Opinion: Why Demi Burnett is So Important

This season of Bachelor in Paradise has been a doozy. There’s been a Hannah G love triangle, an actual fight, a confusing baseless rivalry between Derek and John Paul Jones, and of course, all the Blake Stagecoach drama.

But through it all, there has been one shining light: Demi Burnett.

We first fell for Demi on Colton’s season, where her big personality captured the attention of Bachelor Nation. But she’s really shone this season on BIP, when she revealed that she had been dating a woman – Kristian Haggerty – who later came on the show.

Now, this is a big deal – the Bachelor franchise has never featured a same-sex couple before. There was one openly bisexual contestant a couple seasons ago, who sexuality was really not taken seriously, but she was not in a same sex relationship in her time on the show.

The Bachelor has historically been very apolitical, not wanting to alienate any of its large fanbase. Demi’s relationship with Kristian has been a marked departure from everything the show has stood for – namely, heteronormative standards and stereotypes about marriage and love.

Bachelor in Paradise, to their credit, portrayed the relationship between Demi and Kristian with the respect and care that it deserved. Fans couldn’t help but root for the two from the moment Kristian came on the show, in one of the cutest scenes in BIP history. This is a big deal, coming from a show with a conservative and problematic history.

This meant a lot of responsibility rested on Demi’s shoulders – a fact she struggled with throughout the season. She was still trying to figure herself out, not trying to become the poster child for the Bachelor’s new gay-friendly vibe.

But that made it even stronger – by seeing Demi struggle through her own journey, we were able to see the damage of our nation’s heteronormative standards and what people have to face today in coming out. By showing the support Demi received from ex Derek, best friend (and Bachelorette) Hannah B., Chris Harrison himself, and the other contestants, viewers were shown an inspiring love story that hopefully made others feel more comfortable coming out themselves.

But the credit really goes to Demi herself, who consented to have her story (the good and the bad) shown on television. She was entirely open and honest throughout the process, and the conversations she had with Kristian were some of the realest conversations we’ve ever seen on BIP. She was incredibly brave going on to BIP and sticking the process through, yet still vulnerable, and there’s such power in that. We need to see more gay couples on tv – especially ones that have happy endings – and Demi and Kristian have been a huge part of that.

What we always loved about Demi is she’s large and in charge and unabashedly herself – when she came out on the show, she was continuing that tradition, making her fans confront any sort of prejudice they might have had. They loved Demi for being herself – how could they change their opinion now when she was just continuing to do that?

It was like a close friend coming out – you felt like Demi was your best friend throughout the entire journey (as she was to many of the castmates), and you couldn’t help but root for her.

Of course, we hope for a day in which we don’t need people like Demi Burnett to help our nation accept same sex couples – but unfortunately, there are still many in our nation who are prejudiced, and it takes strength and courage to stand up in front of them and say “this is who I am, take it or leave it”. Demi did just that, and we love her for it.

We wish Demi and Kristian the best, and hope that the Bachelor franchise learns from her and continues this new wave of boundary pushing and acceptance!

Opinion: I Used to Love “13 Reasons Why”. Now I Can’t Stand It. 

13 Reasons Why has been no stranger to controversy since season 1 originally aired. From public outcry regarding its graphic depiction of rape and suicide, to mental health experts warnings that Hannah’s tapes gave teens false expectations of what happens after a suicide, there were a number of valid concerns presented.

At the time, I saw why there was such controversy. I even agreed with a lot of the suggestions, and am glad they took out the bathroom scene from season 1. But I was also conflicted, because I saw the other side: which was the lack of media surrounding suicide.

If we don’t portray people in media who are suicidal – and I mean really suicidal, and have been for a long time – kids who are feeling that way will feel like they are beyond repair. Because they don’t even know there are other people out there who feel that way, or that they can get better. Or even worse, they seek out people to relate to online, or in their lives – where the information they’re receiving is not regulated at all. At least on a show, there is not only some standard of what is shown, but it’s out there in the public, so that a conversation can be started. What the show gets wrong, other media can correct.

I understand the criticism that Hannah does not get better – however, I do believe the show does a good job of convincing the viewer that Hannah did not have to die. If one thing had happened differently, she might not have. Her suicide was not presented as inevitable, and Hannah was not presented as beyond repair. Unfortunately, she did not receive the care she needed – a fate that too often befalls people in real life. We need those stories as much as the recovery ones, so that we can be affected – and, as the show’s main character says in the season one finale, “do better.”

The show does depict recovery as well, with season 2 featuring prominent recovery stories for Alex, Skye, and even Tyler (disregarding the last episode). Even though Hannah didn’t receive help, others did – showing teens today that it is possible to get better.

The show was not perfect by any means. The triggering issue is extremely valid, and the show did go too far in some aspects. However, I do not feel the show’s subject matter alone was too triggering to be important. Teen dramas have long used suicide for shock factor – off the top of my head, I can remember at least one suicide attempt in every single teen drama I’ve seen (to name a few, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, 90210, Pretty Little Liars, Teen Wolf, The OC, and the Vampire Diaries). Oftentimes, the attempts were the result of something supernatural, a last-ditch escape effort of a villain, or dismissed as a one-time situation that’s never mentioned again. Rarely do shows present depression and suicide with the gravitas it requires – at the very least, 13 Reasons Why presented suicide seriously and earnestly. It was an extended storyline that had the potential to make people feel heard.

Which is what makes it especially disappointing that the show’s gone where it has.

Season two was certainly more teen drama esque than the first. It was more unrealistic. Hannah’s continued involvement felt like a gimmick, especially as Clay’s mental health was really not addressed. It also continued to reinforce the idea that people somehow “live on” after their suicides. But I still felt the show did more good than harm – we saw continued efforts of the characters to heal following Hannah’s death/her confessions in season 1, and we continued to see how hard suicide/depression is on everyone without feeling like the show was blaming Hannah, or Alex, or Skye.

Things started to go downhill in the finale.

In a way, the show turned itself into a sort of evil twin of Glee – trying to tackle far too much without the capabilities to handle it all. But at least Glee was always earnest. 13 Reasons Why turned itself into the exact shows it had seemed like such a departure from, by featuring a character who seemed to be a great example of recovery getting brutally bullied and sexually assaulted, then attempting a school shooting at a dance, only for our main character to jump in front of the gun and play hero when he’s half the problem. Again.

It was a bad move. It upset a lot of people. But I still had some hope for season 3. They were moving on from Hannah – there would be other storylines. Maybe they would try to handle this storyline with Tyler with some sort of care that they had shown Hannah’s.

I was vastly disappointed when I saw the first episode.

Tyler is in serious need of extensive professional help. By having our cast babysit him and “protect him” by hiding the truth, the show presents the idea that something this large can be handled by mere teenagers. Sure, he later goes to counseling and takes up boxing – but that is simply not enough in the real world. Tyler deserved immediate, around the clock, professional care. I understand why many of the characters didn’t want him to get in trouble – but they were not protecting him or anybody else with what they did, and it was a dangerous idea to show viewers.

I’ve previously thought the character of Bryce was a good case study, and even though I was upset Jessica and Hannah did not get the justice they deserved from the courts system in season 2, I felt like the show was accurately depicting what often happens with young, white, athletic rapists like Bryce Walker. This kind of story is important to tell because it enrages people to see Bryce not get what he deserve – which can lead them to actually look into this problem in real life and make a change in our country.

Killing him off was fun for the viewers, as horrible as that sounds, but it was not the justice Jessica and Hannah deserved. Showing him as sympathetic most of the season, after facing essentially no consequences for his actions, was not what Jessica and Hannah or any other rape survivors deserved.

It all feels very gimmick-y, almost click-bait-y, or sensationalized. It no longer feels authentic or earnest, or like it’s trying to start a genuine conversation. It’s taken the trust of people who thought they were having their stories represented and then broken that trust seasons in by presenting their trauma for the sake of drama/suspense/tension. It’s not the only show to do so, but it’s the only one I can think of that does this after seeming to promise viewers they would not in the first two seasons. It almost feels like a betrayal.

Beyond that, the beginning of the season just isn’t good.

It’s hard to introduce any character into a tight-knit group of characters that’s never had any addition before, especially as not only a main character but the narrator. It doesn’t help that Ani doesn’t seem to fit in the story. She’s brash, calling things as they are – on a show where all of the teens are keeping huge secrets (which the series derives its tension from), this doesn’t introduce a foil so much as feel like they’re crossing over two completely different shows.

The structure is also off. It’s very unclear when they’re showing a flashback vs. the present. Season 2 left off on a huge cliffhanger, and they then start season 3 with a time jump. They keep flashing back to directly after season 2, but it’s often unclear how much time has passed. Also, they keep referring to something that happened the weekend before, so they also flash back to that, meaning there are basically 3 storylines going on at once. It’s too much, and it’s honestly just confusing without really piquing your interest much. I get that the whole “who can you trust” plotline worked well in season 1, but here they don’t even give you one character to stand behind who’s trying to figure it out.

Clay has turned into all the worst parts of his character. He doesn’t have the same drive for justice that made you root for him – and he’s not the only one. The characters mostly just seem to not know what’s going on. It just doesn’t work anymore – it’s not saying enough or doing enough good to make all of the bad worth it anymore. And in an ever-improving tv landscape with teen dramas that are deliciously fun, like Riverdale, or gut-wrenchingly authentic, like Euphoria, no one really has the patience for that anymore.

My consensus? Serena van der Wooden 13 Reasons Why is officially irrelevant. 

Hannah’s Guide to Euphoria Makeup

So I’m no longer cool (okay, I never was), but it seems like everyone and their mother nowadays is doing bright, sparkly makeup. AKA, the look popularized in the HBO series Euphoria.

It’s a look that defies traditional beauty standards and breaks all the basic eye makeup rules. You’re supposed to look natural; the swarovski crystals are anything but. You’re supposed to stay within your lid; many of the looks on the show include glitter streaming down the cheeks, angular lines on the browbone, and rhinestones on the eyebrows. You’re supposed to stick with neutral colors; half the looks on Euphoria include neon. If you wear statement makeup, your whole face has to be done up; Jules often wears a streak of bright eyeliner with no other visible makeup.

It’s wonderfully subversive and fun, the way that makeup should be – not as a necessary evil to not appear “tired” or “unprofessional” as a woman, but a means of self-expression.

It’s important to note that, like many of youth’s beauty trends, this trend actually comes from drag culture. Take a scroll down pinterest’s drag search and you’ll see plenty of neon, glitter, rhinestones, and coloring “outside of the lines”. It’s the exact opposite of natural. Obviously, as with all drag beauty trends that go mainstream (think of contouring or baking), it’s much more muted and subtle, and it’s got its own twist. But today’s culture is very much influenced by the gay and urban communities, without really paying tribute to them.

Euphoria at least tries to do so. The show’s makeup is appropriately donned by its leading female cast members of different sexual, gender, and racial identities. This is one example where the trend doesn’t feel quite as “stolen” as other Gen-Z trends; whether or not the members of Gen-Z actually realize where this makeup draws its inspiration remains to be seen, but at the very least the show seems to.

What Euphoria does well besides representation is a use of makeup to represent the different characters.

Rue hardly ever wears makeup – but when she does, it’s a slight trace of glitter, evidence of Jules’ influence on her and slight “brightening” of her life. Jules, meanwhile, is unabashedly herself. She knows exactly who she is; and her makeup reflects that. Maddie is the same way; however, we see her without makeup in times in crisis, whereas Jules still wears hers. This symbolize Maddie’s wavering sense of self as it relates to Nate.

Cassie (except when she’s ice skating, truly embracing herself) and Lexi wear very natural makeup – symbolizing the way that they prefer to blend in and go with the flow. Kat starts out natural, too, but changes drastically as she changes her style to what can be described as almost dominatrix. This symbolizes both her taking ownership of her sexuality, but also her putting on a sort of “mask” and not being herself.

Through the different characters, the show presents makeup as both an extension of ourselves and an obscuring of ourselves, depending on the character in the situation.

And so I have two warnings if you’re wanting to copy the looks seen on the show: 1) Know what cultures the trend is coming from and 2) Be careful that you’re not using makeup to obscure yourself, but rather to extend your personality.

That being said, here’s my guide to trying the makeup yourself (on a budget, of course)!

JULES

Jules goes with actually rather simple statement colors. You’ll want eyeliner of all different colors: Colourpop has a good collection. Jules rarely wears mascara, but when she does it’s a bright orange – there’s a good collection of colored mascara here. She’s also a fan of glitter. Colourpop has glitter gel (with larger chunks of glitter like Jules sometimes uses) here, and glitter pigment (used more often by Jules) here. If you want to go more hard core on the glitter, you’ll want to get festival glitter. There’s some options here, here, and here. You can also just obviously use glitter from Michael’s (if it’s going to be on your face – I would not recommend on your lids). Hair gel, vaseline, or a product like glitter fix will work if you want it to stick better!

MADDIE

Maddie is all about fake lashes, jewels, cat eyes, and purple.

There’s a good purple eyeshadow palette here. She also occasionally adds another statement color – get a palette with lots of bright colors here or here (bonus: you’ll probably have enough purple from these ones, too!) You can choose whatever liquid liner you prefer, but I like the NYX eyeliner marker for wings.

For the rhinestones you’re going to want face rhinestones like the ones here. Nail or craft ones work too if they’re not too close to your actual eye. You can find a guide to the best false lashes here – not to brag but I have super long lashes so I don’t use fake ones! You will want a really good mascara though – I actually love falsies or if you’re on less of a budget, Better than Sex mascara.

KAT

Obviously this isn’t Kat’s normal look, but it’s really just an exaggerated version of it.

Kat wears more traditionally “sexy” makeup, sticking with berry or red lips, cat liner, and a smoky eye.

My favorite cheap red lipstick is the Rimmel London Kate Moss lipstick in 111. People swear by MAC’s russian red or ruby woo. I still love the NYX marker for liner, and the subtle smoky eye can be achieved through Urban Decay’s Naked Smoky palette or the cheaper Revolution version. If you want to copy her Halloween look, a good red eyeshadow palette can be found here.

Tl;dr: Wear makeup because it’s fun, not because you feel you have to. That’s what Jules would want.

Opinion: Why Riverdale is the Best Satire of Our Time

If I were to posit that “Riverdale” is the smartest teen show of our time, I would get more than a few laughs. After all, this is the show with levitating cult babies, mass seizures, a giant monster named the Gargoyle King, and a juvie fight club, all within the span of a few episodes. 

The writers are certainly not Hemingway. 

But they just might be Shakespeare. 

Yes, it’s wild. It’s ridiculous. Most of the storylines are not even related, to the point where characters who are supposed to be best friends barely interact for episodes on end. 

In fact, all of the main characters seem like they’re in different TV shows. Jughead is in some kind of private detective noir. Betty is in an actually pretty good CW version of Nancy Drew where she’s also got to deal with family drama and romance. Veronica is in a teen “Dynasty”, or a later season of “Gossip Girl”. Archie is in a different Netflix rom-com every week, playing whatever the hunk is that film – the football star, the singer, the juvie bad boy, the rugged nature scout. Cheryl is in a dark teen musical satire like Heathers or Carrie (very accurate choices for the show’s musicals) – over the top, dramatic to the point of being cartoonish, yet still dark. 

And all of them are playing it completely straight. 

The show does not require good acting (sorry, Lili Reinhart, your talents are wasted) – it’s driven instead by wild storylines and a strange nostalgic style that seems to drive shows into Halloween costume-level success. It doesn’t even need good friendships – Betty and Veronica and Jughead and Archie rarely have scenes together, unlike the Serena and Blairs and Liars of the previous teen dramas. Relationships are the same – Archie and Veronica’s relationship is entirely based off sex and 1-2 teary phone calls, while Jughead and Betty act more like adult-in-teenage-bodies cop partners than boyfriend and gilfriend. Cheryl and Toni probably have the most substance, actually discussing real issues in their relationship- yet still, they often act more like posing Victoria’s Secret models than an actual couple. 

Yet people still care – people ship the hell out of these characters. Why? Because they rely purely on the precedent of teen dramas before them. Good girl meets boy from the wrong side of the track; rich city girl falls for townboy; high school princess falls for the last person you’d expect; we’ve seen it all before. We don’t even need scenes of actual substance between any of them – we’ve got that association to love these couples just because we always do. 

Which allows the show to satirize these kinds of relationships – by showing that people will still ship them even with zero substance and increasingly ridiculous situations. Veronica’s father tries to have Archie killed, and then puts him in jail. Jughead brings out a literal dark side in Betty, who dons a dark wig, becomes a cam girl for an episode, and does a striptease to become the “queen” of Jughead’s gang. Cheryl and Toni rob houses for fun, then create their own all-girl, school-sanctioned gang, then both get involved in a cult. Somehow, we still find a way to see these relationships as real. 

It’s not just relationships, either. There a million tropes that are satirized – to get information, Betty and Jughead continuously meet the creepiest coroner I’ve ever seen, who is such an over-the-top character that if he had been on similarly soapy mystery Pretty Little Liars, people would’ve thought it was too much. Veronica is clearly the “boss bitch” character – the show pushes this even further by making her the literal owner of multiple businesses as a high schooler. Cheryl is the mean girl with a heart of gold, and she has some of the most over the top lines I have ever heard in my life.

Yet it’s like we hardly notice – because we’ve come to expect nothing less. 

Don’t even get me started on the adults – besides for Fred Andrews, a bona fide good father (who we will miss dearly), they are the most ridiculous characters I have ever seen. The show takes the “parents are the enemy trope” and puts it over the top. Hal is a serial killer. Alice is a cult leader’s wife who gives away Betty’s college money (although it later turns out she’s actually pretending and is an FBI informant). FP runs a gang of literal teenagers with names like “Sweet Pea” and “Fangs,” along with his own son Jughead. Penelope is yet another serial killer, and also happens to run a brothel. Hiram Lodge is a drug kingpin and murderer. Again, we accept it all without question. 

This brings us to the true genius of the show – it may be a satire, but it’s still attracting the very same fans of the exact shows it satirizes. It does their tropes so well that it can’t help but not – riding on the success of these earlier teen dramas, it doesn’t even need to be earnest or trying to say something or even emotionally resonant. It just needs to be interesting. And it’s made itself immune to the critique many of its precedents faced – by training the audience to expect the ridiculously implausible, nothing it does is seen as too far-fetched. It’s impossible to jump the shark, because the very universe they’ve created jumps the shark, and has from the start. Next season, Archie could be manning a spaceship next while Dilton Doyle’s ghost diffuses a bomb hidden in Hal’s casket, and nobody would bat an eye. 

Shakespearean dramas were also seen as soapy and low-class in their time. Shakespeare made up ridiculous insults and words that would not sound out of place coming from Cheryl’s mouth. Half the adults were murderous. Young lovers did completely unrealistic and foolish things in the name of “true love” that actually had very little substance. And look how his stories appreciated today. 

Okay, maybe it’s a stretch. But one thing’s for sure – “Riverdale” is much smarter than anyone gives it credit for. The writers are very well-versed in their subject matter and their audience, and they’re mocking us and what we’re willing to accept. But they’re doing so without any sort of judgement or real goal – we’re all just having fun together. And there is something so refreshing about something that has no agenda but fun in today’s world.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Hannah’s Guide to Teen Dramas

I consider myself to be a HUGE Teen Drama expert.

I’ve seen pretty much all of them – but which ones are worth it?

I list the top 10 below!

10. The OC

Alright, this one’s a classic. It was a toss-up between this and Dawson’s Creek, but honestly The O.C. is more iconic to me.

I mean, come on. We’ve got classic tropes of bad boy and rich girl, nerd and popular girl, the wonder that is Seth Cohen’s dialogue, an iconic theme song, and one of the biggest memes of our generation. What more could you want?

9. Glee

Don’t hate me on this. I know it’s horrible. But there are 2 kinds of people in the world: people who still have 50 Glee versions of songs on their itunes and liars.

Honestly, the singing’s good. The editing is fun. The first few seasons are cute. It’s the only musical teen show. Let’s just leave it at that, right?

8. Skins UK

Okay, so this is kind of the opposite of the O.C. It’s much more real and gritty, but that’s what I love about it. It confronted so many serious issues in a way that felt authentic. Plus it gave Angsty Teens Effy Stonem gifs to use for generations.

7. Teen Wolf

I love campy shows, and especially shows that know they’re campy. This one’s a totally unrealistic werewolf show with the surprisingly good acting skills of Dylan O’Brien. The special effects are horrible and most of the acting is way over the top, but that just adds to the fun. They actually do a pretty good job exploring littler known mythology, too.

6. Pretty Little Liars

I love teen shows that crossover into other genres, and this is a great example. Discounting the last few seasons, PLL was a great mystery show with a really interesting premise. It also made really good use of the social media and constant texting phase our generation was going through at the time, much like Gossip Girl did. Bonus points for featuring the first lesbian main character on a teen drama (correct me if I’m wrong on this – I don’t think Santana on Glee came out until after Emily).

5. Riverdale

This is another fun mystery show that somehow manages to be both darker and more ridiculous than Pretty Little Liars. Pretty Little Liars was bad but sometimes trying to be good – Riverdale knows exactly what it is. It’s a new show, but it’s honestly already iconic.

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4. 13 Reasons Why

This is another newer show, but like Skins it feels a lot more gritty and real. It explores issues like suicide and rape really authentically. Plus it’s also a mystery, and the music’s amazing. There’s also some stellar acting.

3. Gossip Girl

All the teen drama tropes you love, but make it rich people.

These are the characters you love to hate. The Netflix description literally reads “Rich, unreasonably attractive private school students do horrible, scandalous things to each other. Repeatedly.” and that about sums it up. It’s got awesome fashion and characters whose lives are nothing like yours. But somehow you can’t stop watching. Also makes good use of modern technology!

2. The Vampire Diaries

Another crossover – this one supernatural. It’s not quite as campy as Teen Wolf, and it’s certainly more gory. It also introduced us to one of the more iconic love triangles of all time, where Elena has to choose between vampire brothers Stefan and Damon.

It got a little old after ALL the characters kept dying and coming back to life, but it actually had one of my favorite series finales of all time. It had some epic villains and led to 2 spinoffs, so somebody must’ve liked it. The plotlines are fun, and the acting and special effects are mostly decent enough, but the real reason to watch is the relationships. There’s nothing CW does like creating and sinking ships.

1.One Tree Hill

Sorry, Friday Night Lights fans – this is the only sports teen drama I recognize.

This one holds a special place in my heart because it’s literally where I got my music from. Plus, what other teen show can you remember that lasted NINE seasons?? It gave us Brooke Davis and Sophia Bush, which is reason alone to love it, but it also has literally every teen drama trope ever. Plus the whole setup of Nathan and Lucas actually is really interesting and carries us six of those seasons. And the Peyton Brooke Lucas love triangle is as iconic as Stelena/Delena.

It tried REALLY hard to be deep, but teenage me literally papered my wall with those quotes, so who am I to judge.

Some of its plotlines also rival Riverdale in their ridiculousness.

But mostly, I watched for the characters and relationships.