TV Lists

Welcome to Genderqueer TV: 5 Non-Binary Characters

Gender identity is complicated. But no matter if a person identifies as "genderfluid," "genderqueer," or "non-binary," we all watch too much TV.

Trends Reader

Public fascination with the British Royal Family inspires Internet fodder ranging from how royal titles are defined to whether or not Meghan Markle ate a pigeon in Morocco.

Recently, at the Duchess' baby shower in New York, she shared that she and Prince Harry plan to raise their child with a "fluid approach to gender" so as to avoid "imposing any stereotypes." Aside from choosing gender-neutral colors for their nursery (they chose white and gray, if you care to know), the couple can take advice from a slew of other celebrity parents raising their children to be gender-neutral. Will Smith, Bryce Dallas Howard, Adele, and Pink have all advocated letting children choose their own gender expression, from clothing and haircut to hobbies and pronouns.

Admittedly, gender identity becomes a quagmire once we acknowledge that gender is a spectrum, with varied experiences being assigned their own terms. More confusing is the fact that many definitions are written by and for social scientists rather than the general public. One large umbrella term is "genderqueer," defined as "a gender which is neither male nor female and may identify as both male and female at one time, as different genders at different times, as no gender at all, or dispute the very idea of only two genders."

No matter if a person identifies as "genderfluid," "genderqueer," or "non-binary," the main message is that two categories of only male and female don't fit everybody. But we might be more familiar with this concept than we think. Here are five genderfluid TV characters you might recognize:

1.Taylor Mason - Billions (Showtime)

asia kate dillo n non-binary Asia Kate Dillon on ShowtimeShowtime

Actor Asia Kate Dillon (Orange Is the New Black) is vocal about her own non-binary identity. After accepting the part of the first non-binary character in American TV, Dillon was nominated for a Critics' Choice Award for best supporting actor. The 33-year-old actor notes, "Sometimes you have to see the thing to know that it exists. Maybe there's a queer person in a town but they don't feel comfortable or safe coming out, frankly, and the only representation they feel that they have or connection they have is on television or in a movie, and that's really powerful."

2. Susie Putnam - Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)

Lachlan Watson as Susie PutnamTeen Vogue

Lachlan Watson is the non-binary actor who plays Susie Putnam. Watson told Teen Vogue, "I think that [Susie being a trans man] was originally the concept for the character, but I think in bringing me on board and having me talk about my own identity, I think it may have swayed the writers just a little bit to maybe hold off on labeling or defining [Susie] just yet." The 17-year-old added, "I think that's been very nice to be able to almost tell my own story through Susie a little bit."

3. Yael Baron - Degrassi: Next Class (Netflix)

Jamie Bloch as Yael on DegrassiNetflix

Played by Jamie Bloch, Yael Baron comes out as non-binary in season 4. Bloch is not non-binary herself, but the show's executive producer Stephen Stohn spoke about the show's interest in gender fluidity to EW: "It's an ongoing story. We've seen it in America… With [more] people coming out as transgender, the whole discussion has really changed over the years and there's confusion out there about what [being gender fluid] is. And not just it, there's a whole bunch of different variations. The scene I actually like the most is not one that Yael is in. It's one where all their friends are expressing their own confusion about their gender: "Do I say 'they'? Or do I not say 'they'?" And they're using the terms incorrectly and they're sort of correcting each other. That's the way we and our young audiences all are. We know there's something out there that's different and we want to be supportive. But we can get confused about it."

4. Sam - Vida (Starz)

Michelle Badillo plays Sam on VidaIMDB

Vida's creator and showrunner is proud that the series features four queer women. She told Vulture, "This is our chance to have a femme queer girl have sex with a nonbinary, gender nonconforming person and see what that looks like." She praised the role of Sam, played by Michelle Badillo, "When you first see Sam, you don't know if they're male or female, and then we see the breasts, and then we see them be on bottom — not on top, like you would think. All of these moments were workshopped and everyone went around the room and shared their experiences. It was a lively few days making it as authentic as possible."

5. Sadie - Good Girls (NBC)

Izzy Stannard plays Sadie NBC

Jenna Bans, the show's creator, originally wrote the role of Sadie as a boy named Ben. At the casting director's suggestion, they chose Izzy Stannard for the part, a young actor who identified as female at the time of casting. Shortly after filming began, Stannard clarified that he identified as a boy. Bans told Variety, "We realized we had a really great opportunity to tell a story about a character who was gender non-conforming, but at the same time not necessarily have that be what leads the story." Instead, Sadie's storyline revolve around Sadie and her mother (Mae Whitman). "We liked the idea that the character of Sadie was exploring her gender [expression] in the show," Bans said, "but I think what we responded to more was that the Mae Whitman's character just couldn't care less."


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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"The Masked Singer" Is Over: What's Next in Mind-Boggling Reality TV?

Imagine a show featuring Miley Cyrus teaching Nicolas Cage and Jenny McCarthy how to be vegan. Sounds like Fox network's next hit!

Twitter

America's trust in television was broken long before NBC's The Masked Singer held up a mirror to our low standards for "expert judges" and our underlying fear of Teletubbies.

For the past two months, one of the top-rated shows on prime time has featured twelve has-been celebrities dressed as inbred Looney Toons. The singing competition is based on the Korean reality TV show with the same concept. Now that we know The Masked Singer will assault us with a second season next year, let's brace ourselves–the worst is yet to come.

Other hit Korean TV shows spotlight celebrities' moldy leftovers and strained parent-child relationships for the amusement of the masses. We're betting it's only a matter of time before one of these bizarre series debuts in the States.

1. Please Take Care of My Refrigerator

Ever want to see inside your favorite celebrity's refrigerator? Why would you? That's weird. Each episode of Please Take Care of My Refrigerator features eight of the country's best chefs and invites them into the guest star's kitchen, having them compete to create edible dishes using only the ingredients and old leftovers in the celebrity's refrigerators. They have 15 minutes. The celebrity then judges each dish and selects a winner. There is no apparent reward for winning, except for the chance to feed BTS' best boy, Jungkook.

For a US adaptation, we predict the E! network would milk this reality show for all its worth. Hosted by: Gordon Ramsay.

[ENG] Please Take Care of my Fridge BTS Cut_3rd Dish (Hot Braised Short Ribs) youtu.be

2. Dad! Where Are We Going?

Riffing off the common assumption that celebrities must be terrible parents, each episode features five celebrity fathers traveling or camping with their children. Sometimes they try to "cook" and other times they pull their hair out. We predict CBS would be the first to adopt this on account of its eagerness to exploit any celebrity for prime time ratings (yes, we're talking about The World's Best)

[ENG SUB] Dad!Where are you going?-Hoo's 9th b-day party 후9살생일축하 20141221 youtu.be

3. Human Condition

Six A-list actors are deprived of their phones, television, and the Internet as they live in a dorm for one week. But rather than being a simple Big Brother set up, each episode features a challenge imposing new restrictions, like not creating any trash or living on minimum wage. For a US version, we see this show on ABC. With moralizing shows like The Good Doctor and Grey's Anatomy but reality TV trash like The Bachelor, ABC would jump on the chance to teach celebrities about social issues like climate change while benefiting from their potential moral failures. Hosted by: Miley Cyrus

The Human Condition | 인간의 조건: Living on a Shoestring Budget – The First Episode (2014.12.03) youtu.be

4. The Return of Superman

It's another show banking on male celebrities being incapable of caring for their children. This time, celebrity fathers are left alone with their kids for 48 hours without any help from wives, family members, or the legion of celebrity nannies who keep Hollywood afloat. American actors like Steven Yeun have also guest-starred as "Uncles" left to take care of other's children on their own. NBC, America's publicist for family values, would love this shit.

[The Return of Superman] Steven Yeun's special way to feed a baby youtu.be

5. Unpretty Rapstar

It's worse than it sounds. This music competition features aspiring female rappers competing against each other American Idol-style. Hosted by any mildly successful rapper, the show features challenges like diss battles and filming a one-take music video for an original song they've written and arranged themselves while on the show. Considering Fox's love of reality shows that sound wrong, the network probably has its eye on adapting this bad boy already. Hosted by: Iggy Azalea.

(ENG SUB) UNPRETTY RAPSTAR vol.3 Grace & AshB VS Nada & Jeon Soyeon (G)I-DLE youtu.be



Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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TV Shows Us the Afterlife: 5 Reasons You're Better Off Dead

Want to contemplate morality and how difficult it is for 7.5 billion people to coexist without murdering each other? That's what TV is for. Also, Daniel Radcliffe is a mess.

Imagine being hit by a bus tomorrow and discovering the face of God is Steve Buscemi.

In that case, you've probably died and gone to the heaven featured in TBS' Miracle Workers, where Daniel Radcliffe plays Craig, a browbeaten bureaucrat at Heaven Inc. With Geraldine Viswanathan playing his new coworker Eliza, the two hope to save Earth from being blown up by God, who Buscemi delivers as an unshaven washout who shuffles around in a house robe.

Time Magazine

If that sounds unpleasant, go back to NBC's The Good Place. For three seasons, Kristen Bell has filled the role of rude Eleanor opposite Ted Danson as the eccentric "heaven architect" Michael. You could also turn to the afterlife represented in Netflix's Russian Doll or Amazon's Forever. Heaven is easy to find right now on TV and streaming platforms.

It's not a new trope, but it's currently more popular than ever. We're attuned to shows that take the unknown chaos that we fear is the afterlife and frame it as a familiar environment. In Miracle Workers, that structure is a corporate office. In The Good Place, it's a quaint small town. Russian Doll plants Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) in a purgatorial New York party, while Forever traps its married characters, June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen), in a boring, suburban routine after their deaths.

Why are we drawn to shows about the afterlife? Perhaps our existential angst over today's political turmoil is piquing our curiosity about moral comeuppance, or maybe we just like jokes about angels being God's bitches. What do we gain from them? In determining which show you should prioritize–whether to simply binge watch or guide your reflections on your place in the cosmos–here's what captures our interest:

1. New perspective on the familiar

A pretentious New York party, the suffocating suburbs, and a downsizing corporate office are among the worst conceivable scenarios for an eternal afterlife. We know that business offices are human rat cages devoid of light and love, but Miracle Workers presents us with angels enduring that forever. Combining the traditions of Dogma and The Office, it not only forces us to re-examine claustrophobic work culture, but it challenges our perceptions of angels as divine intermediaries. They might just be desk jockeys and errand boys.

Similarly, Amazon's Forever depicts the suburbs as a literal hell–or at least a discomforting limbo. Imagine that porch sitting and chatty neighbors are all you have for eternity. The scenario, while impossible, begs you to reconsider whether all your creature comforts are worth the vapid monotony. Would the complacency be worthwhile if you shared that eternity with a spouse? Could you love someone enough to endure that blandness forever?

Prime

2. A God figure we can relate to

NBC

While Steve Buscemi gives a busted up version of the almighty in Miracle Workers, many shows don't tackle the mind-bending challenge of personifying God. Traditionally, God is boring. As a result, media's representations of God have ranged from boring (looking at you, John Milton, with that lame omnipotent in Paradise Lost), to comical (Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty), and childlike (Alanis Morrisette as God in Dogma was truth).

But an absent authoritarian figure is just as familiar to us as a flawed, off-kilter one. In place of God, The Good Place's Michael is an officious heavenly figure far down the hierarchy. In place of all-powerful wrath, he's quirky and unpredictable. He has goals and failures that humanize him, blurring our division between divinity and human frailty.

3. Very, very flawed humans

Any worthwhile show about the afterlife stars terrible people. From Eleanor's unabashed disregard for everyone other than herself in The Good Place to Oscar, the milquetoast husband in Forever, the dead are patently unlikeable. And sure, their overt flaws are too heavy-handed to not foreshadow the characters' transformations, but their unpleasantness makes them immediately relatable.

NBC

Miracle Workers takes this a step further by introducing angels as sheltered, boring bureaucrats whose idea of fun is grabbing a hamburger with co-workers after hours. But Craig doesn't even have that. His utter lack of social skills or charisma matches God's defeatism, which primes the show to address the question, "What's the point?"

TBS

4. Second chances

Kristen Bell's brashness and Fred Armisen's dreadful deadpan bring home the point of these types of shows: even the most ridiculous, unlikeable people can get a second chance. Likewise, the first episode of Russian Doll is quick to establish Nadia's crass humor and self-destructive habits, as it opens with her reflections on her 36th birthday, questioning if she deserves to still be alive. "I smoke two packs a day," she says. "I have the internal organs of a man twice my age." But trapped in a cycle of death and rebirth, she finds one perk about the afterlife is that you no longer worry about trying to survive. Suddenly, she has nothing to complain about; self-destruction is boring when it's a foregone conclusion.

Netflix

Who cares about a character trying to improve their lives when they're already dead? Instead, the stakes are about self-knowledge and self-improvement (to the best of these weirdos' limited abilities). Eleanor has to learn to be a good person. Maya Rudolph's character learns to tolerate Fred Armisen's. Craig, the angel, tries to impress his pretty new co-worker, and Nadia investigates why the fuck she can't stay dead. In each case, they rely on themselves as their only point of reference amidst chaos. They either have to eke out a place for themselves or escape their situation using nothing but their own bearings.

5. Friendship

Netflix

Even if God's a no-show, you shouldn't be an asshole; you have friends to remind you of that. These characters aren't driven by righteousness or religious creed; rather, their relationships keep them motivated. In The Good Place, Eleanor and Chidi are each other's anchors, and together Oscar and June go searching for the upside of being dead in Forever. But not all primary relationships are romantic, as Russian Doll portrays through Alan and Nadia's bond over their bizarre predicaments. As Nadia finds, her emotional connections with others have the power to alter her day the most. Reliving the day over again lets her pay attention to her individual relationships and gives her a second chance to be a friend rather than just a smart-ass.

Our current fascination with life after death isn't rooted in religiosity nor atheism. When we want to contemplate morality and how difficult it is for 7.5 billion people to coexist without murdering each other, that's what TV is for. Our favorite dead people grapple with nihilism, boredom, and Steve Buscemi in a bathrobe as they attempt to save the afterlife from mirroring the flaws of this world.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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The Top 3 Valentine's Day Gifts for the Zombie Apocalypse

For your partner who probably still has a pulse.

The zombie apocalypse gives you a free pass to break out your dad's old leather jacket and roam the countryside with a chainsaw that also shoots bullets, but it's still no excuse to forget about Valentine's Day.

When the world's gone to hell in a handbasket you want your SO by your side more than ever. Just because everyone else is dead doesn't mean romance has to be too. But what do you get your partner when you truly want to say, "I'd be into you even if you weren't the only thing within 50 miles that still has a pulse?"

3. Zombie Mug

Could any gesture possibly be more romantic than presenting your loved one with a hollowed out zombie head filled with the last of your coffee rations? Unfortunately, drinking anything from a real zombie skull probably doesn't pass health regulations, so a ceramic version will have to do. You can still pretend it's real though, considering nobody else is around to judge.

2. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

Your partner is already super capable. After all, they've survived this long. But you can never be too prepared during the zombie apocalypse, and that means reading up on every possible advantage. Together, you and your partner-in-slaughter will learn the best tips on tactics, weaponry, and zombie psychology. Who says you can't love a killing machine?

1. *TOP CHOICE* A Complete Set of The Walking Dead Wines

As much as you enjoy living out your zombie apocalypse fantasy, you can't help but feel nostalgic for a time when you could just watch it on TV. In fact, if it weren't the zombie apocalypse right now, The Walking Dead would probably be about to hit its mid-season premiere. You imagine an alternate reality where you and your partner are cuddled beneath a blanket, a bold glass of Petite Sirah in-hand, watching your favorite survivors slay zombies so you don't have to.

Luckily, it's not too late to give this gift to your partner. Lot18's set of Walking Dead themed wines bring the taste of the zombie apocalypse to the safety of your living room. Each wine is created to match a specific character's personality, from an acidic Spanish Tempranillo with a warm finish for Michonne to a brawny Bourbon Barrel Red Blend for Negan. A half case includes fan favorites Rick, Maggie, Carol, and Daryl, too. Or, if you're feeling especially thirsty, you can get a full case with two of each for a massive discount. Much like zombies, a Valentine's Day gift this good is a no-brainer.

Overall, sometimes the greatest gift for Valentine's Day, especially during the zombie apocalypse, is the gift of spending time together with your loved ones. So snuggle up close with your partner, pour a glass of red wine into your zombie head mug, and enjoy The Walking Dead.

Get your half case featuring all 6 of The Walking Dead wines here for just $99!

Or, for the thirstier couple click here to get a full case, at an even bigger discount!


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com



What to gift your boyfriend for Valentine's Day? Yes, you love him, but he's still completely impossible to shop for.

You can always shower him with praise, but considering how many times you said you loved Starbucks' new holiday latte flavor, you might need to send a stronger signal. Look, when you find a person whose weird idiosyncrasies make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, you don't just love them, you want to spend the zombie apocalypse with them. And what's a better way to say, "I'd dig you even if your flesh were decomposing" than opening a nice bottle of Rick Grimes' California Petit Sirah, and watching the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead.

Lot18 has released a half-case of Walking Dead themed wines, each representing one of the show's characters. The six bottle bundle is priced at just $16.50 a piece, making the wine more affordable and more interesting than the gifted-to-death cufflinks or novelty socks. This year, the mid-season premiere of the best show on television is surreptitiously airing just a few days before the romantic holiday, as if the gift couldn't get any more perfect.

If you like drinking and watching The Walking Dead, then it's pretty self-explanatory as to why this is the best V-Day gift. If you need a little more convincing, here are the three kinds of significant others who need the one-of-a-kind set of Walking Dead themed wines this Valentine's.

1. Negan, The Bad Boy


The Walking Dead dating profile: Lives in the Sanctuary, where he is the leader of The Saviors. Skilled with barbed-wire covered bat. Slays a leather jacket, and, of course, walkers.

2019 America dating profile: Lives in Brooklyn, where he leads an abstract art collective. Armed with a tattoo gun to remind his friends "life is pain." Wears a leather jacket and throws rocks at trains.

Negan's the bad guy with a contagious smile, which is a type, for better or worse. If your guy sometimes forgets to call but just looks so right on a motorcycle, he probably doesn't want to brave the heart-shaped balloons and prix fix crowd, so snuggle up in front of the TV with one blanket and two glasses of the Negan California Bourbon Barrel Red Blend.

2. Daryl Dixon, The White Knight


The Walking Dead dating profile: Expert hunter, explorer, and navigator. Saved and raised a dog named "Dog." Man of few words (thus the whole Dog thing). Long, shaggy hair that reminds you of the sexy elves in the Lord of The Rings.

2019 America dating profile: Total wanderlust. Using a picture of a dog to confuse your emotions. Might try to explain feminism to you as foreplay.

Daryl's the good guy, who always remembers your birthday, and probably has something planned for your half-anniversary (which is...when again?). He's stable, which is why it's even more important that you gift him something fun he'll actually enjoy instead of the same old heart-covered boxer briefs. Give him the night off, cook him a nice dinner, and hope your favorite character makes it to the next episode together with a bottle of Daryl Dixon California Cabernet Sauvignon.

3. Carol, The Guy Who's A Girl, Ok?


The Walking Dead dating profile: Lives in The Kingdom, where she's known as "Queen Carol." Is the longest living character (so far, knock on wood). Maternal instincts include knowing how to efficiently behead the undead.

2019 America dating profile: Lives in Orlando where she's a semi-professional Disney cosplayer. Favorite TV Show is Cougar Town. Will literally kill anyone who hurts the one she loves.

Listen, it's 2019 and ladies can be into Zombies too, alright? If your girlfriend would totally bludgeon a walker to death with a shovel for you, then open up a bottle of the Carol Monterey County Syrah Rosé.

If a drugstore box of chocolates aren't going to cut it this year, Lot18's set of Walking Dead themed wines are the best way to show your significant other your love will never die.

Get your half case featuring all 6 of The Walking Dead wines here for just $99!

Or, for the thirstier couple click here to get a full case, at an even bigger discount!


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The 7 Worst TV Shows Coming in 2019, Based on Their Terrible Descriptions

James Corden probably sleeps at CBS Studios, Rob Lowe is a "Mental Samurai," and Jennifer Carpenter was definitely on Dexter.

Bad TV is a career-killing disease that turns celebrity death rattles into song.

In 2019, the sickness will spread gangrenous reality TV and perpetuate the vicious myth that all small towns are full of human interest stories. The lineup of new shows coming to prime-time is one long fever dream featuring Rob Lowe's puns, sub-par government espionage, and Frankenstein's monster solving murders.

We all deserve apologies for these 7 upcoming shows:

1.The World's Best (CBS, February 3)

WNBS

Mark Darnell at CBS says he's "coming for" NBC's crown with a talent competition to rival America's Got Talent. With James Corden somehow hosting this in addition to The Late Late Show, the hodgepodge panel of judges includes RuPaul, Faith Hill, and Drew Barrymore. Soon there will be a reality TV show pitting all the talent competition shows against each other, a Most Dangerous Game of network bigwigs in which Darnell hunts Simon Cowell.

2. The Enemy Within (NBC, February 25)

Ain't it Cool News

Remember how Jennifer Carpenter used to be on Dexter? Apparently, now she's starring as "former CIA agent Erica Wolfe, the most notorious traitor in modern history and most hated woman in America." Yes, her new character is let out of federal supermax prison to "help the FBI stop some of the most dangerous acts of espionage threatening the United States today," but mostly, Jennifer Carpenter once played a detective on Dexter.

3. Mental Samurai (Fox, February 26)

YouTube

Who better to host a reality show professing to "push every aspect of human intelligence and mental agility" than Rob Lowe? Contestants will tackle an obstacle course that somehow "tests their knowledge, memory, numbers, and sequencing," as well as the precision and speed of their answers. Rob Lowe is their leader, because he and Ken Jennings are probably a lot alike.

4. The Village (NBC, March 12)

The Knockturnal

NBC continues its role as America's middle school guidance counselor with another show about people from disparate backgrounds sharing "hopeful, heartwarming, and challenging stories...that prove family is everything, even if it's the one you make with the people around you." This show's set in a "unique" apartment building in Brooklyn, where the compelling takeaway is that people as diverse as a single mother, a veteran, and a young immigrant can all get along.

5. Abby's (NBC, March 28)

IMDB

The best bar in this probably quaint small town is Abby's (Natalie Morales) backyard, "the perfect gathering place for locals to find camaraderie and sanctuary." We want the best for Morales (BoJack Horseman, Parks and Recreation), so the trailer makes us sad.

6. In the Dark (CW, April 4)

CW

Instead of the CW network developing storylines that slowly mature with its primarily teenage audience, they're combining coming-of-age elements with Law & Order: Criminal Intent and hoping it works itself out. In the Dark stars a "flawed and irreverent woman who just happens to be blind and is the only 'witness' to the murder of her drug-dealing friend, Tyson. When the police dismiss her story, she sets out with her dog, Pretzel, to find the killer while also managing her colorful dating life and the job she hates at Breaking Blind—the guide-dog school owned by her overprotective parents." The final incongruity: it's executive produced by Ben Stiller and Michael Showalter, so it's a funny but serious crime drama that's also about living with your parents.

7. Frankenstein (CBS, Unannounced)

TV Watch US

It's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein set in modern day San Francisco. Just kidding, it's Frankenstein retold as a detective story. Still worse, it's an abomination of both. Detective Frankenstein "is mysteriously brought back to life after being killed in the line of duty. But as he resumes his old life and he and his wife realize he isn't the same person he used to be, they zero in on the strange man behind his resurrection – Dr. Victor Frankenstein." It gets worse; it's not even unique. In 2015, Fox developed the short-lived drama The Frankenstein Code on the same premise. Jason Tracey and Rob Doherty of Elementary are the inventors of this nightmare.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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