Best of the Decade: Top 40 Favorite Television Shows

The Best Television of the past decade, the favorite shows from 2010 to 2019 were varied to say the least. These were often brilliant and beautiful, funny and poignant, captivating and intriguing; some shows that appear on this list will not be surprising with their inclusion as they are beloved here at The Girly Nerd. Others, and especially the ordering, might take you by surprise. The criteria was simple. The series had to have spent the major of its run in the decade. This excluded shows such as The Office and Lost, or the add on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life which did air in the decade but most of its run was out of that time frame. But all in all there was so much television to love from long running sitcoms, to bingable thrillers, to short-lived, but incredible dramas. They were all a wonder to behold.

Before delving into the Top 40 we must take note of some honorable mentions, many of which could be worthy enough to be included in the top 40 but were not simply because I have either just begun them, or fell behind and will need to revisit them at some point. Soon to be started is Netflix’s The Crown, along with Dolly Parton’s musical catalog inspired Heartstrings. Just began is the irreverent and quirky Schitt’s Creek, while I’ve fallen behind on was the touching and funny Speechless, thoughtful and steadfast Blue Bloods, intriguing and slick Lucifer, and the beautiful period drama Poldark. I look forward to revisiting and getting back into each of these. other shows that deserve not recognition are Happy Together and Happy Endings. But the purpose this is to highlight the best of this past decade. Without further ado here are the Top 40 favorite Television shows of the Decade.

40. Ringer (2011-2012) ringer
Dark and sexy drama, this tale of a woman who takes over the life of her selfish twin sister starred the amazing Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ioan Gruffudd and was full of twists and turns, and soapy dramatic intrigue and I loved every minute. The show ended with many things left unresolved which is a shame because it was a ringer in terms of sexy mysteries of the time.

39. IZombie (2015-2019)izombie
Often brilliant, always poignant, the only reason the show isn’t listed higher is I fell behind on the series by about the season. But regardless this zombie drama which is, thankfully for a viewer like myself, never too violent or glory, but rather a more thoughtful and even fun take on the concept as the amazing Rose McIver literally becomes a different person in each episode. It may be fantasy, but the heart is about human morality and love in all its forms.

38. About a Boy (2014-2015) about_a_boy
Based on the British film of the same name, the Americanized version is lighter and a bit softer in terms of the main character and his quirky neighbor who begrudgingly becomes friends with him after her son takes a shine to him. Its heartfelt and silly fun.

37. Galavant (2015-2016) galavant
This goofy, colorful unique breath of fresh air musical comedy show was bursting at the seams with talent from its amazingly talented cast which included Karen David, Joshua Sasse and Timonthy Omundson to the musical composer of the illustrious Alan Menken. The Monty Python-esque storytelling, Galavant was a niche show but beloved by those who discovered it’s hilarious greatness.

36. The Astronaut Wives Club (2015) ERIN CUMMINGS, DOMINIQUE MCELLIGOTT, JOANNA GARCIA SWISHER, AZURE PARSONS, YVONNE STRAHOVSKI, ZOE BOYLE
This wonderful mini-series, tightly crafted with an incredible cast, took a new angle at the depiction of NASA in the 1960s. Seen mostly from the perspective of the wives of NASA top astronauts, we see just what they endured as they watch their husbands embark on historic but extremely dangerous missions. But this isn’t an all hearts and flowers saccharine look at doting and meek happy housewives. No, we see real, very loving and intelligent women, all very different and dealing with every day trials and their husband’s work, and sometimes infidelities, as well as personal aspirations of their own. It’s equal parts fond remembrance and inspiring encouragement and hope for a better life then and now.

35. Reign (2013-2017) reign2
Perhaps not the most historically accurate, but one of the most enthralling, sexy, and exquisite looks at the life of Mary Queen of Scots, this series showcased all the drama, tragedy, and escapades of the Royal, romantic, sexual and wartime intrigues of France, Scotland and England in the 16th century. Fine cast, gorgeous production, and captivating storytelling, this show was for anyone who loves royal dramas rich with intrigue.

34. The Mysteries of Laura (2014-2016) laura
Two seasons wasn’t long enough for this engaging crime procedural with Debra Messing and Josh Lucas, Messing being Laura Diamond, one of the best homicide detectives in the NYPD, juggling being a single mother and sparring with her ex-husband Lucas who is now her partner. What really made this show was Laura’s character, a very real and relatable woman, who it amazing at her job, but still fallible in her everyday life, intelligent and strong, stubborn but loving, open and forgiving. These mysteries were grounded and wonderful.

33. Emily Owens M.D. (2012-2013) emily
This is short-lived but overall excellent medical dramedy wasn’t overly serious and bombarded with medical crisis. Instead while it did deal with these things, rather it more keenly focused on a group of young doctors, its lead being Emily, the perpetually teased but extremely hard-working young woman juggling her awkward social life with the pressures of a competitive and stressful workplace. It was well acted with a wonderful cast that included Maime Gummer, Justin Hartley and Michael Rady, and it was fresh and poignant and so enjoyable.

32. Manifest (2018-present) manifest
Part of my “Best of 2018,” as said Manifest is, “Intriguing, melancholy, gripping, and thought provoking, the comparisons to LOST were inevitable, but let it be said that Manifest is its own show and one that mixes and perfectly balances unexplained phenomena, crime procedural and family drama, matched with an impressive cast led but the wonderful Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh as brother and sister Ben and Michaela Stone, who returned home to a world that had changed so much. [wanting] to know what happened to Flight 828 that caused them to somehow become lost in time to the rest of the world and lose 5 years.” It’s a mysterious and thoughtful journey so far that leaves us wanting more.

31. A Discovery of Witches (2018- present) A Discovery of Witches
Another that was part of the “Best of 2018,” in this fantasy show, ” Between the amazing cast, beautifully locales and exquisite cinematography, there is so much to be mesmerized by, most especially a love story- a kind of Romeo and Juliet love story between a witch and a vampire, two species who have always been on opposite, adversarial sides, who are instantly drawn to each other and form a unbreakable bond and love that transcends all, and defies obstacles, and proves that LOVE knows no bounds.” based on Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, it’s chilling and romantic, and the upcoming seasons are sure to be just as thrilling.

30. The Goldbergs (2013-present) goldbergs
Anyone who grew up in the 80s, or indeed lived in the 80s in any way should love this silly and good-natured look at family life in this formidable decade focusing on a young boy obsessed with movies, wanting to be the next big filmmaker, and the trials of being an awkward teenager, with a popular but equally awkward brother, Queen bee sister, smother for a mother, and tough but well-meaning father. It’s laugh out loud funny and so, so heartfelt.

29. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-present) DSC00208.ARW
Witty, fast talking, delightful, colorful, meaningful, poignant, funny, effervescent, female empowering, and yes completely marvelous, series, each episode is like stepping into a candy colored, bubbly musical time machine to the 1960s which is fun and lively, but not without turmoil or drama. At times it feels heightened in true Sherman-Pallidino style, at other times completely grounded in very real, relatable truths about life.” And in the third season it was a rich vignette style sense of storytelling. A smoke-filled, gin and tonic soaked nostalgic gem with a wonderful continuation of Midge’s journey. Where she heads to next is anyone’s guess, but it’s sure to be a simply marvelous.

28. New Girl (2011-2018) new girl
You can describe this comedy in the same way you can describe its leave protagonist Jessica Day played by the incomparable Zooey Deschanel – sweet, a little silly, quirky, but ultimately strong, wise and heartfelt. Jess was definitely a lovable character; she’s someone whose quirks and awkwardness was endearing and so relatable to anyone he was ever felt a little weird, but is smart and strong willed enough to not let that dim that special light that burns inside them. That is New Girl’s greatest takeaway as we see that with all the characters and relationships. They grow and love and learn, but never compromise their unique individual selves. It’s a triumph of showcasing goofiness and wisdom in a way that was always engaging.

27. Royal Pains (2009-2016) royal
There was so much to love about this dramedy from the cast, to the characters, to the fact that there wasn’t anything else like it on television. Dr. Hank Lawson loses everything when he acts with his conscience instead of his pragmatism, forcing him to look for work elsewhere. Begrudgingly with the partnership of his brother Evan, and the help of a physician’s assistant Divya (who was a refreshing depiction and an Indian woman breaking tradition to be her own fulfilled person), Hank becomes a concierge doctor in the Hamptons. A sort of MacGyver medical drama, patients offered interesting things to behold, while the drama that unfolded for the characters and their relationships remained rewarding to watch, with a truly satisfying conclusion.

26. The Good Place (2016-present) good place.png
Another winner from Michael Schur, what makes this absurd and unique comedy work, and indeed set it apart from other shows in lovely ways, are the interesting and vastly different cast of characters, and the way they all come together with love, friendship and teamwork on a profound level, looking at philosophy and morality of life in ways that are both funny and thought-provoking. This “Soul Squad” and their adventures are good for our souls.

25. Modern Family (2009-present) mod fam
Taking a cue from The Office in it’s format by speaking to the camera about what they are going through throughout each episode, the comedy and heart of this show works thanks to an incredible cast and great writing that showcase the humor of every day family life in universal ways with 3 families, all different and more modern in appearance. Sometimes silly and absurd, often heartwarming and poignant, Modern Family will be a classic for years to come.

24. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)The Change Constant/The Stockholm Syndrome
This long running comedy spent the majority of its run in the decade and it’s a prime example of a show simultaneously remaining true to its core concepts and heart will also improving and evolving. And evolving is the keyword when it comes to all of the characters who end in better, happier, more enlightened places. All while remaining so funny and sweet. These nerds learned so much without losing themselves.

 

23. Fuller House (2016-present) fuller-house-season-2
This reboot of the original series is sweet hearted, goofy but like the original has some poignant moment, perhaps left less often but still lovely and affecting. Seeing sisters DJ and Stephanie and best friend Kimmy grown with families of their own, navigating the ups and downs of adulthood, mirroring the concept of Full House, brings forth some wonderful moments and a lot of heart, with the proper dose of nostalgia there any fan of the original would delight in. Romantic entaglements, the ups and downs of parenthood, High School reunions, Weddings, musical numbers, New Kids on the Block, there is so much to delight in!

 
22. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013-2014)wonderland
The spin-off of Once Upon a Time may have had only one season and 13 episodes, but it was an exciting and heartfelt series, was indeed connected to the original with crossover characters and settings, but was amazing in its the singular story with a small and select amount of characters, that still had that ever present intertwining and fun blend of stories. Alice falls in love with a Genie from Agrabah and fights the evil Jafar, is best friends with one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, Will Scarlet who loves someone himself, The Red Queen who is also the step sister Anastasia. The writing was tight, characters wonderful, and story lovely and enthralling with a beautiful satisfying, tear inducing ending showing the power of true love and friendship.

21. The Middle (2009-2018)the-middle
Life in the middle of America for an average middle-class family was endlessly relatable in this sweet and always funny, often touching comedy. What makes the show is the characters in the Heck family which feel so real, relatable and endearing. The scenarios are sometimes presented in wacky ways, but make no mistake, the situations are ripe with truth. At the end of the day, The Middle is anything but middling, but rather a look at people who could be your friends and neighbors, and indeed happily so.

20. Trophy Wife (2013-2014) trophy
Absolutely hilarious, sweet natured comedy series that should have run much longer than its single season, don’t let the title throw you off. This is a modern family comedy about a man who is on wife number three, much younger than him, but they are a sweet couple to behold. And their crazy and unconventional lives which includes three kids, and both ex-wives showcases them navigating this life together with bits of silliness and heartwarming moments. Fantastic cast, with the characters all so different, the ex-wives are a bit extreme opposites but still likable, the kids feel like real kids and are all, again, different, but sweet and endearing, and the main couple in question is believable in their love and relationship. Worthy to note, this show bolstered two of the most relatable moments ever – asking someone to look up an actor’s filmography online because they seem so familiar, and trophy wife Kate wanting her wedding to have the same vibe and feeling as Kermit and Miss Piggy’s.

19. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019) a-series-of-unfortunate-events-season-2
As said in the Best of 2018 series, ” The Netflix original series based on the children’s books of the same name is dark and filled with gruesome scenarios that befall the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans, and yet it remains sweet and touching. A steampunk-esque visual feast for the eyes, it features intelligent writing, which actually gives you vocabulary lessons in each episode in a way that is so entertaining you crave it, hilarious absurdity, and an amazing cast. The story of the Baudelaire children may be an unfortunate one but you will not want to “look away” as the theme song and narrator often advises the audience to do. Instead you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well.. The contrast of the absurd situations, breathtaking visuals and profound meaning of this material is astonishing.”

18. Hart of Dixie (2011-2015) hart
A sweet, funny, gentle, dramedy, Hart of Dixie is a guaranteed pallet cleanser for those who need it. A bit Gilmore girls esque, in this story of a young New York Doctor who moves to the small Alabama town of Bluebell, complete with a colorful cast of real characters, we see how this journey to the South changes her life and the lives of the town forever; and it is absolutely delightful. Flawed characters who you genuinely love, relationships that go through tribulations but all end up happily, growth from all, and touching friendships, the heart of Hart of Dixie is the very epitome of making lemonade out of lemons and finding your life in the most unexpected of places

17. This is Us (2016-present) this_is_us_cast-publicity-h_2019_
Interwoven stories of a family seen at different times in their lives, has been heartwarming, heartbreaking, relatable, lovely, and moving each and every season, due in no small part to the fine writing, wonderful characters, and exceptional cast. Becoming a bit of a phenomenon, the popularity is matched by the quality and it’s clear and understandable why audiences yearned for this type of dramatic family storytelling. There is so much to love about the Pearson family at every stage of their lives, and its current season we see that scope broaden into other characters as we see that age old truth of how a single person can come out of the blue and completely change our lives. If a show had a heartbeat on those relatable truths of life, it would be This is Us.

16. Pan Am (2011-2012) pan am 1
Chic, romantic, beautiful, optimistic nostalgia, Pan Am looks at a time in history ripe with hope for the future, and big changes in the world, but also still so far to go in terms of equality and fair and good treatment of women and others alike. 1960’s stylish with the best modern sensibilities about chasing your dreams and believing in a future better than the past, these attributes reflected the glamorous but sometimes turbulent life of a Pan Am stewardess. The cast is wonderful, including Christina Ricci and a new to Hollywood scene Margot Robbie, the stories are a mix of light and fun, and dark and serious, showing the life of an undercover spy. It’s a breezy drama that truly soared and deserved to be on (and in the air) much longer.

15. White Collar (2009-2014)whitecollar_epguide_206
Most definitely inspired a bit by Frank Abagnale and Catch Me if You Can, White Collar was another in USA network’s string of entertaining serialized crime shows, this one being a more lighthearted caper drama about a white-collar criminal who alluded authorities for so long and went finally caught makes a deal to work with the FBI to stop criminals with the lead who tracked him down, the two eventually becoming close friends. The concept was fresh, the stories interesting, and the dynamic between the characters always great to watch. I was often mesmerized by Matt Bomer’s charisma as this charming thief Neal Caffrey, and touched by the friendship that formed between him and Tim Dekay’s Peter Burke Ending in a satisfying by open ended way, if we ever revisited these characters it would be a joy.

14. Murdoch Mysteries (2008- present)Tinsel
This long running Canadian drama is an absolute delight for those who enjoy turn of the century stories, interesting and endearing characters, stand out of history, and procedural detective shows. Detective William Murdoch’s life as a member of the Toronto Constabulary is always an exciting, thoughtful one and the adventures we see, especially with the woman who becomes his wife, the intelligent and inspiring medical examiner Dr. Julia Ogden, as well as Chief Inspector Brackenreed and constable George Crabtree are sometimes lighthearted, sometimes intense, but always enthralling. Through the wonderful period details and integration of real life people of note in history from Thomas Edison to Mark Twain, you get a truly rich series.

13. Castle (2009-2016) castle
When it comes to procedural crime dramas, you need the right combination of a fine cast, interesting cases, and captivating overarching stories. Castle had these in spades. But what really made the show was the characters, their chemistry, they are evolving relationships, from cocky but good hearted writer Richard Castle, the intelligent and guarded detective who inspires him Kate Beckett, homicide detectives that are often so funny, but also capable Ryan and Esposito, Castle’s classy and no nonsense mother, and his sweet and mature teenage daughter Alexis. They all become a family over the course of the series which had a very unique hook – a writer looking for inspiration who begins working with one of New York’s finest homicide detectives, causing sometimes trouble but eventually becoming part of the crime solving team in a crucial way. Although the show almost took a detour, in the it ended extremely satisfyingly. And overall this Castle was magnificent.

12. The Mentalist (2008-2015)mentalist 1
Dark, thrilling, emotional, on the edge of your seat drama, The Mentalist had an abundance to love. The twinkle in his eye, disarming smile, calming presence and overall charisma of Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane was unparalleled. He’s man who has keen observational skills, and the ability to tap into people’s thoughts, sometimes in a manipulate ways- a true mentalist that helped the California Bureau of Investigation solve countless cases, along with and amazing other cast of characters, and fine actors to boot, the strong, smart and caring Teresa Lisbon, who Patrick loses his heart to, and other agents, brave and funny Wayne Rigsby, spiritual and resilient Grace Van Pelt, and stoic, no nonsense Kimball Cho. emotionally so, Patrick’s charm was matched by the despair in his eyes whenever he is forced to revisit his darkest day when his wife and child were murdered by the infamous serial killer Red John. Although the week by week cases all had great intrigue, it was the over arching story of fighting and stopping that infamous killer that was the core of what made the show captivating until the very end, especially when it involved its characters who went on journeys of self discovery and healing. The show’s final moments are truly a beautiful example of hope and peace overcoming darkness.

11. Burn Notice (2007-2013)burn
Intense, addicting spy drama not only bolstered amazing characters but had one of the best series endings of all time. This show was the perfect blend of dark and light as Michael Weston tries to find out why and who burned him as a spy, along the way helping those who really need it with help from his trigger-happy ex and eventual girlfriend Fiona, a friend who used to inform on him to the FBI, hiarious ladies man Sam Axe, a down and out spy Jesse Porter he met along the way and his chain-smoking mother who kept him in his check. An unconventional family to say the least, their adventures involved more mojitos and explosives than the fourth of July, but the humor and heart were matched by the griping storytelling. Always keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, it was amazing to see these characters grow and showcase the importance of a fridge full of yogurt and standby tactical support. In all seriousness, Burn Notice was an astounding shoe that brought it’s characters full circle in a truly moving way.

10. Forever (2014-2015)STEPHEN BARKER TURNER, ALANA DE LA GARZA, IOAN GRUFFUDD
Such a rich, unique series that deserved more than a single season, Forever took a captivating and unique take on the crime procedural by having its protagonist Henry Morgan, a medical examiner in New York Cry who begins working with the police to help solves cases, have a defining trait like no other- he lives forever. Or rather he can die but is always reborn moments later. Take this concept, making is rolling by casting Ioan Gruffudd, add a touching point of his older “friend “actually being a son he adopted from a Jewish internment camp with his wife in that time period, (a woman he still yearns to discover what happened to her after a mysterious, heartbreaking disappearance) and weekly mysteries and continuing story of the mystery to Henry’s condition, a chilling man whose discovered this, and we get an amazing show that deserve so much more time.

9.Smash (2012-2013)smash 1
The magic, music and drama about all it takes to make a Broadway show, from the writing, casting, and grueling rehearsal process is the heart of this musical drama. The lives of all involved revolving around the making of a musical based on Marilyn Monroe in season one, to a Modern rival musical written by ingénues coming up in the wings in season two, and finally a race to the Tony awards, this series showcased a particular part of our culture that is ripe with intrigue, fun, sadness, joy and excitement; and I loved every single moment. Without outstanding production quality, as well as production numbers and music, these shining moments shone as brightly as it’s truly exceptionally talented all star cast which included Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Angelica Huston, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jeremy Jordan. Smash was truly smashing and deserves a standing ovation.

8. Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) parks
Absurdly hilarious in the same vein of The Office, this somehow morphed into a surprisingly sweet and hopeful fable about people who were all so different- different ages, upbringings, assuredly personalities and political ideologies- and they not only learn to love each other like family, but support and work together despite, and even because of those differences. Through it all this group is led by the incomparable Leslie Knope, the woman which more enthusiasm, heart, creative ideas, and hopeful ideals that truly inspires everyone, from her best friend, beautiful starfish Ann Perkins, sardonic assistant who pretends to care less April Ludgate, grumpy but ultimately caring libertarian Ron Swanson, nerdy eventual husband Ben Wyatt, impossible optimistic Chris Traeger, the sweet and silly Andy Dwyer, the yearning to be an entrepreneur Tom Haverford, always maligned by sweet Jerry Gergich, and sassy and smart Donna Meagle. Don’t we all wish life could be like this – the town of Pawnee may be strange at times, but at its heart we see good people navigating life, friendship and family, all while being laugh out loud hilarious. Parks and Recreation is sweet lovely, absurd and brave all at once.

7. Stranger Things (2016-present)stranger-things-season-4-netflix-what-we-know-so-far
Three seasons so far and each one has been an incredible blend of sci-fi, drama, government conspiracy, and coming-of-age tale. It’s a show I never knew I needed but this story which starts about a small town boy going missing, a mysterious, traumatized girl with telekinetic abilities sheltered by a group of young boys, a resourceful mother who would do anything for her children, and snarky but intelligent badass police chief investigating these strange occurrences, captured the minds of so many. As the show has evolved so have the characters, most especially said police chief Jim Hopper, and the remarkably powerful ways so many ways young girl Eleven who becomes his surrogate daughter, as well as the group of misfit boys who are maturing with each season. Each year the threat of the truly terrifying upsides down, a paralleled world filled with destruction, monstrous creatures call demagorgans, as well as the gargantuan Mind Flayer continues to be thrilling and moving not just in the fight against terrifying monsters, but in showing the power of the human spirit. We fight for those we love learning just what we are capable of and it’s an extraordinary journey to witness.

6. Agent Carter (2015-2016)agent1.jpg
Stylish, thrilling, moving, and filled with wisdom, this incredible series was part superhero comic pulp, part detective drama, park comedy and romance, and all around criminally underrated and short-lived. It only two seasons and 18 episodes, Peggy Carter and her team brought us fantastic mystery and inspiration as part of the marvel universe. What truly makes the show what it is was the title character, as said in the “Best of 2015”, “Agent Carter rests on the shoulders of Peggy Carter the character and the performance by its star Hayley Atwell. And for that reason we have seen the show deliver poignant and dynamic television. Peggy is strong and brave no doubt, but it’s the moments of vulnerability even when she tries to push that aside that make her even stronger. It’s this moments when she is determined to gain the respect she deserves, all with dignity, that she becomes even braver. And it’s the moments when she says that she understands and knows her value and that everyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter that she becomes even more of an inspiration than she already was. Peggy Carter may not always have garnered the credit she has earned many times over but the beauty of her character is that she knows what truly matters is that her self-worth is not determined by others.” In addition to Peggy, the show bolstered amazing character, most especially Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark’s valet who helped Peggy and became her true partner in crime, as well as Agent Daniel Sosusa, the brave and steadfast man who takes a shine to her, for all the right reasons. Agent Carter shows the power of self-worth and integrity wrapped in a colorful, nostalgic, nourish package that I still miss every day.

5. Timeless (2016-2018)timeless.jpg
Timeless was a remarkable and truly a magical show. As written in the “Best of 2018”, “This series is the perfect blend of adventure, history, humor, drama and mystery with amazing characters and relationships. Timeless brings history to life with both well known figures, but also nuances and individuals who are not, illuminating eras and inspiring people.” seeing everything from Alamo and the Moon Landing, Bonnie and Clyde, Benedict Arnold, to Hedy Lamarr and Alice Paul . The evolving relationships were the true heart beat of the show with show’s ending demonstrating that life is a journey, not a destination. It’s a beautiful journey with Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, Flynn, Jiya, Denise, and Connor through time: “The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists, inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes. Timeless is as timeless a form of entertainment and fine storytelling as there ever was.

4. Downton Abbey (2010-2015) Promo.jpg
Immaculate, sumptuous, enthralling period drama that captured the hearts and minds of so many and truly became a cultural phenomenon, what made Downton Abbey such a special and extraordinary series was its characters. The format and historical aspect isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, and yet the stories of the Crawley family and its large estate staff felt fresh and captivating in a way like we’ve never seen. Perhaps it’s the vast amount of characters, the heady style of drama which ranged from romantic entanglements, to World War I, to tragic deaths, to repairing broken spirits and souls. These characters and the family, which includes everyone because we see despite the class differences and even disparity among the Crawleys and staff alike, family and love endured. With already one inspired movie released, the series is a breathtaking look at life and its timeless truths in an ever-changing world. It may be another time, but that heartbeat remains true with ours skipping a beat every time that musical theme begins and we step back into the immaculate grandeur and beautiful simplicity of its finest themes: love and family.

3. Chuck (2007-2012) chuck
A family drama wrapped in a wacky spy thriller, peppered with colorful characters led by the incomparable Zachary Levi, Chuck is a brilliant, sweet natured and endearing take on the concept. It spent three out of its five seasons in the beginning of the decade, and it was some of the show’s finest moments- ones that really evolved the characters and overall story in terms of their growing relationships and their stakes when Chuck’s intersect becomes more than simply government secrets, but also amazing abilities that he must learn to hone and utilize as he works to becomes a real spy. They face formidable villains and family drama, but at its heart, Chuck is about believing in yourself and doing anything for family, with characters who are endearing while all vastly different. Chuck is not just an intelligent and charming computer nerd and his not just a government asset. He is a brave and capable in his own right man with strength, integrity and heart that endures everything life throws at him. Sarah becomes more than a closes off and stubborn but always kickass spy. She is becomes even stronger through her love and willingness to doing anything to protect it. Casey becomes more than a hard-nosed NSA agent who pretends to care for little other than serving his country. He learns the power of family while remaining steadfast in his convictions. Morgan becomes more than Chuck’s geeky, awkward friend, but proves his bravery and good heart to be so great. Ellie and Awesome not only continue to be not only capable doctors and steadfast support systems, but even more open and loving to who Chuck has become. You love them all, root for them, and if you don’t believe Sarah and Chuck’s love overcomes in the end, perhaps you didn’t understand what the show was truly about.

2. Psych (2006-2014, 2017) Psych - Season 8
This comedy, drama, detective, fake psychic procedural, extraordinary goofy series spent half of its run in the decade, plus a movie. And it was just as hilarious, creative and at its core, heartwarming as the first half, perhaps even more so. The show began the decade halfway through its fourth season, and by that point the characters not only were well established but had grown individually and in their relationships. And while each case we saw had its moments, it was the captivating Yin and Yang, the musical, and Clue inspired episodes that were especially the pinnacle, along with the ways the friendships and romantic relationships grew, and eventually dealt with the truth about Shawn’s abilities. And from Shawn and his father really growing close, Shawn and Juliet finally coming together in love, (ending the series with a marriage proposal and the film with that long awaited wedding, impromptu as it was), Carlton finding his soulmate, and the heart of the show, best friends Shawn and Gus, it’s these relationships that really grounded the show through all the over the top hilarious antics as well as its darker moments. It’s a testament to the fine writing and performances, that you truly love all of these characters. They become a family and feel like one to audience. This brilliant series never made a false step. Psych was perfection!

1. Once Upon a Time (2011-2018) 6x22c
Anyone who follows The Girly Nerd shouldn’t be surprised at the show that’s taking the top spot for favorite of the decade. Captivated from the Pilot episode, a show about Disney and fairytale characters with a modern twist, a mysterious, whimsical, sweet, enthralling, romantic with themes of hope, family and true love, is the kind of series tailor made for someone with my (and indeed any true Disney and fairy tale fan’s) sensibilities and tastes. Despite final season taking a detour, in the end and overall the series are and these beautiful characters created new fairy tales for the ages that brought forth timeless themes in ways that captured our hearts unparalleled ways. It was a stroke of brilliance and creativity or to tell stories about what happens after happily ever after, and indeed intertwine them all together. How fun is it to see that Snow White is friends with Ariel and Cinderella, that Anna and Elsa have a long lost Aunt and Anna is the one who taught Prince Charming how to sword fight, that Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent make a formiable villain squad, and that the Wicked Witch of the West is sisters with the Evil Queen who falls in love with her soulmate Robin Hood, finding him with the help of Tinkerbell. How amazingly creative is it to have Rumplestilskin be this story’s Beast who loves Belle, and the Crocodile to Captain Hook, the pirate who grows into a true hero, while Peter Pan is the real villain. And it was an equally brilliant concept to create a brand new fairy tale character in Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who is a relatable, remarkable woman who is also a mirror for the audience. She is an outsider who finds her place in the world, her True Loves in her son and Captain Hook, and her family in her parents and truly so many that reside in the afiry take lands and the true home of the series Storybrooke. She becomes the hero who saves the happy endings for all, before finding her own, the main storyline and character wrapped around all these other amazing tales and characters. Through tragedy and curses, miracles and happy beginnings, we see that anything is possible if we just hold on to hope. In this day in age I can’t think of anything else more life affirming, which is why this series which was endlessly magical in its enchanting settings, and grounded and profound moments of enduring love, tops the list for the Best of the Decade.

Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time Connections?

anna elsaonce anna elsa

If you are a fan of the first Frozen film and a Once Upon a Time fan, chances are you enjoyed seeing those characters pop up on the fairy tale series. Although, it wasn’t everyone’s favorite storyline, it was however overwhelmingly loved and almost every fan would agree that the characterizations were spot on and some of the best the show ever did. For me personally, the characters and storyline are definitely favorites, so much so that the story written almost became so embedded in my mind as what happened to the characters after the film concluded. So when I heard there was to be a Frozen sequel, I couldn’t help but have the Once Upon a Time story in my mind. Not that I actually thought that the film would do that as they are completely separate entities. Though Oncers, admit it- wouldn’t you love to see animated versions of Storybrooke, Emma, Hook, Snow and others. How fun would that be!

In all seriousness, now that we have seen three trailers for Frozen 2, I do delight in some similarities, visual and character wise, as well as other possible comparisons. Whether these are intentional or not and whether they drew inspiration and took cues from Once Upon a Time will probably be open for interpretation. But it wouldn’t be the first time a Disney film did so, which is funny given what the concept of the series is. But at the end of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time, which aired May 13, 2012, Emma awakens her son Henry from a sleeping curse with True Love’s Kiss, something that came as a surprise and proved the strength of True Love obviously exists between a child and parent. Two years later in 2014, Maleficent was released, and there was a similar moment where Maleficent, who had become a mother figure to Aurora, awakens the princess from her sleeping curse in the same way Emma had awoken Henry. Is this merely coincidence, or a case of drawing inspiration? Whatever the case may be, the similarities and possible similarities between Once Upon a Time and Frozen 2 are definitely present and are all positive, natural, and/or interesting ones.

Team Family

cap 1cap once

From what we can tell from the two longer trailers for Frozen 2, it seems like Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff are a united family, venturing off on an adventure together, facing dangers of all sorts. It also seems as if Kristoff may be living in the palace, and possibly engaged to Anna by now. In Once Upon a Time that is very much also the case. Kristoff and Anna are engaged, and while Elsa and Anna are separated, Elsa and Kristoff grow closer as friends and future in laws. And when all three are together again, there is very much a sense of a united front- they are a family. Frozen 2 obviously also presents that. Now this similarity is most likely a case of both merely taking the story and characters in a natural direction from the first film. So these comparisons are not surprising at all.

Runes and Gravestones

frozen runesonce anna elsa

As we see in the above images, we see what Once Upon a Time would often do: gain inspiration from the source and create their own take on it. In this case, Once Upon a Time took an image we saw in the film of the Gravestones for Elsa and Anna’s parents, with what look like ancient Runes, and recreated them in a new scene where grown up sisters, now happily together lay flowers for their parents. What is interesting is something we see in Once Upon a Time’s sisters in this and other moments is then in turn seen in Frozen 2 creating some visual and character similarities.

Holding Hands

once anna elsa 1cap 5

Above we see in Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna hold hands as they approach their parents’ gravestones. In a moment in Frozen 2 we see something very similar as we see the sisters holding hands, standing before large stones that look very much that of the graves for their parents. Visually this is an obvious comparison to make. But what I love is that Frozen 2 seems to be taking that character beat of the affectionate gesture between sisters they really emphasized on Once Upon a Time, and continuing that in the second film. In the first film, Elsa became so petrified of hurting anyone with her powers and always kept her gloves on, so it is both a natural and lovely to see that after overcoming that, Elsa instead chooses to hold her sister’s hand as a sign of love and strength, no longer afraid but instead confident with her sister by her side.

once handscap 10

The Enchanted Forest

once annacap 3

This comparison is somewhat superficial but I still delight in it. In Once Upon a Time, Anna heads off in search of answers of what happened to their parents after discovering that they were seeking something that could rid Elsa of her magic (or so they thought). Anna boards a ship to a place known as Mist Haven, or more widely called by its inhabitants as the Enchanted Forest. In Frozen 2, Elsa and Anna’s father tells them a story about an Enchanted Forest, and years later, the sisters and Kristoff seem to venture off to this mystical place. That is where the similarity ends, but the same name thing is interesting.

Anna’s Sword Skills

 

In the trailer for Frozen 2 we see Anna wield a sword with a great deal of force and confidence, something previously unseen in the first film. Where we did see this before was in the version of Anna in Once Upon a Time. In the show, Anna comes upon a friend of Kristoff’s, David before he becomes the valiant Prince Charming. It’s here we see Anna, whom she says was taught to sword fight by palace guards, helps David and teaches him to wield a sword himself. That back-story was one beloved by fans, and the sequel’s Anna looks very much the same, remaining her brave and plucky self but with impressive sword skills.

Elsa’s Magic

cap 4elsa magiconce elsa magic

In the first Frozen film, Elsa’s magic is very powerful, but at times it seems she has trouble with control and has issues when her emotions get the best of her. In Frozen 2, it looks like that still may happen, but importantly it looks like there is also a sense of even more power and more control of that magic. That is something we definitely see on Once Upon a Time. In fact, her story involves Elsa realizing her sense of self and self love, one that doesn’t have to have Anna with her to calm her down. She helps Emma gain control of her powers and learn to accept herself exactly as she is, choosing to keep instead of rid herself of her magic. Might we see a similar story in Frozen 2? Given what we’ve seen in the trailers, I think the possibility is strong.

A Found Family?

cap 6once ingrid

In Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna discover that not only do they have an aunt named Ingrid who like Elsa has ice magic, but also that their parents did not wish to get rid of Elsa’s magic as they had thought. Instead, in their final moments they left a message in a bottle where they confess about their past mistakes of not accepting Ingrid’s magic, and that it should have be nurtured and cherished. Their Aunt Ingrid, whose anger over her sister’s “betrayal” led her to become a villain, sees the error of her ways and sacrifices herself to reverse her deadly spell of shattered sight. Anna and Elsa’s found family may not be with them in the physical sense, after that, but their spirits and what they learned from them remained.

After watching both trailers for Frozen 2, the plot is still somewhat hard to distinguish but I think there is a strong chance that the voice Elsa hears calling to her, and the people they meet in the Enchanted Forest could very well be family they never knew existed, just like Once Upon a Time’s Ingrid, as we see what is most likely the King and Queen in the Enchanted Forest as children. The older leader might even be a villain in the same way Ingrid was. The plots will obviously not be identical and this is pure speculation, but I do think a great deal of Frozen 2 could deal with not only the origin of Elsa’s magic, but the discovery of what happened to their parents, and possibly even others who possess magical abilities.

A Redemption for Hans?

hans.gif

Lastly, although the reappearance if Hans is not a guarantee, Santino Fontana who voiced him in the first film, is listed among the cast. What could he be doing in the film? Would he continue to be a villain, or will be do what so many Once Upon a Time villains did and find redemption? This was commonplace of the series, but it isn’t really something Disney Films have done much. Most villains either die or are no longer seen again, remaining their evil selves. I actually think it would a welcome change to see a villainous character change for the better.

The similarities between Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time are most definitely there. Although some comparisons are simple and merely visual, others have a stronger connection. Whether even more plot connections exist remains to be seen. We shall find out this coming November. Whatever the case, Once Upon a Time’s Frozen interpretations will remain beloved, and any and all similarities that are present in Frozen 2 will be looked at with fondness and smiles in what is sure to be an exciting and beautiful film.

once frozenfrozen 2

 

 

 

 

 

My First Trip to the D23 Expo

My first trip to the D23 expo which is held in at the Anaheim Convention center every two years was most definitely quite the learning experience. While I enjoyed myself, it was also a bit overwhelming and I now know what to expect, what to do and what not to do if I decide to attend the next one. Instead of taking the plunge and attending all three days, I went only one day (the last one). I actually almost missed attending all together because I grew ill a few days before, but luckily I started to feel better quickly enough and was able to power through and still go- albeit because of said illness I went about things at a slower pace and not at 100%, so there was definitely things I missed. But going in I had a few things I hoped to accomplish: see the show floor and attend at least one panel. And for the most part I did that.

IMG_4438.jpeg

Without a doubt my favorite thing I saw from the expo was The Art of Disney Storytelling Panel, hosted by John Stamos and his wife Caitlin and featuring Disney Legends, animators, producers and imagineers Tony Baxter, Floyd Norman, Don Hahn and Paul Briggs. They each told stories and offered insights on their experiences and different approaches to storytelling in film and in the Parks and it was funny, informative and overall a delight. Some of my favorite things including stories about Walt Disney inventing the concept of storyboards (which I was unaware of), and Howard Ashman and Alan Menken being really involved in story meetings and Ashman explaining how foreshadowing exists in the song “Part of Your World,” which for as many times as I have heard that song and seen The Little Mermaid, is something I never thought of. I also loved Tony Baxter’s story of how he received a postcard from Ray Bradbury after he rode Peter Pan’s Flight with Charles Laughton of all people. He wrote to him that he had “boarded a pirate galleon, flew out of a child’s bedroom and over London! You can’t get much better than that!” And how true is that!

IMG_4484IMG_4485IMG_4490IMG_4492

IMG_4494IMG_4495IMG_4496IMG_4497IMG_4498IMG_4500IMG_4502IMG_4503IMG_4504IMG_4505IMG_4506IMG_4507IMG_4508IMG_4509IMG_4510IMG_4511IMG_4512

The other favorite thing I saw was The ‘Heroes and Villains” Disney Archives costume exhibit. For just about anyone this display of a wide array of gorgeous and intricate costumes is amazing. But for someone like me who truly appreciates and loves what goes into filmmaking, including the aesthetics and true artistry of costumes, this exhibit was absolutely incredible. I truly lucked out with this year’s display as we got to see such a variety of yes, heroes and villains, and such a variety of films and television, from Once Upon a Time’s Cinderella and Captain Hook, to the live action remakes Cinderella, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, to the wonderful National Treasure and Prince of Persia, to EnchantedHocus Pocus, Alice in Wonderland and three different Mary Poppins costumes. It was a sumptuous feast for the eyes and I loved seeing each and every work of art.

IMG_4526IMG_4527IMG_4528IMG_4529

IMG_4525IMG_4524

IMG_4530IMG_4531IMG_4533IMG_4534IMG_4535IMG_4537

IMG_4541IMG_4542IMG_4543IMG_4544

IMG_4612IMG_4613

IMG_4540IMG_4545IMG_4546IMG_4547IMG_4549IMG_4550IMG_4554IMG_4555IMG_4556IMG_4557IMG_4558IMG_4559IMG_4560IMG_4561IMG_4562IMG_4563IMG_4564IMG_4566IMG_4567IMG_4568IMG_4574IMG_4609IMG_4610IMG_4569IMG_4570IMG_4571IMG_4572IMG_4573IMG_4614IMG_4615IMG_4602IMG_4601IMG_4604IMG_4605IMG_4593IMG_4594IMG_4607IMG_4608IMG_4587IMG_4598IMG_4599IMG_4588IMG_4589IMG_4590IMG_4674

As far as everything else I saw, and the overall process I can say it was a combo of fun, overwhelming, and in my particular case a little lonely and confusing. The staff was overall friendly but would sometimes give me conflicting information and finding the line for my reservation panel was quite difficult. And lines are definitely everywhere. Consequently, I missed seeing some stuff because lines were quite long, or just long enough that I skipped them as I was tired. It is also very large and, at least for me, easy to get turned around and not be sure exactly where you were and if you missed walking by/through anything on the floor. After watching some videos from the expo I discovered, there was A LOT I missed. And being by myself, I didn’t have anyone for another set of eyes and help with confusion and bearings, take pictures, and overall share the con experience with. I have been to many cons alone before, but for some reason, perhaps because it was my first one, or simply the nature of it being a Disney con, I wish I had not been alone and with a friend or group. It was a little lonely. Still there were come really cool things to be seen and I was able to enjoy myself despite everything.

IMG_4513IMG_4515IMG_4518IMG_4519IMG_4520IMG_4521IMG_4522

Attending the D23 also gave me the opportunity for a few other things. I stayed at the Anaheim Hilton for the first time, and this is a beautiful hotel. My room offered an amazing view and Disneyland’s fireworks were visible at night. And On Monday I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Becka, aka DisneyKitee, in Disney California Adventure, along with her husband. I spoke about Becka in this article about Disney Tubers, and since have been getting to know her. Finally getting to meet was so wonderful as she is a sweet and lovely person. Disney friends really are the best!! Go watch her videos on YouTube if you don’t already!!

IMG_4621IMG_4626IMG_4643IMG_4645

So all in all, while I enjoyed walking through the show area and seeing the panel, I know that if I decide to attend in 2021, there are definitely things I would do differently. I would only go if I went all 3 or at least 2 days as there is just so much to see, panels to watch and stores to shop in, and there must be sufficient time to walk around and wait in lines. I also would only attend with another person or group as it would be an easier, more relaxed, and simply more fun con experience than attending alone. That might not be an issue for some, but for me it is. Disney is my favorite thing in the world, but sharing that love with others makes it even more magical. Fingers crossed for magical D23Expo experience in 2021!!

IMG_4620

 

Why I’m Thankful for Emma Swan (and Jennifer Morrison)

The crowning glory of Once Upon a Time will always be Emma Swan. The main character of the series, this unique, beautiful, strong original fairy tale creation is their greatest hero, and along with Killian Jones, their greatest character. But even beyond the series, Emma Swan will forever be one of the most remarkable characters of all time, from her profound and moving journey and development, to the impeccable performance by Jennifer Morrison, the resulting gratitude, joy and inspiration is indeed boundless. And she is not the greatest hero or character simply because she’s a strong woman who can equally wield a sword or a gun or her magic- though that certainly is a large part of it. Rather, it is because Emma Swan is a real, well rounded and relatable woman who shows us there’s more than one way to be strong and courageous- physically, emotionally, and through vulnerability with a willingness to completely open her heart. She represents that ideal balance while still remaining ever realistic. And from the brilliantly profound performance and choices of Morrison, to the storytelling and writing, and even the costumes and iconic imagery of her character, Emma Swan truly is remarkable.

It’s easy to be thankful such a character from a storytelling perspective alone, but all the other elements add to the richness of Emma, providing so much, as I said, relatability, inspiration and joy. Her development is so moving and extraordinary. Emma went from orphan, to bail bonds person, to mother, Sheriff, friend, lover, Savior, hero, wife and mother again. Indeed, Emma went from feeling like an unwanted orphan and a little lost girl, unloved and like she didn’t matter and never would, to a young woman opening her heart only to be betrayed, making her grow hardened and jaded. And yet goodness remained, and hope still resided deep within the cracks of her heart, brought to the surface with her heart healing with the love she found with her parents, her son Henry, her friends, her eventual husband Killian, and her own sense of self worth. She didn’t think she could be a mother or open her heart romantically again and yet she found the courage to do so. The world can be cruel but you need not become such. And what is so beautiful and special about Emma is that duality of bringing back the happy endings for others and in the end finding her own.

With her iconic red leather jacket and bright yellow VW Bug she represents color being brought back into the cold, grey world. Her true love brings her son back to life and awakens Storybrooke from its sleep, and her heroics and indeed very being inspires Killian out of the darkness, reawakening both of their hearts from their long, long sleep. She saves others and saves herself, learns to love fully and love herself, her strength only growing as her vulnerability does. She could equally defeat a villain and help inspire and redeem them. Indeed, so many adjectives and superlatives can be attributed to Emma, who is truly a complex and well rounded character.

emma savior

Strong

emma brave 1

Brave

emma sword 2

Heroic

emma guarded 3 stubborn

Guarded

emma stubborn

Stubborn

emma kind he

Kind

emma compassionate 1

Compassionate

emma henry 1

Sweet

emma overwhelmed 1

Overwhelmed

emma overwhelmed 2

Vulnerable

emma wise1

Inspiring

gif-44

Self-sacrificing

emma awestruck

Awestruck

emma mom

Motherly

emma funny 1

Sassy

emma smart 1

Smart

emma funny 2

Funny

emma forgive

Forgiving

emma magic 5

Powerful

emma camelot

Beautiful

emma happy1

Adorable

emma flirty

Flirtatious

cs sweet

Loving

emma happy

Blissful

emma affectionate 1.gif

Affectionate

emma gentle

Gentle

emma henery 4

Comforting

emma angry

Tough

emma punch

Badass

emma tough

Fierce

emma magic 4

Special

cs passion

Passionate

emma happy 3

Happy

cs hope 2

Peaceful

How can one not be captivated by the richness and beauty of such a story- a modern fairy tale character and story that will continue to inspire and delight. Emma Swan also inspires what Once Upon a Time exemplifies: Hope. She is light and the living embodiment of Hope, inspiring it in others, and rekindling it in her own heart when she had long lost it. She continues to be a beacon, now passing that onto her and Killian’s daughter of the same namesake bringing the show, her story and character full circle. It is truly beautiful.

If one is thankful for Emma Swan, so much of that lies within the beautifully brilliant performance of Jennifer Morrison. I cannot imagine another actor portraying Emma, especially with the same amount of depth, beauty, care and understanding that Morrison brought to the role year after year. She showcased all of Emma’s facets of the real and well-rounded woman she is always in such a deep and profound and brilliant way- with vitality, with humor, with softness, with subtlety and nuance, and with strength. For Emma is smart and witty, sometimes sarcastic and funny, sometimes hard and jaded, sometimes lost and heartbroken, sometimes soft and tender. She will wear a leather jacket, jeans and boots one moment, a soft pink dress another, and a beautiful ball gown another- a symbolic visual representation of the fullness of her character. No matter the scene Morrison expressed Emma’s strength, warmth and radiance, through her tears, her smiles, her expressive eyes , and her mannerisms. She spoke the words but also showed us Emma’s soul. I must also note how wonderful McKenna Grace and Abby Ross were as young Emma, both portraying fundamental pieces of Emma’s demeanor, psyche and development beautifully. They both clearly studied Morrison’s performance and did a fine job of maintaining consistencies and expressions, and physicality.

This is reason enough to be thankful, but beyond that, in the case of Morrison, not only did she breathe life into Emma, but did so with such care, consistency and understanding that is truly special. Morrison read memoirs of those who grew up in the foster system to understand their lives and experiences more thoroughly, and developed a special way Emma dealt with food, mimicking the way a child like Emma have to fight for her share in crowded group homes . She would cradle the head of those she loved when she hugged them, much like her father. Her smiles and expressions varied depending on the scene partner showcasing the variances in each relationship. In particular, one of the loveliest consistencies is the way she’d have Emma stand with Killian, her arm around him, often her head on his shoulder, and always with her hand resting over his heart in a loving and even protective manner- all done after his character had his heart taken and then restored by her. All of these consistencies bring beauty and depth to an already grand performance infusing subtleties that only the most gifted would even think of, let alone express so warmly, beautifully and with such reality. She always speaks about Emma’s journey with eloquence and complete and utter understanding. Instead of trying duplicate her words I’ll let them speak for themselves.

“Do you know how strong you have to be, to be vulnerable? I think you have to be even stronger to be vulnerable than to be defensive. And so I see it as an evolution of her strength for her to feel that she has it in her to be this vulnerable, to be this open, to risk getting hurt. I think that takes an incredible amount of strength.”

emma sword promo

 

“She has grown to a place where she’s capable of being strong and in love. And I think that that is what makes that really special for her. Is that after everything she’s been through and after all journeys that she’s been through and all of the obstacles that she’s faced, she’s surrounded by her family and friends and someone who loves her for who she truly is and she loves him for who he truly is. I think it’s nice that she’s being portrayed as being in a relationship where they know the good and the bad of each other. It’s not just we are happy go lucky and everything is great. They’re very aware of each other’s flaws and very aware of the times they’ve failed. And they accept the broken parts of each other. Just as they accept the healthy parts of each other. I think for her she feels like for the first time in her life she’s in a safe place. She is with someone who is truly her side and truly by their side. And I think that’s ultimately the best happy ending I could imagine for her after everything she’s been through. She started her life completely abandoned and sort of abused in certain ways. So to come to a place where she’s healing from all that, and she’s loved and supported by her family and by her now husband, I think it’s great.”

As is often the case, an actor’s fine work in one thing and can result in seeking out others. A few seasons into Once Upon a Time I found her wonderful work on House and How I Met Your Mother as well as re-watching Star Trek and discovering Warrior. A film like Sun Dogs (a review for this will be on here soon) may have never been on my radar but I’m so happy to be following Morrison’s career and obvious multifaceted talent, and look forward to whatever future projects are on the horizon. She also brought to light worthwhile causes which I was proud to be a part of: Dressember which helps to combat human trafficking, and the “Be the Hero” campaign which benefited research to battle Jacobson Syndrome. And beyond this, Morrison is an inspiring, kind soul that myself and countless others are thankful for- for her kindness, humbleness, and generosity of spirit, beyond her immense talent. I was moved by her words when I had the privilege of attending her panel at NerdHQ:

 

 

“And I think a lot of the time we like to  categorize things and say it’s all one thing or all another. It’s like if you’re strong then ‘you’re hard and you’re tough and you never cry and you don’t need anyone and you don’t need a man’ and  if you’re vulnerable then it’s like ‘you’re soft and sweet and take care of some guy.’ People like to delineate those two categories.  I’m not all one and I’m not all the other.  I can be extremely strong and really tough and I can stand up for myself and I can take care of myself. But there’s also things that hurt me, there’s also things that make me very vulnerable.  And there’s also  people I care about and I’m very open with them and I let them  close enough that they could hurt me.  I think it’s really important to try to bring wholeness to these characters otherwise you’re setting up young girls to have an unrealistic expectation of what it means to be strong.”

And I was extremely touched by her kind words about my writing for The Nerd Machine- to hear the appreciation, and praise and hear one’s writing called lovely and thoughtful means more than I could ever express. Morrison is an inspiring, lovely, truly nice person and I’m thankful for her being the one to bring Emma to life and everything beyond.

Emma Swan inspires me and I can easily say that she (and indeed Morrison) changed my life. It has not been as dark as Emma’s, but I can most definitely relate to feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and self worth having suffered from bullying, anxiety and other things. Emma is a character for anyone who has ever in some way felt like they weren’t enough- that they were an ugly duckling- to remind us that we were never nothing and that we have the power within ourselves to be the swan. To remember that love and hope spring eternal and that we have the ability to change our lives. Emma inspires the best in us all. To love without limits or walls up, to pull yourself up and fight for your happy beginning, middle and end. Emma Swan is the hero, the woman we needed for this generation and for all time. So thank you Emma Swan and Jennifer Morrison for inspiring us all and being a light in the world.

Bonus: Take a pictorial journey through 40 defining moments for Emma Swan

1. Emma makes a wish to not be alone on her birthday and Henry shows up at her doorgif-02agif-02b

2. Emma and Henry make their first real connection at his “castle”emma henry 6.gif

3. Emma shows what she is capable of when she takes a chainsaw to Regina’s treeemma tree.gif

4. Emma gives Ashley wise advice about lifeemma-speech.gif

5. Emma makes a deal with Gold to ensure Ashley can keep her babyemma ashley 1

6. Emma displays a flicker of hope that her heart could open in a moment with Grahamemma graham

7. Emma helps reunite two orphaned twins with their fatheremma compassionate

8. Emma breaks down after August tells her she is Storybrooke’s only hopeemma angry (2)

9. Emma touches the Storybook and finally believes in magicemma believes.gif

10. Emma fights a dragon to help save Henrygif-16a

11. Emma saves Henry with True Love’s Kiss and breaks the curse on Storybrookegif-17

12. Emma shows vulnerability with her mother after seeing everything she sacrificedemma cry 2.gif

13. Emma finds a kindred spirit in Killian and admits she was once in loveemma was once.gif

14. Emma is set up to take the fall for Neal’s crime and is arrestedemma arrested 1

15. The magic inside of Emma shines through as she says “Love is strength”emma magic1

16. Emma gives an impassioned and inspiring speech about the best way to save Henry Emma Speech 1.gif

17. Emma reveals to her mother how she’s always felt like a lost girl who didn’t matteremma lost girl 3

18. Emma kisses Killian for the first timeemma kisses hook.gif

19. Emma saves Killian’s life, sacrificing her magic in the processcs back to me

20. Emma shares a romantic waltz with Killiancs dance 4

21. Emma witnesses the moment her parnets fall in loveemma watches parents.gif

22. Emma tells Killian Storybrooke is her true home, getting her magic and their way home back. She returns calling her parents Mom and Dadgif-32gif-33

23. Emma opens her heart and kisses Killian after hearing of his great sacrifice of the Jolly Roger to bring her homegif-35b

24. Emma reveals she’s pulling away out of fear of losing Killianemma can't lose you

25. Emma makes a brave, personal stride and asks Killian out on a dateemma asks hook 1.gif

26. Emma shares some childhood mementos for the first time with anyonecs share 1

27. Emma accepts herself as she is and gains control of her magicemma magic 6

28. Emma reveals her true love for Killian and regrets in not expressing itemma guarded 1

29. Emma becomes the Dark One to save everyone in Storybrooke from the darknessemma strong

30. Emma fights backs against the darkness declaring she was “never nothing!”gif-64

31. Emma fully turns into the Dark Swan when she tethers Killian to Excaliburemma dark one 1.gif

32. Emma proclaims her family’s motto marching into the Underworld to save Killiangif-49

33. Emma takes the last name “Swan” as a sign of what she wants to bebaby emma

34. Emma takes a big step in stating her love in a normal, peaceful momentemma love you

35. Emma begins therapy revealing she fears her happy ending is an illusionemma happy ending.gif

36. Emma makes her final transformation into the swan, who is strong and not alone- and never has been- in her song “Emma’s Theme”gif-marianneproject53c

37. Emma marries her True Love Killianemma wedding

38. Emma chooses to be the hero Henry tells her she isemma awakes1.gif

39. Emma has her Final Battle as the Savioremma savior 2

40. Emma has her first child with Killian, naming her Hopecs hope

 

Gif sources: shoedonym, doomsdayy, lumadreamland, onceland, odonowest, captainswanouat, captainswansource, ceeyoutea, onceuponadaily, jemmablossom, swanemma, once-upon-a-captain-swan, someone-like-robsten, killiancomeback2me, dashingrapskillian, emmaswaln, kimidakewooooo, dianasofthemyscira , ohmycaptn, youseetherealme, warriorswan, swanshope, handsomeswan, captainpoe, captainswaan, Joyce Scott, tough-lass, once-land

Why I’m Thankful for Killian Jones (and Colin O’Donoghue)

There is so much one can say about such an extraordinary character as Once Upon a Time’s Killian Jones. For myself and countless others this version of the classic character has not only become our favorite depiction of the pirate captain, but arguably also the best, and certainly, along with Emma Swan, the show’s greatest character. Even though Killian may not be what one would automatically think of when imagining Captain Hook, because of the unique take on the character, the depth, the moving story, the inherent characteristics, and especially the exemplary performance of Colin O’Donoghue, Killian Jones is the greatest Captain Hook to ever grace the screen, and that is assuredly a reason to be thankful.

Indeed the intrinsic qualities, character development and overall storyline of Killian Jones is truly exceptional. Worthy of praise and gratitude from an audience perspective for anyone who enjoys a grand story, as well as from a deeper and more meaningful standpoint, Killian and his journey is the type that stays with you forever. Initially, Killian is what one may expect a swash buckling pirate to be- roguishly charming and cocky- someone who could flash you a disarming smile one moment and then kill you the next. He was both established as a villain and foil to Rumplestlitskin as well as a kindred spirit and match for the show’s leading lady Emma Swan. And he could easily be a one note character. But in addition to these established roles he is so much more. Killian is a deep and profound character who goes on an extraordinary journey. He goes from wide eyed boy who wants to be just like his father, to a heartbroken, abandoned orphan, to a ship’s slave for a cruel captain, to hopeful lieutenant in the Royal Navy with honor in his heart and dreams of great heroics. But then to a shattered young man due to the tragic death of his brother, making him the pirate Captain Jones who does as he pleases and serves no one, to the vengeful pirate Captain Hook, hell bent on avenging the woman he loved no matter the cost, even his own life. And so he lived for centuries in darkness, until the day he looked up and saw the Savior, who would inspire him to remember the man of honor he wanted to be- the man he truly is deep within his soul. A man who indeed loves and lives with his entire soul and becomes a true hero, the true love to Emma Swan, a stepfather to her son Henry, husband to his beloved, and finally father to their precious daughter Hope. There’s so many superlatives and characteristics that can be attributed to him and make Killian such a remarkable man.

killian excaliber

Strong

killian fierce

Brave

hook hero

Heroic

killian end of world

Devoted

killian loyal

Loyal

killian navy

Honorable

hook sexy

Handsome

killian sexy 1

Sexy

killian flirt

Flirtatious

hook sassy 1

Self-Deprecating

killian humblr

Humble

cs comfort

Comforting

killian determined 1

Determined

killian overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

killian knows greek

Intelligent

hook sins

Wise

killian smile 4

Blissful

killian smile 5

Awestruck

killian happy ending

Vulnerable

killian selfless

Selfless

killian helpful

Supportive

killian baby

Sweet

cs passion1

Passionate

cs-nose

Tender

killian in love

Loving

cs hope 1

Happy

In the greatest redemption arc of the series, and indeed one of the best ever, Killian’s journey back towards the light may have been inspired by Emma, but importantly he did so for himself. And so often Killian felt undeserving and unworthy of forgiveness and love despite earning it from others, so had to learn to forgive himself, and work to become worthy in his mind and heart of those treasured intangibles. It is a captivating and moving story about falling from grace and treading a dark path but learning how “all sins can be forgiven when someone loves you” and finding the light again. It is a beautiful story of redemption and rebirth brilliantly told most especially because of the incomparable talent of Colin O’Donoghue. He never hit a false note and it takes a gifted actor to come into an established series and truly make an indelible impression. O’Donoghue did that and tenfold, masterfully creating an extraordinary character who can be anything from dark and sinister, to brooding and heartbroken, to charming and roguish, to funny and lovable, to sweet and tender, with often a single or subtle expression or a specific demeanor. What’s remarkable is that in addition to the distinct costumes and specific writing, what O’Donoghue brought with his performance was astounding, developing a precise way of standing, moving and speaking with the amazing ability to show us Killian’s soul through his ever expressive eyes. He developed specific mannerisms and timbres of his voice depending on the situation, timeline and who he shared a scene with. Different smiles, different looks, even tones of voice. He could make your heart beat or break, make you laugh or cry. Even such subtleties such as a clench of his jaw when he felt tense or upset, a scratch behind the ear when he felt unsure but a desire to be flirtatious with Emma, and the ways he had to move or do things differently because he only had one hand and a hook instead such as tying a scarf with his teeth, which ended up being both practical and heart pounding for Emma and the audience, was nothing short of astounding. It’s a marvel that only the most talented can accomplish. Captain Hook has never before been such a deep and real man, and it’s because of the brilliance of O’Donoghue.

One cannot be thankful for the performance of O’Donoghue as it made the character who he is. But also for myself and so many others, we are thankful not only for what he brought to Killian Jones but also for the kindness, generosity and humility he demonstrates. And it helps bring to light and attention on other films in which he stars- ones we might not have known otherwise such as The Rite, The Dust Storm and Carrie Pilby, all amazing films worthy of praise. And there’s much anticipation for What Still Remains, set for release later this summer. On a personal note, I will be forever grateful for O’Donghue’s attention and praise for the writing I did on Once Upon a Time and his films for The Nerd Machine. As a writer you always hope it can make any kind of impact, or bring joy or appreciation, especially if it’s from those with whom you are writing about. It’s an indescribable feeling, but you are left with a deep feeling of gratitude and happiness.

Killian Jones is one of the finest pirates, captain, men, individuals to ever grace the screen providing such inspiration to never lose hope that life is not only worth living, but that you can find someone who makes it all worth it, as well as simply doing it for yourself. There is always light and hope at the end of a dark path. Your soul can be reawakened and reborn. For everything the character Killian Jones and Colin O’Donoghue has given us and will no doubt continue to do so- thank you so very much! My life and the lives of so many have changed and been made infinitely better by Killian and by O’Donoghue himself. The pirate, the hero, the man will live in our hearts and continue to delight and inspire that duality of spirit- the pirate and the hero in all of us.

Bonus: Take a pictorial journey through 20 defining moments for Killian Jones

1. Lieutenant Jones becomes Captain Joneshook captain

2. Killian Jones becomes Captain Hookhook hook

3. Killian’s heart is stirred as he finds a kindred spirit in Emma Swankillian tall.gif

4. Killian comes back with the magic bean offering his ship and services to save Henryhookcomesback1

5. Killian saves David’s life in Neverlandhook wink

6. Killian reveals what’s in his heart for Emmahook met you

7. Killian tells Emma his sincere intentions to win her heartgif-24

8. A remorseful Killian swears on the name of his love that he still believes in itgif-27

9. Killian reveals he traded the Jolly Roger for Emmagif-34

10. Killian reveals the truth to Emma about his dealings with Gold hook forgive

11. Killian tries to save Emma’s life and in turn has his heart stolen by Goldkillian hero 1

12. Deckhand Killian sacrifices himself to ensure Emma and Henry’s escapehook stab

13. Killian becomes a Dark Onekillian tortured

14. Killian fights back against the darkness and sacrifices his life to save everyonegif-48a

15. Killian helps a young girl escape form a dungeon in the Underworldhook underworld 1.gif

16. Killian accepts his fate and is ready to move on and is sent back to where he belongs: to Storybrooke and Emmakilliancs reunion

17. Killian tells Belle he still is on the road to forgiving himselfkillian proud

18. Killian sings about his quest for revengegif-marianneproject53b

19. Killian marries his True Love Emmakillian wedding

20. Killian and Emma have their first child cs hope

Gif sources: captainswanouat, captainswansource, odonowest, pearlmackie, swanscaptn, just-be-magnificent, high-seas-swan, onceland, daeneryskairipa, emmakillian, kimidakewooooo, handsomeswan, odonorable, ladyswanjones, captainheroism, ahoymilady, emmasawn, officerrogers, adrina-stark, doomsdayy.