Tag Archives: Canadian

Vampire Katherine just aged another year . . . – Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!

In honor of Nina Dobrev’s 22nd birthday, Ian Somerhalder baked her a cake . . .

Unfortunately, for Nina, Vampire Katherine (who shares the same birthday) got to it first . . .

“Mmmmm . . . red velvet blood  . . . my favorite flavor!”

22-years ago today, one of the most promising young actors of our generation was born.  (Nina Dobrev was born January 9, 1989 in Sofia, Bulgaria, but moved to Canada at age 2.)  Roughly 20-years later, Nina won the hearts of two-GORGEOUS vampires, and of millions of fans wide, through her portrayal of both the headstrong and plucky Elena Gilbert . . .

 . . . and the devious diabolical (and tons of fun!) Vampire Katherine Pierce . . .

You know, I spend a lot of time on this blog extoling the virtues of the dreamy and delectable Damon Salvatore . . .

 . . . and his sensitive, yet sultry, brother Stefan . . .

But where would either of them be without the two women who hold their hearts and their humanity in either hand?

I mean seriously, without Elena and Katherine, who would these boys MAKE OUT WITH?

They’d probably have to resort to lots of Air Kissing . . .

And no one wants that . . .

So, that’s why today, in honor of Nina Dobrev’s birthday, I’ve decided to take a short break from celebrating the oh-so-sexy TVD men, in order to pay homage to the one woman who is literally the Gal Friday to EVERY GUY IN MYSTIC FALLS . . . 

 

Sorry BOYS!  It looks like you are just going to have to share . . .

Since most of us already know Nina from The Vampire Diaries, I thought it might be nice, for a change, to take a look back at some of her most noteworthy pre-Elena roles . . .

(Special thanks to YouTube maven sciolist2b, who has BY FAR the most comprehensive and highest quality collection of Nina Dobrev clips on the entire Internet!  sciolist, I don’t know you, but I definitely couldn’t have written this post without you!)

Mia Jones – Degrassi

Nina Dobrev’s Season 6 debut on Degrassi: The Next Generation was MY first introduction to the actress.  On Degrassi, Nina played Mia Jones, an unwed teen mother, forced to transfer to a rival high school, after her’s burned down.  Forget 16 and Pregnant, Mia Jones had her baby, Isabella at age THIRTEEN! 

Mamma MIA!

Though no where near as complex and multi-layered as the two characters she plays on The Vampire Diaries, Nina definitely got the opportunity to flex her acting chops here, as a young mother, trying to balance the responsibilities of parenting, with her desire to do typical “teen stuff” like cheerleading, parties, and dating.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a real juicy Mia Jones clip on YouTube for you to enjoy. 

However, I did find this on-set footage taken from her first day on the job.  And it’s pretty darn adorable.  All I have to say is . . . hell hath no fury like a TV baby who WON’T STOP CRYING!

 

Ally – American Mall

Around the same time that she was starring in Degrassi, Nina also picked up the lead role in the very High School Musical-esque American Mall, an MTV original film about mall employees who sing their feelings . . .

American Mall certainly wasn’t going to win any awards in its time (and I may very well have been the only one who actually watched it when it first aired).  However, as cheesy teen musicals go, this one was surprisingly enjoyable.  And Nina was extremely likeable as Ally, the girl who worked at her mother’s music store, but would much rather make out with the hot singing janitor her OWN music . . .

Rosabella – Mookie’s Law

Sometimes I wish I was Canadian.  Because Canadian Teen Television is just AWESOME!  I don’t think there is any country in the world (including the United States) that almost exclusively caters its media products toward the young adult demographic, like Canada does!  It seems that every time I flip the channels, I am finding another obscure (but oddly awesome) Canadian teen show, on some obscure U.S. cable channel, and wishing I had access to it when it first aired, back in Toronto, or wherever. 

Did I mention that the same 8 young actors (including Nina, of course) seem to be in EVERY SINGLE MOVIE!  It’s like one big happy family up there, ay?

Nina Dobrev starred as the lead character’s love interest in Mookie’s Law, a short Canadian film that was written, directed by and starred Al Mukadam, who — if you are a Canadian TV junkie like me — you may remember as Ray from Radio Free Roscoe.  Oh, and you can bet that Degrassi star turned Big Time Rapper, Drake, is in this one too . . .  (See what I mean?)

Justine – My Daughter’s Secret

You know, people joke all the time about Lifetime movies, and how cliched and lame they tend to be.  But a lot of really talented actresses got their start in Lifetime movies, and Nina Dobrev is one of them.  In My Daughter’s Secret she plays Justine, a teen who got herself roped into a romance with a VERY BAD BOYFRIEND.  (And in Lifetime movies, aren’t they ALL very bad?)

Jessica Carpenter – Too Young to Marry

As far as Lifetime movies go, this one looks kind of fun!  (For starters, neither of Nina’s two leading men in it are abusive, or “bad news.”  YAY!)  In Too Young to Marry, Nina stars as Jessica Carpenter, a girl who married her high school sweetheart, Max, at age 17.  However, she begins to doubt the decision she has made, upon experiencing the joys of drunk college makeout sessions.  (And who can blame her, when, at least based on the clips, it seems like her “husband” spends half of the movie in bed . . . just sleeping?) 

It sucks to be the “Nice Boy” in a Lifetime Movie . . . you get no lines . . . and you never get laid, until the very end.

Interestingly enough, Dillon Casey, who plays Nina’s husband in the movie, also played Vampire Noah, the first bloodsucker who tried to attack Elena on The Vampire Diaries.

But Canadians will remember him better as the often-naked Trevor Lemonde on the hockey-themed soap opera MVP.  (He lasted a bit longer on that show, than on TVD . . . in more ways than one ;))

Loren – Never Cry Werewolf

I actually learned about this film when I was writing a recap for TVD’s Bad Moon Rising episode.  I came upon the movie poster, almost entirely by accident, during my search for a solid werewolf-themed picture to kick off the recap. 

In Never Cry Werewolf, Nina plays Loren, an innocent teen who learns that her next door neighbor is actually a bloodthirsty werewolf, in search of a hot young prepubescent mate, to howl at the moon with . . .  Interestingly enough, I read on Wikipedia that the film itself is actually a shot-by-shot remake of a VAMPIRE film from the 1980’s called Fright Night.  Only here, the vampire Big Bad Villain was inexplicably substituted for a werewolf one. 

Knowing this, as I watching the following scene, where Kevin Sorbo’s werewolf character ties up a scantily clad “Loren” and threatens to turn her into a “monster,” I couldn’t help but imagine how much BETTER the film would be if Damon Salvatore was in it . . .

Sorry, Sorbo!  I’m going to have to agree with Damon on this one . . .

 

Rachel – Hearts of War a.k.a. The Poet

Far from starring only in teen dramas, Nina also gained recognition in feature films as well.  In Hearts of War she plays Rachel, a rabbi’s daughter who falls in love with a Nazi soldier during World War II.

Bella – Fugitive Pieces

Going along with a World War II theme, Nina alsoplayed the enigmatic Bella in Fugitive Pieces.  Bella was the main character Jakob’s sister in the film.  Bella was taken away (and eventually killed), along with the rest of his family, by Nazis during the Second World War.  Only Jakob survived the raid.  As a result of this tragedy, Bella’s youthful and emphemeral image haunts Jakob throughout his life . . .

Anna – Chloe

Nina Dobrev provided some much needed levity (and pants-lessness) to this dark and twisted thriller about the complex psycho-sexual relationship formed between a married gynecologist (Julianne Moore), and the looney tunes call-girl (Amanda Seyfried) said gynecologist hires to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson).  Nina plays Anna, the girlfriend of the main characters’ son in the film. 

While she’s certainly nice to look at, “Anna” doesn’t exactly seem like the sharpest tool in the shed.  Check out Anna’s reaction when Julianne Moore’s character learns the young woman has spent the night in her son’s bed . . .

Goth Girl – Away from Her

Of all the Nina clips I’ve shown you today, this one, from the Academy Award nominated film Away from Her is probably my favorite.  It features Nina in a way we’ve never quite seen her before.  Goth Girl is a person who most of Nina’s other characters probably wouldn’t have anything to do with . . . well, except for maybe Vampire Katherine . . .

Something tells me these two would have A LOT of fun together . . .

Speaking of Vampire Katherine, I thought I’d end this tribute post with a fun little scene from The Vampire Diaries, in which Elena and Katherine come face to face with one another for the first time.  The scene is from an episode entitled “Memory Lane” from Season 2.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!  Here’s hoping your 22nd year provides you with as much fun and entertainment as your first 21 have given us!

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries

All About Adam: Degrassi’s The Boiling Point Tackles Transgender Identity

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the popular Canadian teen show, Degrassi: The Next Generation.  Specifically, I previewed its Summer 2010 soap opera-styled block of episodes, collectively entitled Degrassi: The Boiling Point. 

In the post, I poked some fun at the show’s recent run of lackluster plotlines, and expressed concern over whether the series I had once loved had forever lost its Mojo . . .

Well, this is the blog post where I eat my words . . .

Why the change of heart, you ask?  Well, it has a lot to do with THIS GUY . . .

Meet Adam Torres, a sophomore, and recent transfer to Degrassi Community School.  As far as personalities go, Adam’s got a pretty good one.  He’s smart, funny, a little bit snarky, and a loyal friend.  He’s also biologically female.

Up until this year, Adam was known to the world as Gracie Torres.  And he looked like this . . .

By the way, special kudos to the Degrassi writers for not making the character’s birth name, Eve . . .

That would have been SO uncool!

From the time Adam was a little kid, he always knew he was different.  Adam never felt truly female, thus making the person who stared back at him in the mirror each day a complete and utter stranger.  In short, Adam felt as though he was trapped in a body that was not his own. 

After much discussion and hand-wringing, Adam’s parents reluctantly agreed to let him start over at a new school, as a male.  But in order to truly live the life he wanted, without judgment or prejudice, Adam had to keep his FTM (female-to-male) transgender identity a secret, while at Degrassi.  And, for a little while, he did.  But secrets have a way of coming out at the most inopportune moments.  And Adam’s secret was no exception . . .

This week, Degrassi aired an hour-long episode, over a span of two days, entitled “My Body is a Cage.” During this hour, we watch Adam cope with the realities of living life as a transgender.  In the first part of the episode, Adam’s secret is exposed to his classmates.  The first to find out about Adam’s “origins” are his two friends, Clare and Eli.

Clare becomes suspicious that Adam is hiding “something,” when she bumps into him near the lockers, causing an entire box of tampons to explode on the floor.  

(OK.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVED this episode.  But come on!  What high schooler carries around an entire box of tampons?  Isn’t “discretion” one of the main benefits that tampons have over pads? Can’t you just stick one or two in the front pocket of your bookbag, and have them go virtually unnoticed?  Wouldn’t you think, of all people, that someone who was trying to HIDE their female parts would be sensitive to this?)

Beware of the Telltale Tampon!

Contrivance aside, Clare handles the situation with class.  When a group of guys pass by, and ogle the tampons on the floor, taking note of Adam’s proximity to them, Clare quickly improvises.  “Silly me, always dropping my feminine hygiene products!”  She sing-songs.  (I love that she calls them “feminine hygiene products” – good ole’ Nerdy Clare!)

Later, Adam sits Clare and Eli down at lunch and reveals his secret to them, permitting them to ask him any questions they might have.  “How do you know you aren’t just a tomboy or a lesbian?”  Clare inquires.  (A good question.)

“I just know,” replies Adam.  (A highly unsatisfactory answer.  But this is an hour-long teen show, where each story only gets 1/3 of the episode’s screentime.  So, I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting here. . . )

Things don’t go nearly as well, later on in the day, when Adam unwisely makes a play for the school’s “Bad Girl,” Bianca, during a Ballroom Dancing class.

Bianca shows interest initially, placing her hand flirtatiously on Adam’s chest, as the two banter back and forth.  But that’s when the problems arise.  “What’s going on there?”  Bianca inquires.  “You’re too skinny to have man boobs.” 

 (Sorry, I’m not buying this scene either.   The actress’ boobs weren’t all that big BEFORE they were taped to her body, and covered with three layers of clothing.  I sincerely doubt this chicky would be able to detect them that easily under these circumstances . . .)

In one swift move, Bianca dramatically rips open Adam’s shirt. (Clearly, she’s got . . .  um . . . experience taking off others’ clothes.)

This is what Adam SHOULD have been wearing under his flannel.

Upon doing this, Bianca spies the “hide the boobies” gauze wrap Adam’s got around his midsection.  (Here’s where the “old sports injury” argument, might have come in handy.  Just sayin . . .). 

Bianca flips out.  “I’ve seen freaks like you on Oprah!”  She yelps, before stomping off . . .

Oh no, you didn’t, Bianca!  You  did NOT just evoke the Wrath of Oprah.  Be afraid, be very afraid . . .

Bianca’s reaction to Adam, though definitely mean-spirited and b*tchy, was, to some extent, understandable.  Unlike Clare and Eli, who were let in on Adam’s secret gently, and heard it “straight from the horse’s mouth,” Bianca was completely blindsided.  She felt attraction for Adam, and then learned he wasn’t AT ALL who she thought he was.  

Bianca must have felt betrayed, tricked, and manipulated.  Her sexuality was challenged, and she felt threatened by it.  So, she lashed out.  And if things ended right there, I would actually have some sympathy for Bianca . . .

I know, crazy right?  But, it DIDN’T end there.  Instead, Bianca told the ENTIRE school, which led to THIS highly uncomfortable to watch scene . . .

Now, while I could slightly commiserate with Bianca’s initial reaction to Adam, the above-illustrated reaction by bullies, Owen and Fitz, absolutely floored me.  After all, however you slice it, these guys joyfully beat up someone they believed to be a GIRL!  (Isn’t that against Bro Code or something?)    And yet, as awful as it was, I can certainly see something like this happening at a real high school.

Fortunately, for Adam, he isn’t without support.  And I love how his relationship with his stepbrother, Drew, is portrayed in this episode. 

Drew is the quintessential school Golden Boy, a popular “dumb jock,” in every sense of the word.  He is even friends with the bullies who beat up Adam.  And yet, Drew stands by his brother, without question.  He is even willing to fight physically with his (former?) friends to defend Adam’s honor.  (He gets his ass kicked doing it, but STILL . . .)

The second part of the episode, deals with Adam grappling with his parents’ inability to come to terms with his decision to live life as a male.  They call him by female pronouns, and force him to dress up as “Gracie,” when Grandma comes to town.  But things really come to a head, when Adam tries to deny his identity, by coming to school dressed as Gracie.  Adam soon becomes so depressed and overwhelmed as a result,  that he turns to self-mutilation, as an outlet for his emotions. 

Despite the aforementioned doom and gloom, the episode actually ends on a relatively positive note, with Adam’s parents coming to terms with the “loss of their daughter.”   They even going as far as to hold a bonfire, where all the material things that represent “Gracie” are burned.

A few unbelievable scenes, and a smidge of cheese aside, I thought this episode was pretty brilliant.  It handled the issue of transgender identity believeably, without being heavy-handed or overly  maudlin.  The actress who plays Adam, was also relatable, and sufficiently understated.  Watching the episode, I could definitely see how a lesser actress could have really “butched it up,” just to prove a point.  Fortunately, that did not happen here.

You may recognize Jordan Todosey, the actress who plays Adam Torres, as little Lizzie, from Life with Derek, a Canadian sitcom about a Brady Bunch-esque blended family with a modern twist.  (It still airs on the Disney Channel, every once in a while, in case you’re curious . . .)

She’s obviously very talented.  I suspect this is not the last we will hear about her . . .

So, there, I’ve said it.  With nearly ten years of episodes behind its belt, Degrassi still manages to surprise me, every once in a while.  O’ Canada, I will never doubt you again.

That’s the crow I just had to eat . . .

Degrassi: The Boiling Point airs weeknights at 9 p.m. on Teen Nick.  Have you been watching? 

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under Degrassi: The Next Generation