Category Archives: Zachary Quinto

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

I have a problem.

What do these names have in common?

John Bender
Chuck Bass
William Pratt
Damon Salvatore
Heathcliff Earnshaw
Gabriel Gray
Logan Echolls

If you say they’re all fictional characters, well, yes, you are correct.

If you’re reading the list and you’re seeing a correlation between some of them, but you don’t know who William Pratt or Gabriel Gray are, would it make any difference to you if I added their more commonly-used nicknames to the list? Here. Here is an amended list. Just for you.

John Bender
Chuck Bass
William “The Bloody” Pratt, a.k.a. Spike
Damon Salvatore
Heathcliff Earnshaw
Gabriel “Sylar” Gray
Logan Echolls

Better?

(And yes, I realize that Heathcliff, not actually being an Earnshaw, doesn’t ever get the surname, but the list looked weird if he only had one name, like Cher or Madonna. And also, I’ve always assumed he was Mr. Earnshaw’s bastard son, and therefore very much an Earnshaw, and also therefore, making his relationship with Cathy ever-so-much-more disturbing, if that’s even possible.)

Yes, they’re all fictional characters. 

They’re also all complete dicks.

And I’m completely in love with all of them.

I have an addiction to the anti-hero.

Not just the anti-hero, either. The dickiest dick of an anti-hero, that’s the one I want. The one that would sell out his own mother and kill your sister and sleep with your best friend and eat all of your Teddy Grahams AND NEVER EVER BUY YOU ANY TO REPLACE THEM OR APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

There are heroes, there are anti-heroes, and there are these kind of guys. The Byronic anti-heroes. The broken ones. The ones that have been so scarred by something in their past that they’re never going to be any good or at all trustworthy but maybe, just maybe, you can be the one who fixes them. You can be the one person that uncovers the treasure, that unearths the jewel hiding behind the grime and filth, that reaches in and fixes what’s been broken and they’ll be loyal to you, and only you, for all time.

In fiction, it’s easy to see what’s so compelling about characters like these. They’re a hell of a lot more readable/watchable than the boring heroes or even the less ambiguous anti-heroes. They’re evil. They do evil things. But if they were just evil, they’d start being boring. We keep coming back because they have hidden motives, they have a rich interior monologue, and every once and a while, a bit of humanity will peep out of their dark places.

Bender will torment a bullied student, but then tell the story of how his father burned him with cigarettes.

Logan will force homeless men to fight for money, but then be forced to walk to the closet to pick out the belt that his father will beat him with that night.

Spike will stalk and kill people in the bloodiest fashion imaginable, but then remember people mocking him for having a crush on a popular girl when he was young.

And you can’t hate them. You can’t, because you see that humanity, and it softens you on them. You just know you could fix them, if given the chance. You see how loyal they are to the few people they let in behind their very high walls and you love them, despite their wrongdoings, no matter how bad they are.

The problem is, this doesn’t hold true in real life.

Let’s take Heathcliff. I assume most of you have read Wuthering Heights, either on your own or as an assignment for a class, or watched one of the million movie adaptations. In case you haven’t, or need a refresher, here you go:

Heathcliff is adopted by the Earnshaw family, and is supposedly a gypsy child (but it’s slightly hinted at that he might be the bastard child of Mr. Earnshaw, which makes for a much better backstory, in my opinion.) He falls in love with his foster sister, Catherine. Catherine and he have a tumultuous relationship, which is characterized by mental and physical abuse on both sides. When his foster father dies, his foster brother forces him to become a servant to the family. Catherine decides she wants to become a lady, and begins hanging out with a higher-class family and spurns Heathcliff, who is now her servant. She marries into the higher-class family despite loving Heathcliff, because he is too low-class for her. He is obsessive and furious and there is a lot of hitting and throwing and such. He runs off, makes a lot of money in shady ways, comes home rich, and seduces Catherine’s sister-in-law and marries her as revenge on both Catherine (who he knows still loves him) and her husband. Catherine is furious and dies not long afterwards in childbirth. Heathcliff abuses his wife in every way possible, for the simple reason that she isn’t Catherine, yet she still loves him completely. He then, over the years, continues to get revenge on everyone who has slighted him, while obsessing over his dead lover, by playing their children against one another. Eventually he dies because he is haunted by Catherine’s ghost. 

This isn’t a very good recap, because it leaves out the simple fact that, no matter what Heathcliff does, and no matter how awful he is, and no matter how he treats the people around him (especially the women) like pawns on a chessboard, HE COMES ACROSS AS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED. I don’t know how this works but it totally does. I have had a crush on Heathcliff and his obsessive love for his possible half-sister since I was twelve. No, it’s not a crush. I am head-over-heels for Heathcliff. I read it, and the intelligent part of me KNOWS what a dick he is, but the stupidly romantic part of me is very squishy and foolish and thinks “I WANT SOMEONE TO LOVE ME LIKE THAT.”

Here’s the problem.

I had a Heathcliff, once. I was young, and it seemed very romantic. Phone calls at all hours. Declarations of love after knowing one another for a few days. Threats of bodily harm if we could not be together forever. But come to find out, there’s nothing romantic about dating a Heathcliff. Heathcliff, whose passion and fury seem very good on paper, in real life, is scary. Really, really scary. Restraining-order scary.

You do not, under any circumstances, want a real-life Heathcliff, or Damon Salvatore, or John Bender. They are broken. YOU CAN’T FIX THEM. They have to fix themselves, or get professional help for the fixing. Maybe, once they’re fixed, they’ll be up for public consumption again, but until that day, they are off the market. Don’t even try to fix them. It’s a losing proposition. You’ll just frustrate yourself and you also run the risk of getting seriously hurt, in one way or the other, in the process.

I walk the fine line of loving my fictional anti-heroes and keeping away from anyone who shows signs of being this person in real life. There’s nothing inherently bad, I suppose, in loving the fictional anti-hero. Like I said, they’re a lot more watchable/readable. They’re richer, fuller characters. I am bored to tears by the traditional hero who swoops in with motives pure as the driven snow to save the day. The reluctant slacker anti-hero, drawn into service without any desire to be there, is a little more interesting but not much. I want the twisty anti-hero. I want a backstory full of shadow and substance and a character molded by forces that did not have his best interests at heart. I want a nature versus nurture struggle. I want a twirly mustache and a big black hat hiding a heart of gold.

The problem is when you let that bleed over into real life.

In real life, even when I think that’s what I want, I now know it’s not. I know what Heathcliff really looks like, when he steps off the page. A petulant child. A broken pouting bully. Someone who wants to take everyone around him down with him. I don’t want that or deserve that. I’ve had that. I did my time with that. No more of that.

Things are always prettier in fiction. I’ll keep my anti-heroes there, where they can wreak havoc safely for my entertainment purposes. I’ll stick with my fictional dark and twisty guys. I can close the book or turn off the television when I’m done with them. A twelve-step program (“Learn to love the bland! Learn to embrace the safe!”) probably wouldn’t do me much good. I’m not ready to give them up quite yet.

My Top Five Most Anticipated Fall Shows. THEY ARE GEEKTASTIC.

Time for the final installment in our very exciting three-part series on fall television! OK, FINE, it’s only exciting for me. I AM VERY EXCITED. Like, crazy-eyed excited, yo. Fall television! It is enough to make a person jump up and down in their chair. Although I am still sick, so there will be no jumping, really. And as an aside, did you know when you call your doctor and tell them you are most likely dying, they don’t even believe you? It’s totally the case. I called my doctor, who was not there, and got a nurse, who was not in the least bit sympathetic to my almost-dying plight and told me that “these things happen” and that the doctor – the only one she was “comfortable” seeing me for this particular issue (so…if it’s such a common thing, why can’t any of the yahoos over there see me for it? Why the big kahuna only? I think this is suspicious) – is out of town until Monday and I couldn’t get in until then to see him. “So will I die in the meantime?” I asked her. “Probably not?” she said, in a doubtful tone. “But if you get better, feel free to call and cancel the appointment, to free it up for someone else!” Well. Well! I feel SO MUCH BETTER ALL ALONE WITH MY DEATH THANK YOU.

On to more exciting matters. Fall television! The top five new shows I am most excited about, in ascending order, so leaving the best for last. I realize that at least one, if not more, of these is going to be a disaster, and let me down a great deal. But right now anything is possible. It’s like the day before Christmas when you’re a kid. Anything could be under that tree, ANYTHING! And then the day after, you’re surrounded by shitty gifts like socks and store-brand Cabbage Patch Kids with wonky eyes and you ate too much candy so you feel gross but the day before is the BEST, right?

Also,you’re going to be able to tell (if you didn’t already know) by reading this list that I’m a huge geek. These shows are all filled with geekery. Two fantasy, one sci-fi, one horror, and one mystery which stars the goddess of geekdom herself. So if you don’t want to read this as a “shows I’m stoked about” post, read it as a “geeks, these are shows MADE FOR US!” list. I’m down with that.

Most Anticipated New Fall Television Shows

Once Upon a Time (10/23/11, ABC)

Premise: A mystery series where fairy tale characters live in a parallel world on our Earth where they don’t remember their true identities or lives.

Starring: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Paula Marshall, Raphael Sbarge, Giancarlo Esposito, and some other people I don’t know

OK, before you say “this is going to SUCK!”, I love fairy tales, I love retellings and reimaginings of canonical stories, and I love fantasy series. Yes, I am aware this is probably going to be awful. It’s on ABC, which is worrisome. Sure, they brought us Lost – but they’re kind of hit-or-miss with things. Does anyone remember (I bet you don’t– IT WAS THAT BAD) Happy Town? It started with such promise and it was SO STUPID. ABC just let it trail off and you had to watch the last couple episodes online (and if you did, you left your computer stupider for it – the ending was ridiculous.) So yes, this could be awful. Also, Ginnifer Goodwin worries me, because I don’t like her acting much. But I think the premise is kind of awesome! It shows promise! I think there are a lot of places you could go with this, and so many fairy tales to mine from, that you could have story arcs for years to come, if it takes off! Yes, yes, I know, odds are VERY good it won’t. But I’m hopeful. Day before Christmas, remember?

It’s also worrisome that this is debuting in October. That can’t be a good sign.

Grimm (10/21/11, NBC)

Premise: A detective learns he is descended from hunters whose job is to protect humanity from fairy tale creatures loose in our world. (Um. Hmm. This is…a little derivative of Supernatural? But I love Supernatural. And Supernatural’s ending soon. So I’m cool with that, to some extent.)

Starring: No one I’ve ever heard of. Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing.

I’m both excited and trepidatious about this. It looks fun! It’s on a major network! It’s got a fairy-tale angle, which as discussed above, I love! However. Stealing from Supernatural is a bit of a dick move. It could be completely different, but the “hunter” thing? Supernatural. The creatures? Supernatural. So I’m excited, but I’m going to wait and see. It’s still in my top five, because it has a lot of things that excite me. But I’m going to hang back before I throw myself at the feet of this one.

Seems like a weird fit for NBC. If this is another Persons Unknown debacle, I’m going to be pissed. (Tell me someone other than me watched that nonsense last summer. Wasn’t it so awful? I kept waiting to either care about one of the characters or for something to make sense. Neither happened. I wanted ten minutes alone in a cage with one of the writers.) Also debuting in October. What’s with that?

Terra Nova (9/26/11, FOX)

Premise: in America of the future, a family travels, via time machine, back to the age of the dinosaurs to start a new life

Starring: Jason O’Mara (yum!), Stephen Lang, Landon Liboiron from Life Unexpected, and other people I haven’t heard of; produced by Stephen Spielberg. Also starring lots of dinosaurs. BAM I SAID DINOSAURS.

This is probably on a lot of people’s short lists. I’m excited, but probably not as excited as most people. Here’s my worry – is it going to end up like Land of the Lost? Because I don’t think I could handle that. When I was a kid, Land of the Lost was on reruns Saturday mornings and it was SO STUPID. Also, I get the theme song stuck in my head at inappropriate moments even now, thirty years later, and I find myself singing “the laaaand…of the loooost….” and that’s kind of upsetting. Probably this will be better and Jurassic Park-like, right? But not Jurassic Park 2. That was awful, despite Vince Vaughn who I love. (Yes, I know he’s kind of a goofball. I don’t know why I love him. The heart wants what it wants.)

This should be good. Stephen Spielberg! Jason O’Mara! Or could be awful. Greenscreen acting! I am excited – it’s a huge sci-fi undertaking and is costing a lot of money and if it’s good, it will be very, very good – but also a little scared it’s going to be awful. But if it’s awful, it might be REALLY awful. Like, laugh-out-LOUD awful. Which is good in its own way, too.

American Horror Story (10/5/11, FX)

Premise: A family moves into a haunted home in California.

Starring: Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, ZACHARY EFFING QUINTO, and it’s produced by Ryan Murphy, mofos

This is so exciting I might pee my pants. Let me list the awesomeness, ready? It’s horror. That, first and foremost, wins me over. It’s on FX, so the special effects will be better, as will (probably) the writing. (Terriers was so good that I cried during the final episode, not because it was good – it was – but because it was being cancelled. And don’t get me started on the awesomeness of Justified and my cowboy boyfriend Raylan Givens.) The cast is kind of amazeballs, no? Jessica Lange? Denis O’Hare? SYLAR? Sylar’s going to be in this? I mean, you could put Sylar in pretty much anything and I’d watch it, so there’s that. Ryan Murphy, who (this past season of Glee aside) is kind of television magic?

Sylar. SYLAR! LOOK AT THOSE EYES.
You can’t look away. THEY ARE MESMERIZING.
I am very, very, very, times fifty very’s, excited about this. The fact that it’s starting in October isn’t as disturbing to me because it’s FX. Cable networks have different rules. They’re loners, Dottie. They’re rebels. Watch this because I’m going to want to discuss it with people and if no one’s watching it, it will be cancelled and I’ll be blue.

Ringer (9/13/11, CW)

Premise: A mystery series in which a twin impersonates her supposedly dead sister.

Starring: Oh, I don’t know. No one that exciting. Nestor Carbonell, a.k.a. “Eyeliner Dude,” from Lost. Kristoffer Polaha from Life Unexpected. OH WAIT ALSO JASON DOHRING. Excuse me for a minute, I think I just lost my shit and have to go find it again. There it is. AND ALSO SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR. My shit is officially lost and gone forever.

Now, I know I’ve mentioned time and time and TIME again how much I love Buffy. But have I mentioned my obsession with Veronica Mars? Like, watched each episode over and over, chatted in chatrooms, emailed people theories, loved Veronica Mars. JASON DOHRING IS IN THIS SHOW. You know about Logan Echolls, right? If you don’t, please immediately rectify this situation by getting Seasons One and Two of Veronica Mars. You can get Season Three, afterwards, because you’ll want to know what happens. It’s not as good, but it’s still ok. Jason Dohring played my favorite bad boy on television for three years, and I will love him for the rest of his (and my) life for that.

Oh, and also Sarah Michelle Gellar is in this. I mean, I was already perma-squeeing about this when it was announced, due to Buffy having a new show. But then Jason Dohring. That is like the perfect pairing, really.

The plot – well, it’s been done. But I’m willing to give that a pass. It’s got potential. And with the two of them – um, LOGAN ECHOLLS YOU GUYS LOGAN ECHOLLS. Sorry. You really have to understand – Logan Echolls. Logan “I thought our story was epic, you know? You and me?” Echolls. Logan “Dream on, Jump Street, I’m not leaving you alone with her” Echolls. I would watch Jason Dohring in anything. (I actually did. I watched every single episode of that piss-poor vampire garbage show Moonlight because he was in it, and that shit was PAINFUL. But Jason Dohring!)

LOGAN ECHOLLS. If you don’t love him, you
are missing part of your SOUL.

Fine, and also Sarah Michelle Gellar. This show has geek cred. I think a lot of geeks are lining up for this one. And it starts TOMORROW. This is very exciting. I am already planning my evening around this.

So happy fall viewing! Let’s do a recap halfway through and see where we stand, ok? I bet something gets cancelled after only a couple of episodes. That’s always my favorite. I love a good crash-and-burn.


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