This year’s fourth annual Writing About TV program at the Kelly Writers House featured six speakers and macaroni and cheese.
The humble Kelly Writers House Arts Cafe was packed with Penn students, faculty and community members eager to learn about the connection between six selected TV programs and the theme of “home,” as well as enjoy the home-cooked dinner that followed.
The speakers were all different TV fans, critics or watchers, who each selected a show to discuss, using “home” as the driving theme or thread to guide their remarks. This edition of the Writing About TV program included a range of shows, which spanned classic favorites, cult highlights and even some forgotten titles.
The student speakers included College seniors Tyler Burke, Syra Ortiz-Blanes and Brad Pettigrew. The other speakers were Associate Director for Recruitment and Penn’s Creative Writing Program instructor Jamie-Lee Josselyn, reporter and blogger for Colorlines Sameer Rao and Philadelphia Media Network employee Molly Eichel.
Burke, who wrote about “The Tick,” produced the strongest reactions from the audience. In his discussion of the show, he mentioned that his dad – who was a member of the audience – was the actor who portrayed Mothman, one of the leading roles in the show.
Burke proceeded to play a funny clip from the show and produced pictures from his childhood of him playing on the set of “The Tick.”
“It’s easy to look up to a dad who is kind and loving and supportive,” he said. “It’s even easier to look up to a dad who is a superhero.”
This, of course, led to a resounding “awww” from the audience, and Burke even shed a few tears.
Another family-oriented speaker of the night was College senior Syra Ortiz-Blanes. In her discussion of “Jane the Virgin,” she pointed out that her connection to the protagonist Jane Villanueva runs deeper than the Spanish they both grew up speaking at home. Ortiz-Blanes pointed out that, like Jane — who was raised by her grandmother Alba and her mother Xiomara — she herself was influenced by two independent and strong women who shaped her into who she is.
“When I encountered the Villanueva women, I immediately recognized the intergenerational dynamics, because I share them with my grandmother and mother,” Ortiz-Blanes added.
Jessica Lowenthal, director of the Kelly Writers House since 2005, hosted the event, introducing all of the speakers.
“We take TV seriously here,” she said. “A lot of people watch a lot of it, and we want to honor that.”
“We’re looking to talk about TV in ways that are real,” she added.
College freshman and The Daily Pennsylvanian Copy Associate Zoe Braccia said she enjoyed the event thoroughly.
“I just come to everything [at the] Kelly Writers House,” she said. “I like being involved.”
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