Commentary #52: Thoughts on “The Keepers”

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Image Credit: IMDb

Al mentioned this new Netflix Original series to me a couple weeks ago.

I watched the first two episodes, out of seven, alone. In retrospect, I’m glad that I re-watched them with Al this past week. We just finished the last one today. I don’t think I could have handled it alone.

Much like my Making A Murderer post from last October, I want to try to summarize the series here, and give my thoughts and feelings about it. I will do my best to limit any spoilers!

In November 1969, Sister Catherine (Cathy) Cesnik mysteriously vanished near Baltimore, Maryland. There had been an experiment where she and another nun were allowed to leave their convent and become public school teachers at the all-girls Catholic Archbishop Keough High School.

At the time of her disappearance, Cathy was going shopping for some bakery buns, and an engagement gift for her sister. When her roommate, Sister Russell Phillips, discovered that Cathy had not returned to the apartment, she notified two friends, one of whom was a priest. A few hours later, the police were called and an investigation began.

Sadly, just three days into the year 1970, Sister Cathy’s body was found in a local garbage dump, in nearby Lansdowne, Maryland. The initial investigation concluded that her skull had been fractured at the left temple, but little other evidence was found. The case remains open and unsolved.

The Keepers follows several of Sister Cathy’s students, in the present day, trying to solve her murder, and untangle the web that surrounded their beloved teacher.

Throughout the seven episodes, we learn that Father A. Joseph Maskell was the chaplain at Archbishop Keough, as well as the Baltimore Police Department, and the Maryland State Police. Prior to his arrival at Keough in 1967, Maskell was a priest at multiple churches/parishes in Maryland. Maskell stayed at Keough through 1975.

Gemma and Abbie are the primary amateur investigators in the case. They simply wanted to see Cathy’s murder solved, and to figure out what really happened. Along the way, they begin to discover the secret world that was surrounding their school, and the potential scandal that Cathy knew about.

Without going into gory detail, it was alleged that Father Maskell was committing acts of sexual abuse in his office in the school. In the episodes, several women (Jane Doe, Jane Roe, Mary, Donna, and others) describe what Maskell was doing to them. One woman, Lil, recounted how Maskell asked her to type the transcripts of the “counseling sessions” and “psychological reports” of the girls. Almost all of the reports were sexual in nature.

Gemma and Abbie, among others, start to realize that Cathy knew what was going on, and she was likely murdered to keep the scandal quiet.

Watching the first two episodes alone, I was absolutely horrified. I almost didn’t want to keep watching. What these women were saying that this man did to them made me sick.

When Al and I watched them together, there were several moments where we paused it, and said, together, “What on Earth is happening? Why? Holy freaking cow! This is absolutely nuts!”

We found that our profanity increased as the episodes went over. We could not believe that Maskell, and several others, got away with these terrible acts for so many years.

We noticed that, unfortunately, there are deep ties between the Archdiocese and the police. We’re convinced that there’s money involved, as well as rampant corruption. And this is just in Baltimore!

According to Wikipedia, there are 197 particular churches in the U.S. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That’s a lot!

To summarize, The Keepers is a decent series. It could have been told in five episodes, rather than seven. But, it’s an important story to be told. When we were watching, we were reminded of the movie Spotlight from 2015. It’s an incredible movie, and it follows similar veins from Boston.

In talking with others on Facebook, my hope is that series and movies like these will help victims to gather the courage to come forward, to tell their stories. Abuse is not acceptable or okay in any form, but against children is especially heinous. These men (and women) should be punished accordingly. The church needs to stop “transferring” priests and others that are accused of abuse and other crimes. They need to be prosecuted. More importantly, these victims need to be believed. They need to be respected and applauded for their courage.

There needs to be justice for Sister Cathy.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #47: “Young Man On A Mission To Honor World War II Veterans Before It’s Too Late”

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Image Credit: QuoteHD.com

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite news segments. It’s called “On The Road with Steve Hartman,” and it airs every Friday night on the CBS Evening News.

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Image Credit: CBS News

When I was younger, my parents would record it and we would gather to watch it together. It was a great family bonding activity. Steve’s stories are something we continue to share with each other, our families, and our friends.

Now, since I’ve gotten married and have a house of my own, I don’t often get to watch it every week. Luckily, CBS News has a whole page dedicated to Steve’s stories – On The Road. You can read the written articles / transcripts, or you can watch the videos.

I almost always watch the videos.


Yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t seen several of the most recent segments. I spent nearly 45 minutes going through the page. Each story is roughly three minutes in length, and I guarantee you just watching or reading one will make your day a little bit brighter.

Yesterday, with each story, I smiled, I thought reflectively, and tears came to my eyes several times.

And then, I came upon this story:

Seconds after finishing the video, only two minutes and fifty-five seconds long, I knew I wanted to – No, I needed to – write a blog post about it.


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Image Credit: Heroes of the Second World War

Rishi, at right in the photo above, is only 19-years-old, but he’s already made a huge impact. He started this project in 2014, and just the short time since then, he’s worked so hard and changed so many lives.

The full website is coming soon, but here’s what Rishi has so far:


This story reminded me of NPR’s StoryCorps, but Rishi is just one young man. And what he’s doing, having skipped days of high school to interview these incredible men, plus delaying college to continue this work, is so significant and important.

According to various sources, there were 16,112,566 members of the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. Of those 16.1 million service members, there were 291,557 battle deaths, 113,842 other deaths in service (non-theater), and 670,846 non-mortal wounded.

As of this writing, it’s estimated that about 620,000 World War II veterans are still alive. Sadly, we lose roughly 375 veterans every day.

If that number remains accurate, we have about 1,653 days left until no survivors remain. Divide that by 365 days in a year – It means, that most, if not all of these brave people, will be gone in 4.5 years. By 2021, this generation will very likely, literally, be history.

That gives me chills. Rishi couldn’t have started this mission at a better time. I’m inspired by him.


For him to also take the time every single day to call these veterans – Calling them to say “thank you” – makes me want to pick up the phone, too. I mean, can’t we all make the effort to pick up the phone and call someone? Make that connection? It doesn’t have to be a veteran – It can be your grandparents. Someone else in your family. A friend who lives far away.

I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #44: My Life as a PBS Kid

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Image Credit: quotesgram.com

As a child, my parents didn’t pay for cable TV.

They still don’t have it.

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Image Credit: HD Guru

So, my main source of entertainment, in terms of television, was PBS.

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Image Credit: pbskids.org


There are so many shows that came to mind when I was creating this post. I wanted to share a few of them with you, and how these shows have impacted my life.

Arthur (1996-present)

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

I read the Arthur books in school and from the library. Reading Rainbow featured one of the books as well. When the show premiered in September 1996, I watched it every day, like clockwork. In the beginning, it was on after school, paired with Wishbone.

Many of these shows have found new life on YouTube and other streaming services (Netflix, etc.) It’s exciting to be able to watch them again.

It’s interesting to watch some of these shows as an adult. With Arthur, I learned about friendship, families, school, reading, and being a kid.

This is one of the few shows for kids that has explored tougher / more adult topics as well – Divorce, bullies, lying, cancer, and even a touch of religion since Francine’s family is Jewish.

Barney & Friends (1992-2009)

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

I almost hate to admit it, but I loved the purple dinosaur and all his friends when I was little. There’s a picture of me on the porch of my parents’ house dressed as Barney for one Halloween – It must have been 1992 or 1993.

However, thinking back, the show taught me a lot of good things – Friendship, sharing, kindness, helping others, and so on.

Will you find me showing it to my kids? Not likely. It didn’t take long for the voices, and especially the songs, to get very annoying and corny!

Ghostwriter (1992-1995)

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

When I was old enough to watch Ghostwriter, it was in its later seasons. However, I loved the show. It’s set in New York (Brooklyn, specifically), and I loved seeing the team work together to solve the mystery at hand. I remember finding an old composition notebook and creating my own “casebook” to follow along with the show.

This show made me want to put together my own group of friends to solve cases. It also teaches about reading, writing, friendship, family, struggles in middle school, and diversity. I loved that every member of the team was an individual, but they also worked as an awesome team.

The entire series is on YouTube, and I find myself re-watching it once or twice a year. I’ve also dreamed up a little bit of fan fiction from time to time.

Reading Rainbow (1983-2006)

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Reading Rainbow has always been one of my favorites. I’ve always loved LeVar Burton’s personality, and I figured out pretty quickly that he played Geordi on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I’ve always loved reading, and this show made want to read all of the books that were featured – The books that were the centerpieces of the show, and the books that the kids profiled at the end. I wanted to be one of those kids!

I still remember the Russell Memorial Library having special Reading Rainbow stickers on the book covers. The show was funny, entertaining, and showed how reading show literally show you the world.

I haven’t found many full episodes by way of YouTube, but Netflix has the first full season. I hope they’ll add more!

Sesame Street (1969-present, now partnered with HBO)

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Sesame Street has been my long-standing favorite show. Big Bird was my favorite when I was younger. I even had three stuffed versions of him – A small, a medium, and a large that talked with a pull string.

Seeing a mix of new and classic episodes, songs, and shorts on YouTube, it’s fascinating to see how this show has stood the test of time. There was a lot of flack last year when the partnership with HBO was announced. Initially, I didn’t agree with it. But, having researched it, I see why PBS did what they did. I’m still not 100 percent okay with it, but I see the strategy behind it.

This show has so many life lessons mixed in with shapes, colors, and counting. I learned about friendship, family, helping others, good manners, patience, problem solving, and more.

Though not a major character on Sesame Street, Kermit the Frog has been my new favorite Muppet for a while now. Big Bird is a very close second. Cookie Monster, Grover, and Telly round out my top five.

There’s even a fun spin-off series on YouTube called The Furchester Hotel that takes Elmo and Cookie Monster across the pond! It’s adorable and I think it’s great.

Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? (1996-1997)

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

I had almost all of the computer games, and I remember eagerly watching the kids travel through time to catch Carmen. I found myself applying some of the history I learned from the show in middle school, high school, and even college!

In college, I was so excited to discover that most of the Time episodes, and almost all of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? episodes (1991-1995) are in full on YouTube.

It’s amazing how I subtly learned geography and history with these two shows. I remember watching more of Time than World, since World was ending around the same time as Ghostwriter. Like Arthur, Wishbone, and ZOOM, this one was a daily after-school show for me if I was able to. 

I dreamed of being a contestant, but I was too young to try out, and it ended before I turned 10. I loved the concept. Recently, I found myself dreaming up some fan fiction about both shows, so I may put those on paper here soon.

Re-watching a lot of the episodes as an adult, I’ve learned a few new things. It’s been awesome to keep learning after all these years. World just celebrated its 25th anniversary!

Plus, I’ve marveled at how crazy the 1990s were – That multi-media computer system!

Wishbone (1995-1998)

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Image Credit: sidereel.com

This is another show that focused on reading, but it has an adorable Jack Russell terrier that dresses up as the characters and takes you through the book! Awesome!

I wanted to be Samantha, and have best friends like Joe and David. I even wrote an extensive fiction work for my first-ever creative writing class in college that was basically extended fan fiction of these characters, after the show ended and they started high school.

Like some of the other shows mentioned, the entire series is on YouTube, and I’ve loved re-watching them over the last few years.

ZOOM (1999-2005)

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

This was such a cool show. I was a super-fan for the longest time. I even printed everyone’s photos from their website and made my own posters. Yeah, I was that kid.

I loved that it had real kids doing awesome things. I remember making a lot of the crafts, and some of the food. I didn’t have a big group of friends to play a lot of the games, but it was fun to think about.

Some of the seasons are on YouTube, but not all. I’ve found parts and pieces of the first three seasons, and I hope that all of them will eventually be posted. It’s been fun to travel down memory lane!

This was another show that I really wanted to audition for, but then my mom helped me realize that Boston was a long way away from Chesapeake. That was a big bummer!

Regardless, I loved this show. It ended when I was a junior in high school, but I still watched it religiously. I didn’t tell many of my friends, but I still thought it was cool.


That’s all I have! This was such a fun post.

Did you watch PBS?

Did you watch any of these shows?

Do you have any favorite memories of these shows?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #43: Thoughts On “Making A Murderer”

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Image Credit: elitedaily.com

Holy wow.

It took a long time, but over the course of a Friday night in September and most of today, I was able to plow through all 10 addicting, spellbinding episodes of Netflix’s hit documentary, “Making A Murderer.”

When it was released in December 2015, I remember being intrigued from the get-go. It sounded like a fascinating story.

Fascinating, well, is just one word.


The story of Steven Avery, intertwined with the stories of Teresa Halbach and Brendan Dassey, takes you deep into the community of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, bordering Lake Michigan.

With this post, I’ll try to summarize the entangled network of the cases, the intrigue, the mystery, and the questions.

The Averys are a family that have never been liked or been highly regarded by local law enforcement. They run a huge salvage yard in the county that spans for acres and acres.

Steven was the most well-known of the family to the police. As a teenager, he was charged with a few petty crimes – Burglary, petty theft, and cruelty to animals.

In 1985, Steven was arrested for the sexual assault of a woman. Despite his insistence of his innocence, he was convicted, and sent to prison for 32 years.

In 2003, Steven was exonerated after 18 years. He was released from prison, thanks to help from the Innocence Project. Their tireless work was amazing to see.

Steven was arrested again, in 2005, and charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach. Teresa was a photographer for Auto Trader magazine, and was at the Avery’s salvage yard to take photos of a minivan that Steven wanted to sell. After that, Teresa disappeared.

The sheriff’s department and volunteers find Teresa’s Toyota RAV-4 on the Avery property. Blood is found in the vehicle. Areas of the property are excavated to discover burned bones, all fragments. The key to Teresa’s vehicle is found in Steven’s bedroom.

After Steven’s arrest, he claimed officials framed him, since he had filed a $36 million civil lawsuit against the county and several county officials after his exoneration. In 2005, it was still pending.

As the case heads toward trial, there are accusations of evidence tampering, and significant conflict of interest with the county investigating the case.

Simultaneously, Steven’s nephew, Brendan, was accused of being an accessory to Teresa’s alleged sexual assault and murder on the Avery property. He was sixteen at the time. He was known to have lower cognitive function, being enrolled in some special education classes in school and reading on a fourth-grade level.

Two investigators interview Brendan multiple times, even going to his high school to talk to him during school hours. Even though he was a minor at the time, his mother was never present for any of the interviews.

In the videotapes, it appears that Brendan is being coerced into eventually confessing to his involvement. The investigators appear to ask questions that force Brendan to admit his involvement in raping Teresa and witnessing his uncle Steven murdering her. On tape, he appears to admit that he helped stab her with a knife, and then the police indicate that Teresa was also shot.

However, Brendan later writes out a full timeline of the day in question. According to the written statement, Brendan came home from school, played video games, and ate dinner. In his own words, he states that he did not go over to his uncle Steve’s house, at all.

As the episodes flow, almost seamlessly, we see the roads up to their trials.

I won’t reveal the outcomes of their trials here, but I will say that the results were not what I expected.

It was fascinating to see both trials play out in a series of one-hour episodes. It was addicting. It was gut-wrenching. It was difficult to hear the account of what this man and this teenager allegedly did to this young woman, over and over.

Seeing the media coverage and their involvement made me realize how tough that work ethic is. The press conferences appeared to never end. The blending of the lawyers and attorneys for both sides was almost intoxicating.

Personally, I thought the filmmakers did an excellent job of showcasing both the prosecution and the defense. It was amazing to see all the work and research and presentations that were put into Steven’s and Brendan’s trials.

As a paralegal student, I was excited to see the potential work that I could be doing unfolding in front of my eyes. Besides excited, I felt a mix of emotions – Preparing for a trial, any trial, is complicated and stressful. The work that I will do one day can literally make or break a case for the client.

Overall, this series grabbed me by the collar and never let go. I wanted to marathon it all at once. Once the end credits started rolling, I wanted to click “Next” and not stop.

I feel terrible that the Averys were targeted by county officials for years. It appears that Steven always had a target on his back. He was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 long years. He, unfortunately, was not innocent until proven guilty.

However, with that said, the twists and turns of this series has left me unsettled.

Is there still justice in this world?

Is anyone still innocent until proven guilty?

Do we need to pay closer attention to law enforcement in terms of conflict of interest, bias, evidence tampering, and so on?

I feel it’s worth mentioning here that Steven and Brendan are, and Teresa was, white. Almost all of the main players / characters involved in this story are white. While watching, I wondered if it would have been a different story if a different race, or races, was involved in these cases. I say all of this carefully, considering the hotbed of emotions that has surrounded race relations and police involvement.

As stated in the series, we may never know what truly happened to Teresa Halbach.

However, the stories of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey continue.

In July, Netflix announced that a second season was being produced.

As recently as August 12, new developments in one of their cases have made national news.

It was another twist in a long, winding road that’s lasted over 10 years now.

I’m eagerly looking forward to what Netflix releases as the second season. I’m also watching the news more closely these days, interested in any shred of information on the case in question.

This series was a different, addicting spin on a true-crime story that spans multiple families, law enforcement agencies, and zeroes in on a small Wisconsin community. Like much of the nation, I’m on the edge of my seat now, where I can hardly wait to see what happens next.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #42: Rec’d and Wreck’d – TV Shows!

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Image Credit: Shealea at That Bookshelf Bitch.

I saw this post on Getting Through Anxiety, written by B.G.


The Rules:

  1. Download the Rec’d & Wreck’d header and include it in your post.
  2. Specify what you’re going to Rec’d & Wreck’d. If you were tagged to do a Rec’d & Wreck’d post, let us know and mention the person who tagged you.
  3. List three things you would recommend (rec’d). Rave until your heart’s content.
  4. List three things you would like to wreck (wreck’d). Rant until your heart’s content.
  5. State your challenge for the next Rec’d & Wreck’d post. Here’s an example:
    Rec’d & Wreck’d challenge:
    – Type: Books
    – Genre: YA Contemporary
    – Prompt: I’m looking for a book that can make me ugly cry
  6. You can open the challenge to all your blog readers, but you should nominate at least seven (7) people to do your challenge.
  7. Do not forget to link back to the original post on That Bookshelf Bitch. That way, more people can learn about the feature and join in on the fun!

To find out more about Rec’d & Wreck’d, click here!

Ready?

Here we go!


Rec’d

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Image Credit: imdb.com

(1) The Flash – This is the first superhero show that I absolutely love. The story is well-written, there’s drama and suspense, and the writers have tried really hard to stay true to the character and the comic books! The only thing I’ve hated thus far was the season 2 finale – It was terrible! However, I’m curious to see what they do with season 3!

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

(2) Last Man Standing – This is one of the best comedies I’ve watched. We’ve blown through all of the seasons, between Netflix and a handful of Friday nights. If you liked Home Improvement, definitely check this one out. Tim Allen is hilarious, and the cast of characters around him are awesome!

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Image Credit: comicbook.com

(3) The Big Bang Theory – I got started late with this show, but I fell in love quickly. It’s awkward and adorable. They make science awesome! I can’t believe that Season 10 premieres next week!


Wreck’d

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Image Credit: cbs.com

(1) Supergirl – I really wanted to like this show. I was so excited when they cast Melissa Benoist (Glee). But, after just a few episodes, it was clear that they were trying way too hard. Plus, they left out a few key characters! I’m happy that CBS didn’t cancel it, and they’ve moved it to the CW with The Flash. I plan to watch an episode or two of the new season, but I don’t have high hopes.

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Image Credit: pinterest.com

(2) Gossip Girl – I read a few of the books between high school and college, and when I heard they were making it into a TV show, I wanted to give it a whirl. But, I knew immediately that it wasn’t my cup of tea. The books showcase the elite rich in New York, and it’s definitely evident in the show! It was too much for me.

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

(3) The Walking Dead – I have several friend who love this show. I think that’s great. Once I found out it had zombies and violence, I said no thanks, absolutely not. I don’t do well with a lot of violence / blood / gore. I tried one of the first episodes, and it almost made me sick.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #40: Thoughts on “Girl Meets World”

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Image Credit: quotesgram.com

I didn’t watch Boy Meets World growing up, but I watched a good chunk of it in syndication in college (Yay, ABC Family!)

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Image Credit: pinterest.com

Then, Disney announced that they were producing a sequel – Girl Meets World.

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Image Credit: disney.wikia.com

Well, it’s safe to say that I’m hooked.

We’ve already blown through the first two seasons on Netflix! I can’t wait until they get a hold of season 3!!


I love that Disney basically picked up right where Boy Meets World left off, and then proceeded to update it for today’s kids and parents.

At the same time, it’s a bit surreal to think that the kids who watched Boy Meets World are now adults and probably have kids of their own now, just like the characters Cory, Topanga, Eric, and Shawn.

COREY FOGELMANIS, PEYTON MEYER, SABRINA CARPENTER, ROWAN BLANCHARD, BEN SAVAGE, AUGUST MATURO, DANIELLE FISHEL

GIRL MEETS WORLD – Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World” stars Corey Fogelmanis as Farkle Minkus, Peyton Meyer as Lucas Friar, Sabrina Carpenter as Maya Hart, Rowan Blanchard as Riley Matthews, Ben Savage as Cory Matthews, August Maturo as Auggie Matthews and Danielle Fishel as Topanga Matthews. (Disney Channel/Edward Herrera) Image Credit: thewrap.com

I love that the show is mostly centered around the kids – Just like Boy Meets World was, back in the day. It certainly involves the adult characters, but the show is a decent role model for today’s kids. For me, I’ve seen many lessons about independence, friendship, moving, responsibility, choices, talent, and growing up, among other things.

It shows the struggles of middle school, mixed in with struggles of the adult world – Teaching, funding, helping others, making difficult decisions, supporting your family.

Now that I’m on pins and needles waiting for season 3, I want to go back and revisit Boy Meets World as a whole. There are some awesome flashbacks featured in Girl Meets World, and seeing those little snippets makes me even more nostalgic!


Overall, I think Disney’s done a good job with keeping a lot of the old elements, but also updating them for the new generations. Although it’s clearly designed for a younger audience, as a 28-year-old, I appreciate the show based on the nostalgia factor, the variety of social issues that are covered, and the feel-good atmosphere that surrounds the show as a whole. I’m happy that they’ve included a lot of the characters from the original show, as well as balanced those characters with new, fresh ones.

For me, this is similar to the feelings I felt when Netflix created Fuller House, but this experience is on a slightly different scale. I’m happy that Disney took this idea, knowing that they were taking a big risk with all of the Boy Meets World fans, and ran with it.

From what I’ve seen, it’s been a big success, so far.


What are your thoughts?

Did you watch Boy Meets World?

Have you watched Girl Meets World?

Let me know what you think!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #36: “July TV Show Photo Challenge” (Day 31)

Image Credit gettingthroughanxiety

Image Credit: gettingthroughanxiety.wordpress.com

Favorite Season Finale

Wow, I can’t believe it. We’re at the last day of July!

I really enjoyed this challenge – Many thanks to B.G. and Carla! They created this challenge together, and I’ve heard that there are more challenges in the works!

If you haven’t already, please go check out their blogs – Getting Through Anxiety and The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise. They’re both talented writers, and they blog about awesome things!

Okay, now to wrap up the challenge.

This one was really, really hard. I had to dig deep.

The season 1 finale of Glee – Season 1, Episode 22 – “Journey to Regionals”

It was harder than I thought to find good photos for this post. The two I found show the climax – Their performance at Regionals, with all Journey songs.

I remember loving this episode, singing along shamelessly at Mom and Dad’s. It aired on June 8, 2010.

I fell in love with Glee with the pilot episode’s rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” so I was thrilled when I learned they were doing more Journey songs.

To this day, the CD based on this episode is one of my all-time favorites. When I need a pick-me-up, I pop this one in my car and turn the volume all the way up. It’s so worth it.

I couldn’t wait for season 2 to begin.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂