Monday, March 30, 2015

World-Building *Sigh*

The Epic Dark Apocalyptic Fantasy game I'm in is just super awesome. Not only do we have the main plot going on but we have side adventures with side characters as well. I really like that concept because worlds exist outside our main characters. The world does not exist for the characters. It is frequently the opposite. The stories I love the most and the characters I love the most are those in which we have a world that exists outside the main character. And the characters that come into the story? Are not just for the main character. They have their own goals and ambitions that just happen to cross the path of the lead. To me, that is fantastic storytelling.

And kudos to my GM who managed to run a side session from one of my characters in which his story was inward. He had to figure some things out about himself to conquer his inner demons (which also happened to be an outer demon-ish). So on the scale of things, that is quite small.

Yep. This.

Then this passed Sunday, we played pretty much a rebels. We were all barbarians of the north (not our class but just our... nature I guess?) and we gathered around another PC, a badass named Anneira in her quest to take over the north. She was the general of this rebellion and it was on such a larger scale than my character's little inward journey. We had armies. We negotiated for more armies. We looted an artifact. We became soul bound. And we almost defeated the big bad!
I kinda picture it like this. Although I see Anneira being like, "Why do I have to change outfits to become stronger?"

What was kind of awesome was we played three female humans and a dwarf. I kind of wish that was a thing. My character was a pyromancer who worshiped the sun named Sunniva, nicknamed Sunny. I kinda based her after Kimmy Schmidt ...

Her story in a nutshell

Anyways, I just felt amazed at those two side sessions. Such good storytelling all around.

I'm also excited that the one shots are going to be a thing but any of us can run a setting using any system. Looking at my BESM book which I hoped to use eventually to run an eventual Avatar: The Last Airbender game. Then I thought, why not? Why don't I tap into my strengths which is draw inspiration from anime, have it set in the land of the forest elves (which is this world's answer to Japan) and do something like a magic school. And the idea took off.

Kinda like Harry Potter and Ao no Exorcist tbh

I... just get absorbed into world building. I don't know why. I get a big thrill out of just creating something. I have to build. I have to create or else I am just not happy with myself. I know it is just a one shot but I just had so much fun writing up this little elven magic school.

Below is what I have so far. DON'T JUDGE ME! Also this is more of a second draft and things MAY change before then. I apologize in advance for horrible Japanese. I'm no good at making up languages so I will just make babble of existing ones.


The Elves called it Uminomori -- Sea of Trees in the common tongue -- although now it is more of a lake than a sea. And not a literal lake. It has its streams and ponds but is a vast forest which was--is-- a place of great magical power nestled in the southern corner of Osako forest. The elves used to say that it was a place that existed outside time and space in pockets which constantly moved, aided by a whimsical mist. These mists show visions of the past, present, and future. It took a skilled ranger or druid to walk through it once when it was an ocean but for an elf, it was simply a sacred place of power. They even say that Alethea discovered the link between the languages of the gods and magic here as she communed with nature.

The cataclysm destroyed most of the elven lands along with most of the Uminomori. That which wasn't destroyed completely or protected by magic was instead twisted from hallow ground to cursed. Uminomori exists as two separate forests -- the cursed, blighted part and the sacred, protected part. 
The ancient keepers of the sacred forest, the Aoki'miya clan, fought the blight and managed to save part of it. An ancient shrine honoring the forest contained the sacred seed, the First Seed, as a relic within its walls. It is said the relic is what keeps the blight at bay from completely destroying the forest and into Osako. The act of protecting the forest was said to decimate the once large clan -- the most prevalent of elven spell casters.

Since they lost so much in the cataclysm, the Aoki'miya opened up a magic school near the edge of Uminomori open to second and third elven children of Arisho in order to train protectors. They taught their pupils how to channel the positive energy of nature (particularly what was left of Uminomori) and the language Alethea developed to conduct magic. Those who mastered the art and chose to stay and keep watch over the shrine and the forest often took the name Aoki'miya.

The school soon developed over the years, adopting different types of magic. Students chose specialties and were tested and placed into classes that best suited their abilities. And the school grew to be a well-known center of learning which attracted outsiders (although very few are given the privilege to study).

Still, though the shrine is strong and the relic of the first seed is powerful, every 50 years, the ritual must be recast and the shrine rededicated to protect the Lake of Trees from becoming a dry bed filled with demons and prowlers. The ritual involves the destruction and rebuilding of the structure and the handing off of the seed from grandparents to grandchildren. Traditionally, it was the Aoki'miya (the skipped generation called the latent generation) who did this but with the shrinking of the family and the development of the school, the brightest students from each house of the graduating class are chosen to be the new generation to lead the order of protectors.

You will play those students -- 18 year olds about to graduate, given the honor of a lifetime. You have to make sure the ceremony goes perfectly or else the forest dies or worse, you are expelled.

This Setting was inspired by the following media:
Harry Potter
Blue Exorcist
Spirited Away
Changeling: The Lost (Mostly the concept of the Hedge)
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy Type-0
Aoki'miya School of Magics is a Boarding School lying on the edge of Osako. It started as one single building in one massive oak tree. Now, it is a sprawling campus with many buildings -- both classrooms, training grounds, and dormitories.

Aoki'miya accepts anyone who applies who is a Forest Elf or a River Elf. They sometimes accept outsiders but students in this context must show magical promise. Students are accepted at the age of 11 and they all live together in the 1st -2nd Year Dorm which has a Yellow Roof. For the first year, they learn basic spells which continue for their second year in which they prepare for the end of the year exam. The exam will tell their magical strengths and based on the exam, the student can choose which house to focus on their magical specialty if they scored high enough.

From there, they retire their yellow hats and don the color of the other houses -- which matches the color of the roof. Some of the houses have sub-tracks which are indicated by a pin on their hat. Students are often called COLOR Cap to indicate they are a member of each house.
Even though each student has a focus to study for the next six years, they can take electives from other tracks.

Aoie (Green House)
House Head: Shizuka Aoki'miya
Green House is the oldest house on campus. At its heart, it encompasses much of what one considers as "Elf Magic" and is especially tied to the forest itself. As a result, the members of this house often embody tradition and take themselves and their heritage as elves very seriously. They know the forest best and least likely to fall victim to its tricks. Some see them as aloof and some see them as stuck up but mostly the Green House understand that in today's world, nature must be preserved at all costs.
Aoie has two academic tracks -- flora empathy (indicated by the flower pin) and animal empathy (indicated by the foxhead pin).

The House Head Shizuka is the daughter of the headmistress, Masami Aoki'miya. She is a lady through and through, often compared to a willow as she will bend but never break.
Crunch Rules:
+2 to resisting Magic Intoxication of the Forest
- Plant Control Attribute
- Companion (Animal)
- Divine Relationship (optional; relationship with the forest)

Shiroie (White House)
House Head: Yuri (Kurokita) Aoki'miya
Although not quite as old as Green House, Shiroie is one of the "original three" added only five years after the Aoki'miya started the school. White House rituals used to be a close guarded secret but when it became clear the family could possibly be wiped out, they made the decision to share. Shiroie magic deals with healing, purification, and summoning. Because of the beneficial nature of the magic involved, White Caps get a reputation of being apple polishers and goody-two-shoes. Those drawn to this magical path tend to be white knights who want to improve the world one step at a time and follow the rules and seek to bring justice. It is no surprise second only to Red House, many White Caps join the Arishoan Hunters. And most end up going off as Shepherds. There are no subtracks for Shiroie and as a result, the house is pretty close and tight.

The house head, Yuri Aoki'miya, is the husband of the headmistress. He is extremely serious and strict. If anyone breaks the rules of his house, he will send them faster to Purple House than it takes a Renny to crow at the rising sun. He's not completely heartless and will give aid to those students who struggle... and ask for help.
Crunch Rules:
Detect Impurities. You can sense the impure closeby
- Healing
- Exorcism
- Companion (Ancestral Spirit)

Kuroie (Black House)
House Head: Takumi Hoshimi'yama
Introduced to the school the same time as Shiroie, Kuroie is the first house to introduce magic from another culture -- elvenized of course. Black Magic deals specifically with offensive magic, specifically still elemental magic. Those who do well and are drawn to the Kuroie, tend to be those who are quick and enjoy excitement and maybe blowing things up. Also, tattoos because often Black Caps will get runic tattoos of ink made up of ingredients in the forest to honor both the origin of elemental magic and its nature focus.

 Because of the nature of the magic studied in this house, Black House gets something of a reputation, some of it earned some of it not. For one, they tend to have a reputation for partying as hard as they study. The other is more dark. Probably because of its origins of a house on foreign magic, rumors have sprung up that they experiment with hexes similar to the witches of the deep. A couple students were expelled in recent years because they did just that. But clearly, one or two bad eggs doesn't define the whole house!

Kuroie has four tracks depending on the element. Everyone has a strong element that they will discover their first year in Black House. In their fourth year, they wear a color pin matching that element (Red for Fire, Blue for Water, Grey for Air, and Brown for Earth). Black caps can envoke other elements but they will not be as strong as their strong element and they may have difficulty controlling it.

Takumi Hoshimi'yama, the house head is a jovial sort of person. Some call him a fox in elf form especially since he is known for surprising his students with scenarios in which they have to use what they learned at some time unknown to them. He also has the back of all his students and his big rule is, "Don't get caught." His strong element is fire.

Crunch Rules:
+2 Resistence on Stong Element attacks.
- Dynamic Powers (Focus Element). Rank the other elements with a -1, -2, and -3.
- Companion (Elemental)

Akaie (Red House)
House Head: Yumi Makishima
One of the newer houses, Red House was created by a Shiroie alum who thought the Hunters could use some elemental fighters. Akaie is focused primarily on combining elemental magic with martial skills. Those who go down this path tend to be children of hunters who want to be a little different or more physically minded students. The house itself is that of strict discipline and run like a small military unit complete with early morning formations and PT schedules. When a student chooses this path, they choose a favored weapon and may learn a secondary element their fifth year. Like Kuroie, Red Cap's third year is spent figuring out their strong element. In their fourth year, they wear the corresponding pin. Also because of the elemental origin, some Red Caps get runic tattoos but most just have it written on their favored weapon instead.

Yumi Makishima is the house head of Akaie. She is a former hunter who decided to settle down. She is known for being especially fierce. Her weapon of choice is the bow and arrow but she is quite skilled with a rapier. Her favored element is ice/water.

Crunch Rules
Take a free level in Combat Mastery or Defense Combat Mastery

Daidaiie (Orange House)
House Head: Rin Shirakura
The newest house and the first to participate in the rededication ceremony, the Orange House came in to being about 15 years ago. It all began with Rin Shirakura, one of the bardic families, had a battle of the bards with the pathetic dwevlish Rhys Hayashi'kami and lost. He decided that instead, he would break from tradition of bards learning materials from their parents and train his own. He brought the idea to the Aoki'miya, spinning it that Music Magic is part of the elvish experience and was eventually allowed to create his own house.

Students who choose to go into the Orange House are those who always liked music but didn't learn the magic because they weren't born in the right families. Not only do students have to pass the initial exam but an additional try-out to get into this house. And once they get in, it is harder to stay in. Not only do they have to perform flawlessly, but there is so much lore to memorize. Many do not graduate and just end up in Purple House. Those who do make it to graduation have become a new type of bard -- Orange Caps. The traditional bards see them as mass produced nobodies.

Shirakura is a harsh teacher and has made more than one student cry. He is a perfectionist first and foremost.

Crunch Rules
+2 against charm effects and spells
- Dynamic Power (Music)

Murasakie (Purple House)
House Head: Yuzuyu Tsuzurahara
The fourth house added, Murasakie came into being out of necessity. After there was more than one type of magic being studied, there first came some volunteers who wanted to archive it and study theory. They weren't bards -- keeper of history of the Arishoans -- not really, anyway although they do intersect. They were people who studied magic theory and magic history. Usually, these were students who weren't all that talented at spellcasting. Eventually, the school decided to develop another house to train those who wanted to be magical scholars. Additionally, deciding that it counted as knowledge seeking, those in Shiroie who studied precognition and clairvoyance broke off and were placed in this house. The best way to describe the type of magic studied here is "knowledge magic".

The house has three separate tracks. One is precognition (pin of an eye) which has a combination of gifted individuals and those who are just really good at bullshitting. The second path is clairvoyance (shown by a crystal) in which those people study astral projection and scrying. The last are the loremasters (shown by a book pin) who study and write magical theory.

Murasakie has a reputation as being a dumping ground of the untalented failures. This is partially true due to students from other houses failing out and getting reassigned as Loremasters. Some students also witness "burnout" in that for some reason, their magic is blocked by either a curse or a disease or just from casting too large a spell than they can handle. These students become loremasters too. Also, those with the lowest test scores in their second year tend to be assigned here. Regardless, those who want to be a loremaster are loyal to their cause even if people are presumptuous about them.

House Head Yuzuyu Tsuzurahara is a talented seer who claims to commune with the forest when she has her visions. She is an old elf but appears to be all knowing, maybe a little bored every once in a while. She has a rather silly sense of humor, though.
Crunch Rules
Skills cost 1 less 
- Precognition
- Astral Projection
- Extra Skill Points
Magic System
I'll be honest, I am not wild about the magic system in BESM and I don't feel it matches with how magic works in the ITSOTA universe. It doesn't have enough of a downside and is not dangerous enough. Due to that, I'm throwing out the magic rules and applying my own. Same is true for how Energy Points work in the system as well.

Energy Points will be used in the way described below. I wanted to reflect the chaotic nature of magic.
When you cast a spell and it is successful, roll a d6. You minus that much from your energy points. If you roll a 6, you roll another 6 and add the results together. Roll three sixes in a row, you will become burned out (see below).
Additionally, if the GM feels what you're trying to do is extremely massive, an additional amount may be added.
EP can also be used to reroll by spending 5 EP. But you have to take your reroll, even if it is worse than the first one.
You can use EP to add onto damage but you must declare doing so before your roll. And you cannot add more than your magic attribute level!
I want to make magic have downsides so I am adding the following rules :

Uminomori is a powerful but dangerous place. The school is almost at the edge of this magical wood. It is a place of power, a place where planes blur and sometimes even time itself. It is where your focus comes from and where the shrine is built. In general, it is positive energy that flows through here but it can be too much of a good thing.

A subtle mist covers the forest floor and is heavier in some areas than others. The mist is magical energy. It can warp creatures into aberrations or it can bring to life inanimate objects if exposed to the mist long enough, and it can confuse travelers -- giving them the effect of feeling high. Aoie can usually fight off the intoxicating effects. But there are some who purposefully find thick patches of mist and get recreationally intoxicated. Sometimes people have a soul changing experience, others it can be a bad trip. Usually these students who are caught doing this are forbidden from the forest and kicked to Murasakie.

There is also a portion not too far from the shrine called the Scar and it is where the positive energy turns negative and the forest becomes blighted and cursed. The mist here takes on a reddish tint as it mixed more so with the miasma. Sometimes the red mist manages to float on in along with other creatures, like imps, to the uncursed portion of Uminomori.

This is why patrols happen frequently -- usually with one teacher, one Green Cap, and one other. The students are placed into the patrol rotation in their 6th year.

You need your focus. After a few months discussing magical theory, yellow caps are brought into the forest to choose their focus. It is something that is connected to the forest whether it is a stone, a stick, a vial of dirt, a flower, and create a trinket often carving the magical runes into them. Some make rings out of a gem stone, or a staff from a stick, a crown of flowers, some make ink for tattoos Focuses can only be given to maintain their power. Some students choose to use heirlooms instead of making their own. And two mages in love may exchange focuses. It is also tradition for 6th year Black Caps to choose tattoos and give their kid focus to an incoming 3rd year.

The only problem is you need your focus to cast properly. If you try to cast magic without your focus, either nothing happens or something happens out of control. Additionally, like the addictive nature of the forest, your focus falls into that. Think of it like Linus and his security blanket. If you do not have it in your direct vicinity for a long period of time, you will begin to feel a little sick and it gets worse.
Mechanically, every day without your focus, you roll Soul MINUS the level of your Focus. If you fail, you take a -1 to one of your Tri-Stats which will stack. If you succeed, nothing happens. If you succeed twice in two days, you recover one level. It is negated if you find your focus or someone gives you a focus.

When you create your character, you must allocate points to Item of Power and assign only energy points to it.

Burnout is not just for tests. Sometimes people push themselves so far that they lose the ability to cast magic. It can be temporary or permanent.

Mechanically, when you use more energy points than you have energy points, your power shuts down. You roll your soul and if you succeed, it will come back within a few hours. If you fail, it is shut off for the rest of the day. The next day, you roll your soul. If you pass, your magic comes back. If you fail, it is still shut down for the rest of the day. Three failed soul rolls means it is permanently lost.

This can be avoided by watching your Energy Points or taking Damage Conversion Attribute which can exchange EP loss to HP loss. 
Mary. This is a one shot. Why did you write so much!? And there is also more I won't be posting. XD

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mary's Recommendations for Sitcoms On Right Now!

I'm a fan of sitcoms. I grew up on sitcoms. I grew up on the shows that were featured on TGIF. That 8 o'clock block most nights were filled with them. I'm not really sure why I loved sitcoms so much. It may be because as I admitted before, I kind of like stupid humor sometimes. Maybe because usually sitcom featured typical nuclear families which I -- the child of divorced parents -- was not a member of. Maybe I was just a product of my times. The late 80s and early 90s were really the peak of sitcoms in their quality though and they started to sort of go down hill in the late 90s (matter of opinion since I never got into/liked Friends or Seinfeld).

Still though, I do like a good comedy but there were a few sitcoms I got into as I headed into college and after. I liked early seasons of Big Bang Theory. Scrubs is also one of my all time favorite shows. I also really enjoyed Parks and Recreation (which I started watching because a co-worker said I reminded him of Leslie Knope, which I can kinda see if I squinted my eyes a little) -- which recently just ended.

However, recently, I've noticed a resurgence of sitcoms -- some actually really good ones -- that seem to pay tribute to old ones but have very unique spins that make them feel fresh and new. So if you are like me and miss sitcoms of yore or you still have not recovered from Parks and Recreation's end, I recommend the 4 following shows.

4. Fresh Off the Boat

Fresh Off the Boat is about the Huang family in the 1990s as they move from Washington DC to Orlando, Florida when the father, Louis, opens up a steak house. It is narrated by the oldest son, Eddie, who is big into hip-hop and rap and is just at the edge of his teenage rebellion.

Success Perm!

I love the parents most. I would say it is flighty but well-meaning Louis and pragmatic tough-love giving Jessica are really the show's core. Yeah, it is Eddie's story but his parents are at the heart of everything. It is their scenes I enjoy watching the most. Whether it is Louis trying to figure out how to fire a showboat host who is just too charming or Jessica trying to navigate the tough and unforgiving world of adult mean girls, only to bond with the neighborhood "slut" over Stephen King, their struggles are just fun to watch.

Who doesn't love a good Stephen King joke?

While I have high hopes for this show, I still feel it is trying to get its footing. Jessica and Louis and Eddie are solid characters. Eddie is just everyman enough to serve as the show's narrator but he has a personality outside the everyman stock character. He is impetuous, scheming-- almost a little bit of Alex Keaton in him in that regard-- but also is just a preteen who desperately wants to just fit in and find where he fits both at home and at school.

The other characters in Fresh Off the Boat? Well, I kinda feel eh about them. Don't get me wrong, I get chuckles out of Evan, the youngest out of the Huang brood. But Evan is just really the precocious little kid that characters like Beaver Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver, Michelle Tanner from Full House, and Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle popularized before. The actor is pretty funny. The kid is adorable and has good comedic timing. But what concerns me is how will Evan grow? You can already see the directions Louis, Eddie, and Jessica will probably take but Evan is not going to be a little kid forever.

I'm right, kid, and you know it!

The same problem applies to the middle of the Huang children, Emory. I see what they're trying to do with him. Emory is supposed to be the antithesis of Eddie. With Eddie, everything seems difficult and hard and he's never happy. With Emory, everything just works out for him, which is an interesting concept on its own. Just the problem is the writers do very little with it and Emory falls as the second adorable kid making cute quips every so often and also the sibling Eddie occasionally shoots shade at when things don't work out for him.

I still recommend Fresh Off the Boat, though. I feel it has a lot of promise despite my complaints above.

OMG I forgot Grandma Huang


3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

My friend wrote a review of this show that I pretty much agree with. This show, which recently premiered on Netflix, follows the adventures of Kimmy Schmidt, a young woman who just escaped a cult leader who kidnapped her as a young teenager and kept her underground. Now, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life and living it to the fullest. Sounds pretty dark for a comedy I know, but with the magic of Tina Fey, it just works.

I'm admittedly a fan of Tina Fey. Mean Girls is one of my top favorite movies and I did enjoy 30 Rock even though I didn't consider myself a huge fan. I never related to a character more than I did to Liz Lemon though (very weird that a co-worker pinned me as a Leslie Knope but I see myself as more Liz Lemon. Huh). Regardless, I saw the premise and I was immediately intrigued.

When Kimmy finally danced across my screen for the first time in a That Girl like montage, I was in love with this show. It was just so different than what is out right now -- and this is even with the show dripping with Tina Feyisms. Right now, on TV in particular, everything is just overly cynical. The worlds our favorite TV shows inhabit are just dark, depressing, and dangerous. That is not a bad thing necessarily. I need my inner cynic to be appeased every now and again. But I like to call myself cautiously optimistic as my default setting. Yeah, when my depression comes calling, I spiral into pessimism like no one's business. But generally, I try to see the best in things and this is why I love Kimmy.

Kimmy is a cheery optimist navigating a harsh, curmudgeon world. Unlike pollyannas of the past, she doesn't necessarily change a whole lot of the nature of the world around her but it is about her still maintaining her view of the world despite this fact. And despite other pollyannas, Kimmy is not one-dimensionally sunny. She gets frustrated, she gets angry but she still tries to look on the brighter side of things even in the eyes of the cynics that dress her world. It is a breath of fresh air. And it's inspiring.

I barely scratched the surface of why I like Kimmy Schmidt but my friend (in the link above), pretty much tackled a lot of what I have to say too. I do agree that there are a couple annoying characters (Kimmy's stepfather for one) and a few characters are painfully underused (like Xan, the stepdaughter of the woman Kimmy works for) but in general, I just love Kimmy as a character and adore the supporting cast of colorful New Yorkers.

Go and watch this show and you may consider optimism for once.


2. Blackish

I stumbled on Blackish on Hulu one day. I think I saw a headline somewhere saying it was surprisingly good which is why I pressed play. Otherwise, I may have skipped over it. Blackish sounded like it could be offensive. I was pleasantly surprised.

Unlike Fresh Off the Boat, Blackish doesn't rely on stock characters. The cast may fit into tropes from sitcoms of yore but they are all fully realized, 3-dimentional characters. They feel tangible and relatable. And not just do we have such well written characters but the script has me howling with laughter every week. It is extremely witty and jokes about race come down to two types -- making fun of the ignorant about race and making fun of how over the top Dre, the patriarch of the Johnson family, goes to make his spoiled kids understand the struggle. The Johnson family being black is not the joke. It is just a detail into the characters of the family. It is who they are. And race is not ignored in the show in a colorblind way. It is acknowledged and discussed. The humor relies more on the clash of interesting characters and how they interact with one another when their goals conflict.

Although jokes like this happen

Blackish focuses on the Johnson family, who are black. The father, Andre, who came from nothing, is a successful advertising executive who is able to give his family the life he never had. At the same time, he wants to teach his kids about their heritage. His wife, Rainbow, called Bow, is mixed race and a doctor. While she frames herself as the pragmatic half of the couple, she has her moments when her pride gets in the way and she makes poor choices. This differentiates Bow from typical mothers from sitcoms. She tries her best but she is not the all knowing mother figure. She makes mistakes and Dre is not always the bumbling father who is always in the wrong. Bow and Dre take their turn in the wrong and right seat. Their marriage is one of complete equality.

The two have four children. The oldest is Zoe, a mini-female Dre basically who is sharp as a tack but chooses to use those smarts to gossip, coordinate her make-up and hair, and flirt with guys.

 The second is a son named Andre Junior, called Junior, who is nerdy, awkward, and tries really hard -- usually failing -- to impress his father. Dre loves Junior but just doesn't understand his nerdy obsessions and why Junior doesn't like things like basketball.

Also, he's having an identity crisis

The last two children are a set of twins named Jack and Diane. Diane is a HBIC, just no one else has picked up on that fact. Unlike Evan in Fresh Off the Boat, while Diane is precocious, I can see her growing up. I can see her growing up to be a schemer like Zoe but instead of using her smarts for make-up, Diane uses it to probably not exactly wholesome pursuits. Diane is bossy and kind of mean and snarky as hell (probably one of my faves). She bosses around the much more submissive Jack who can do all the things Dre wishes Junior would do but is usually ignored and criticized by Diane.

Dre's father also lives with the family and his job has been to provide commentary on the going ons in the house.

I just really love the characters and I look forward every week to a new episode. Not many shows can claim that fact. While the Johnson family has been doing typical sitcom plotlines in most episodes (bully episode, vacation episode, daughter gets a boyfriend episode), it is the well-developed characters that make me come back. I want to see how they tackle the troperiffic sitcom plots. And I didn't even touch the supporting cast like Junior's white friend who knows more about black history than Junior does, for instance.

 My favorite side character has to be Dre's only other black co-worker, Charlie. Charlie is so weird that it irritates Dre but Dre feels it is his duty to friend him despite the fact he cannot stand Charlie.

We all have that one friend

Another side character I enjoy is Dre's mother who sees Bow as a threat on her territory. I could go on.

Also her on again off again relationship with Dre's father is hilarious

The bottom line is, you really need to check out Blackish. It is the best new sitcom this year... hell probably one of the best of the New Teens. You'll want to watch the Johnsons every week too.


1. Brooklyn-99

In its second season and written by alum from Parks and Recreation, we have Brooklyn-99, probably my favorite sitcom on right now if not tied with Blackish. When this show first premiered last year, I watched it more than once on Hulu. My tumblr became overcrowded with gifs from it. And I dropped references in everyday conversation. There is so much I love about this show, I don't know where to begin.

Brooklyn-99 follows the titular police precinct as they solve crimes and get into crazy shenanigans. Like Blackish, it is the fully realized cast of characters that make this show work. And the acting helps too. Interestingly enough, Brooklyn-99 did blind casting. It is an Andy Samberg vehicle but the rest of the cast were picked blindly meaning they did not designate race to the characters during the casting call. Anyone could try out. The end result is a widely diverse cast -- 2 black actors, 2 Latinas, 3 whites make up the main characters we follow. The two Latina actresses are relatively unknowns too and knock it out of the park. Melissa Fumero, who plays the uptight apple polisher Detective Santiago, said in an interview how glad she didn't have to do a spicy Latina accent. I think that is super awesome.

She can't even handle food spices

Brooklyn-99 at its core is really a character comedy. Where they work is just the setting. Yeah, there are usually mysteries they have to solve in the episode but you don't finish it saying, "Wow, I didn't expect the pizza delivery boy!" like you would with criminal procedures. No. You end the episode thinking, "Haha, the Captain sure told Peralta" or "Oh man, Boyle, will you ever catch a break?" or "Santiago! What crazy shenanigans did you get yourself into to protect your pride!" Like Blackish, the premise is such a tiny part of what make the comedy work. It is really the writing, the character development, and the acting which put it over the top.

insert NRA joke here

Andy Samberg plays Detective Jake Peralta who is a manchild who also happens to be a brilliant detective when he gets his act together. He doesn't really take his job that seriously and is usually goofing off. What impresses me about Samberg is up until now, he's been pigeonholed to playing one note comedy roles. I know he irritates some people, but his character of Detective Peralta cracks me up so much. Additionally, Samberg can do serious, I gave him too little credit. Jake has some serious moments which Samberg actually pulls off. Jake is not just the class clown. Perhaps like most class clowns, Jake hints at a childhood of neglect (which is illustrated on how he literally cannot feed himself anything healthy) and an absent father. He makes jokes about it but so do most clowns. And his desperation to be the mentor to the Captain makes a lot of sense -- even when he slips up and calls him dad once.

The rest of the precinct is also filled with colorful, thoughtful characters who have their own ambitions and goals and personalities. I already mentioned Melissa Fumero as Detective Amy Santiago who Jake crushes on her like a six year old boy pulling the pigtails of the girl he wants the attention of. Santiago is hypercompetitive, a people pleaser, super smart, and a tiny bit high strung. Her competitiveness is due to growing up in a house full of brothers. She's a bit of a brown noser who tries so hard to reach the top, only to be beaten by Jake who makes it look easy. Santiago and Peralta have a bit of Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better thing going.

She's this universe's Hermione Granger really

The other female detective is Rosa Diaz played by Stephanie Beatriz. Rosa is probably my favorite. She's scary, doesn't put up with people's crap, horrible with emotion but shown to be highly capable at her job. But on the flip side, Rosa is not a horrible person. She just fills the whole Good is Not Nice trope and I love it. If this were any other show, Amy and Rosa would be competitors and hate each other. But they don't. Yes, Amy gets competitive to Rosa to which Rosa responds with a meh or mild annoyance. At the end of the day, they are still there for each other.

This has to be my favorite feminist quote of all time. In fact a female officer I worked with in the military said something similar. And it is true. I'm tired of women being told they have to compete with each other.

Peralta's biggest fan is fellow detective Charles Boyle, played by Joe Lo Truglio who is the precinct's sad sack. Nothing goes well for Boyle usually because he's super clumsy and kind of neurotic. But he's hard-working. He crushes on Rosa which was a tiresome subplot I am glad they did away with.

The Sergeant Terry Jeffords, played hilariously by Terry Crews, is a bit of a gentle giant type. He used to be fat and got to lifting weights. As a result, he eats all the time. He also used to be badass but since the birth of his daughters, Cagney and Lacy, he grows terrified in life or death situations. He also likes farmers markets. He comes off as terrifying but is really a Teddy Bear and a good mentor to the crew.

Line-up Terry says what Real Terry is thinking!

The administrative assistant, Gina Linetti, played by Chelsea Peretti, is narcissistic and kind of the mean girl of the group. She always looks out for number one and delights in gossip. She also has an array of strange hobbies, dances, and believes in psychics. She provides commentary for the events that surround her and is great at witticisms.

Yeah, trufax

Last but not least is the captain of the precinct, Captain Ray Holt played by Andre Braugher. The captain is the straight man of the show which is funny because he's gay (and I can't get over that pun). Holt is a no-nonsense kind of guy with an extremely dry sense of humor and a hard to read aura. He looks after his crew and provides them guidance and the voice of reason. He had worked hard to get captain despite being black and gay and now that he has his own precinct, he will not screw it up. Much of the humor of the show revolves around Jake trying to get Holt to mentor him or trying to undermine him to varying degrees of success.

My reaction if you don't watch this tbh

I've poured too much love into Brooklyn-99. You should just see it for yourself. I love it.