Monday, December 20, 2010

Talent Train: A List of 11 Contemporary "Best Actors"

***Note: To go with my previous list of 11 actresses.
[And once again, I don't know why I chose 11 instead of 10. It really just worked out in a weird way for both the men and women.]

What's the difference between being a "good" actor and a "great" actor? Looks? Drive? Talent? Diversity?
It could be a combination of all, or some of those, and of course, everyone has different opinions on the subject of "who are the best actors of all time?"
In discussing this frequently with people, usually around "Awards Season", I decided to make a list of who I think are 11 of the more talented/best performing actors I've seen in my few years of existence. (And obviously, an explanation as to why I admire the work of these men has been included after each).

Essentially I chose men who are more modern actors, because even though I try to see old classics, being as young as I am has led me to be more akin to "contemporary" filmmaking: Typically from the 1980s to the present, with a touch of older films here and there.

Some of those on the list will, of course, be seen as cliche choices that EVERYONE would pick, but to me, all of them are very capable in their acting abilities, so who cares if a lot of other people like them?

And so, my non-exhaustive list of "Best Actors" (in alphabetical order by last name) are:

1) Johnny Depp
"You find a glimmer of happiness in this world, and there's always someone who wants to destroy it."
If anything, Johnny Depp is known for playing the "different" or unusual characters. Sure, sometimes he is in movies that aren't so good, but he is never really bad in them. His knack for playing offbeat characters has led to an individuality in his acting, and a strong ability to capture a unique persona that always seems to be relatable. Johnny is out-there, but never over the top (unless it is fitting with the mood of the film in general). He has a natural tact for becoming an integral supporting force in a film, while still standing-out within it. In addition, he has also exhibited a diverse range of notable work over time, and has revolutionized how certain characters and literary icons are seen, such as wily pirate captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, or author J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. To top it all off, Johnny has had the chance to demonstrate his singing ability on a number of occasions, and I always admire someone that can act through a musical performance.

2) Leonardo DiCaprio
"Why the hell are you married to me? What the hell are you doing carrying my child? I mean, why didn't you just get rid of it when you had the chance? Because listen to me, I got news for you - I wish to God that you had!"
This might be one of those people that is seen as cliche on my list, but in all honesty, ever since he was a teenager, Leonardo DiCaprio has been exhibiting a high-standard of performance. In fact, sometimes I think Leo revolutionized the standard of "child-acting" in some of his earliest work, such as his incredible turn as Artie in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Beyond this young age, Leo continued to show his skill as an actor, playing more and more diverse roles. Also, he often is required to perform using different, strong accents, which he produces very well. Not perfectly, mind-you, as he sometimes seems to drop focus for a second or two, and thereby drop his accent (but we can forgive those odd occasions in favor of the rest of his performance). In addition, Leo is very capable in his emotional connectivity to roles, such as his performance in Revolutionary Road: this character ranged from dissatisfied in his static life, to fun-loving and optimistic, to angry and resentful, to a completely broken shell of a man. This expanse of emotions in a single character presented a challenge, but Leo was able to convey each side of the character admirably. Not to mention, those distinct Cat-Eyes of his that seem to be looking right at you, even through a film-screen.

3) Robert Downey Jr.
"Did you love me daddy? Lie and say you did; make me feel like the piece of shit I am. Did you love me? Answer me!"
Alright, I'll admit that Robert Downey Jr. has been in a number of pretty bad movies (especially early on in his career). Despite these questionable roles, Robert is always seen as the shining-star or redeeming factor in many films, which should act as evidence to his talent as an actor. There is no question, Robert has the ability to portray a diversity of characters and express a range of emotions. I find some of his best work, however, to be in his more quirky roles, as Robert seems to just have this sassy quality to him that is transferable into his characters; this can be seen in roles such as Harry Lockhart in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, or the title character in Sherlock Holmes. For a further example of this engagingly saucy quality, one must only look to the firt Iron Man movie; during filming, the cast was required to improvise as the script was incredibly underdeveloped, and in doing so, Robert was able to create the cheeky persona that was to become Tony Stark. In addition, Robert is very capable in portraying dramatic, emotional characters, as is exemplified in movies such as The Soloist, and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. I think a lot of it has to do with the sincerity he always seems to show in those beautiful, chestnut-brown eyes of his (but then again, that is probably a part of my bias, as I always get lost in those eyes).

4) Ralph Fiennes
"This is very cruel, Oskar. You're giving them hope. You shouldn't do that... That's cruel!"
There is no doubt that Ralph Fiennes can play a sinister part with ease (such as the iconic role of Lord Voldemort) and knock it out of the park. But he can also portray softer characters that the audience will empathize with, in what seems to be effortless acting. Ralph is the kind of actor that will always make his presence known in a film, through his manner of speaking and stature, or possibly through his piercing gaze that can slice through silences and let you into what he is feeling. All in all, I just find Ralph's performances to be very powerful, especially when he deals with topics that are touchy or upsetting. One such role would be his disturbingly poignant, but nonetheless compelling work as Amon Goeth in Schindler's List. Furthermore, Ralph always seems to be able to express a relatable quality in his characters to the audience, no matter if his character is downtrodden, powerful, malevolent, or just an average man.

5) Colin Firth
"... Just get through the goddamn day."
Colin Firth... one of those gentlemen that just warm your heart and many a woman fancies because of his numerous roles in romantic films. But to be fair, he plays that part well. Besides all that, Colin has a timeless air of class about him that transcends into most of his films, and suits him very well. Colin also has the ability to focus our attention to him and draw us in, whether that be in a loud, booming way, or in a soft, internal manifestation of relevant emotions. My favorite work of Colin's is when he is playing characters with internal conflict, as he is very adept in expressing what he is feeling without needing to say much. For example, as George in A Single Man, Colin performed major scenes on his own, and without even doing much. One such scene is when he is informed on the phone about his partner, Jim's, death, and Colin is required to act on his own with no interaction with anyone else, and nothing to focus eye-contact on. Despite this challenge, the audience is able to understand the implications of the men's relationship in the 1960s, and the struggles that George would face in having to deal with it. This film also exemplifies Colin's sensitivity to serious, but difficult subject matter, in addition to his just-released drama, The King's Speech.

6) Andrew Garfield
"Sorry, my Prada is at the cleaners, along with my hoodie and my 'f*** you' flip-flops, you pretentious douche bag!"
One of the younger men to make my list, and someone who is still considered a "rising star" to many. When looking at Andrew Garfield's body of work, however, it becomes evident that he is capable of some great acting. First of all, the British actor is able to produce and maintain various accents (such as American and Irish) effortlessly, as well as take on a range of roles that each expect something different of him. One of the first things I saw Andrew in was his small role in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. In this film, he managed to hold his own next to Heath Ledger, which is particularly impressive due to the fact that many people (that I know anyways) wanted to see this movie simply because it was the last film Heath Ledger worked on before his passing. Despite this, Andrew stood out to me, and I proceeded to see his stirring work in Boy A, wherein he tackled some difficult subject matter in an honest way. As well, playing Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, Andrew brought an emotive quality to the screen that allowed the audience to feel more involved in a film based on ice-cold characters, relations, and communications. Finally, a testament to Andrew's acting can be seen in how he appears during interviews and other means of public speaking: he always seems so nervous and thoughtful, and can barely string a sentence together he rambles so much, but you would never be able to tell in the way he acts on screen.

7) Richard Jenkins
"Face it, buddy boy, there's two kinds of people in the world: there's you, and there's everybody else, and never the train shall meet."
Maybe it's the soft twinkle in Richard Jenkins' eye that makes him seem like a nice guy, but pushing that personal observation aside, the man can certainly play a powerful part. His empathetic role in The Visitor was gentle but emotional, and his iconic portrayal of Nathanial Fisher Senior in the dramatic series "Six Feet Under" was both humorously scrappy, and sadly profound. In addition, he has the ability to make a not-so-good movie enjoyable. I'm thinking specifically of the fluffy Dear John, wherein he played the title character's somewhat autistic father. Really, his story-line and acting brought life into an otherwise trite romance and became the most redeeming factor of the film. A standout aspect of Richard's acting is his way of breathing life into films, as well as inserting a certain sentimentality into all of his work, as a means of connecting with people on a personal level.

8) Heath Ledger
"Why don't you just let me be? It's because of you, Jack, that I'm like this! I'm nothin'... I'm nowhere! I can't stand being like this no more, Jack."
Now, I know a lot of people think Heath Ledger's Academy Award for portraying The Joker in The Dark Knight, was only received because of his heartbreaking death. To me, however, I feel like that is an insensitive assumption. Really, no other Joker had been depicted in such a sinister manner before, and if he had just stuck with the typical means of portrayal, the character would not have been well-suited to the dark mood Christopher Nolan was creating in his "Batman" series. In fact, Heath's performance was so strong that I myself sometimes forgot that it was him behind all that makeup.
Aside from his role as The Joker, Heath has also had strong performances in other memorable roles, such as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. The Southern accent he produced for this role was very believable, and never dropped due to lack of focus. In addition, he brought an incredible emotionality to the role, and an honest sensibility to the subject matter involved. Heath's ability to truly connect to whatever role he was playing was one of the strongest aspects of his proficiency as an actor.

9) Alan Rickman
"I will attempt to penetrate your mind. You will attempt to resist."
I'm just going to go ahead and say it: the voice. Alan Rickman's silky smooth voice is infamous, and it really is beautiful. But what makes it even more appealing is the way he uses it through speed and diction and emphasis. Truly, it is a way of speaking that is suited to classic Shakespeare, which he has worked with on multiple occasions. His manner of speaking adds a level of class to his performance, as well as a command of the screen. In addition, Alan is capable of producing various European accents that are incredibly believable, such as his iconic, evil turn as the German Hans Gruber in Die Hard, or as the Russian historical figure of Grigori Rasputin in Rasputin. No matter what, Alan Rickman is always a standout presence, even in a packed or ensemble cast.

10) Kevin Spacey
"Janie, today I quit my job. Then I told my boss to go f*** himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus."
Kevin Spacey always seems to have a lot going on in his eyes, no matter what character he is playing. This is one of my favorite things about his acting, in that you can always see something deeper than the surface actions. It makes the characters so interesting, and sometimes even eerie. For example, his role as John Doe in Se7en wherein he speaks so incredibly calmly the entire time, making him seem creepy and distant, but suiting the persona of the character perfectly. In addition, his on-the-spot impersonations of different icons and actors are incredibly impressive, and only further exemplify his ability to capture and produce engaging personalities.

11) Patrick Wilson
"You haven't idealized mankind, you've... you've deformed it! You mutilated it. That's your legacy. That's the real practical joke."
I know, right now a number of people are thinking, "Who"? It's true , Patrick Wilson isn't exactly a household name, but that doesn't really mean much in terms of acting ability, does it? In fact, Patrick is more commonly known as a Broadway actor, and has played many notable roles on the stage. This alone can attest to his acting, as often stage performances are seen as more difficult than ones in film, as they occur over "one take", essentially. In addition to this, Patrick is incredibly diverse in the roles he does choose in film, ranging from a musical love-interest in The Phantom of the Opera, to a pedophiliac serial killer in Hard Candy, to a man unsatisfied in his marriage in Little Children, to a somewhat nerdy vigilante in The Watchmen. Patrick always expresses a believability in each of his roles, no matter how different they might be from one another.

Young Talent, Soon to Make the List: Nicholas Hoult
"Of course I did! You were at home, wanking your brains out every night thinking, 'Some day I'll be like Tony. SOME day, I'll be like Tony!'"
Most people know Nicholas Hoult as "that little boy in About A Boy". Then, there are those that know him as Tony in "Skins". Either way, Nicholas has recently been finding more and more acting work, that is increasingly more high-profile and interesting. Most currently, he was seen opposite Colin Firth in A Single Man, and stood out amongst the supporting cast (to me anyways), with what seemed to be an effortless American accent. In addition, his role on "Skins" allowed him to explore a very complex character that was both arrogant at first, then fragile and rehabilitating, showing that he is capable of a range of character. I hope to see more of his work in the years to come, as I expect him to become increasingly skilled at acting and desired by filmmakers.

And now, of course, I leave it up to you. Obviously this list is not exhaustive, as there are COUNTLESS talented actors out there.
(You know, Dustin Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Kenneth Branagh, or Geoffrey Rush, to name a few...)
Do you think I missed anyone, or that someone doesn't necessarily deserve to be on the list? Of course, it's all based on perception, so I wouldn't mind seeing what someone else might think.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Talent Train: A List of 11 Contemporary "Best Actresses"

*** Note: A list of 11 men will soon be comprised as well... [And I don't know why I chose 11 instead of 10. It really just worked out in a weird way for both the men and women.]

What's the difference between being a "good" actress and a "great" actress? Looks? Drive? Talent? Diversity?
It could be a combination of all, or some of those, and of course, everyone has different opinions on the subject of "who are the best actresses of all time?"
In discussing this frequently with people, usually around "Awards Season", I decided to make a list of who I think are 11 of the more talented/best performing actresses I've seen in my few years of existence. (And obviously, an explanation as to why I admire the work of these women has been included after each).

Essentially I chose women who are more modern actresses, because even though I try to see old classics, being as young as I am has led me to be more akin to "contemporary" filmmaking: Typically from the 1980s to the present, with a touch of older films here and there.

Some of those on the list will, of course, be seen as cliche choices that EVERYONE would pick, but to me, all of them are very capable in their acting abilities, so who cares if a lot of other people like them?

And so, my non-exhaustive list of "Best Actresses" (in alphabetical order by last name) are:

1) Annette Bening
"Oh, you don't complain? Then please, excuse me, I must be psychotic! If you don't complain, then what is this? Yeah, let's bring in the laugh-meter and see how loud it gets!"
She is head of the Actors Branch at the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences", so you KNOW she has done something right... But in all seriousness, Annette Bening is a very respectable actress in terms of her abilities. Most recognizably, her talent in portraying dysfunctional characters with a real sense of honesty, and sensitivity. She even has the ability to produce memorable, standout performances in films that are otherwise considered "weird", bad, or not relatable; I'm thinking specifically of her role in the film adaptation of Running With Scissors, because as some people I know have said, "I didn't really like that movie, it was too weird... But Annette Bening was really good in it."

2) Helena Bonham Carter
"I was 18, he was 28... Turns out it was a big difference."
Helena Bonham Carter is typically known for the more sinister or creepy roles she plays, and her capacity to be innocent and serious is lost in that. She is definitely capable of both, as her role in The Wings of a Dove showed, but above all else, Helena isn't afraid of making herself less-than-beautiful to become an interesting character. She also has this real sassy quality that she expresses in her characters, but with a keen sense of realism, so that she never goes over-the-top in a role unless it is necessary. I find one of her most memorable performances to be Marla in Fight Club, where portrayed both sides of the character --the hardened, instant gratification-seeking seductress, and the unguarded woman yearning respect-- with ease.

3) Toni Collette
"Look at my face; I was not thinking ANYTHING bad about you."
She can be kooky, and she can be emotional, and she can be light and fluffy, and she can be serious and depressing. Toni Collette isn't typically recognized by people I know, but I find her to be a very good actress when you really look at her roles. Especially when playing certain mixed roles such as Marcus' suicidal mother in About A Boy, where she was able to add to the quirky sense of humor in the film, while at the same time expressing the serious nature of depression and it's affect on others. I think a lot of her talent comes in the form of a real vulnerability she brings to her roles, in that she always seems like a real, believable person, no matter how much of a caricature her character might be.

4) Penelope Cruz
"You'll always seek to duplicate me in every woman, and you know it."
I always admire someone who can weave effortlessly from one language into another (seeing as I am nowhere near being bilingual at all), especially while under the pressures of giving an acting performance. Penelope Cruz is very good at doing just that, in addition to often being a standout in movies with packed-casts. Specifically, she was the most believable and emotionally charged of all the females in the movie Nine (and was the only one to receive an Academy Award nomination for the film), as well as the most endearing and enjoyable character in Woody Allen's not-great-not-terrible, Vicky Christina Barcelona (and subsequently won an Academy Award for the role, while the "leading cast" remained unrecognized). Penelope is always an enjoyable presence in films, and brings a certain life or spunk to any character she is playing.

5) Anne Hathaway
"Knowing Jack it was probably some pretend place, where bluebirds sing and there's a whisky spring.."
One of the younger actresses on the list, Anne Hathaway has developed into a sought-after actress in these past few years, due to her exceptional ability to connect to the audience. One performance that can attest to this is her final appearance in Brokeback Mountain: The scene consisted solely of a close-up of her face while she spoke on the phone. Anne was able to convey her intrinsic emotions to the audience without focusing her eye-contact on anyone or anything, and while speaking to a presence that wasn't even in the room with her.
Besides being recognized as beautiful, her performances are always very strong, even in movies that themselves aren't exceptionally good (such as her role in Bride Wars, where by diverging from typical rom-com acting and going for a more internal approach, she outshone her co-star, Kate Hudson). Her ability to move from corny teenage roles into high-status dramatic ones exemplifies that Anne is strong enough in her work to not be pigeon-holed by her early roles.

6) Dame Helen Mirren
"Because you saw all those headlines and thought, 'Some day that will happen to me'. And it will Mr. Blair. Quite suddenly and without warning... So, shall we get on with the business at hand?"
I know of no woman who commands attention quite like the beautiful Dame Helen Mirren, and she can do so without even raising her voice (well, most of the time). Helen's presence exudes power and class, and she is not afraid to push the boundaries of what is "acceptable" at her age (ie, nude photoshoots, racy roles, profane language). This confidence extends into a certain fearlessness in her acting, and if anything can hold you back in performing a role to it's full potential, it's fear. Helen lacks no aplomb in her abilities, and it is evident in her lengthy body of work.

7) Meryl Streep
"Please bore someone else with your... questions."
Do... do I really need to explain this? Sure, some people think that Meryl OVER-acts at times, and some people think the film academies love her far too much; but really? The woman is just so darn good at what she does. She shows her versatility in different roles, as well as an extreme dedication to what she does: That is what I love about her the most. She will be the woman to perfect an accent for months before performing a role, or practice learning the cello every day so she won't have to simply pretend she knows how to play. A true method actress, Meryl seems to become the person she is portraying. Or, in the words of the lovable Stanley Tucci, "Meryl is simply... the best."

8) Emma Thompson
"I'm not gonna do it because it'll hurt! Sometime or other there'll be, you know, 'It's not working' or 'I need my space' or whatever it is and it will end and it will hurt, and I won't do it."
I always say, if you can hold your own in Shakespeare, you know you can act. And Emma Thompson-- who did mainly Shakespearean adaptations for a long time-- has definitely shown that she can perform it well. Emma is just one of those elegant performers, who seems to know a large amount about a lot of things. The only time she ever loses her class is in children's-type movies (like Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter series) but even then, she is decked out in such an elaborate costume that you can't really tell that it's her. To me, that is a wise thing, because then if the film is a disaster (such as Nanny McPhee), people won't really correlate her with the movie, since she was unrecognizable in it. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I still find her a grace on the screen, and an intelligent presence in film.

9) Julie Walters
"Affection is desirable. Money is absolutely indispensable."
"If I marry, I want it to be out of affection. Like my mother."
"And I have to dig my own damn potatoes!"
If you don't know the craft of this woman you are truly missing out. Julie Walters has been a credible actress for years, due to her ability to command the screen, never sitting in the background of any film she is in. She can be quirky, but also extremely powerful, and over the years has solidified herself as one of the world's best British actresses. Maybe it's her charm that she expresses on film? Maybe it's her dominating nature that contrasts her small stature? Either way, Julie shows that experience over the years just makes you better and better at what you do.

10) Michelle Williams
"Don't try to fool me no more, Ennis; I know what it means! Jack Twist. Jack Nasty: you don't go up there to fish!"
Some might think Michelle Williams is a little too sweet, but I think that that is just her external appearance. Sure, she can nail the "girl-next-door" characters, but I also find her very intriguing when she ventures outside of that into things more sinister. You wouldn't expect someone that looks like her to be devious, but as she shows in Shutter Island, that is what makes her playing those roles all the more interesting and eerie. In addition, her work in Brokeback Mountain is evidence of her ability to portray emotional turmoil in a not-overly theatrical way. If her upcoming film with Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine, has had anything said about it, it's that the acting within it is very intense, and so will likely become another example of Michelle's strong acting abilities.

11) Kate Winslet
"What are you going to do now? Are you going to hit me? To show me how much you love me?"
Kate Winslet is one of those actresses that nobody hates (well, nobody I know anyways). She is charming enough to hold her own in most films, as well as produce a real emotionality in all of them. And if her body of work in 2008 doesn't convince someone of her acting strengths, I don't know what would:
One of her two defining roles that year was in Revolutionary Road. Kate portrayed an emotionally distraught housewife that wants so desperately to leave her static life. She plans for her whole family to move to Paris in a whimsical, childish plan that goes awry and ends in tragedy. The vindictive nature she was able to convey towards her husband's character (as played by Leo DiCaprio) was incredibly powerful, and almost upsetting in a way. On the other side, her performance in The Reader that year showed her ability to deal with difficult subject matter (that being questionable relationships with young men and the holocaust) in a sensitive, but meaningful way. To top it all off, Kate is incredibly beautiful, but not afraid to make herself less appealing for a role if it so requires.

Young Talent, Soon to Make The List: Carey Mulligan
"You're my father again now, are you? And what were you when you encouraged me to throw my life away?"
Carey has been working hard in the past few years, being a part of quite a number of films. I have only seen a sample of her mainly dramatic work, but it is clear to me that she is capable of great things. Her proficiency is exemplified in her Oscar Nominated performance in An Education, wherein she expressed a relatable mix of innocence and maturity, that turned out to be quite naive in the end (a sentiment I'm sure most of us can identify with from our teenage years). I hope to see more of her roles in the coming years, as her name and abilities become more and more recognized and sought-after.

And now, of course, I leave it up to you. Obviously this list is not exhaustive, as there are COUNTLESS talented actresses out there.
(You know, Hilary Swank, Dame Judi Dench, Charlize Theron, or Frances McDormand, to name a few...)
Do you think I missed anyone, or that someone doesn't necessarily deserve to be on the list? Of course, it's all based on perception, so I wouldn't mind seeing what someone else might think.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rachel and Finn are to "Glee" as Nate and Brenda were to "Six Feet Under"

*** Spoiler Alert: I might give away some plot points to both "Six Feet Under" and "Glee", so if you don't want to know what happens in any show that you haven't watched yet... you have been warned.

Now, I know what you are thinking:
How could you POSSIBLY even relate "Glee" and "Six Feet Under" to one another? They are so very different in their content, mood, target audience, filming style, and pretty much everything else!
Not going to lie though, I enjoy both. But in different ways obviously.
(Really I'm just thinking about this because I managed to power-disk through and finish the last season of "Six Feet Under" last night.)

The one thing that I find, however, which is similar between both is the main character relationship. Or more specifically, my sentiments towards them both.
I'm talking about how I feel about Nate Fisher Jr. and Brenda Chenowith in relation to how I feel about Rachel Berry and Finn Hudson.
Still seem strange? Well, it is kind of, but I'm going to examine it regardless.

To begin, it seems to me both shows really set up these two relationships within their first few episodes to be recognized as those relationships that will be main-stage throughout the series and evolve over time, but still be in the backs of people's
minds even when the couple is having an off period (think Ross and Rachel in "Friends", you know?).
What I mean is, you KNOW these couples will get together, stay together, fall apart, and then be on-again at some point. Or at least, I did...

Beyond this first setup, really the main things that I find with both couples is that while I enjoy the characters and their quirks on their own... I REALLY don't like them when they are together as actual couples!
But then that once again brings around the question of why? How could I POSSIBLY not like the main couples that everyone else wants to be together? Well, I suppose I do have a coupe of reasons. I mean I don't just dislike them for nothing!

1. Dysfunctional
Alright, so I know all relationships have difficult
times, but these ones are just dysfunctional.

First looking at Nate and Brenda, Nathaniel lives away from his family for years and is happy and independent, with maybe a few questionable sexual relationships. But honestly, he is happy with his relationships, however short they might be.
However as soon as he is serious with Brenda, things go downhill. He has freakouts frequently with her and hallucinations become more prevalent (though of course, some of this might have to do with the passing of his father as well). Brenda on the other hand, shows some of her strongest assets when she is living on her own after breaking up with Nate; she is able to clear her mind through meditation, finds new friendships, and is able to deal with her strange relationships with her mother and brother, Billy. When with Nate, though, she is just as angry and spiteful as he is. Even in their marriage, as soon as they actually get married and were about to have a child, there was constant fighting about that subject and everything else. Furthermore, after Nate died (Spoiler Alert! But everyone saw that one coming) he was STILL tormenting Brenda with fights, as though that was the one thing that characterized their relationship. Talk about unhealthy...

Rachel and Finn on the other hand have their dysfunctionality in the form of insecurities. This correlates with the feelings of many in highschool, but really it seems like once they are in a relationship together, an episode doesn't go by without one of them fearing the other will break up with them, or needing the other to tell them they love them
in those sad, low, mushy tones. As well, they are constantly worried about their image and how the other will not think they are good enough anymore. Erm, WHY would they date you if they didn't see something great in you? I mean, Finn was quarterback, sure, and as soon as he lost that title he was afraid Rachel wouldn't think he was good enough anymore. But WHY? She liked you for Glee, not football! And as soon as Rachel and Finn were kind-of-not-really dating during the middle of the first season, it was like Rachel became super super possessive of him and clingy, despite not really stating outright that they were boyfriend/girlfriend. Okay so maybe it was implied, and it's a part of her character to be really forward, but honestly, it's like she had to mark her territory for fear someone else might snag him up. Everything is just a way bigger deal with them than it needs to be in their relationship.

2. Cheating
The one thing that no relationship can handle: Cheating!
Well okay, maybe SOME. But it really isn't a good thing in anyone's books, no matter how you define cheating.

First, Brenda gets high and cheats on Nate with some random teenage boys when she feels she is going crazy in her relationship, rather than working it out with him... Hm. Good idea Brenda.
Then, Nate follows suit and cheats on Brenda once they are already and married and his wife is about 5 months pregnant... with his stepsister. For similar reasons as Brenda did orignially in that he was feeling unhappy with his relationship, and rather than hash it out in another fight, found solace in sexual relations with a woman who was introducing him to a new spirituality. Oh oh, and of COURSE he then wanted to divorce Brenda after this one incident, even though she was going to forgive him and move on, and then die right after so their last communicative event would be full of hard feelings and hurt (oh-so dysfunctional, like I mentioned before...).

In terms of the kids in Glee, Finn doesn't exactly cheat on Rachel with Santana, but she certainly seems to think it is along those lines because of the fact that he lied about having sex with her. Okay, fair enough. Especially since he essentially did it to get back at Rachel for being in a relationship with someone else. However, it COULD be seen as "emotional cheating" the way he cares for Quinn throughout her pregnancy, but really Finn is the only kid that doesn't cross any huge cheating lines.
Rachel, on the other hand, decides that to get back at Finn for lying to her, she will "hook up" with Puck. Because of their high school definitions of hooking-up and cheating, kissing another guy is seen as cheating. And of course, both Rachel and Finn engaged in this as childish retaliation for something the other one did, rather than fighting it out, much like Brenda and Nate should have done.

3. Baby Drama
Typically with others, too...

Nate had a baby with his one-night-stand Lisa, and was subsequently married to her. Throughout this marriage though, there was the drama of Nate still having feelings for Brenda, and Lisa knowing this, putting strain on his relationship, as well as Nate and Brenda not being able to have a simple relationship because of the another woman's baby being added to the equation. And even when they finally DO have a child of their own on the way, the first attempt is wrought with tragedy, and the second is struck with drama in the form of one really wanting the child and the other not because of possible complications with the child, thereby pushing the couple apart from one another.

Finn and Rachel's baby drama was more about Finn believing he was the father of Quinn's child, even when he wasn't and everyone else knowing this while he didn't. Rachel, of course, had to spill this to Finn so she could form her relationship with Finn, as without knowing the baby wasn't his, Finn would likely not want to leave Quinn's side. Of course this incident left other emotional scarring with Finn, as he was then afraid of girlfriend's cheating again, seeing as Quinn did (surprise surprise, his fears came true).

4. Other Relationships
I like the lady's with other men! The men with other ladies, not so much.

Remember Nate with Lisa?
Of course, they had a child together! Well, I didn't so much like Lisa... I found her clingy and irritating. I mean, she basically forced Nate to marry her (I mean, they DID have a baby together) and made him believe that they were so spiritually matched that essentially that is why they were able to produce a child... Hm. I dunno, I just wasn't a huge fan of her.

Now remember Brenda and her musician neighbor, Joe?
I sure do! He was cute and fun and this was when Brenda's life was finally seeming stable
and he complimented her nicely. Not to mention he was quite fit, as evidenced by the scene where he ran across the courtyard naked to meet her? (Teehee). But it aaaaall went downhill as soon as Nate showed up on her doorstep in tragedy. As the dead hallucinations of Nate said, she could have been REALLY happy with Joe! Oh well... I guess that's what "everlasting love" will do to ya.

Alright, now Finn's other relations were Quinn and Santana.
Santana, of course, was kind of just a one-date, sexual experience that he said didn't mean anything. And as I mentioned before, was in retaliation of Rachel's new relationship. So obviously, not a fan of this one. Quinn on the other hand, was somewhat tolerable, but just all their back and forth: "I want the baby, I don't, you don't get a say in this, I'm actually kind of in love with Puck, I like someone else, etc etc" nonsense got on my nerves. Maybe that is just me, though.

Now we all remember Rachel and Jesse St. James, right?!?!
Ooooh boy, do I ever! And really, I liked him. Yeah, okay I am biased because I LOVE Jonathan Groff, but really? He and Rachel were
suited to each other! They sang better duets than the constant ones Finn and Rachel (still) do, running around chasing each other (oh look, how FUN). Jesse and Rachel had similar goals, and despite him defecting back to Vocal Adrenaline and being in a relationship with her to let Rachel meet her real birthmother, he actually really liked her seemed truly hurt when she decided to make her "Run Joey Run" video with guys other than him. Despite that incident, though. They really seemed to get along well and work well together, as well as be not really THAT annoying to all the other students (which Rachel and Finn are, as they ALWAYS get all the solos when together).

I suppose that is the extent of why I don't like Nate and Brenda, and Rachel and Finn together, despite liking all the characters when they are not in these major relationships (except for maybe Nate, because he is always kind of annoying and whiny, but then again, so are all the characters in "Six Feet Under").
What do you guys think about these couples? Are you even fans of the shows? Let me know, let me know!