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Here’s why you need to devour ‘I Eat Men Like Air’ by Alice Berman

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Here we have another iconic woman who is taking the world by storm! Alice Berman is a New York City-based author whose first Audible Original, I Eat Men Like Air, is out today. The fiction author sold her book Lost Boys and Technicolor Girls to ABC, where it is currently in development to become a show for the Freeform network. 

Hailing from a political family in Washington, D.C., Berman attended Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, winning the Gibson Peacock Award for creative nonfiction. Post-grad, Berman lived in London and Los Angeles where she co-founded the app Shopfeed and served as creative director for Pop & Suki (yes, that stylish and glamorous brand).

If that wasn’t enough, here comes some even more tremendous feats. She is a founding board member of animal advocacy group Creatures Great and Small and serves on the Young Collectors Council Acquisitions Committee at the Guggenheim, the Friends of Blair House, and is a Young Lion Conservator at the New York Public Library. She is a role model for women everywhere in the industry and more people should be looking to her when it comes to training the new generation. Find her on Instagram.

About I Eat Men Like Air

Can a suspicious suicide be resolved by a well-known podcast reporter trying to pry his way into the closed-door world of the Upper East Side?

As Tyler attempts to find the truth behind Alex Sable’s mysterious, dramatic death, he follows a group of New Yorkers through the events that brought them to a fateful night, searching for the truth. 

With the snow falling thick and fast over one of New Hampshire’s Gilded Age Mansions, ten 20-somethings assemble to celebrate an upcoming marriage in a debaucherous weekend that will question loves, cause lies, and change lives irrevocably. 

Now bonded together over an event that they can never forget, these young men and women struggle to move forward, and find themselves pushed to breaking point. With these two stories woven as one, we watch Alex Sable’s last year of life unfold before us, one dark moment at a time.

We were so excited to sit down with inspiring Alice Berman the ambitious writer to chat about her creative journey. 

Tell us about your history as a writer. How did you start your journey?

I started by being an avid, almost obsessive reader. I still have trouble putting down a book to go to sleep — I have to actively force myself to! I’ve always loved reading, so it was a natural transition for me. 

Who were your early influences?

The Harry Potter books were so important to me when I was younger; I found it extremely inspirational that they were written by a woman, and that they were so imaginative and expansive in terms of the world JK Rowling creates and built.

How was working on I Eat Men Like Air? What did you learn from the experience? 

I wrote the first third of the novel when I was working in an office full-time. I would write a scene or two whenever I had the chance, and it became such a lovely journey away from the work at my desk every day. It just emphasized to me how much I needed to be writing full time.

Tell us about your career before you were a writer.

I bounced around through several different industries, but I think the best experience I had was working as an assistant. That was where I learned to creatively problem solve, and really gained the belief that any problem has a solution.

Tell us about your creative process.

I have an idea and start to take notes on it – sometimes it will literally be a line or two in my phone. When it becomes a focus for me, one that I can’t stop thinking about, I know that I’m ready to start writing. 

What tips do you have for new writers and screenwriters?

For new writers of any kind: write! Every single day, even if you think it’s not worthwhile or that it will never go anywhere. It is worthwhile. It will go somewhere. 

You’re very hands-on with your projects. How hard is it wearing all the hats?

It is hard. I could not have done any of this without the endless, tireless support of my family. Everyone always says “no one will care about your work as much as you do.” That’s wrong: no one will care about your work as much as your family does. 

How has your experience outside the creative worlds helped you with your creative work?

Every field I’ve worked in – publishing, interior design, fashion – has had a creative element to it that I was able to expand as I got to be comfortable in the job. I think learning basic skills, like how to run an ad on Instagram or reach out to a stranger for a partnership, absolutely helped in that it made me feel comfortable and confident with my work.

What’s your writing mission? Name the most important thing you want audience members to experience when watching or listening to your movies.

I really want anyone out there who feels alone, or alienated, or misunderstood, to know that they aren’t alone, that their experiences have been shared (in the broadest strokes) by others, and that things can and will change if you decide to make them change. 

Can we expect to see any more episodic television from you anytime soon?

Hopefully! 

What’s your five-year plan?

If you’d told me five years ago that this was what I would be doing, I definitely would not believe you. I think you have to see the paths that open up for you and walk down them without trying to fit everything into a plan.

What writers should be on our radar?

Agatha Christie! She is world-famous and wildly successful for a reason! Julie Buntin, who wrote the wonderful Marlena. I just finished She Said, and absolutely loved it as well. 

Can’t wait to order it? Follow this link.

Dark Betty (as the character is known in the show) wears a black bobbed wig and has a penchant for black lacy lingerie. She’s super dark, folks, and her dress sense reflects it.

Why ‘Riverdale’ needs to drop the Dark Betty trope

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You could say it all started with Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) in Grease. Perming her hair into a seductive cloud, pouring herself into a pair of smothering skin tights, and lighting a cigarette she has no idea how to smoke. And all in the service of suggesting that Sandy has a secret darkness inside of her.

With a new dark wardrobe and sultry spirit, she exudes confidence and deviance. She can rock with Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and the rest of the T-Birds. And she can kick it with the Pink Ladies – even if in actuality she’s pure, humdrum, and totally wholesome.

In Riverdale, this trope keeps popping back up by exploring the bad girl flip side of goody-two-shoes Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart). Dark Betty (as the character is known in the show) wears a black bobbed wig and has a penchant for black lacy lingerie. She’s super dark, folks, and her dress sense reflects it.

Even the most hardcore of Riverdale fans (like ourselves) can admit there’s something irritating and poorly executed about Dark Betty. It isn’t so much the adoption of the terrible wig or her proclivity to strip down to her undies that we take umbrage with.

It’s more the suggestion that Betty’s “dark side” is something that can’t possibly be consolidated with her public identity – despite the fact she dates the town’s broodiest biker babe and nobody would likely give a shit if she suddenly went legitimately edgy.

Instead, this dark persona steps up to take on various tasks and is unleashed sparingly and seemingly at random.

Dark Betty steps in to torture a dude who’s been sexually harassing her classmates. Dark Betty becomes a cam girl. Dark Betty has kinky sex with Jughead (Cole Sprouse). Dark Betty does a cringe-inducing striptease to the most depressing song imaginable (the Gary Jules cover of “Mad World”).

Dark Betty doesn’t make an appearance at Jughead’s birthday, but this dark persona still gets the blame for Betty having the gall to organize a surprise party for her boyfriend against his wishes. (Oh and sure, not telling him about the whole “I tortured Chuck” thing.)

“Something is very, very wrong with me,” she tells him, “Like, there’s this darkness in me that’s overwhelming. Sometimes I don’t know where it comes from, but I think that’s what makes me do things.”

The character’s declaration to her boyfriend brings to mind Dexter Morgan’s (Michael C. Hall) excuse that his “dark passenger” is the one who requires him to kill with a thirsty regularity in Dexter. It provides a personification of his need to take life and also absolves him of responsibility for the murders.

He doesn’t want to be doing this but he has to. Ultimately, Dexter is in charge of the journey, but he’s still allowing for his “dark passenger” to dictate the destination – however, the serial killer decides to only kill people who have committed hideous crimes against others.

Likewise, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) goes off the deep end with her magic dependency after her girlfriend is killed. Subsequently, her red hair turns black, as do her clothes, and she transforms into Dark Willow.

Like Dark Betty and Dexter’s Dark Passenger, Dark Willow has a thirst for punishment and winds up flaying the skin from the body of the man who killed her lover. But as it turns out, that isn’t quite enough to satiate the flip side of the formerly good witch.

Dark Willow winds up on a rampage of magical rage that threatens to destroy the entire planet. However, unlike Dark Betty and Dexter, at least Dark Willow commits wholeheartedly to her new savage persona – Dark Betty and Dark Passenger are like lounge outfits to be slipped into after a long, hard day of presenting as “normal”.

Which is perhaps our biggest problem with the trope. The whole “I have a secret, uncontrollable inner darkness” kind of loses its edge when it’s clear the character can in fact control these dark urges that define this side of them on some minor or major level.

It’s a trope commonly seen in teen TV shows for exploring the “dark sides” of young women struggling with the complications of growing up. However, for most young adult shows, this isn’t all too often explored by simply paying fanservice by throwing the female character into some sexy underwear and a dark wig.

In The O.C., it’s Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) drinking herself into a young ruin, throwing pool furniture around when her mom asks her what’s on her mind, and shooting her boyfriend’s brother because, well, why not.

In Glee, it’s Quinn piercing her nose, dying her hair pink, and turning “punk” overnight because she’s sad and that’s just who she is now (deal with it, Glee Club!).

In My So-Called Life, it’s Angela dressing up like Rayanne after she finds out her former bestie slept with her ex-boyfriend and figures bad girls don’t get hurt.

And in Gossip Girl, it’s little Jenny Humphrey’s transformation into a Chuck Bass screwing, teenager from hell with a wardrobe full of solid black kinderwhore creations.

Where all of these dark transformations differ from Dark Betty is that these characters are all given space to experiment with these dark sides without it being highlighted as an unhealthy or dangerous mode of expression.

In Riverdale, there’s an insinuation that Dark Betty is inexplicably both. As a result, this side of the character is confined to the sidelines. She digs her nails into her palms and sits out her turn.

Overall, it’s a supremely lame way to explore a young woman potentially struggling with mental health issues or who simply might have a healthy interest in pursuing a consensual sadomasochistic relationship.

But instead, Dark Betty is treated like a part of the character’s identity that needs to be chained down and locked up – left unexplored and misunderstood unless Betty can bring her out for the occasional striptease, cam sesh, or sex time with Jugs.

This suggests that Riverdale is more interested in fetishizing Betty’s inner anguish than it is in effectively exploring it. That’s incredibly disappointing for a show which otherwise delivers strong and complex female characters with compelling feminist arcs.

The bottom line is that good girls can be bad – and they shouldn’t have to concoct some bullshit “I have an inner darkness” excuse to do so. Every person has a dark side and it serves TV shows well to explore those aspects of a person’s identity in depth and with care.

So to throw a wig and some hot lingerie on that dark side? Come on, Riverdale – you can do better. In S3 of the show, we hope to see Betty refusing to apologize for her dark side and simply referring to it as “Betty” – no further adjective required.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its new members and with 926 new people joining, its given 49% of the new membership to women and 38% to people of color (it’s about time).

Celebrating the women of color who are joining the Academy

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its new members and with 926 new people joining, its given 49% of the new membership to women and 38% to people of color (it’s about time). To mark the organization finally diversifying its members pool, let’s take a look at ten of the most kickass women of color who have just become members of the Academy.

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay became the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Film and the first black woman to be nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes too, for her film Selma. While these should not be milestones and should just be the norm, it still goes to show that DuVernay is absolutely smashing it.

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o

Nyong’o has risen to fame over the last few years with stunning turns in 12 Years a Slave and Black Panther to name but a few.

Danai Gurira

Danai Gurira

Gurira is both an actress and a playwright best known for her work on The Walking Dead as well as for her roles in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.

Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish

Haddish’s fame continues to rise after starring in The Last O.G. along with Tracy Morgan, and she’s not stopping there. The actor’s also lined up for the sequel to the Lego Movie next year.

Zoë Kravitz

Zoë Kravitz

Kravitz is an actress and singer who, despite her eye-catching second name, is carving out her own career with band Lolawolf along with starring turns in X Men: First Class and Big Little Lies.

Quvenzhané Wallis

Quvenzhané Wallis

She may only be 14 but Wallis has already published four books and starred in the remake of Annie (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe).

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Since appearing in The Office from 2005 to 2013, Kaling has been a mainstay of US TV along with her own show The Mindy Project, as well as publishing two books and some memorable voiceover work.

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith

Pinkett Smith is by now surely one of America’s most recognizable actresses, having started out her film career in 1993’s Menace II Society and progressing up the ladder to more recent films like Girls Trip.

Tika Sumpter

Tika Sumpter

Sumpter is a well known actress, model, and TV presenter who appeared in both Ride Along and Ride Along 2. She also more recently played Michelle Obama in Southside With You.

Wunmi Mosaku

Wunmi Mosaku

Mosaku starred (and was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for her performance) in Damilola, Our Loved Boy and she was also in the BBC miniseries Moses Jones.