The Devil Wears Prada

Over the past 11 years, I’ve honestly lost track the amount of times I’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada film. It was released into theaters in June 2006. When I was 13, I remember going to the theater to see this dramedy film with my mom. Sure this isn’t exactly a teenager friendly movie. Most of my life, my taste in TV shows, movies, and music hasn’t been quite conventional. Let alone appropriate for my age group. Hell I was watching Friends and Tonight Show with Jay Leno when I was a teenager.

The_Devil_Wears_Prada_book coverThe Devil Wears Prada is based off the 2003 novel by Lauren Weisberger. After I saw the movie, I was curious to read the novel. Drastically different from the film adaptation in many ways besides changing some of the sub-plots details. There are so many other differences. Most importantly, Miranda Priestly’s character are two entirely different interpretations in the book versus film. Yet, I honestly don’t mind the drastic changes made for the film adaptation.

The Devil Wears PradaThe cast ensemble for The Devil Wears Prada is simply brilliant. Meryl Streep plays the leading role of Miranda Priestly, Runway magazine’s editor-in-chief. Anne Hathaway plays the role of Andrea “Andy” Sachs, junior assistant to Miranda. Emily Blunt plays the role of Emily Charlton, senior assistant Miranda. Stanley Tucci plays the role of Nigel Kipling, Runway’s creative art director. Also, there are plenty of fascinating supporting minor characters from Andy’s work and personal lives. The Devil Wears Prada formed my appreciation for Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci as I hardly watched any of their previous film works. My main motivation to see this film was Anne Hathaway. I’ve been a longtime fan of her since The Princess Diaries in 2001. I went into the movie theater to see The Devil Wears Prada with an open-mind. Not surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed this dramedy film.

Every re-watch of The Devil Wears Prada I always find interesting nuances within the plot arc and character development. Miranda Priestly doesn’t have as many lines compared to Andrea Sachs. Yet, Miranda’s character is quite different from the novel. In the film adaptation, Miranda is a ruthless editor-in-chief but still has a heart. Her treatment of her Runway employees and fellow subordinates in the fashion industry isn’t nearly as psychologically or emotionally abusive. Miranda even expresses emotional vulnerability in few scenes with her junior assistant, Andy. What makes Miranda’s character development brilliant is the subtleties in terms of her mannerisms when interacting with other characters within work and home settings. Meryl Streep’s different spin on the villainous Miranda Priestly was spectacularly refreshing.

It’s safe to say I’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada at least 15 times over the past 11 years. With each re-watch, I’ve had interesting revelations about aspects of the plot and characters as I get older. Being older, I have a different perspective of the world I live in. There are few things that especially stand out to me.

Andy's fashion evolution-TDWP

First, Andy changes her mindset of the fashion industry after many months of working her demanding job at Runway magazine. During her time at Runway, Andy’s eyes are open to all the possibilities out there in the fashion industry. Her perspective of fashion industry isn’t the only thing that changes. Her fashion sense quickly evolves from frumpy college graduate to chic New York City career woman.

Her friends and boyfriend see this fashion evolution as becoming too materialistic and narcissistic. No longer interested in spending time with her loved ones. Junior assistant to Miranda Priestly is an intense job that requires more time commitment. Not your typical 9-5 pm Monday to Friday job. It does involve extra hours outside of the office and even sacrificing your weekend. This was Andy’s first job right after graduating college. Sometimes you must do not as ideal jobs to reach your career goals. Andy was willing to put in the extra hours.

Her friends and boyfriend give Andy crap for prioritizing her job over them. This really pisses me off. Andy is trying to jump start her career as a journalist and the stepping stones to get there will not always be most ideal. But you’ve got to give her credit for making the best of a job that has crazy long hours and constant stress. Work and personal life balance isn’t easy to achieve when you’re starting your career right out f college. Yet, Andy doesn’t forget where she came from despite her demanding, stressful job. She always finds ways to spend time with her friends and boyfriend when there are small pockets of available time.

Plus, her friends and boyfriend viewed her slight personality change as a negative thing. I personally believe people will change over the years. Some change isn’t always for the worst. Honestly, you don’t see either her “friends” or boyfriend be supportive of her demanding job. Andrea doesn’t need people in her life that drag her down or hold her back from living her life to the fullest. Worse of all, they make her feel guilty for changing too much. Lily, Doug, and Alex are all selfish assholes. In my honest opinion, she really needs to find a new crowd to hang out with. A group of people who support her and accept it is okay for people to change over time. I am well-aware how this analysis is very unpopular opinion.

TDWP_Miranda and Andy

Second, the beautiful evolution of the work relationship between Miranda and Andrea. Initially, Miranda is quite skeptical if Andy can perform all aspects of the demanding and stressful role as her junior assistant. Miranda doesn’t think she will last long. Andy works extra hard to prove herself as junior assistant. She even adapts well to the fast-pace work environment at Runway magazine. Andrea transforms from an caterpillar to a blossoming butterfly.

Miranda gives Andy the golden ticket to many elite social events in the fashion industry in New York and abroad in Paris. Andy grabs these opportunities and gains new perspective of the world. This includes incredible networking with influential people in the world of fashion as well. There are glamorous aspects to working as Miranda Priestly’s junior assistant.

Miranda notices Andrea’s evolution since starting as her junior assistant. She is very impressed by Andy’s work ethic and ambitions. Most of all, Miranda only shows emotional vulnerability around Andrea. I’m sure not even her family sees her express such emotional vulnerability. She is almost always seen wearing an intimidating facial expression. Her accomplishments have earned her high esteem and respect in the fashion world. Miranda pushes her employees because she knows they will always come through and deliver in the end. Runway didn’t become the world’s most influential fashion magazine without blood, sweat, and tears. Miranda is disappointed when Andrea quits Runway but give an outstanding recommendation for her next job at another publishing company. Miranda Priestly grew fond and came to respect Andrea Sachs.

Revenge Wears Prada book coverThird, the changes in characterization and storylines worked out to improve the film adaptation as a whole. I read The Devil Wears Prada novel many years ago. Also, this isn’t a teenager-friendly book. Way more sexual innuendos and profanity from start to finish. The film adaptation is rather tame in many aspects. I enjoyed the novel yet I wouldn’t classify it as one of my favorite books. By the way, Lauren Weisberger came out with a sequel. Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns came out in June 2013. (Random note: Four years ago, I bought this sequel novel at small bookstore in Rotterdam airport. But I have yet to have read it in full entirety. I’ll eventually get around to it.) The Devil Wears Prada film adaptation took the book source material and elevated it to an entirely new level of awesomeness. It explored fascinating nuances that weren’t touch on much in the novel. The character development contributed to making the movie’s storylines even more appealing. In fact, it is one of my all-time favorite films.

I don’t know much about current fashion trends or workings of the fashion world. Yet, The Devil Wears Prada appeals to a wide audience and age group. Plenty of heart and soul in the storylines. I appreciate it when a movie effectively uses subtleties rather than placing unnecessary dialogue between characters into a scene. But it takes the right actor to properly execute such subtle emotions. The incredible cast ensemble especially Meryl, Anne, Emily, and Stanley brought their complex characters to life. The Devil Wears Prada will never get old no matter how many times I re-watch it.


The Vampire Diaries

TVD_3It’s safe to say I’ve seen my fair amount of TV shows over the past 10-15 years. But there are very few shows I started around the time its first season debuted on a TV network. Let alone the week the series pilot aired on television. This is why it is very bittersweet to say farewell to The Vampire Diaries (TVD). The Vampire Diaries pilot episode aired on The CW network back in September 10, 2009. The pilot was available on iTunes for free the following day. On random whim, I decided to buy it. I didn’t have much to lose.

Around this time, I was in the early stage of my Twilight phase. The Vampire Diaries series by LJ Smith had been around much longer than The Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyers. Yet it was Twilight saga books and movies that commenced the widespread popularity for vampire genre. The popularity of vampire genre books, movies, and TV shows within pop culture resurged between late 2000s and early 2010s. Otherwise, vampire genre was a very niche market. Up to this point, only aficionados cherished this niche genre. The CW bought the copyrights from Alloy Entertainment to adapt The Vampire Diaries book series into a television series. Most of all, The CW network chose the perfect the time to debut TVD in 2009.

TVD bookThis CW show is loosely based off LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries book series. LJ Smith wrote The Vampire Diaries books 1-7. Four books are part of first phase. The Awakening: Volume I. The Struggle: Volume II. The Fury: Volume III. Dark Reunion: Volume IV. These first four novels were written between 1991 and 1992. Many trilogy series continued from The Vampire Diaries series. After more than 10 years, LJ Smith wrote The Return trilogy which consisted of three books. The Return: Nightfall (February 2009). The Return: Shadow Souls (March 2010). The Return: Midnight (March 2011). As part of her original contract, Alloy Entertainment publishers owned copyrights to this book series. The publisher fired LJ Smith in 2011. Ghostwriters have written consecutive books in The Vampire Diaries trilogies. The Hunters trilogy (books 8-10) and The Salvation trilogy (books 11-13) were not written by LJ Smith, the original author.

I’d read the books first before I even know they were adapted into a CW series. Between 10th and 11th grade, a fellow classmate let me borrow her copies of The Vampires Diaries books 1-5. It wasn’t until college I finally got around to read book 6. But I stopped reading after The Return: Shadow Souls. I’d lost interest in the books at this point. This rarely happens to me. But I no long cared enough to continue The Vampire Diaries trilogies.

The books provided me enough background to understand the TV show. I was curious how the books would translate into a television series. Yet, I didn’t want the TV show to be marketed like another Twilight. In comparison, I much prefer LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries book series than Twilight saga books. Better character development among major and minor characters. Plus, the plot arcs were more complex and captivating.

There will obviously be changes when a book is adapted into a TV show. In the book series, Bonnie McCullough a young human psychic turn witch. She is a descendant of ancient Celtic Druids. But this character was drastically altered for the TV show adaptation. Bonnie McCollough became Bonnie Bennett. She was still a novice psychic turned full witch. One of Elena’s best friends, Meredith Sulez is completely eliminated from the main cast ensemble. Meredith was one of the few human characters with no extraordinary abilities. She eventually becomes vampire hunter. Meredith merely winds up being a recurring character in TVD season 4. Compared to book versus TV show, Elena Gilbert’s character development and storylines are radically different. Literally day and night. No overlap at all. The TV show took the bare bones of the book series and put their own unique twist on it. By Season 2, the show stopped pretending they were remotely trying to follow the book series at all. This is where I had to mentally detach these two entities. Ironically, I actually ended up loving the TV show’s storylines way more than the books’ storylines.

TVD S1 Promo

Season 1 Promotion Poster

TVD’s pilot aired September 10, 2009 but I didn’t watch it until the next day. I watch it with an open-mind. Halfway through the pilot, I still wasn’t convinced to continue watching The Vampire Diaries television series. Then, Damon Salvatore (played by Ian Somerhalder) appeared on the screen. “Hello brother” was all it took to convinced me to stick with this show. Bad boys aren’t my type. Yet, I cannot help but feel attracted to the bad boy stereotype character(s) in my bias books, TV shows, and movies. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot complexity and dark themes in the pilot episode. Most importantly, the casting for main TVD cast ensemble was perfect! All the actors brilliantly bring out the rich multi-faceted layers of their characters on screen. Off-screen chemistry among the cast ensemble enhances the on-screen chemistry between the characters in the episodes. Damon Salvatore is the main reason I stuck with the show for eight years. But I eventually grew attached to the other main characters within the first few seasons. Some sooner than others.

Also, I love it when a show inserts subtle emotional context without always having dialogue in every scene. Facial expressions or body motions can sometimes convey more than actual conversational dialogue between characters. Music can further enhance this cinematic element. Over the eight seasons, the music soundtrack for TVD beautifully encapsulated the particular scene’s mood.

(Side note: Within Temptation is one of my favorite Dutch symphonic metal bands besides Nightwish. I didn’t realize they’d used a Within Temptation song in The Vampire Diaries. Best of all, “All I Need” song was used in an iconic Delena scene. The Founder’s Day dance scene firmly established the concept of Delena ship.)

TVD_2In the first season, I only recognized three actors out the main cast ensemble. Paul Wesley portrays Stefan Salvatore. Ian Somerhalder portrays Damon Salvatore. It’s funny how actors from other shows surprisingly tie back to Smallville. Paul Wesley had a guest role on Smallville in episode 2.15 as Lucas Luthor. Lucas was Lex Luthor’s half-brother. Also, Paul had a guest role on The OC as Donnie, a kid from Corona who befriends Ryan Atwood (portrayed by Ben McKenzie). Ian Somerhalder had a recurring role in Smallville Season 3 as Adam Knight. Adam Knight was resurrected by Luthor Corp to be a spy in order to learn more about Clark Kent’s true nature by getting close to Lana Lang. Matt Davies portrays Alaric Saltzman. Matt starred in 2001’s Legally Blonde alongside Reese Witherspoon. He portrayed Warner Huntington, Elle Wood’s ex-boyfriend. Now I’ll always associate him as Alaric.

Every TV show has its popular “ships”. “Ship” is the shortened abbreviation for relationship. Ships can be romantic or bromance in nature. CW’s The Vampire Diaries was full of interesting ships. Stelena. Delena. Beremy. Steroline. Bamon. Klaroline. Forwood. Dalaric. Not all ship pairings are confirmed with canon TVD universe. Fans can come up with their own non-canon ships. Even if I didn’t support a canonical ship, every romantic or bromance pairing has its purpose within TVD’s multi-season storylines.

I’m emotionally attached to only few canon ships. Delena (Damon+Elena) was the first ship I threw my full support into all way back in Season 1. The first few seasons revolved a complicated love triangle between Stefan, Damon, and Elena. Nothing against Stelena but it didn’t quite emotionally stir me as much as Delena. In Season 2, we were introduced to the Mikaelson clan. The first vampires ever created. The Originals have the motto of “always and forever”. They had recurring roles in season 2 but became series regulars in seasons 3 and 4. I myself was surprised how the dynamic bond between Caroline Forbes and Klaus Mikaelson really grew on me. Undeniable chemistry. I wholeheartedly support Klaroline. I hope Caroline can eventually transition to The Originals show universe.

Of the two Salvatore brothers, I’m very open about my bias towards Damon Salvatore. He never pretended to be a purely good person unlike Stefan. He will always be one of the my favorite characters on this show. Plus, Damon has some pretty damn epic bromances (literally and metaphorically). Three in particular  Damon non-romantic ships always pull at my heartstrings. Defan (Damon+Stefan). Dalaric (Damon+Alaric). Denzo (Damon+Enzo). Bamon (Bonnie+Damon). At some point, fans realized the show revolved more around the complex, dynamic relationship between the vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore. Elena’s relationship with the brothers was not the intended main focus. Despite their tumultuous past history , Damon and Stefan realized they couldn’t live without each other in their lives. Emotionally vulnerable Defan scenes never failed to turn me into a puddle of feels. So many tears shed over the eight seasons. Outside of his brother, Damon considers very few people his dear friends. Alaric Saltzman, Lorenzo (aka Enzo) St. John, and Bonnie Bennett. We saw new depths of Damon’s sensitive side with each of them. I hardly  had a dry eye watching Dalaric, Denzo, or Bamon scenes. Out of the entire main characters. Damon Salvatore had the most drastic evolution since the pilot episode. He became a much better person. Over the eight seasons, he retained aspects of his bad boy personality thankfully .  That would have been a damn shame if Damon was totally tamed in the end. Also, his snarky personality provided many unforgettably awesome one-liners. Damon was one of the most multi-faceted main characters.

I can tell when a long-running TV show is running out of ideas for its storylines. Even my favorite shows. Smallville. Gossip Girl. The end is near when US viewer ratings start to slip below 1.5 million. I give it no more than two seasons before it is cancelled. CW’s The Vampire Diaries began to struggle in US viewership in Season 7. Ratings officially dipped below one million viewers in its final season. The CW has a cruel tactic for when shows enter its final season. They are given what I dub the “graveyard” time slot. Friday nights. TVD firmly held onto the highly coveted Thursday 8 pm time slot until the first half of Season 7. Then, it moved to Friday nights at 8 pm during the second half of Season 7. This was a tell-tale sign that the end was coming. I’ve been watching The CW network since fall of 2006 so I’ve learned their sneaky tactics in terms of scheduling time slots. Ultimately, reach and viewership statistics is how networks determine whether a show gets renewed or cancelled.

When a TV show runs longer than 3-4 seasons, there will certainly be at least one or two seasons with weak overarching plot arcs and sub-plots. I struggled to get through a couple seasons of CW’s The Vampire Dairies. Yet, it’s very rare that I entirely give up on a television show. I’d invest hundreds of hours into TVD so I might as well see it to the end. For better or worse.

Over the past eight years, I’ve cried rivers of tears watching CW’s The Vampire Dairies. Hell it’s probably an ocean at this point. They certainly know how to send the viewers on an emotional rollercoaster of feels. Absolutely no dry eye especially with the season finales. So it wasn’t surprising that I basically balled like a baby watching TVD series finale. Series finale episodes are presented with a daunting challenge. Simultaneously wrap up the final season’s plot arc and any other unresolved storylines in previous seasons. Some shows do a good job of accomplishing this arduous task. Others miserably fail. When this happens, it leaves the fans even more distraught and heartbroken but for a different reason. I know from personal experience.

Thankfully, The Vampires Diaries delivered a satisfactory series finale. It is bittersweet to say goodbye to your beloved TV shows. When you’ve dedicated 8 years, you don’t want it to end. But all TV shows must come to an end eventually.  At least it got a long run to tell many incredible storylines.

It’s worse when your favorite TV show gets prematurely cancelled by the network. I’m still angry at NBC, TV Land, and The CW for prematurely cancelling certain television shows. I’m not a person to hold grudges against people for past wrongs. Nope. I’m the type of person to hold grudges against television networks for how they’ve wronged me. Prematurely cancelled shows never get to live to their full potential.

You gain a better overall perspective once you’ve finished a whole season of show. You see the connection among previous season storylines as well. Season 8 had its valleys and peaks. (I won’t reveal any major spoilers. They’re all over the internet and social media platforms anyway.) I personally felt the siren plot arc dragged on way too long. The final four episodes felt a bit rushed in some ways. I had a nagging feeling TVD would pull a “True Blood”-esque ending. Sadly, my prediction turned out to be fairly accurate for one particular character. Despite its flaws, the show took the main characters on insane plot arcs which directly resulted in dynamic, strong character development. None of the main ensemble characters are the same people they were in the pilot episode. So much heartbreak and loss over eight seasons. Yet, they persevered through those hardships and triumphantly overcame it all. Becoming stronger people in the end. Despite all the supernatural madness, it never ceases to amaze me how Matt Donovan remained human all eight seasons! He is the “normal” human among the Mystic Falls gang. Overall, TVD’s final season was a befitting sendoff.

The CW’s The Vampire Diaries appeared on the television scene during the resurgence of vampire genre around 2008 and 2009. Twilight saga films spawned a worldwide phenomenon from 2008 to 2012. True Blood aired on HBO from 2008 to 2014. Yet, TVD was still airing on television. Its longevity is proof of their immense success. A true testament considering vampire genre’s popularity faded from pop culture relevance.

CW’s The Vampire Diaries is over. But it shall forever live in my fond, nostalgic memories. Thank goodness for FanFiction stories too. Since I was 15, this show has been part of my life. This chapter of my life has closed for good. Cue TVD hangover and withdrawal. I won’t get my Ian Somerhalder fix anymore. I will properly mourn the loss of this beloved show. Then, I shall discover other supernatural genre TV shows. At least, I still have CW’s The Originals, a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. I’ll be very pissed off if it gets cancelled after its fourth season. I can’t lose both shows in such a short span of time.

I’ll end on a slightly lighter note. In February 2011,  The Hillywood Show released The Vampire Diaries parody. It never fails to make me smile like a dork. I’ve legit lost track how many times I’ve seen it over the past six years. It’s easily one of my all-time favorite Hillywood Show parodies. I will eventually make a blog post about The Hillywood Show.