Review and Reflections on The Good Place Show (Season 1)

 

 

 

I finished watching season 1 of The Good Place on Netflix. Here are some of my reflections and overall review.

Premise

The story begins with Eleanor Shellstrop’s death and subsequent welcome into the Good Place. Just what it sounds like, the Good Place is a place for those who are good.

One problem though: Eleanor is not a good person.

She often maintains that she was a “medium” person. But, throughout the show, the audience get to see flashbacks of who Eleanor was in her life.

Ahem. Let me summarize: not a very good person.

Themes

I love this show, because it dealt with morality and with the limitations in our heaven/hell paradigm. Even more pressing is the question regarding finality in terms of the time frame for being “good.”

Can we learn to be good? Or are we royally screwed if goodness doesn’t come naturally to us? To what extent can we blame our nurturing for our nature?

Another wrinkle in this complicated canvas is the idea of intention in congruence with the seemingly, outwardly, selfless actions we display.

What about soulmates? Do you meet soulmates only in your lifetime? Or, can you be “rewarded” with a soulmate? Is that an easy connection to be made or does it take effort and compromise?

Characters

And, I think part of the reason behind my love for this show is the characters. They were real and flawed, even when they tried to seem “nice” and “good.” Plus, that plot twist in the last episode shook me up quite a bit.

Chidi will always be someone rather close to my heart, because I can relate to the indecisive nervousness around making decisions. Part of me will forever aim to please everyone, but will also weigh in the pros and cons far too many times. He was a good teacher; I learned lots from him.

Tahani and her struggle to find peace within herself also hit close to home for me. Man, I grew up with very high expectations of myself, and I was constantly disappointed. Sometimes, I slip back into that destructive critical tone with myself and others. Watching Tahani be unable to be truly accepting of others was a tough pill to swallow. I am not even sure I digested this lesson quite yet.

Eleanor and Jianyu are interesting people, too. I kind of worry that I am more Jianyu than I’d like.

Overall

It’s definitely a 5/5 kind of show. Funny, light, charming, and yet meaningful and profound. Super nice.

Also: I don’t know if this is just me adjusting to my Hufflepuff status, but I will say this show reminds me of the essence of being a Hufflepuff. This is a good thing, because there are not many shows that remind me of the Hufflepuff-ness in life.

If you have seen this show, please share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to discuss this one with you. See you in the comments. 

It has been a while since I have done a Netflix Chronicles update. So, here
Over the past week, I have inched my way through the second season of The
As you may have gathered by now, I am working my way through The 100. This

Season Review: The 100 Season 2

Over the past week, I have inched my way through the second season of The 100. In order to preserve the freshness of this experience, I wanted to write reviews for compelling shows. Needless to say: The 100 is one heck of a thought-provoking series. SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!

season 2 gloss over:

The stakes are much higher than they were in the previous season. Forty seven Ark citizens are taken into a place called Mount Weather. A funny play on words, “wither” suggests that the place is not as harmless as it may appear to the survivors of season one. Even the names of the authority figures here have sinister names: Dante Wallace (Wall-ace) a la Dante’s Inferno. His son’s name is Cage.

Make of that what you will. But, to me, these names were very indicative of these characters’ functions within the story.

Power play

If the first half of the season was simply a power play between the adults, things surely change in this second half. Clarke and her mother tug back and forth at the leader position for the ark people.

More than anything, the biggest struggle is between Clarke and newcomer to the show Lexa, the commander of the grounders. This duo is sometimes difficult to watch because Lexa is an intense version of Clarke. She is all mind with a dulled heart. Meanwhile, Clarke has to make some difficult decisions that lead her to question her own humanity and connection with others.

Leadership changes within the mountain as well: Cage starts off slow, but then overtakes the approach to Mount Weather’s liberation. Again, here we see this struggle between being humane versus being efficient. There is a play at science versus art and culture underlying this conflict, too, between the father and son.

Poor Lincoln and octavia (round 50000)

Lincoln has the crappiest luck in this series. I just can’t get over how resilient he is. Through Lincoln, we get to see someone questioning grounder culture from an early age and be critical of these expectations. Not only that, but he also manages to be sympathetic to the sky people.

Same coin, flipped side: Octavia of the Sky People was isolated simply by existing. She never belonged with her own society. As such, she searches for her place within the grounder community.

I like that Octavia’s growth has little to do with Lincoln. Sure, he introduces her to grounder culture, but she mostly interacts with his people independently. Her relationship with Indra should be explored more in later seasons, I hope, because it must be weird after how things ended between them.

Oh, and let’s all applaud the choice to separate Octavia from Bellamy and Clarke. Octavia is a fierce woman, not just because she is a warrior. In addition to physical strength, I find her to be emotionally and mentally resilient. Just like Lincoln.

Tough decisions

Ultimately, the decisions that leaders make for their people’s survival are the driving force of this season. Clarke and her “good guys” approach withers (no pun…okay, some pun intended) in the presence of Lexa.

Abigail questions Lexa and Clarke’s authority on the basis of their age. Dante and Cage are at an impasse and Dr. Tsing is getting restless.

Bellamy and Lincoln have to face the horrific usage of grounders and sky people by the mountain men.

There’s something strange about the utopia presented at first: everyone knowing each other’s name. People eating in the same room, arguing over cake. Jasper and Monty transition from contentedness to full blown resistance.

So much conflict.

And loss. I’m not sure I’ll ever be over the betrayals and that death.

One liners

“The first dose is the worst.”

“I hope you know how special you are.”

“I bear it so they do not have to.”

and finally, the most painful line to hear, Thanks, princess.”

 

Set in 1960, the film opens with the death of Ellie's mother as she prepares
      I finished watching season 1 of The Good Place on Netflix. Here are some
As you may have gathered by now, I am working my way through The 100. This

Anl.: Gatsby, Poldark, Who is the Man?

When watching Poldark, most people feel passionate about Ross and his story, but I am starting to wonder if it an echoing of the Great Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald. Maybe that is something we are meant to examine, this connection between Great Gatsby and Poldark.

Ross Poldark

Essentially, Ross’ story is a response to the idea of the self-made man. To him, nobility is not a given, depending on wealth. It is that of breeding, which reminds me greatly of Tom Buchanan. However, it plays out differently for Ross.

The story is about the common man and champions ethics over riches. For Ross, it is about finding ways to be his authentic self without being controlled by money.

Often, he sells most of his possessions. He takes risks financially to provide for his family and tenants, not to gain social status.

Francis Poldark

Quite opposite to his cousin, Francis discovers that family outweighs social status, which would make Gatsby completely baffled. He tries to shake off his father’s pressing comments on his worth as a Poldark in comparison to Ross.

In fact, Francis redeems himself by getting to know the common man (servants and farmers), by being compassionate towards them, by respecting Demelza (who happens to be the token of a woman rising to ranks by love and marriage).

 

George Warleggan

George is considered the villain in this story, but I am not sure about this anymore. Think of how he is the modern American hero: self made, from rags to riches, and he is trying to attain a girl. Elizabeth Poldark represents aristocracy at its finest. And, he needs her badly.

It’s the assumption that once he has her, he will be noble. He will be worthy. He will be respected. After all, she is well educated, socially appropriate, and, quite frankly, all the dudes want her.

But why?

The Daisy of It All

Elizabeth is pretty much the green light that George reaches out for. She is unattainable (for now) because she’s married, she’s rich, she plays fair. Like Gatsby, George tries to please her with his money. He practically tortures Francis to have her ask for his help.

Very much in the same vein is his relationship with Ross. Ross, the noble who became a champion for the poor, and George, the leech who feeds on them, are at odds.

George tries to control him, to make his friend, to make sure he can contain this personified fire that is Ross. In a way, George, the grandson of a miner, is fighting his own past, trying to squash it, make peace with it, and most importantly, destroy it.

Sure, there is the obvious connection between him and Demelza, who tells him that she, too, is a lady, even though she is a miner’s daughter. He hates her for pointing out their background, for not being ashamed of who she was, a scullery maid.

This is where their difference lies. He is a banker and she was a scullery maid. In his eyes, he has fought to change his circumstances and he deserves to be rewarded with the best shiny things: connections, control, and, of course, the Daisy of it all–Elizabeth.

 

For More:

Is Poldark a True Story? 

 

Your Turn:

Do you see any connections between your favorite shows and classics you have read? Share in the comments!

 

      I finished watching season 1 of The Good Place on Netflix. Here are some
Over the past week, I have inched my way through the second season of The
Shows are a rare thing in my life, because I always worry about committing to

Favorite Shows

Shows are a rare thing in my life, because I always worry about committing to a routine where I have to watch steadily. However, over time, I have stumbled on some great shows. Balancing between PG-PG 13 type of ratings, I found some of my favorite shows ever, and I am going to be sharing them in this post.

Burn Notice

A spy loses his job mid-mission, and goes on a quest to hunt down whoever “burned” him. Fun, action-packed, and fascinating tricks all around. Fiona, Michael, Sam, and Jesse are one hell of a team.

 

Community

Jeff Winger enters community college as a lawyer whose license is revoked after he is discovered to be a fraud. While there, he meets six incredible people who become his friends and community. Hilarity and incredible emotion ensure for six seasons (and a movie? Hopefully).

The Musketeers

Another show ultimately about love and friendship, patriotism, and feminism (surprise!). Constance, Milady, and Queen Anne are wonderfully portrayed here, and they are incredibly strong figures, who have complicated paths towards a happy ending. The Musketeers are great fighters, kind and compassionate men. Watch out for the Cardinal, aka the Doctor.

Merlin

This show initiated my fascination and compassion towards Guinevere and Morgana in the original stories of King Arthur.  It’s not faithful to the stories at all, but it’s fun. Warning: the plot gets a lot heavier as the show progresses. Do not expect happy endings.

Poldark

I forgot about this show! Oh no. It’s one of my favorites for sure. It has all my babies: Ross, Demelza, Verity! Man loses all he holds dear: a love, a father, a fortune, and he must find a way to find hope and have a positive impact on his society. Such incredible characters and complicated relationships. Check it out.

 

 

Pushing Daisies

Hands down the sweetest show I have ever seen. Boy touches dead things and can bring them to life, but cannot touch them again. Then, he becomes a detective and a Pie Maker (TM). Childhood sweetheart dies. He revives her. Love, but no touch, lots of raising the dead and asking them question.

Robin Hood

Not accurate at all, but it’s good fun. Rich soldier returns home from the war only to lose his property. Attitude problems all around as he forms a band of mischief maker in the woods. The show tries to take itself seriously at times, which makes it even more hilarious and fun. It’s not so fun by the last season as the writers seem to hate or not understand their characters at all.

 

Sherlock

Who is honestly surprised by the inclusion of this show? I was never a fan of Sherlock Holmes until I saw this show. Injured soldier returns home, while suffering with PTSD, and meets a detective with a mind-bending intellect. They move in together and start solving crimes, while Watson blogs about them. Fun, clever, and sweet.

 

 

      I finished watching season 1 of The Good Place on Netflix. Here are some
Over the past week, I have inched my way through the second season of The
When watching Poldark, most people feel passionate about Ross and his story, but I am

Anl. Swiss Army Man and its Themes

I knew I would love Swiss Army Man from the moment I saw the trailer. Granted, I adore Radcliffe and Dano, but I also loved the tone of the story in previews. What I didn’t expect was a movie  that was so moving and heartbreaking.

Freedom and Innocence

Essentially, the film communicates plenty of messages regarding freedom, as symbolized by farts. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes, we need simple ways to convey deep messages.

The way Manny is unrestrained and open is admirable. It’s what literally gets him places. While I partly consider Hank is projecting a bit onto Manny, I do think that his friend reflects his conflicts regarding freedom of expression.

Openness is reiterated throughout the story as Hank teaches Manny about various aspects of life: relationships, emotions, sexuality, pleasure, and self awareness.

Sexuality

Speaking of which, I loved how sex was explored in this movie. It was not a shameful, gross, or primal thing. I am torn regarding how Manny’s penis was used as a compass, because it can be foreshadowing for  Hank’s attachment to Sarah.

On the other hand, the relationship between sexuality and Hank’s stalking relates to innocence because I don’t find Hank and Manny creepy as people. They don’t fetish-ize Sarah or women in general. They don’t turn Sarah into a fantasy. It’s more of a coping mechanism for both of them.

Friendship and Acceptance

Through Manny’s questions, Hank is able to unfold different issues he has. For instance, he talks about his mother’s death and his inability to do things that pleasure him (through the masturbation and sex symbolism).

Hank tries to teach Manny about what is acceptable and what is not as Manny posits that perhaps it’s okay to feel caged by these expectations.

Montages depict their developing friendship, particularly when they reenact the bus scenario.

Not so Much

However, what it boils down to is that while we may think of these things, they can be punishable by society. It pains me to see that ending, but I didn’t expect Manny to survive in a world where his farts wouldn’t be accepted and, by extension, his innocence wouldn’t be accepted.

The closer Manny and Hank get, the closer to civilization they find themselves.

Ultimately, it is a fun and thought-provoking story that I am glad to have on DVD to rewatch and analyze.

Your Turn

What is the latest most challenging story you have been exposed to? How did you come to terms with it? Please share in the comments!

 

For More:

 

–“Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe” 

Set in 1960, the film opens with the death of Ellie's mother as she prepares
There are things in my life that were constant. One of them was a fascination
If you ever want to experience a love story, a beautiful one at that, read

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I read Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close a few years ago and it moved me tremendously. So, when I saw the movie on sale for 5 bucks (!!!), I picked it up, certain of its awesomeness. In particular, I thought of its mystery aspects and its exploration of human connections and love.

The story offers a much needed message: you should love people for who they are, and tell them you love them (often) because you never know when you could lose loved ones. Be it catastrophic events like 9/11 or just a dwindling health, nothing is certain.  Oskar loses his father for the terrorist attacks in New York City. William Black’s father gets ill and dies.

Another interesting theme in the story is connection. People connected with Oskar even if they never knew him or his mother. He discovers that even though he didn’t want any friends, he got them anyway. This blindness, tunnel vision, of just a goal and nothing more is very typical. We zero in on a tangible logical thing while forgetting that there’s more to life than just checks, high fives, and happy dances. There’s love to ground you and remind you that your loss fits in a larger context.

The thing is, Oskar isn’t the only one who lost someone. Abby did. William did. His grandfather did. Everyone has an inner battle and turmoil. They fight it the way they feel fits. Is it perfect? Do they pick the best way to do so? You may not think so. All you can do is try to understand where they’re coming from.

Finally, you sometimes find things when you stop looking in the “logical” places. Oskar found out what they key meant after he let go and let the universe unfold. When he went up to the swings and found out that his father’s quest was much simpler than he expected. Scary, but when your loss is great, you sometimes become braver and stronger than you expect. It still hurts, though.

Your Turn:

Have you seen the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? Or maybe you’ve read the book? What did you glean from the story? How was it communicated throughout the tale? Share your reflections in the comments!

 

For More:

A Boy’s Epic Quest

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 

When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I
Part of having an online presence is this weird isolation from real life, whatever that
Being stuck and sad makes reading, sleeping, eating, drinking, praying difficult. Everything is hard then.

Anl. Women in Sherlock’s World

I love the way women are portrayed in BBC’s Sherlock. It is refreshing to see women presented as equals, worthy of the men in the story. In particular: Molly Hooper, Irene Adler, and Mary Watson are wonderful women who are strong and clever. They play major roles in the story. 

Mrs. Hudson

Before I begin, I obviously have to talk about Mrs. Hudson. Without her, Sherlock says, “England would fall.” While she is often dismissed, however, she still manages to be central to the story. For instance, she embodies the show’s audience through her assumptions about John and Sherlock’s relationship. Often, she is surprised by John’s attempts at finding a girlfriend.  She provides commentary on Sherlock’s mess. Yes, she is sometimes comic relief. But, she is also the voice of common sense.

Molly Hooper

Molly is interested in Sherlock romantically at first, and her attempts are thwarted. She comments on his actions, seeing right through his ways of hiding his impending death. She whispers, “You look sad when you think he can’t see you.”

Sure, Sherlock thinks she can replace John. But, she is surprises the audience often. In the Abominable Bride, she is part of the revolutionary body of women. Even in the series itself, Molly is powerful enough to introduce Jim Moriarty to Sherlock.

She is crucial. She helps Sherlock so much, just to help humanize him, so much that she helps make him “dead” and then “alive.” He trusts her with his secrets–from his awareness of the necessity of his death, to the way he is hidden from John and everyone who knew him.

Irene Adler

Adler is the dominatrix who brought England to its knees. She is “The Woman.” She is presented as everything Sherlock is unaware of: sexuality and manipulation of people’s insecurities. She flirts with Sherlock openly, discomforting him with her recorded moans on the phone as text alerts.

I think more importantly, like Hooper, Adler presents a powerful connection to Sherlock’s humanity. She makes him care about her through their dialogue and connection over intellect. Unlike Molly, Irene successfully makes Sherlock uncomfortable. She threatens Mycroft, who is presented as the “clever one” (in series 3 and in the Christmas special). The Ice Man and the Virgin are manipulated by her and she almost wins. Her emotions, like Molly’s, give her away, but she is still respected and protected by Sherlock as seen in series 2.

Mary Watson

What the creators of the show have done with Mary’s character is also very inspiring. It’s awesome to see her have her own back-story, where she is a “very bad girl.” She is a capable and strong woman, who confuses Sherlock throughout their encounters at first.

He doesn’t know what to make of her, just like Irene and Molly. All he knows is that something is unsettling about her. But, that’s more intuition than cleverness. She is strong enough to shoot him, to spy on him, to hack into Mycroft’s carefully gated cyber world.

“I’m taking Mary home,” John says in the Christmas special, and then, “Mary’s taking me home,” which is rewarded with a “Better” from Mary.  She stands out as a woman who is able to help John “come around” when he is mad at Sherlock for his faked death (and she succeeds).

Like the other women in the series, she is often the voice of reason while Sherlock and John bicker. Do they need her? Yes! A resounding yes over and over.  She is a clever woman, anchoring John, who, in turn, anchors Sherlock.

What’s not to like?

Your turn:

Have you seen Sherlock? Who are your favorite characters on the show? Why do you like them?

I watched The Force Awakens and I have been a fan ever since that late
Community is a show that is amusing, sure, but it is also about growth and development.
For whatever reason, I was always under the impression that the Pirates of the Caribbean

Anl. Disability in Me Before You

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia Clarke is adorable as Louisa. Sam Claflin is witty as Will. I didn’t realize how much it would irk me as a disabled person. Before I begin, here’s a summary of the story. Louisa works as Will’s care-giver after an accident leaves him quadriplegic. They fall in love over the course of six months. She discovers that Will had planned an assisted suicide. He’d set up his will and planned his death.

Focus:


The first flaw in the narrative lies in the focus. I wish we’d gotten the story from Will’s point of view. It would have been incredible to see more of a disabled person’s perspective. Will speaking about his own struggles. Or, maybe he could have been showing his pain and frustrations. It is important to shed light on the life of quadriplegics and other disabled people.

 

Helplessness: 

 

 

Louisa is presented as this cheery happy person. The brunette girl tries to “save” Will’s life with her chattiness. This disabled man is presented as a damsel in distress. But, he is not this. Moreover, he has all the reasons to be angry.  The movie touches on this aspect of disability subtly. Being diagnosed with an incurable illness is hard. Will loses so much more than his health. He can’t work the same way. Nor can he maintain physical intimacy with people. He cannot go on adventures the way he was used to.

Misrepresentation: 

 

Mental illnesses are misrepresented in this story as final unmoving things that cannot be treated. Will’s inability to see joy in his life is never addressed or confronted. Instead, Louisa distracts him from facing the real causes of his pain. Counseling would have helped. Antidepressants could have helped.

The problem is that the film presents disability as unbearably frustrating and that death is the only option to have. It’s not. Louisa shouldn’t be represented as the only one who researches activities for quadriplegics. It would have been great to see Will take control of his life in ways before deciding on death. I am not saying that death isn’t a valid option. That’s fine and understandable. However, Will isn’t shown as someone who had tried to live and cope with his new life.

It’s just odd to see Will’s message to live boldly. Yet he does not follow suit. He could’ve been presented as able to live happily as a disabled man.

Overall, the story of Me Before You presents a flawed portrayal of disability. It has some beautiful moments. I laughed a lot watching this film. I enjoyed it, for the most part. The more I watch it, the more I fall in love with it. My heart goes out to Will and Lou. They truly are memorable characters. It is still a pleasure to have known these people. I am glad I got to see it.

Your Turn:

What is your favorite movie with good representations of diversity and disability? Why do you like this adaptation? Share in the comments!

For More:

“Me Before You” Review from Paraplegic Amy
“Me Before You” Review and Ableism Discussion

While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I
In order to minimize the effects of collision the ground, it is helpful to try

Anl. Cultural Stereotypes in My Big Fat Greek Wedding

While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference between Caucasians and people of color. It is refreshing to see a family like Toula’s. However, I wonder about the portrayal’s accuracy. As a woman of color, I don’t think the society presented is realistic.
 It would have been more convincing to have different kinds of people of color. Maybe some Greeks are not meat eaters  Or, maybe some Greeks don’t over-share. Yes, there are stark differences between cultures, but not everyone within a culture is identical to others in that community. In a way, it is a gloss over all people of color as the “same.” It’s not as complex as I would have liked it to be as a story.
Conversation Starter 

It is still incredible to watch a story with so much diversity and culture. It’s rare to hear the perspective of people of color, without trivializing our views and dismissing them. This is a good start. The film comes from a well-meaning place. It is about acceptance of one’s background, culture, religion, and family. It is about familial love. I enjoy watching Toula get to accept her family and be proud of them. I know for me, it is challenging to be okay with how different we are as people of color.

Intergenerational Cultural Clash 

The cultural norms I grew up with are different from that of my parents, too, and I think this is partially what Toula experiences in both films. She is not like her sister: perfectly Greek. She’s a combination of Greek and American. So, she doesn’t quite fit into the mold of the perfect Greek girl or the perfect American girl either. I can relate to this a lot, because I grew up as a mix between middle eastern culture and American culture. And, even then, I come from a displaced family; wars tore through the routine, which is something touched upon through the character of Mana Ya-ya who is confused by her new surroundings.

Self Actualization: 

Another neat thing to see is Toula’s  growth as a person, as a girlfriend, a wife, and mother. She finds herself in the first and second film. Women are often told that they need to be “pretty” to “get a man.” It is nice to see a story where the characters are focused on more than just marriage. Toula goes to college, the first in her family, and tries to work somewhere other than the family’s restaurant. It’s a reasonable portrayal of the difficulties women of color face when it comes to career-related ambition.

Gender Realization: 

The challenges of gender relations is also refreshing. I like that the women are not presented as quiet shy “things” to be had. They are headstrong sometimes, they are confident and passionate. They’re not overly sensationalized as this exotic different “other,” a refreshing take on people of color for sure. I feel so happy to see such a presentation of a culture so close to my own.

Overall: 

It definitely sends good messages to people balancing different cultures. They don’t have to be at war; they can coexist in the way a person carries his or herself. She is a proud Greek American and this portrayal of a happy, proud and strong Greek American family certainly opened my mind to the idea of being okay with myself as an Arab American and I am grateful for these movies and Nia as a writer because she presents a different voice in a mostly white narrative regarding women (which is often also told by men, unfortunately).

 

When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I
In order to minimize the effects of collision the ground, it is helpful to try
Part of having an online presence is this weird isolation from real life, whatever that

Anl. Life Lessons In Star Wars

I watched The Force Awakens and I have been a fan ever since that late December of 2015. Afterwards, I have managed to acquire the original trilogy and the newest film on DVD and have been watching the daylights out of them.
Mental Power

What I truly love about these films is the lessons they posit, and the wonderful characters who are exposed to such pressures that push them to learn or at least understand difficult ideas. One of the most interesting lessons in Star Wars has to do with developing an understanding of one’s mental and emotional strength. The Force is not a literal blunt physical strength. It is invisible and yet very powerful. Darth Vader is seen choking people with the Force. Kylo Ren pauses a blaster in midair with ease by the Force.

But, as Han Solo puts in the original trilogy, the Force is part of an old religion and is all woo woo. Yet, by The Force Awakens, he openly admits otherwise: that it is all real. The Force is not too far from the imagination; it is a metaphor for spiritual and overall mental strength. It can lead to great strength, but one must train to be mindful and meditative. In essence, this is what Luke Skywalker and Rey learn eventually. They learn to still their minds in moments of fear and stress, and they concentrate.

Here and Now

In other words, the lesson is to stay present in the here and now.

Yoda teaches this lesson in the original trilogy: anger leads to hate and hate leads to destruction. Ultimately, he depicts various wisdoms: first, looks can be deceiving. Rey was shown as a scavenger who is inexperienced when it comes to the Force. Somehow, her awakening is registered on Kylo Ren and Snoke’s radar. She is an equal if not a superior Force user to Kylo, a man behind the terror across the galaxy. The same can be said about Kylo Ren, who is presented as a threat to the universe and yet, when Rey sees him without his mask, she finds him sympathetic and “sensitive.” This is very important to note because Rey’s initial assumption is that he’s just a “creature in a mask.”

 

Identity and Independence

Identity and independence are also themes in the Star Wars stories. We see it on both sides: Rey breaks free from Jakku scavenger life to become a Force user. Luke becomes a Jedi master after wanting to be a simple pilot with the resistance. Kylo Ren wants to achieve what his Darth Vader failed to do, and he rebels against his family in doing so. Finn was a nameless stormtrooper and yet Poe gives him a name, an identity, and they together accomplish missions for the resistance.

Love

The biggest weapon to be used in Star Wars worlds is love. It is Anakin’s love for his children that ultimately gets rid of the Emperor. Luke’s love for Leia drives him to save her in the first place (and even later on, he loves her and Han enough to save them from Jabba the Hutt). Compassion is a driving force (no pun intended) in these movies. Snoke accuses Kylo Ren of being too kind to Rey because he can relate to her. Why is this a negative thing? Well, it’s mostly a “light side” trait. Luke understands his father and is compassionate enough to believe the best in him is yet to come, which turns out to be the key to Darth Vader’s demise and the triumph of Anakin Skywalker (who knows what will happen to Ben Solo. I choose to believe that the best of him is yet to come. But, even if that’s not the case, I find his struggle so, so meaningful and powerful).

Friendship is another strength in these movies. There are epic relationships, iconic, throughout Star Wars. The companionship of cute droids, nonhuman beings, and even humans make the main characters have lots to lose. The stakes are higher than ever. R2D2, C3PO, and even BB8, they are all endearing that I wonder if there is a lesson there, too. After all, the most enduring friendship in the series is that between a human and a wookie. Always, this universe was able to bring to life wonderful characters and break down barriers in its vastness. In the new installments, we see female stormtroopers, black stormtroopers, female force users, and young people part of both sides. I cannot wait to learn what else these films have to offer.

For More:

Lessons from Jedi Master Yoda 
Star Wars Is Not About Good and Evil 
What Star Wars Can Teach Us 

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