Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘Bones

This week’s episodes of Bones made me feel a little uneasy.  There are sometimes that I can’t quite get a handle on the intentions of the writers.  In this episode, the team is investigating the death of man with horns who is found on fire on an altar in a church.  Don’t worry, the horns were coral implants, not real horns.  It turns out that the victim was the patient at a mental hospital where he as being treated for schizophrenia.  Brennan, Booth, and Sweets spend a lot of time at the mental hospital interviewing patients, staff, and doctors.

The intern on this case is Mr. Vaziri, the Muslim intern whose story lines always center around him being Muslim, and this episode was no exception.  While Mr. Vaziri is explaining his belief in Satan, he makes a comment about looking at the Devil everyday.  Of course, Cam takes this to mean “The Great Satan,” as in how some Muslims refer to America.  But, as you can imagine, he is just talking about how he has to wrestle with a past decision that haunts him everyday and that he sees evil/the Devil in himself because of this.

So, where to start with this episode.  It seemed like they just wanted to have a bunch of things that Dr. Brennan doesn’t agree with and doesn’t see reason in in one episode: religion and psychology.  Let’s start with religion.  Now, I’m not a religious person.  There are a lot of things that I don’t understand about religion.  But I always feel uncomfortable when Booth, the faithful Catholic, and Brennan argue about religious beliefs, which happened a number of times throughout this episode.  I did like at the end, however, when Booth and Brennan were talking about faith and Dr. Brennan talked about her faith in reason in much the same way as Booth talked about his faith in God and church.  I think this put Dr. Brennan’s beliefs in a light that Booth could understand and also helped Dr. Brennan understand Booth’s beliefs a tiny bit better.

And then there’s the portrayal of Islam on the show.  How many episodes has there been an instance where one of the team members, usually Cam, thinks that Mr. Vaziri hates Americans and Christians because he is Muslim.  There are at least two that I can think of off the top of my head and that already seems a little unnecessary.  One I can understand: Cam has to learn her lesson about assuming things about Islam and Muslims.  But two.  Really?  And there have probably been smaller situations that I can’t think of off the top of my head right now.

One thing that frustrates me about Bones is that I can sometimes not tell when the writers are trying to make some sort of social commentary by playing into stereotypes or if the writers are just writing these stereotypes without thinking much about it.  I like to think that they are trying to make a social commentary, but I’m not always sure.  And not everybody would see it as social commentary.  Some people would agree with the assumption that Cam jumped to during this episode, where as I just assumed that he had some sort of dark past that he regretted (which is what the case was) and that’s why Cam was freaking out.  I just can’t tell sometimes what the writers are intending for people to get out of their story lines.

Now, onto psychology.  When it comes to the psychology vs. sociology debate, I would probably fall far onto the side of sociology.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have respect for psychology and the work that psychologists/psychiatrists do on a daily basis.  Dr. Brennan, on the other hand, has very little respect for the field or the people that work in the field.  I liked what Dr. Copeland (the head of the mental hospital) said to Dr. Brennan: that he helps people on a daily basis who are living in hell and that is probably a more noble profession than finding out what happened to dead people who are already past pain and suffering.  I think it really put Dr. Brennan in her place and made her realize that there could be some value in the work of psychiatry.

And speaking of mental hospitals, can we talk about the portrayal of mental illness in this episode.  Booth kept referring to the mental hospital as the “loony bin,” which is already insulting, and then asked why people weren’t in straight jackets when they got there.  I think that the writers were trying to break down some of the assumptions about mental illness and mental hospitals with Booth making remarks like this and how they differed from their portrayal of the mental hospital, but they didn’t do a great job.  They really didn’t do a good job at showing how people with mental illness can function on their own.  All the people in the background were usually just shown with a blank stare on their face doing absolutely nothing or fighting nurses.  I know that this is the case for some people and for some mental institutions, but I didn’t really think it was necessary for the show.  Especially watching this episode with my mom, who is a psychologist and has worked in a mental hospital, she pointed out all the things that wouldn’t really be done in a mental hospital and how the portrayal was largely inaccurate.

All in all, I was really disappointed with the stereotypes that this episode perpetrated, even if they were intended for social commentary.  They weren’t always read as social commentary and I think that they were subtle enough that not everyone would realize that they were trying to be social commentary.  In the end, they just ended up being stereotypes.

Also check out meloukhia’s review up at this ain’t livin’.

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Oh, Bones.  In “The Dentist in the Ditch,” a skeleton is found on a civil war reenactment.  It turns out she was a gay dentist who plays football.  Why do I word it like this?  Because the team, primarily Booth, seemed fascinated by the gay football team and gay men playing football in general.  On the side story, Jared, Booth’s brother, is back from his trip to India…with a girlfriend, Rebecca from Greek.  Jared wants to propose but Booth thinks it is too soon as they have only been dating a month.  Then Booth runs a background check on her and freaks out because he finds out that she used to be an escort.  But of course Jared knew this already because they don’t have any secrets.

This episode really bothered me.  I thought that the writers were desperately trying to say “it’s okay to be gay” with this story line, but it didn’t really come off that way.  There were a bunch of comments, mainly from Brennan, about the fact that gay marriage is illegal not being fair and not making sense.  But the fact that they paid soooo much attention to the fact that the victim was gay and based a lot of their investigating on this as well told the audience that being gay isn’t normal, that being gay is a significant factor in an investigation where as they wouldn’t have paid that much attention to the victim’s sexuality if he were straight.

First they thought that the victims hunting ex-boyfriend killed him.  Then it was someone on the victims football team murdered the victim because of “lingering glances” in the locker room that would have threatened a straight man’s masculinity.  But then they found out the whole football team was gay, so they thought it was someone from a rival football team whose masculinity was threatened.  Then they found out about his secret, closeted lover and thought that he killed him.  But in the end, his murder had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they victim was gay.  So why did we have to focus so much on the victim being gay?  Pretty much no reason other than showing us that being gay isn’t normal and is something that should be considered in a murder investigation.

A lot of this was coming from Booth, but also from Sweets and Hodgins.  It’s not too surprising that these reactions to the victim being gay were from the men on the show, especially the “hyper” masculine Booth.  Then there was Booth who, upon meeting Jared’s girlfriend Padme complimented her on her English because she looked Indian, had an Indian name, and Jared met her in India.  Then she was like “I’m from Virginia” and he felt like a jackass…which he was.

The investigations on Bones are usually what saves it from it’s insensitive self.  But then they went and brought the insensitivity into the investigation.  All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this episode.

But, favorite line of the night: “yeah, I’m gay and I hunt.  Get over it.”

For a different take on the episode, check out meloukhia’s review up at this ain’t livin’.

BONES_Ep512_0115For all you conspiracy theorists out there, this was the episode of Bones for you.  The episode starting out with mysterious government men taking over the lab insisting that the team work to discover the cause of death of a set of remains which they are not allowed to identify.  But of course they try to identify them and come to the conclusion that the remains belong to JFK based on some pretty convincing evidence.  The episode was pretty much a deadlock between our team and the government men that took over the lab, with the team constantly trying to find ways around these men.

Using the impacts on the skull, the team comes to the conclusion that there were two shooters.  Booth is very upset by this because it would me that the government that he loves so much was a part of a cover up.  At the end of the episode, though, Brennan disproves that the remains belong to JFK (at least it’s statistically unlikely).  The team decides that it was like a dry run because there were congressional hearings debating whether or not to exhume JFK’s remains to do similar testing.

In the meantime, Cam finds a pregnancy test in the lab bathroom and becomes convinced that Michelle, the teenager she adopted, is pregnant.  Turns out though, that is was Angela’s pregnancy test and the whole episode she has to talk with Hodgins about whether or not she wants Wendell’s baby.  Hodgins thinks that she will keep it.  Because of this, he admits that he is still in love with Angela and that he wants to help her raise the baby.  But at the end, Cam reveals that she retested the test and it turns out to be a false positive.  So basically nothing good happened…

I was really liking this episode until the end.  I like hearing about conspiracy theories (man, was Hodgins in heaven in this episode).  And I thought it was an interesting storyline with these mysterious government agents taking over the lab.  But in the end, it turned out not to be JFK (most likely) and Angela’s not pregnant.  They took away all the good storylines right at the end.

Speaking of Angela’s pregnancy…  I actually really kind of liked that storyline, but not the fact that Hodgins was and wanted to be so involved in the decision about whether or not to keep the baby.  Shouldn’t that be a conversation to have with Wendell?  And I didn’t like that they gave Wendell so little credit, I’m sure he would be a good dad and rise to the occasion.  But I would be really interested in seeing Angela as a mother.  I think it would add a lot to the show.  But my prediction is that this pregnancy “scare” is going to make Angela realize that she really does want to have a baby and will try to get pregnant…but probably with Hodgins, which I don’t know how I feel about.

It was also a really interesting point in the plot to kind of pit Hodgins and Booth against each other.  They were both working on the same team, but Booth is very patriotic and refuses to believe that the government would be involved in such a cover up and Hodgins is convinced that that is exactly something that the government would do.  Of course it did kind of come off as painting Hodgins as the crazy liberal and Booth as the unreasonable Republican.  But, it still made for an intersting part of the plot, even if it did rely of political stereotypes.

And I’d just like to note that the past couple episodes they haven’t been blatantly playing up the Booth/Brennan romantic relationship, but there have been a lot of “knowing looks” from the other characters on the show when they are around each other…which kind of makes me want to gag, but that’s just me.

And one last comment…Booth is related to John Wilkes Booth?  Really?  A desperate attempt to add another weird layer to Booth?

Bones is back!  This week’s episode revolved around the case of a murdered UFO chaser and was full of alien speculation.  The storyline outside of the case was mainly about Angela and Wendell.  As we saw a while back, Angela and Wendell were starting a relationship, which they have now delved into deeper, yet they are still keeping it a secret…or so they think.  But throughout the episode, they have to tell Hodgins about their relationship, which is sufficiently awkwards and makes Hodgins realize that he is still in love with Angela.

Ok, so while I think Angela and Wendell are cute together, I have some major problems with their relationship and the storyline around their relationship.  First of all, I think Wendell is too young/immature for Angela.  He just seems like this cute little puppy that Angela is playing with.  This is most clearly demonstrated in a scene when Angela and Wendell are out to lunch with Hodgins.  Hodgins makes coments about how they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable around them and they can hold hands, etc.  So Wendell randomly kisses Angela, which she was not prepared for and did not appreciate.  I did like that she made the comment that she didn’t like being kissed when it wasn’t about her.  I thought that was a good touch.

The second major thing that I have a problem with about this storyline is the way that Sweets talked to Hodgins about it.  Hodgins went to Sweets because he needed advice on how to deal with his feelings about Angela and Wendell.  Sweets tells Hodgins that it sometimes feels like it’s ok to feel lonely when the object of your grieving is also lonely.  So, now that Angela is in a relationship, Hodgins is starting to feel lonely again and grieving over their lost relationship.  Ok, this makes sense to some extent.  But did everyone just forget that Angela was in a relationship before this…with a woman?  So, she wasn’t lonley for a good portion of time between her relationship with Hodgins and her relationship with Wendell.  It just seemed to me like they didn’t take Angela’s relationship with the woman (I’m sorry, I don’t remember her name) seriously…like it wasn’t a real relationship, so Hodgins didn’t need to feel upset about it.  Why not just address what the real problem is…that she’s in a relationship with Wendell, Hodgin’s friend.

Then there was the representation of people who believe in UFO’s as “crazy,” “idiots,” and “morons.”  While I may not believe in UFO’s and I don’t always understand how other people could believe in UFO’s and aliens, I don’t think it’s completely appropriate to use ableist language in describing them.  Brennan makes a comment at the end about a man being a moron, “figuratively, not literally,” because “it’s exciting to use insulting colloquialisms even when they aren’t accurate.”  This is just basically a round about way of saying that she’s using ableist language and likes it.  But Bones doesn’t always have the best track record with ableism and representing disabilities.

Well, anyways, as I hear, we have some “great” (depending on who you are and what you like about the show) situations to look forward to between Booth and Brennan and the rest of the season progresses.  If you’ve read any of my other reviews of Bones, you know how I feel about this storyline.

A couple weeks ago I received a great email from a reader that posed many thoughtful questions.  I want to start by addressing one of them here.

This reader brought up the fact that in one of my posts about Glee I stated tht I wasn’t sure if I would continue to watch the show if it weren’t for the musical numbers because of the amount of sexism, ableism, racism, etc. apparent in the show.  So, when does the sexism of the show outweigh the positive or entertaining aspects of the show?  How much sexism is too much?

Because of the society that we live in, there is at least some sexism (and other -isms) in all tv shows.  And I watch a lot of television, so I “put up with” a lot of sexism.  So why do I continue to watch all these shows even though there is apparent sexism in them?

First of all, I am interested in how pop culture reflects the values of society.  So even though I enjoy these shows, I am always critiquing them — analyzing what they are saying about society.

But we still have to come to terms with the fact that I enjoy these shows — they are entertaining to me — despite the fact that they promote values that I disagree with.  Of course there are some aspects of certain shows that promote feminism, but they are certainly in the minority and still have sexist aspects to them as well.

For example, Secret Life of the American Teenager goes back and forth between healthy and unhealthy attitudes towards teen (and adult, sometimes) sexuality.  There is the teen who in one episode thinks that the fact that she had sex with her boyfriend whom she loves killed her father, then has a conversation about masterbation with her mother in another episode.  And Bones can have a great portrayal of bisexuality in Angela and then can portray stereotypes in heterosexual male-female reationships (Bones and Booth).  And there are some many other examples that I could go into.

But there are still many shows that I enjoy that have very few positive feminist aspects (How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, etc.).  When does the sexist factor outweigh the entertainment factor?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure.  I think it depends on each person and each show.  There are certainly a lot of shows that I don’t watch.  And that might be becuase their sexism and oppressive norms outweight the entertainment…or that the premise of the show just doesn’t interest me.  But I don’t really think there is a set line that can be used as a template for all shows.

I know this isn’t really an answer to the question.  But I can speak to my personal preference in continuing ot watch shows.

First of all, I have a tendancy to get invested in characters and storylines.  Shows that are good at storytelling tend to keep my interest.  Also, characters that I can either identify with in some way or see as an escape from my life can keep me interested in the show.  For example, I use Gossip Girl as an escape from my life because the lives of the characters are so different from mine…but I can still see some of my personality traits in some of the characters.  If the show can’t keep me interested in the storyline and invested in the characters, then the sexism will start to outweigh the entertainment factor for me.

So…how much sexism is too much in television?  I don’t know.  It has to be considered with the storyline and characters of the show…at least for me.  I might have a higher tolerance for shows that have apparent sexism than other people.  But, like I said, even if the storyline and characters are enough to keep me interested in the show, I am still always critiquing and analyzing what the show is saying about society and the sexism, racism, ableism, etc. that is in the show.

Bones_GoopGirl-Sc46_0118_fThe case this week involved a guy dressed like Santa who robbed a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest and when Booth was about the arrest him outside of the bank, the bomb when off.  They later found out that the guy dressed as Santa was forced into the bomb and to rob the bank and it wasn’t actually his fault  So no worries, Santa didn’t kill Christmas.

In the meantime, Brennan’s father (where did he come from?) is trying to convince her to spend Christmas with him instead of going to El Salvador, so he invites another family member to spend the holidays with them — Brennan’s 2nd cousin Maggie (played by Emily Deschanel’s real life sister, Zooey Deschanel).  Of course we got all the jokes about how they look so much alike they could be sisters.  Brennan finally agrees to stay for Christmas and has the whole team over for a Christmas dinner.

I am getting increasily annoyed with how the other characters treat Dr. Brennan.  Dr. Brennan doesn’t see the world the same way as a lot of other people, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  But a lot of the characters treat her like she’s defective in some way, especially Booth.  When Brennan expressed her desire to go to the “Santa’s” funeral so his mother wouldn’t be alone, Booth said, “your heart muscle is bigger than people give you credit for.”  This just shows that people don’t understand how Dr. Brennan’s brain works.  Then Booth interupts Brennan’s Christmas dinner toast because he thinks she’s doing it wrong.  But it was her toast, her house, and her gathering…she should be able to do whatever kind of toast she wants to do.

And while we’re speaking of Booth and Brennan, they’re awkward sexual tension continued throughout this episode in really annoying ways.  First, Booth has evidence all over his clothes, so Dr. Brennan has to undress him.  I get that that’s how it’s done, but it wasn’t really necessary to the story.  I think they just wanted to have Booth running around the lab in his underwear and Dr. Brennan undressing him.  And then there was Brennan dropping random lines like “he’s very hard to resist” and “I find him pleasing to look at.”

Ever since I heard that Zooey Deschanel was going to be guest starring, I have been looking forward to this episode.  But I have to say, I was really disappointed with her character.  She quoted Benjamin Franklin all the time and just every scene with her felt awkward and forced.  Which is really a shame because I like her as an actress.  I know they wanted to make her similar to Dr. Brennan in that they are both awkward and socially unaware, but it was just weird.  I don’t really know how to put it, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Overall, I think they’ve had better Christmas episodes.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Bones, but I thought I should jump back on the wagon.  This week’s epsiode was about a gamer (famous for his high score on an old school game) was murdered.  The team investigated how he got his high score as well as his competitors.  On the side, Hodgins, Sweets, and the intern Colin Fisher have gotten three tickets for the movie Avatar so have to switch spots standing in line to get good seats for the movie.  It was entertaining only because they have to make up weird excuses to leave and for where they have been because they shouldn’t be standing in line for a movie while they are supposed to be working.

First off, how much do you think Avatar had to pay to get intertwined into the script like that?  It was kind of weird…not only because I don’t really understand what the movie is about, but that’s a conversation for another place.  Of course there were the gratuitous digs at how sci-fi nerds never get laid…but oh wait, Fisher is nearly 100 girls that he has slept with, so that disproves the myth, obviously.  I don’t always appreciate these kinds of comments.  I’m kind of a sci-fi nerd.  I don’t think an enthusiasm about science fiction is an automatic turn-off.

Speaking of this.  Sweets meets this girl in line for Avatar who completely throws herself at him and offers to show him the tattoos on her breasts multiple times.  He seems into it, but ultimately has to resist because he has a girlfriend.  But then Fisher shows up and they are introduced and automatically get into the tent to have sex.  I’m sorry, but how has loud, active sex in a flimsy tent while in a very busy line for a movie?  It just seemed really out of place and forced.  But then we got to have Hodgins be all sweet and comfort Sweets because he was feeling blue about the number of women whom he’s slept with.  It’s about the quality not the quantity, according to Hodgins.  And it’s all good, because Sweets has probably had sex more times that Fisher even though Fisher’s had more partners.  So isn’t that still about quantity?  Sweets said nothing about how good the sex is.  They just figured that having more sex was better than more partners.  While the sentiment was sweet, I didn’t really buy the argument in the end.

But I did like that they showed that not all “sci-fi nerds” are men, that women can enjoy sci-fi as well.  Even if their main example was a woman who would sleep with anyone who sounded like they had an interesting job.  Not the best representation of women sci-fi fans, but at least it’s a start.

There was a short little line about sexism in the gaming industry which I appreciated.  The top gamer now that this guy has been murdered is a woman.  Booth makes a comment about how it’s good for business because more people would pay to see a woman.  The woman “fights” back by saying that it shouldn’t be about the gamer’s gender but their skill.  I liked this woman.  She was pretty awesome.  And she even fixed her own machine!

And as always, I liked that there wasn’t a whole love of Bones/Booth relationship drama in this episode.  Always a fan when they do that.  But there was a lot of talk of sex in this episode, what with the counting of the partners and number of times and all.  I just don’t really understand why it should matter how many times you have had sex versus another person of how many partners so and so has had.  It should be about your experiences and what is best for you, not a competition among men to see how many chicks they can score.  And trying to say it’s about quality and not quantity does not count when your evidence of that is simply how many times you’ve had sex as opposed to the number of partners.

So here’s the thing with Bones recently…there hasn’t been a whole lot of storyline outside of the investigation in the episode.  Which is ok, the investigation is usually what I find most interesting, especially how they discover all of the things that they do.  But it’s kind of hard to write reviews of an episode when there’s not a lot outside of the investigation because that’s not really what I want to write about.