought of being `head bloody prefect`. However, she was respected by many of the other inmates, partially due to her sentence for killing a police officer, but also because she was seen as a protector of the younger or disadvantaged inmates. Though she wasn’t afraid of physical altercations, most of Nikki’s jabs were of the verbal sarcastic and acerbic variety – to a select few fellow inmates and prison officers, and which often got her into trouble with the officers, including Helen.

Nikki and Helen wouldn’t be the only lesbian relationship explored in the series, as there are other characters in later seasons (Denny & Shaz, S2-4; Roisin & Cassie, S4; Kris & Selena, S5; Pat & Sheena, S7), but they would be the most prominent (and longest consecutive lesbian storyline) during most watched seasons (1-3) of the show. Despite the controversial storyline, having a lesbian relationship with a prison & inmate, it worked and it still remains a favourite and one of the strongest lesbian-themed stories on television period.

Issues of drug use and abuse, domestic violence, the depressive effects of prison on inmates, language barriers, illiteracy, rape, suicide, murder, cancer, births and deaths, abuse of power by prison officers, and mental illness are yet some of the issues explored through the storytelling of Bad Girls. That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom; there are plenty of light-hearted moments of humour, laughing, and fun (like the Julies making wine – Chateau Larkhall, or smuggling in a cat onto the wing) to be had on G-Wing.

The Official Bad Girls website, has some staggering information on real life statistics about women in UK prisons are like, the sentences, the effects on inmates and their families, lack of education and rates of recidivism, mandatory drug testing, prison health care, in Women in Prison – the Real Story, and addresses some of the issues brought forth in Series 4 Factsheets, and Series 5 Factsheets.

As an aside note, I was planning a trip to the UK in 2006, and I knew that the former HMP Oxford – the old castle prison that the Bad Girls` set for the fictional HMP Larkhall was designed after (and exterior shots were done at the old prison in Oxford until 2002) – had been excavated around and the building was renovated into a hotel – Malmaison Oxford. I had researched much of the history of the old castle / prison out of interest in advance and I budgeted for a stay for one night there at the Mal. What I got was an amazing experience. The hotel was opened on 5th May, 2006. I stayed there on 21st May. The advertising for the place keeps with the `prison` theme:

This time we’re taking no prisoners.
You’ve been bad. We know. It’s time to pay for all those second-rate hotel rooms, the third rate room service, oh, the travel inn express lodge travesty of it all. This time you’re going down. Guilty as charged.
Imagine a prison that’s a hotel. (I’m sure you’ve stayed in a few). Now imagine a prison that’s suddenly a luxury boutique hotel in Oxford, destination brasserie and hang-out for high-life hoodlums. Pinch yourself. You’re doing time at the Mal.

Malmaison Oxford

I must say, when I first walked onto the A-Wing (upon which BG`s G-Wing was modelled after), I got both a chill and a thrill at the view. While it`s completely renovated inside, the floors now fully finished and carpeted (instead of the bare metal corridors), there are glass partitions along the ledges of the three levels, looking down at the atrium, and the stairs are blocked off, there are floor pot lights marking actual working room doors (not every door is an actual functioning door now); it certainly invoked an odd sense of deja vu and amusement. After I got settled in my cell – room – I went and did some exploring of the building. There was still one of the old prison gate doors to the area leading to the exercise yard. Outside in the yard, the building remains very familiar for Bad Girls fans…but there is no potting shed in the yard. 🙂 There are additions to the complex including another wing for more suites and plenty of shops in another courtyard area. It’s just so impressive. Inside again, there is a beautiful dining room – not at all like Larkhall`s cafeteria, and yet, since the hotel had recently opened, there were a few cells down on the lowest level, near the back, that were unfinished. Now that was kind of eery to see. You can see my pictures from this trip here

To get back to the beginning, I`ve seen plenty of lesbian storylines on different shows and films over the past 13 or so years, and the Helen & Nikki storyline and Bad Girls in general still stand among the strongest out there. It`s always worth coming back to – as a solo venture, sharing it with fellow fans or introducing other people, still, to the show. The show had a strong impact on many people’s lives because of the issues it touched on. There have even been academic papers written about the show, for example, Didi Herman’s “Bad Girls Changed My Life”: Homonormativity in a Women’s Prison Drama”.

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