This class has shown me that storytelling can be experienced through a variety of mediums. For example, there are audiobooks, podcasts, interactive games, films, and TV shows. I needed to obtain a number of resources for this course. I liked that we were not limited to one place to access the resources.
I accessed most of the content through the course website. This includes the short films, S-Town, and the Stranger than Fiction script. I borrowed Pierre; or, The Ambiguities from UNC Chapel Hill Libraries. I watched The OA and Russian Doll on Netflix. This was an easy resource to access because I used my family’s Netflix account. Initially, I planned on accessing The Night Circus through Audible. However, I decided to use a free version on YouTube that I liked. I used Steam to play Life is Strange. I like Steam because it offers many deals and I was able to purchase the game at a discount as a result. Overall, I found the resources for this course easy to obtain and I liked that we had the freedom to choose what website or service we wanted.
Russian Doll is a Netflix series about a woman named Nadia who finds herself stuck reliving the same day over and over again. Her main objective is to find out why she keeps reliving the same day and how to stop it. I enjoyed this show mostly because of its well-developed characters. Initially, I did not know how to feel about Nadia. She seemed to be a self-absorbed person with self-destructive behavior. However, the show did a great job at gradually revealing why Nadia acts the way she does. Undoubtedly, she is a complex character. She acts like she does not care about herself and avoids getting too attached to other people. Her unhealthy relationship with her mother caused her to carry a lot of bitterness and anger. Essentially, she tries to forget her traumatic past by living a carefree lifestyle. As the series progressed, I saw how Nadia is not actually a bad person, but simply someone struggling to deal with the trauma of their past.
Even though Nadia is an independent and tough character, I enjoyed her more vulnerable moments. This includes her reaction to Alan finding the photos of her mother, her discussions with her therapist, or her interactions with Horse. I like that Nadia is forced to become more vulnerable with Alan as they look for a way out of their situation.
Alan is a complicated character as well. I find it interesting how his personality is the opposite of Nadia’s, yet he mirrors her in other ways. For example, both of them have self-destructive behavior. Nadia smokes and does so many drugs people are surprised she is still living. On the other hand, Alan struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. It is even revealed that he committed suicide for his first death. Without a doubt, Nadia and Alan’s relationship is one of the most intriguing aspects of the show.
The only issue I had with the show was with its repetitiveness. During the first few episodes, I grew tired of watching Nadia relive the same day over again. I also became annoyed every time I heard Harry Nilsson’s song “Gotta Get Up” play every time Nadia woke up in the bathroom. However, I understand the show’s creators decision for doing this. Essentially, the viewer becomes frustrated just like Nadia because they are forced to rewatch (or relive) the same scene. Overall, watching Russian Doll was an enjoyable experience for me and I rate it 4/5 stars. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a dark comedy with well-developed characters.
The OA is one of the strangest shows I have ever watched. There are many things I appreciate about the show such as its unique concept and character development. I was the most invested in Prairie (the OA) and learning more about her story. I felt like the main characters such as Prairie, Steve, and Dr. Hunter had the most character development. Surprisingly I found the relationship between Dr. Hunter and Prairie even more interesting than her relationship with Homer. I liked how Prairie had power over Dr. Hunter although he was the one holding her captive. I wish the show would have explored their relationship more.
Although I appreciate what the show set out to accomplish, I found many aspects of it frustrating and confusing. For example, I am not sure why the characters did not use more violent means to escape Dr. Hunter’s prison, or why they had to keep their doors open for every meeting. Throughout most of the show, I found myself wondering if some things were meant to be left to the interpretation of the viewer or if the writing was merely bad. I did not find many of the characters likable besides Prairie. I wanted to know more about the side characters such as Buck and Jesse as well. Although these characters are likable, they have limited character development, so I did not feel invested in them. Also, as much as I wanted to, I could not bring myself to take the dancing scenes seriously. I understand their significance and respect the artistic vision of the show’s creators, but I found it hard to watch.
However, I cannot call this a bad show. Despite disliking some parts, I found it entertaining to watch as a whole. I believe this is due the unpredictability of the plot. There were many plot twists that I did not see coming. For instance, when French found the books under Prairie’s bed, I started to become suspicious of her story.
Furthermore, our discussion in class about this made me realize that the FBI agent could have planted the books. Ultimately, our class discussion made me like the show more because I realized many things I had missed while watching it. Additionally, I found the show entertaining due to its unpredictability. For instance, I was sure that Prairie or the other scientist would succeed at murdering Dr. Hunter. Nevertheless, the show subverts the audience’s expectations and allows Dr. Hunter to live.
Although I did not enjoy every aspect of The OA (such as the dancing), I appreciate its intricate storytelling and thought-provoking concepts. Its mysterious and unpredictable plot is what makes the show entertaining to watch. I enjoyed the trailer for season two, and I look forward to seeing how the story develops.
I cannot say that Pierre; or, The Ambiguities is among my favorite novels. As much as I wanted to like it, I found it challenging to read. I felt like when the story would start to become interesting Melville would insert an additional chapter that would bring the story’s action to a halt. For this reason, I felt like it took forever for things to happen and found myself losing interest quickly.
It is clear that Melville added over a hundred pages to the novel after finishing it because many parts seem unnecessary and forced. However, I did enjoy some aspects of Pierre such as the characters and themes.
I think it is important to know the backstory for why Melville wrote Pierre before reading it. Essentially, the novel signifies Melville’s break up with his long-time friend Nathaniel Hawthorne. Knowing this information, it is easy to identify reflections of Melville and Hawthorne’s relationship throughout the story. I believe that Pierre’s relationship with Glen Stanley serves as an example. Ultimately, Pierre (Melville) trusts Glen Stanley (Hawthorne) but later feels betrayed by him and ends his life. This may be considered Melville ending his relationship with Hawthorne.
I believe I would have enjoyed Pierre if it had been shorter and more focused. Most of the time the writing was all over the place and hard to follow.
Without a doubt, Pierre is a thought-provoking novel with complex themes and symbolism. One of the most prominent themes in the story is the ambiguous nature of good and evil. Although I appreciated the themes the novel attempts to explore, the writing is unnecessarily dense, and the plot moved too slow for my taste. Unfortunately, I would not re-read this novel and give it 2/5 stars.