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I’m a Great Cook. Now That I’m Divorced, I’m Never Making Dinner for a Man Again

When my marriage fell apart, I stopped cooking. I gave my children frozen chicken nuggets, pizza, quesadillas, or their favorite: toddler tapas—cheese sticks, nuts, fruit, crackers, veggies, all displayed on a hand-me-down china platter. Now they eat like “fancy ladies,” as my first grader says piling her little paper plate with nuts and grapes. I live off of bagged salads, rotisserie chicken, and whiskey.

I stopped cooking because I was tired. The kind of tired where your face vibrates and your eyes throb. Too tired to care what I put in my mouth. And my children (then six and four) only wanted to eat go-Gurts and Cheez-its anyway. The person who cared was my husband. I had been cooking for him for 12 years.

When we first married and moved to Iowa, I couldn’t find a job. I spent my days cooking. I worked my way through the Joy of Cooking—mastering pastry dough for beef wellington, rolling tortillas on the kitchen floor of our apartment because there was no counter space. I cut open chicken breasts and stuffed them with blue cheese. I braided challah and pinched gnocchi. I made all sorts of pie—lemon, French silk, apple, so many kinds of apple—their molten insides burning my fingers and my tongue as I sampled them hoping they’d turn out. Hoping that when he came home, my husband would sit down and taste them and say, “Thank you.”

Inspired by online recipe sites, he’d sit down to dinner and then let me know what rating I earned.. “If I give you five out of five, you’ll quit,” he joked. And I laughed because when I was in my 20s. I believed that you were supposed to laugh when someone hurt your feelings. I thought you were constantly supposed to be trying harder.

I did try harder. I developed my own pizza dough recipe and every Friday would make pizzas—barbeque pork, goat cheese and heirloom tomato, chicken and ranch, caramelized onion and fresh mozzarella, mac and cheese. I made them thin and thick. Sweet and savory. My dough recipe took years to develop and a whole day to make. I’d begin on Fridays at five in the morning, finishing with the dishes at seven at night.

I collected recipes, printing them out and dutifully making notes in the margins on how many stars he gave them and any feedback he had—too oniony, too garlicky, too spicy, not enough meat. And even later, when I did get a job, and when I went to graduate school, I filled the freezer for him—casseroles, homemade cookies, pans of brownies. I’d crock pot stew and portion it off into little bags, leaving notes that instructed how to de-thaw, how to reheat. How to eat without me there.There were lapses of course. When I had babies. Or the time I had a kidney infection and sciatica. But during those times, friends brought us food.I remember once, when the kids were little, I begged him to bring home food. “Just do it,” I said. “Just come home with a rotisserie chicken or a pile of one dollar hamburgers from McDonald’s, anything.”

“But what if you’ve already planned something?”

My nipples were raw from breastfeeding. My brain numb from lack of sleep. I laughed thinking about whatever failed casserole or half-hearted pasta I’d thrown together the night before. “I’d be so happy.”

In the tangle of performance and purpose, in my quest to make a home, I had created elaborate offerings, which were consumed and judged, and yet afforded me no redemption, no grace, no more than four out of five stars.

And then, one night, as my daughter watched TV, my toddler screamed from the living room, and the water boiled, collecting steam on the windows, I broke. I cut and chopped and desperately looked at a recipe on my phone. My back burned with frustration. My feet ached from standing. The steam flushed my cheeks and I wondered at the molecules that could escape from the heat as I stood trapped there, spatula in my hand.

It’s hard for me to understand when cooking became more repression than liberation, more act of obligation than act of creation. But I knew it then. This thing that had sustained me now felt like a prison. And whose fault was it? It certainly wasn’t all my husband’s. After all, hadn’t I wanted to cook? Hadn’t I enjoyed it? Hadn’t I found purpose in the texture of the cinnamon rolls, the ache of my arm as a whisked a French silk pie over a double boiler. But who had that ever been for? I couldn’t remember.

In the tangle of performance and purpose, in my quest to make a home and love, I had created elaborate offerings, which were consumed and judged, and yet afforded me no redemption, no grace, no more than four out of five stars.

That night, I dumped the water in the sink. Tossed the ingredients in the trash. I poured myself a glass of wine and threw some frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave. When my husband came home, we were already eating.

That was the last time I cooked for two years. That first year, we were in couple’s therapy almost weekly. I would wake up at five in the morning and go work out. Then, I’d come home, get the kids ready for school, drop them off, and come back to the house and cry. I was supposed to be working. But mostly I just sat and stared at the Word document that had become my daily journal and wept. Then I would try to nap in the guest room until it was time to pick up the kids from school.It’s amazing the energy it takes to not cry in a Target aisle or not to pound the steering wheel in the school pick-up lane. It’s incredible the sheer force of will it takes to look at people you don’t know in the eye and say, “How are you? Oh me? I am fine.” Over and over without screaming that everything you love and hoped to have in this world was unraveling and you couldn’t fix it.

After all of that, I didn’t have the energy to cook.

I stopped cooking because I wanted to feel as unencumbered as man walking through the door of his home with the expectation that something had been done for him. I wanted to be free of cutting coupons and rolling dough and worrying about dinner times and feeding. I wanted to rest.

That year of unraveling we were still in the same house and he still came home every day. “What’s for dinner?” he asked every time. And every time, I’d stare at him. The energy it takes not to give someone the finger is enormous. So, I’d just stay silent and eat from my salad, while he stood there, confused about what to do.

I stopped cooking because I wanted to feel as unencumbered as man walking through the door of his home with the expectation that something (everything) had been done for him. I wanted to be free of cutting coupons and rolling dough and worrying about dinner times and feeding. I wanted to rest. To be just like him and sit with the kids and play. I wanted to lie on the couch and watch Curious George and snuggle tiny arms, tiny hands. I wanted to watch TV or order in. Or forget dinner and have popcorn instead. So I did.

He didn’t stop asking what was for dinner until I moved out.

In the new place, Greek yogurt, bagged salads, and a charcuterie-of-the-month club that I signed up for through a local restaurant sustain me. I tried HelloFresh but the bright expectations of the box made me furious. How dare you expect something of me too, I’d glare at it. I canceled. Now I make an occasional meal—tater-tot hot dish, sloppy joes, or tomato pie. I recently made a meal of smoked pork and corn for some friends. They thanked me,.”It’s too much,” they said. But those are the exceptions. I remain unencumbered.

Lyz Lenz is a writer based in Iowa. Her writing has appeared in Pacific Standard, Marie Claire, Jezebel, and The Washington Post. Her book God Land will be out in August of 2019. Follow her on Twitter @lyzl.

After peaking during the 1970s and ’80s, much has been made of the fact that divorce rates are now on the decline, especially among millennials. Still, if you’re thinking about splitting with your spouse, or you’ve already been through a divorce, sunny statistics aren’t exactly useful. Throughout this weeklong series, Glamour.com explores what it means to uncouple in a modern world.

Millennials Are Causing the U.S. Divorce Rate to Drop

For the last half-century, conventional wisdom has claimed that half of all marriages end in divorce, meaning that tying the knot is a little like flipping a coin and hoping it lands heads up. That’s a pretty depressing outlook as far as matrimony is concerned. Luckily, it’s not exactly true anymore. Social scientists have long been trying to correct this particular record to little avail since divorce rates—which peaked in the 1970s and ‘80s—have been steadily on the decline for decades. And for people getting married right now—many of whom are millennials—the likelihood of splitting up may be lower than their parents’ generation, aka baby boomers, known for marrying young, getting divorced, then often remarrying.

Today’s young couples are, essentially, doing the exact opposite: we’re being more selective about who we settle down with, we’re making it official at older ages, often into our thirties when we have a decent handle on our careers, our finances, and what we generally want out of life. It’s because of these reasons that we’re also driving the divorce rate down.

A September 2018 analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen found that the the U.S. divorce rate decreased by 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, thanks to millennials. “The overall drop has been driven entirely by younger women,” Cohen writes. The study points out that just-married women are now “more likely to be in their first marriages, more likely to have BA degrees or higher education, less likely to be under age 25, and less likely to have own children in the household,” all factors Cohen suggests might affect the risk of divorce.

Another potential reason that millennial marriages might ultimately be better built to last? Simply the fact that this generation doesn’t appear to feel as pressured to put a ring on it as the ones that came before—which translates to more time spent really figuring out if a relationship feels right. Yes, millennials might have pioneered the wild world of hookup apps, but a recent eHarmony report found that American couples between the ages of 25 and 34 knew each other an average of six and a half years before jumping the broom, compared to an average of five years in all other age groups. Time will tell how their nuptials play out. But, at least in theory, the future of their marriages look bright.

All week, you’ll find intel on Americans who are hammering out custody agreements for their pets, how divorce party services are alive and well, what it’s like to have sex for the first time after being in a committed marriage, and what women would ideally put on their divorce registry.

Still, if you’re thinking about splitting with your spouse, or you’re someone who has already been through a divorce, sunny statistics aren’t exactly useful. The reasons why a marriage ends, and the way that it happens, are as unique as the people and circumstances involved. When divorce is your reality, it’s the real talk that gets you through. Which is exactly why set out to create this package on Glamour.com we’re calling My Millennial Divorce.

Across this series of stories—conceived by our own editors who, during the course of casual conversation, realized we all had friends who are getting or have gotten divorced, many of whom at surprisingly young ages—we explored the parts of splitting up that are practical and relevant to the brass tacks processes. Like, for example, what to expect when you’re divorcing and what you should do if you suspect separation papers are on the horizon—as well as some explorations of what modern-day divorces actually looks like.

You’ll also find intel on Americans who love their pets so much they’re hammering out custody agreements over them in court, how divorce party planning services are alive and well, what it’s like to have sex for the first time after being in a committed marriage for years, and what it feels like to gain 60 pounds after splitting with your husband, and turn it into a business opportunity.

That’s not all. We also asked women about what they would ideally put on their divorce registry—a.k.a. the time in a person’s life when they actually need someone to, say, buy them a blender—and talked to a new bride who insisted on a postnuptial agreement to protect her emotions, not just her finances.

Then there are the celebrity divorces that stand out in our minds as moments of #peakliberation (the literal confetti-filled moment when Britney Spears and Kevin Federline officially uncoupled made the cut, as did a list of stars you forgot split from one another, the divorce movies that might provide the kind of solidarity your friends just can’t during this trying time, and words of wisdom about splitting up and the joys of being single from the stars. Or, as Whoopi Goldberg once put it: “I don’t want somebody in my house.”

Whether you’re on the precipice of a divorce yourself, or just curious about what uncoupling looks like right now, check back all week long for the above and much more.

Divorce Glossary: A Complete Guide to Legal Terms

After peaking during the 1970s and ’80s, much has been made of the fact that divorce rates are now on the decline—especially among millennials. Still, if you’re thinking about splitting with your spouse, or you have already, sunny statistics aren’t exactly useful. Throughout this weeklong series of stories, Glamour.com explores what it means to uncouple in a modern world.

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As if the act of getting divorced isn’t stressful enough, there’s the issue of trying to internalize what feels like an entirely new language of legalese that’s unavoidable during the process. Whether you’re just beginning proceedings or you’re well on your way, understanding the confusing jargon can make all the difference. So, with the help of New York-based attorney Nancy Chemtob, founding partner at Chemtob, Moss, Forman & Beyda LLP, we put together a glossary of terms you’ll be hearing a lot of to help you navigate every step of the process.

Add-on expenses. Money that’s paid to one’s child(ren) in addition to child support. “When you’re calculating child support, the money that you calculate doesn’t include add-ons,” says Chemtob. “Add-on expenses cover anything that’s additional, like tutors, extracurricular activities, summer camp, college, private school, [and] non-reimbursed medical expenses.”

Age of majority. The age at which a young person is considered to be an adult in a given state. “In New York state it’s 21, in Florida it’s 18,” explains Chemtob. “It differs state to state.”

Alimony. The financial payments made by a person to his/her former spouse during separation or following divorce; this is also called spousal support or spousal maintenance. According to Chemtob, alimony payments are determined by income, with the spouse who makes more money paying the spouse who makes less.

Alternative dispute resolution. Methods of resolving legal disputes without going to trial. “It’s the same as mediation,” explains Chemtob. “You have a third party [helping to] bridge the gap and [acting as] an unbiased mediator” between those getting the divorce.

Arrearages. The amount of money that is past due for child or spousal support. “Let’s say you’re supposed to pay $10,000 a month, and you haven’t paid [for 3 months], you’d owe $30,000,” explains Chemtob. “That $30,000 is the arrearages or the amount of money that’s unpaid for support.”

Child support. Money that a non-custodial parent pays to a custodial parent to cover their child(ren)’s food, clothing and shelter; also called child maintenance. “There’s an age duration,” explains Chemtob, meaning it’s paid [only] until the child is emancipated or reaches the age of majority.

Child support guidelines. Guidelines outlining the manner in which child support must be calculated, based on income and the child(ren)’s needs. “They look at the income [of] the spouses to determine how much the child support will be,” says Chemtob. And while nearly all states have a monetary cap, this cap can be exceeded when other factors are applicable.

Custody. “Custody determines who the primary parent [is],” says Chemtob. Custody can be either legal, which means that a person has the right to make important decisions about his/her child’s welfare, or physical, which means that the child lives with and is raised by that person.

Decree. The court’s written order finalizing divorce.

Default. Failing to make timely support payments, as outlined by a court order. “If you fail to make timely payments, you’re in default, but there has to be a court order” explains Chemtob. If support payments are agreed upon by both parties without a court order, and one party misses a payment, he/she can’t legally be held accountable.

Defendant. The person against whom legal papers are filed, also sometimes referred to as the respondent.

Deposition. Part of the discovery process in a legal proceeding wherein the plaintiff’s attorney asks the defendant questions while his/her attorney is present (or vice versa), and a stenographer takes a written account of the exchange.

Discovery. A legal proceeding’s information exchange process, including requests for documents and the taking of depositions.

Dissolution. In divorce cases, the reference to a relationship’s end point.

Divorce. The legal termination of a marriage.

Domestic violence. Abuse or threats of abuse occurring between members of the same household.

Domestic strife. Conditions in a home impacting the daily emotional well-being of the person(s) seeking relief. It may not may physical abuse or violence, “but it’s untenable” Chemtob explains.

Emancipated. When a child is no longer under the control of his/her parents or guardians. In the eyes of the law, parents are required to take care of their children until their children reach a certain age (18 or 21, depending on the state). Emancipation terminates these parental obligations and duties of support toward the child. “Each state is different,” explains Chemtob, but this rule is applicable “when the child has joined the armed forces, gotten married, [began] working full time, or they’ve reached the age of majority.”

Equitable distribution. “The division of marital assets,” says Chemtob, in a way that is considered fair to both parties.

Interrogatories. Written questions served by one party to an another “in lieu of a deposition,” explains Chemtob. “It’s a formal document attesting to the fact that all of the answers you’re giving are true,” and must be notarized.

Joint legal custody. The sharing, by both parents, of the right to make important decisions about their child’s welfare.

Joint physical custody. The sharing, by both parents, of the actual physical care and custody of their child.

Legal custody. The right of one parent/guardian to make important decisions about the raising of your child, on issues such as health care, religious upbringing, education, etc.

Marital property. Generally, all property acquired during the marriage. Says Chemtob: “This can be anything that was acquired from the date of the marriage until the time that there’s a divorce action, so furniture, money, a business, anything.”

Mediation. A form of alternative dispute resolution that resolves legal disputes without going to trial, using a trained and impartial third party who attempts to bring the parties together in mutual agreement.

Non-custodial parent. The parent who does not have physical custody of the child(ren).

Non-marital property. Also called separate property. Generally, property owned by either spouse prior to marriage, or acquired by them individually via gift or inheritance.

Parenting coordinator. A third-party person who serves as a tie-breaker in cases of joint legal custody wherein a decision between both parents/guardians can’t be reached; this person “can be a lawyer or non-lawyer” and would make a decision or recommendation on behalf of the child, says Chemtob.

Physical custody. The day-to-day rights and responsibilities associated with having your child in your home and being responsible for his/her care and upbringing.

Petitioner. Often, the person who initiates divorce or marriage dissolution proceedings also called the plaintiff.

Plaintiff. The person who initiates legal proceedings often called the petitioner in family law.

Prenuptial agreement. An agreement entered into before marriage that sets forth each party’s rights and responsibilities should the marriage terminate by death or divorce. Also called a premarital agreement. According to Chemtob: “the parties predetermine, should there be a divorce, how the assets would be distributed and if one of the parties would receive maintenance or alimony.”

Postnuptial agreement. An agreement entered into after the marriage date, setting forth each party’s rights and responsibilities should the marriage terminate. “It’s exactly the same thing as a prenup, except for the fact that the marriage has already happened,” Chemtob says.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO. An order issued by the court to divide retirement benefits.

Respondent. The person who answers a petition in a legal proceeding, sometimes also referred to as the defendant.

Restraining order. An order issued by the court, often in conjunction with domestic violence or custody disputes, requiring the subject of the order to refrain from doing something, which can be anything from “texting, stalking, to harassing,” explains Chemtob.

Settlement conference. A meeting wherein both parties and their lawyers attempt to settle a case. Explains Chemtob: “It can be before court, after court…you can do it as much or as little as you want.”

Split custody. A form of custody in which some or one of the parties’ children is/are in the custody of one parent and the remaining child(ren) is/are in the custody of the other parent.

Spousal support. Financial payments made to a spouse or former spouse during separation or following divorce. Also called alimony or spousal maintenance.

Stipulation. An agreement entered into by the divorcing spouses that settles the issues between them.

Visitation. Access time that a noncustodial parent spends with his or her child(ren), either agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court.

The Divorce Registry Isn’t a Thing, But It Should Be

One of the most stressful parts of the lead-up to getting married—and, trust me, there were a lot—was the pressure from my mother to keep adding to our wedding registry. Even though my (now ex) husband and I were living in about 1,000 square feet, she had her heart set on us having full sets of matching towels, monogrammed luggage, formal china, crystal and entirely too much more. I pushed back on a massive registry. Somehow, I lost.

Even as I write this, I can look up and see a full set of crystal champagne glasses, gathering dust atop a shelf I can’t reach. Though the marriage is in the past, I’m still lugging them around, along with tons of other … stuff. (There’s got to be a metaphor in there somewhere, right?) It’s funny how a wedding is meant to symbolize the start of something new, but it often begins weighed down by old-fashioned things most of us don’t actually need.

Of course, the painful irony is that the time in life when friends and family giving you carte blanche at Bed, Bath & Beyond would be a godsend isn’t when you’re getting married: It’s when you’re getting divorced. After you walk down the aisle, you combine things in a way that’s more cost effective: sharing rent, health insurance, a tax bill, a toaster. Divorce means dividing that shared life in two—and, sometimes, starting from scratch solo if your partner takes a chunk of the household necessities (see aforementioned toaster) can get pricey fast.

Parachute Washed Sateen Venice Bedding Set, $339-$379; at Parachute

It’s a subject that writer Sarah Bregel recently tackled in a wonderful essay for The Washington Post, and—given the lengthy comments section—it definitely struck a nerve. Including with me: When my ex moved out, we tried to split things up equally; it felt like the “right” thing to do. Unfortunately, that left me with a half-furnished apartment, half a set of dishes, and the old television. (Even now, I’m a little mad I let him take the new TV I bought him as a gift right before things soured.) But asking friends and family to literally buy me things—the same way they did when I walked down the aisle—never even occurred to me as an option while getting divorced.

Bregel, the Post essayist, says she felt the same: “I certainly didn’t expect anyone to give me anything when they found out my husband and I were parting ways—that’s not our societal norm,” she wrote to me via email. “But there really has been no greater time in my life when I’ve needed things and not had the means to acquire them,” she wrote to me via email.

Instead of selecting those fucking monogrammed towels, maybe this time around I’d register for a Cuisinart and a tool set, and my experiential picks would be some quality time in a pedicure chair.

Her essay, and our subsequent conversation, got me thinking about how much a divorce registry would have helped me during that tough time. It also made me wonder what other women would actually register for.

Was I alone in wanting to restock my kitchen, Izola-style, with a list I’d create and share with family and friends? Or would a Honeyfund-esque model be a better choice? Instead of selecting those fucking monogrammed towels, maybe this time around I’d register for a Cuisinart and a tool set, and my experiential picks would be some quality time in a pedicure chair. But when I started to ask other women what they’d actually put on their ideal divorce registry, it turns out they wanted more of a GoFundMe situation at this stage in their lives: According to my sources, the ideal divorce registry largely features straight up cash.

Vastar 102 Piece Home Repair Tool Kit, $54.99; at Amazon

“I was the one who left, and I ended up leaving a lot of things behind,” explains Lysa, who split with her ex-husband when she was 36. (All the women Glamour.com interviewed for this story asked to be identified by their first names only.) “In the process, I lost a lot of kitchen items, but I told myself at the time that ‘it’s just stuff.’” But restocking her kitchen has been a very long process that is, several years later, ongoing. “What I didn’t get then,” Lysa added, “was that all that ‘stuff’ actually costs money.”

Addie got married at 24 and divorced at 30; she and her ex co-parent two children. She told me that figuring out their finances was difficult due to harsh economic realities, including an imbalance of who had more money even during the marriage. “The money in my accounts was mine. But so was the debt.” Which ultimately meant: She was cash-strapped, and could have used a boost from family and friends.

She’s far from alone. With millennials careening into their thirties, more and more are feeling the strains of adult life, and the impact these strains can have on a relationship. As the first generation expected whose circumstances are not likely to improve upon our parents’, who are living in an era of affordable housing crisis for whom the total outstanding student loan debt now stands at to $1.52 trillion… We have a lot of money worries without the added stress of a divorce and starting over alone—even ending the marriage itself was a positive thing.

Amy, who married at 24 and divorced at 29, says that, after her split, it wasn’t things that needed replacing. “I didn’t have any money in savings when we split up, and ended up having to borrow from my parents to help me cover rent for a few months,” she said. For her, it was literally about paying for a place to live.

A divorce registry could alleviate some stress by allowing women to share what kind of help they need to get through a financially trying time. Maybe it’s help covering rent, the mortgage, car payments, or a gift card for the Internet bill.

That was also true for Addie. She shared that, because she and her ex had two children, getting a second apartment that accommodated everyone stretched her finances super thin.“It was the worst feeling in the world to know how tight money was, but the alternative”—staying—”was worse,” she explained. She also said that it was those kinds of logistics that kept her from moving forward with a divorce for “far too long” in the first place.

But a divorce registry (which might maybe be more culturally palatable under a different name, like an “I don’t” fund? Or maybe singlehood stockpile?) could alleviate some of that stress by allowing women to share what kind of help they need to get through a financially trying time. Maybe it’s help covering rent, the mortgage, car payments, or a gift card for the Internet bill.

Sun Joe 14″ Cordless Lawn Mower, $169.99; at QVC

Cash aside, though, there were items that women I spoke to admitted they could see themselves wanting to have registered for after splitting up, like replacements for the bedding and towel sets they lost in the divorce that help make a new living space into a functioning home.

Self-care products and appliances were on the lists, as were tools: Single or not, a power drill can be a girl’s best friend. Amanda, who divorced at 33, told us her dream divorce registry would have been filled with tools that her ex-husband used—“tools that I did not think I would need, because he did the ‘heavy lifting.’” A string trimmer and a lawn mower would both be on her list. “The day I felt my most independent,” she reflected, “was when I bought myself a garden tiller.”

Another category of divorce registry items were things that would make it easier to do the things you love again. For Lysa, that meant new cookware. “Anything that would allow [me to] host people for dinner… I tend to lose myself in cooking, so having that outlet would have been a real source of strength for me.” Amy, on the other hand, wanted the opposite after she moved into her own place, but still craved help to make something easier. “In the early days, I ate way more takeout than normal because cooking felt like too much of a chore—a GrubHub gift card would have been awesome,” she says.

After talking to women who, like me, have a divorce in their past, I gave some thought to what I would have put on a divorce registry, had that been an option I could have turned to at the time: pedicures, takeout gift cards, and maybe a replacement juicer would have made the list. What I definitely didn’t need was a set of crystal champagne flutes.

But it turns out that sometimes they are nice to have. I use them exactly once a year: On New Year’s Eve, when I break them out to toast with my friends, and my fiance, who I’m marrying this fall. And, in case you’re wondering: We do have a registry—but this time we’ve registered for a little honeymoon help, a gift that will never gather dust on a high shelf.

After peaking during the 1970s and ’80s, much has been made of the fact that divorce rates are now on the decline, especially among millennials. Still, if you’re thinking about splitting with your spouse, or you’ve already been through a divorce, sunny statistics aren’t exactly useful. Throughout this weeklong series, Glamour.com explores what it means to uncouple in a modern world.

Wait, Was Doctor Who’s Latest Episode Inspired By Doctor Seuss?

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Doctor Who episode “The Witchfinders”. Read at your own risk!

Doctor Who went back to a disturbing time for Season 11’s “The Witchfinders,” and there was much to talk about afterward. Alan Cumming delivered a stand-out performance as King James, proving he should always be around. As well, though, the episode’s Morax villains seemed to be fairly similar to a creature from the tales of Dr. Seuss, the Lorax. We’re wondering if the Morax and Lorax connection was intentional, or mere coincidence.

It’s easy to see how some viewers may have been confused, as there were some key similarities between its Morax and The Lorax created by Dr. Seuss. For starters, there’s the whole rhyming name thing, which caused some confusion all on its own.

Also, both the Doctor Who villain and the Dr. Seuss do-gooder were obsessed with trees, and judgmentally appeared out of the ether when careless humans cut them down. The Lorax was a bit more chill than the Morax, however, which is an alien race that’s been trapped on Earth for some time now.

The Morax were relatively harmless up until the prison containing them was effectively destroyed. That’s right, some intergalactic alien species decided it would be a swell idea to disguise a Morax prison as a tree on Earth. To their credit, it worked pretty well for a while, until a villager decided to chop the tree down because it was annoying her. (That villager, Becka Savage, was played by Downton Abbey and Happy Valley star Siobhan Finneran.)

A Morax then invaded Becka, and the symptoms of which had her convinced she was possessed by Satan. (Possibly a nod to the mythological Morax, the President of Hell.) This led to the prosecutions of other women in the area for being witches, leading to their drownings. And all so Becka could draw attention away from herself.

The ruse worked for a while, but the Doctor realized the woman was likely behind what had happened. Obviously, The Lorax played out way differently, but maybe these two creatures are related in some way?

Luckily, The Doctor was able to best the Morax army before their king could be summoned. This spared Alan Cumming’s King James, who would’ve driven The Lorax comparisons even further had he been possessed while rocking that stylin’ goatee and bushy mustache.

Neither BBC America nor Doctor Who have confirmed the episode’s inspiration actually was The Lorax, of course. But now that it’s established that this dangerous species can be contained within random trees, it’s possible they’ll return to Doctor Who to keep fans speculating.

Doctor Who is still chugging along with Season 11 on BBC America on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET. The fall season is beginning to wind down, but there are still plenty of shows worth checking out before the end of 2018. See those shows at our fall premiere guide, or jump ahead to 2019 and see what’s happening in the new year with our midseason premiere guide.

How The Walking Dead’s Negan Twist In The Midseason Finale Will Play Out Compared To The Comics

Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched The Walking Dead’s winter hiatus, “Evolution.” Be sure to watch before reading what we learned from showrunner Angela Kang.

Its midseason finale brought the mysterious Whisperers to the forefront in a very deadly way, but The Walking Dead also quietly dropped a mini-bombshell by giving Negan his freedom again. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s smile was infectious as he realized he was no longer locked up, but what will happen next? Speaking with showrunner Angela Kang, I asked how Negan’s TV escape will compare to how it played out in the comics, since Rick isn’t around to be Negan’s moral compass. She said:

Kinda sounds like we won’t be spending a whole lot of time dealing with Negan’s bed pan antics whenever The Walking Dead comes back, for better or worse. (Father Gabriel, if no one else, might be pleased.) Could this show’s most confidently brutal villain actually be out and left to his own devices again? According to Angela Kang, we won’t be waiting long to find out when Season 9 continues.

Comics fans may be able to read something deeper into everything Angela Kang said there when putting the show’s events into context. When Negan’s cell accidentally (or not) gets left unlocked in the source material, he chooses not to make a grand escape, instead wanting to prove to Rick & Co. that his rehabilitation was genuine. To his dismay, he would have been better off slinking away mischievously in the night.

A later comic issue provided Negan another chance to grasp freedom with his fingertips, which he gleefully took. To me, it sounds like Angela Kang might have been hinting that the TV show is skipping Negan’s first comic escape altogether. The AMC series did give the former leader some humanity when he broke down and begged Maggie to kill him, so that could have been a quasi-stand-in for him trying to win Comic Rick’s trust.

In the six years or so since that Maggie and Negan’s confrontation, he had to have been planning all kinds of things to do if he was ever able to escape his cell. So I expect his story to eventually catch up with the Whisperers in a way similar to how Robert Kirkman originally plotted it. Still, I’m hoping Angela Kang and her creative team will explore Negan’s post-War personality in interesting ways.

It’s been almost surreal to have only seen The Walking Dead use Negan in such a limited fashion after he’d spent more than two full seasons raining shit on everyone else’s lives. But Angela Kang did have a reason for that happening. Elsewhere in our conversation, she explained why Negan hasn’t been around much so far in Season 9, saying this:

Nobody keeps Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a corner! And the world may be his oyster when The Walking Dead returns to AMC from its midseason hiatus, depending on how effective those conversations with Judith have been for his psyche. While waiting to learn about Negan’s next steps, check out what could be everyone’s next big TV obsessions with our fall TV rundown and our midseason premiere schedule.

The Walking Dead Showrunner Explains The Whisperers’ Role When Season 9 Returns

Warning! Major spoilers below for The Walking Dead’s midseason finale, so be sure to watch before reading our exclusive info from Angela Kang.

To mark the midway point in its time-jumping ninth season, The Walking Dead capped its winter finale off by putting the protagonists up close and personal with the newest villain group, The Whisperers. (Perhaps it was a little too up close for one character.) Those final fog-cloaked minutes ushered in some of The Walking Dead‘s freakiest moments in years, and still only gave fans a mere glimpse of The Whisperers themselves. So what’s next?

CinemaBlend spoke with The Walking Dead‘s showrunner Angela Kang ahead of the midseason finale’s airing, and she told me how the show will dig into The Whisperers’ story in the back half of the season, following that wild cliffhanger.

I think it’s really just a fascinating group. They’re unlike any group that our people have encountered before, and their philosophy is so specific and so strange. So that’s a big part of the story going forward is we will just kind of peel the layers of that onion and you’ll just learn more and more about who they are and what they believe. But also in the way that they apply that, you know?

Without getting too far into comic-based details, The Whisperers operate under the general belief that human beings have gone too far astray from our animalistic roots. They’re as lo-fi a pack of villains as there can be, even in a world where technology has been all but vanquished outside of phonographs. It’s obviously unclear if Angela Kang’s creative team will be adhering to all of the Whisperers’ comic elements, but one would expect the broad strokes to remain intact in the adaptation.

It almost goes without saying that The Whisperers are a deadly group that doesn’t believe in bringing the judge and jury to the party alongside the executioner. Fans probably shouldn’t expect these creepsters to change those habits when their story gets…fleshed out. (Pun absolutely intended.) According to Angela Kang:

They’re not really a group that just kind of talks about a thing and doesn’t do stuff. They do what they believe, you know, and what they believe can be brutal.

The Whisperers’ bestial nature makes them a more feral and unpredictable threat than Negan was. As deadly as the leather-clad leader and his Saviors were, Negan did maintain a loose sense of justice during his reign. If people did the shit he asked for, and didn’t gun down a bunch of his minions, then he was pretty good about letting them live. He didn’t, you know, wear a well-crafted walker suit in order to stab someone in the dark.

I’m anxious to see how the show will inform viewers of all of The Whisperers’ ideals and behavior choices. Its members speak aloud sparingly, and Rick isn’t around anymore to serve as their humanist antithesis. It’s assumed that we’ll get to hear some much-welcomed exposition about the group’s intentions whenever viewers are formally introduced to its leader, Alpha.

The cold and calculating Alpha is set to be played by Samantha Morton, who has most recently been winning over fans and critics on Hulu’s Harlots, while Sons of Anarchy and Bates Motel vet Ryan Hurst will portray the domineering Beta. The two big bads have some very interesting moments with Negan in the comics, along with other characters, so we’ll just have to wait and see if Negan’s new lease on freedom will take him their way soon.

“Evolution” was more or less an expansion of Issues #131 and 132 of the Walking Dead comic book. Except the TV show wisely used Daryl, Jesus, Eugene and Aaron here, as opposed to lower-tiered characters. In the comics, Dante escapes the Whisperers’ barn attack, while two random guards get killed off. Meanwhile, Jesus had indeed been attacked by the Whisperers on the page, even taking one of them captive, but did not die in the process.

I asked Angela Kang about adapting The Whisperers for television after all of the other popular antagonists that have been brought to the show. Saying how big of a fan she was even before a Walking Dead writers job was in the cards, the showrunner continued:

I think Kirkman does an amazing job plotting out these comics. They’re page-turners. And every villain, I’m like, ‘Okay, well this is the best storyline. Can’t be beat.’ Then he’ll come up with something new, and you go, ‘Okay, that was pretty great.’ Then when we got to The Whisperers — you know, we were reading the Whisperers comics while we were making one of the seasons of the show, and just literally going, ‘What? What’s happening?! What’s he doing?’ And so like, that’s really the feeling that we wanted to try to capture within the show itself. That was really the spirit with which we went at it. It’s trying to capture that sense of delight and the feeling of being intrigued and scared. And so that was sort of our philosophy in how to tell the story. Fingers crossed, we succeeded a little bit.

While I obviously can’t speak for all fans, I’ve been extremely pleased by the way The Walking Dead has teased out the Whisperers’ story so far. Especially since viewers didn’t have to wait a month between each of the last three episodes like comic fans did. (Although comic fans never have to deal with winter hiatuses.) Plus, all of the light touches made that final reveal all the more effectively jarring. As a comic fan who knew exactly what to expect, I still gasped.

How will The Whisperers cause more havoc in the lives of Team Alexandria, Team Hilltop and the rest? Will the fight against The Whisperers be what brings all of the communities back together again for something resembling harmony? Or will the newest villains actually end up destroying whatever connections remain?

The Walking Dead is now finished with the first half of Season 9, and won’t be back in front of our faces on AMC until Spring 2019. While waiting to hear when it’ll return, let us know how you felt about the Whisperers’ dramatic reveal in tonight’s episode. There’s also lots of good fall TV premieres to catch up with while getting pumped for everything else hitting primetime in the midseason.

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Why The Walking Dead’s Big Midseason Finale Death Didn’t Really Bother The Star

Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t yet tuned into The Walking Dead’s big winter finale. Watch it before reading on.

“WTF? WTF!” was likely the thought and exclamation shared by many a Walking Dead fan when the credits started rolling on “Evolution.” In bringing the deadly new villains The Whisperers to live-action, the AMC drama killed off the fan-favorite Hilltop badass Jesus. Any rage that viewers are feeling may be tempered by learning that star Tom Payne was pretty cool with learning he was being killed off, since he thinks the show wasn’t giving Jesus enough comic action.

Speaking with CinemaBlend about the game-changing Season 9 winter finale, Tom Payne shared his thoughts about Jesus’ swan song, saying he was both okay with leaving and also ecstatic about how it played out. It all started with that much-feared phone call.

Angela called me, and I missed the call actually. I texted my girlfriend and was like, ‘Oh, Angela called me. Maybe it’s the call. Hahaha.’ And then it was the call! I was like, ‘Oh shit, okay.’ But they were kind of aware that I was a bit tired of it. Because, you know, I kind of felt like Jesus for the last couple of years was just kind of holed up at the hilltop and not really getting to do anything effective. Like I had that great fight with Lenny, but being a comic book reader as well, I was like, ‘Well, when’s the fight with Negan? And when’s the catching the grenade and throwing it back, and when’s all this cool stuff?’ And none of the cool stuff actually happened. So, I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ I mean, I had some cool stuff, but nothing that cool.

For an arguable opinion, it’s hard to imagine anyone fighting Tom Payne too hard on that particular detail. He did acknowledge that Jesus wasn’t just slumming it within the Hilltop and beyond, and that the character definitely had some moments that justified the fanbase’s love of both Tom Payne and Paul Rovia, to respectfully use the character’s given name. Not enough of them, though.

Live-action Jesus had only recently started addressing and utilizing some of the character’s long-absent comic elements, such as his man-bun hairdo, his Hilltop armor, and his truly fearsome fighting skills. Thus, it’s all the more depressing that he got stabbed by that Whisperer, as genuinely fantastic as that moment was in general.

If Tom Payne was perhaps disappointed with Jesus’ run overall, he wanted to make sure the character’s final acts were memorable ones. He continued:

So when Angela told me, I was pretty laid back and cool. I was like, ‘Okay, great, awesome. Just just make it cool. Make it a good exit.’ And I know that Angela wanted to do that, and made sure that it was a really cool way to go. I said, you know, if Jesus is going to go, it’s gotta be a ton of people taking him out, because he’s like the most capable fighter. Or, in the way that they did it, which was like a complete surprise that no one was expecting. . . . So there’s this big shock, and then that creepy moment where he says, ‘You go where you don’t belong.’ And I just loved it. I was like, ‘Oh, this is great. We’re creating a moment in the show.’ Honestly, that’s how I felt, like this is a moment in the show.

Everything involving The Whisperers and Eugene’s search party felt like it could have come from a classic horror flick, with episode director Michael E. Satrazemis capturing some of the season’s most engaging imagery. The creeping dread of the slow-burning chase combined splendidly with the claustrophobia-inducing fog, and just when it seemed like the group might escape their surroundings intact, the skin-covered rug got pulled out from under everyone.

Tom Payne is grateful for the narrative contributions that Jesus got to make on The Walking Dead, especially this last one. Even if it means not being on the show anymore, he’s all about fans getting a good jolt from the story.

I got lucky in the show in that sense, because I introduced the Saviors, and then at this point I introduced The Whisperers and how dangerous they can be. I’m happy to get that. If that’s all I had in the show that stands out, then that’s cool. I’m pretty pleased with that, actually. I just loved how the whole thing worked out. Like I said, I’m a storyteller, and it’s whatever tells the best story. And I think that tells a pretty cool one.

In some ways, “Evolution” felt like a “Jesus episode” as much as anything else, and in retrospect, the character’s physical and mental journey is quite interesting to think about. He yearned for the opportunity to be back on his own (or with Aaron) outside the Hilltop, and had long thought he had a firm grasp on everything the world could throw at him. Naturally, both of those constructs got twisted to his perpetual disservice.

When I asked Tom Payne about Jesus’ take on being put in the position of Hilltop’s leader, he specifically talked about how Jesus’ impulses played a part in his doom.

He says in [Episode 8], ‘We used to be explorers. The whole world was ours to rediscover.’ That’s what he really enjoyed, and I also think that he operates well on his own when he doesn’t have to worry about other people, or worry about anyone getting left behind or hurt or whatever. I think he’s good at operating within his own space, but he hasn’t done that for such a long time. So when he got the opportunity head out of the walls, he jumped at it, because that’s where he really feels at home. But then unfortunately, that wasn’t the best thing that he could have done.

Of course, we both agreed that Eugene was really the one to blame for Jesus’ death, since he was the injured one that The Whisperers were trying to track down. Tom Payne was amused at the thought of co-star Josh McDermitt taking the heat for Jesus’ fate, too. Considering the way the episode ended on a cliffhanger that left so many major characters in danger, we might be blaming Eugene for a lot more when the show returns, too.

The Walking Dead is now going on hiatus, giving fans a chance to mourn Jesus for a while before worrying about who The Whisperers will be taking out next. Expect lots of chances to relive it on AMC as we shift from 2018 to 2019, and bookmark our fall TV schedule and our midseason premiere lineup to keep current on everything deserving of audiences in the meantime.

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Outlander Just Revealed Two Big Deaths, But Are They Going To Stick?

Warning: major spoilers ahead for the fourth episode of Outlander Season 4, called “Common Ground.”

Outlander rarely holds back at doling out the devastating twists, and the latest episode revealed two big deaths to viewers. Yes, according to “Common Ground,” Jamie and Claire are destined to die in the not-terribly-distant future. Now, the good news is that Outlander‘s nature as a time travel show means that the characters dead in one timeline aren’t necessarily dead yet in the other, but the bad news is that there’s no predicting where the show will go. Though history has proved that Outlander doesn’t often change history, does that hold true for the two main characters’ lives?

The terrible truth was discovered by an unlikely person: Fiona. Thanks to her deceased grandmother’s habit of helping Roger’s adoptive father with his research, she stumbled across a copy of an obituary from way back in the 18th century. When Roger dropped by Inverness to pick up some boxes and chat about his relationship with Brianna, he was initially pleased to be able to tell Fiona that he’d located the Frasers via a historical document that placed them in North Carolina in the late 1760s.

That pleasure was ruined when Fiona produced a document from the 1770s that gave away the Fraser’s unfortunate fates. It was an obituary reporting the deaths of Jamie and Claire. Here’s the important bit of info from the obituary:

It is with grief that the news is received of the death by fire of JAMES MACKENZIE FRASER and his wife in a conflagration that destroyed the home and the settlement of Fraser’s Ridge.

The obituary date listed January 21 quite clearly, but the year was smudged to the point that Roger and Fiona could only make out “177,” meaning that Claire and Jamie could have died in the fire on Fraser’s Ridge at any point between January 1, 1770 and January 20, 1779. The Frasers had received their land grand in 1768, which means that they may not have gotten much time at all in their new home before their untimely deaths by fire.

Needless to say, this was not the kind of news that Roger was anxious to deliver to Bree as soon as possible! In fact, he came to the conclusion that he needed to keep the deaths a secret from Brianna, arguing that she knew they were dead anyway and she would be happier believing in their happily-ever-after lasting a bit longer. Roger clearly believes that there’s nothing to be done from the 20th century. Was this Outlander‘s way of revealing how many more years we’ll see in the past?

Well, Outlander still has a potentially long future ahead of it, so we can rule out Jamie and Claire dying any time soon. It’s possible that the show could simply slow down how quickly it has been tearing through the timeline and spend the rest of the series following the Frasers in the years ahead of January 21 in the year they die. It’s also — and arguably more — possible that Outlander is finally going to allow the characters to change history.

As fans know, Jamie and Claire’s attempts to change history and the outcome of the Battle of Culloden failed miserably, and it seemed that Outlander would handle time as something that couldn’t be changed in a huge way. Couldn’t the deaths of two people be small enough to be changed without altering the grand scheme of things? There’s a variable on their way that could impact their original fates in the 18th century.

Yes, all signs point toward Brianna making her trip to the past as soon as next week’s episode. Her relationship with Roger seemed to be going well, and she attempted to seduce him after they had a great date at a Scottish festival in North Carolina, and he seemed all for it… until he revealed that he wanted to be engaged before any further shenanigans, even going so far as to start planning their future with a handful of kids.

Understandably for those of us watching from our couches in the 21st century, Brianna considered his proposal to be way too much way too fast, and even went on to say that she’s not sure she believes in marriage. The upside of the disaster is that it didn’t happen until after Brianna gave Roger a book about Scottish settlers in Colonial America, which gave him the clue he needed to figure out that the Frasers had made it to North Carolina.

By the end of the episode, Roger called Brianna’s apartment in Boston, but he received a bombshell of a revelation from Bree’s roommate. Brianna had taken off for Scotland weeks ago, and she’d told her roommate that she was going to see her mother. Given that we’ve seen in trailers that Brianna gets set for a journey to the past, we know that a big meeting between Bree and another character is on the way, and something awful is going to happen to Bree, it makes sense that she’s heading back in time in the next episode.

She’ll undoubtedly have quite a journey ahead of her, especially if she travels via the standing stones at Inverness, which would presumably see her pop out into the 18th century in Scotland rather than conveniently in North Carolina. We’ll have to wait and see if she could be a factor that changes her parents’ fates. Perhaps Roger will be able to contact her before she goes back in time, therefore passing on a message for the Frasers to try and stop their deaths from coming to pass!

Alternately, perhaps Brianna traveling to the past will cause the fire that kills her parents. Outlander hasn’t allowed history to be changed in the first three seasons, and perhaps the show isn’t looking to change that in Season 4 and beyond. What a perfectly tragic twist it would be if Brianna’s attempt to meet her father and reunite with her mother result in their deaths down the road!

We’ll have to wait and see. New episodes of Outlander air Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET on Starz. For some new viewing options in the not-too-distant future, swing by our midseason TV premiere guide.

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