“There’s Only One Sydney Bristow”

Beyoncé was right: Girls run the world. For example, the best international super-spy on Earth is not James Bond. It’s a woman. She’s saved the world, many times while donning wigs and sexy outfits. Whether she’s posing as Russian room service in a fancy hotel, a casino show girl or a part of the Japanese club scene, she manages to outsmart her adversaries…and kick their asses using Krav Maga kicks and punches.

I am talking about the one and only Sydney Bristow, the main character on ABC’s classic show Alias. The show premiered back in the Fall of 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Alias introduced us to Ms. Bristow (played by the fantastic, does-her-own-stunts Jennifer Garner), a beautiful grad student and double agent with the CIA. The nation felt vulnerable and unsure of its future in a post-9/11 world. So, on Sunday nights at 9 pm, we eagerly awaited to see where Agent Sydney Bristow would go next and how she would defend the United States and the rest of the world from destruction.

As an F-you to all sexists of the world, Sydney was more than capable of taking care of herself; One of the staples of the show was her expert knowledge and deadly use of Krav Maga, an efficient, brutal, counter-attack form of self-defense invented by the Israeli military. It didn’t matter if you were another woman or 300+ pound man – If you were in her way, THE femme fatale was taking you down with lethal, precise force. Sure, she got her ass kicked many times. But it was all a part of the realistic charm. After five action-packed, plot-twisting seasons, the show came to an end in the Spring of 2006. Despite the fact that no new episodes have been broadcast since then, it is still and always will be my favorite show.

I own all the seasons of Alias on DVD and always enjoy watching it. The show was brilliantly cast with top quality actors and actresses. The storylines are deep and intense and somehow, it’s always easy to relate to Sydney. Alias aired when I was a teenager and for every hard situation I found myself in, including many dark personal times, I would ask myself, “How would Sydney handle this?” I never planned on using martial arts on people even though the thought frequently crossed my mind for “certain” individuals. What I loved most about Sydney was that she was emotionally strong and self-reliant. She had to endure incredible personal issues all while navigating difficult family/friend relationships and working as an international field agent with the CIA. She would cry. She would struggle. She was on the verge of breaking many times. But she kept on going. After every situation, she emerged a stronger person.

I realize Sydney is only a fictional character. However, the situations she found herself in were quite real. There have been many times in my own life when I thought that I wouldn’t make it. I’ve thought to myself, “There’s no recovering from this.” “There’s no way…” “How can I go on normally after this?” Although those times were dark and trying, I emerged a stronger and more confidant person, much like Sydney did. Of course, I can’t minimize the impact and support family and friends have had on me – I’m extremely fortunate to have some amazing people in my life. But, this post is about how Sydney Bristow inadvertently helped me become a stronger person. 😉

So, the next time you come across Alias, take a little time to watch it. Enjoy it. Be entertained. Be amazed. Learn something about yourself, too. Alias managed to meld action, espionage, girl power and self-betterment all into one, hour-long time slot on Sunday nights. It was and always will be a brilliant show.

 

*The title of this post is the name of the 100th episode 🙂

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Why I Love Lucy

Watching “I Love Lucy” is…therapeutic…and informative…and necessary. It is difficult to pin down a single word that expresses how I feel about Lucy. I love Lucy.

I watched “Lucy” every so often as a kid. I was a bit of an old soul to begin with. My Great Aunt and I spent hours (and probably the equivalent of entire weeks) watching Shirley Temple and the Three Stooges. My father introduced me to the likes of Gene Wilder, Lily Tomlin and Lesley Anne Warren.

A few months ago, I decided to buy a season of Lucy. I’d always enjoyed watching the incredible Lucille Ball (who would have been 100 years old this year) and since the DVD set was reasonably-priced at Target, I figured, “What the hell?”

One of the best decisions of my life. Honestly.

I have since completed my Lucy collection and have all six seasons of one of the most-loved television shows to have ever graced the silver screen.

If I had a bad day or the whole day to myself, I’d pop in one of the seasons and laugh til it hurt. I laughed hysterically when Lucy got rat-ass drunk after “selling” a product for a TV commercial (“Lucy Does A TV Commercial”). When she and her lovable sidekick, Ethel (Vivian Vance) got jobs at a chocolate factory, only to be fired for hiding chocolate in their blouses, mouths and hats (“Job Switching”), I was simply amazed. I was amazed at how fresh and hilarious the scene was after 60 years.

Since the show first premiered on CBS 60 years ago, audiences all over the world have become instant fans. Generations of viewers have had the privilege of seeing one of America’s original, leading female comics court disaster and hysterical misfortune season after season, decade after decade.

When I first set out to write a blog post about Lucy, I had the intention of writing about all my favorite episodes. However, I quickly discovered that unless I wanted to list the dozens of episodes I had picked, I’d be better off simply writing about why I love Lucy.

Perhaps one of the best things about Lucy is that she broke the mold for what a stereotypical American housewife was. If she wasn’t challenging her Cuban, hot-headed husband, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), she was writing a play where her character was a toothless gypsy (“The Operetta”). Or she was dressed in drag to hide the fact that she had accidentally glued a large beard to her face (“The Mustache”).

There were so many hilarious situations she somehow got herself into. Through all of them, we saw a woman who was not content in staying barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. In an era where the glass ceiling for most women was above a secretary’s desk, Lucy was busy trying to bust out in theatre and Hollywood. While most doting housewives were told that they should always obey their husbands, Mrs. Ricardo was playing tricks with and defying hers.

And that’s what I love about Lucy. She was her own woman. Her brilliantly-written character coupled with the legendary comical talent of Lucille Ball make her one of the best women in the world. So, Lucy Ricardo is a fictitious character. Fictitious or not, she’s impacted me and millions of others. Her comedy is hilarious and her ambition admirable. There will never be another. We all will always love Lucy.

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