My Interview: Melissa Leaman

This week’s favorite writer is Melissa Leaman. Melissa is the Film & TV editor for Portrait Magazine, a contributing writer at Off Color TV.com and a dear friend of mine. I had the extreme pleasure of getting to meet and hang with Melissa at last summer’s San Diego Comic Con and feel pretty secure in saying that she is a long lost sister if only by Television relations. Not only do we share love for The Vampire Diaries, One Tree Hill, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we also share detest for shipper wars, political atrocities and chips with calories. Be sure to follow Melissa on Twitter and on her personal blog for more of the awesome I have come to depend on DAILY.

You watch just a bit of TV now and again. Of everything you’re watching right now, what is your favorite?

A bit! Oh how happy my mother would be if I only watched a bit. Hmm, now obviously, I can’t pick just one favorite show but perhaps I can squeak in with a top 2. Happy Endings is another absolute favorite. I’m a diehard Friends fan but there really hasn’t been a show to fill that void but still be unique in a long time. Enter Happy Endings. (There has to be a dirty joke in there somewhere). Brax is epicness incarnate and Jane is perfection. I’m always laughing when I watch & it’s become a can’t miss. Finally would be Vampire Diaries. I could go on and on but I will simply say that it is refreshing to watch a show that constantly outdoes itself by pushing plot lines, without sacrificing character development (with minimal exception). Even when I don’t like a character, I can understand exactly why the writers went in that direction. That’s rare in a show and highly commendable.

Is there a show you wish you could give up?

Gossip Girl. And Glee if I’m being honest. I despise both shows but there’s just enough there that sucks me back in. Specifically, Dan/Blair on Gossip Girl & the song performances, Naya Rivera & Dianna Agron on Glee.

Like me, you are a big fan of One Tree Hill. How do you feel about the final season so far? What are you expecting from the series finale?

I’m a little bored if I’m being completely honest. Granted, we both share a love for all things Naley, so the reduced scenes due to James Lafferty’s partial contract and Bethany Joy Galeotti having a baby, doesn’t help. But the previews and buildup made it seem like the show was going to be very intense this season, not so la-di-da, look at their happy lives. I would’ve preferred to jump into the chaos , rather than start so slow.

As for the finale, I definitely want everyone to be happy but I’d prefer a little drama beforehand. Season 8 has a perfect series finale so I’m not really feeling a complete repeat of that. Or perhaps something like the S4 finale, when it was the core group, back on the river court. I’d love to see all the kids playing basketball while their parents are sitting on the picnic table, cheering them on.

There have been a lot of great new shows this season. Do you have a favorite?

Revenge is easily my favorite of the new shows. I love the soapy nature and the fact that so many shows wouldn’t cross the lines this show is. It’s like the writers sit around going ‘wouldn’t this be a hoot?’ and then put it in the show. Plus Batman!Nolan is the greatest thing ever. Hart of Dixie is an extremely close second.

Is there one that you were expecting to love but just don’t?

Once Upon a Time. Not that I don’t enjoy the show, I do, but it hasn’t lived up to the expectations. I feel like if a show is going to set up a big mystery, there need to be developments on it. And nothing happens. I’ve told myself I’m spoiled by The Vampire Diaries but I really don’t think it’s measuring up.

To say that we love The Vampire Diaries would be a mild understatement. Who is your stand out character for Season Three so far and why?

Oh I hate you! How am I supposed to choose? I think each actor has stepped up their game but I’ll give the win to Joseph Morgan’s portrayal of Klaus. (Stefan & Caroline come very close but I feel like Caroline got her debut in S2, and Candice simply continues to knock it out of the park. And Paul Wesley has been brilliant this season but anyone who was paying attention could see that in little moments throughout the early seasons. ) Wow, tangent. So yes, Klaus wins for me. I wasn’t immediately frightened, creeped out or impressed by Klaus (something @abbygraham is happy to give me grief for) but this season has really changed that. He’s fast becoming one of my favorite characters and I’ll be very sad to see him leave. I’m desperately hoping for an Originals spinoff.

Favorite television character of all time:

Oz. With Caroline fast approaching him for a tie. She’s already beaten Buffy as my favorite female character (I can’t believe that happened) but she  hasn’t quite surpassed Oz. Oz, for anyone who’s crazy, is Seth Green’s character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love Oz. I have clips saved of nothing but Oz so I can watch his scenes over and over again. Oz is the guy who knows exactly who he is, who he wants to be, and doesn’t care a whit if others disagree. I find that incredibly inspiring.

Favorite Television moment of all time:

Easily from Buffy 3×1. No contest. Buffy’s a complete wreck at this point and has run away, going by the name Anne. Long story short, she ends up trapped with many other people in an alternate demon world. Everyone there has no life left in them basically. It’s like life just kept knocking them around and they finally gave up. So there’s this moment where the demon is asking each person who they are, forcing them to answer “nobody” & admit that they don’t matter. That’s when it clicks for Buffy. She is somebody. She can fight it or ignore it for a while but in the end, she knows exactly who she is, and that is someone who isn’t about to let anyone tell who she can be or how she can feel. So the demon asks her and she looks up at him & says “I’m Buffy. The vampire slayer. And you are?” in this fantastically snarky voice. The demon raises his club & then Buffy proceeds to kick his ass. I love that moment because it was such a defining moment for the character but it also taught me a lot. I was 16 during this episode & trying to figure out who I was compared to who the world told me I should be. Buffy gave me confidence to be myself. Anytime I start to second guess that, I watch the scene again.

The show you wished would have never ended:

Dallas. (Kidding!) Actually none.  I don’t always agree with how a show ends or maybe I’d hope for another season but I don’t think I’d want any show to have continued. I think of shows like My So Called Life or Freaks & Geeks and I doubt they could’ve been as great after 5 or 10 seasons. But if you forced me to choose? Friends. I think Friends could’ve pulled off a few more seasons without screwing up the show.

Is there a show you’ve never watched but always wanted to?

I feel like this question probably shouldn’t apply to shows currently on TV that I just haven’t figured out how to fit in yet. I think I’ll go with Everwood. I’m just worried about it. I’d never watched Felicity and I just started a few weeks ago and I’m kind of bored. There’s a sort of magic to old WB shows and rewatching them is wonderful but they don’t all hold up to today. So I’m kind of nervous that Everwood won’t be as epic as I want it to be.

If you could say one thing to all of the current TV watchers what would it be?

Take a beat. It is so easy to get caught up in the drama of the actors, the fans, the show and more that it can be really easy to forget how to enjoy the show on its own merits. So I would say take a moment and remember why you fell in love. But more importantly, I would tell TV watchers to ask them a question about why they’re frustrated with a show or character. Is it because things aren’t going their way or because the integrity of the characters has been sacrificed? And integrity doesn’t have to mean being a good person in this case. Take Stefan on this season of TVD. I know it’s been frustrating for many to see him be the bad guy. But the way he’s being a bad guy isn’t actually different from how he did things as good Stefan. Damon plans. Stefan looks for the fastest solution to getting what he wants and does exactly that. The actions are scarier now but the motivations haven’t changed. That’s a case where fans may not be super happy, but the writers haven’t lost sight of the character. On the other end we have Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl. The shippers can fight all they want but most of the fans I know are just frustrated that the writers have lost sight of who Blair, and indeed most of the characters are.

So I would say TV viewers should ask themselves why they’re upset. And if it’s just because you aren’t happy, take a beat, remember that you don’t own the show, and get over it. Or maybe take a break and come back to the show when you can marathon several episodes at once. Sometimes it helps to see a fuller story to fall back in love.  It’s just television people. It should be fun.

*And to non-genre TV watchers…don’t judge. A good story is a good story, regardless of what mythical or magical things might be going on.

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