Meet cute Monday #4

One of the reasons I started blogging was that I needed to unburden myself in my enthusiasm for Richard Armitage. So, naturally, I need to inlcude some Richard in these meet cutes I am posting.

The first Armitage meet cute I am sharing is not only a meet cute between two characters (although, frankly, that meeting was not really cute) but it was also my own first time encountering Richard Armitage. I refer, of course, to Richard’s captivating portrayal of John Thornton in the 2004 BBC mini series North and South that I watched for the first time at the beginning of 2006. This means that I am posting this around the 17th (!!!) anniversary of me discovering Richard!

So, here it is: the very contentious meeting of Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), the refined young woman from the south of Engand, and John Thornton (Richard Armitage), the rough-edged master of Marlborough Mills in the north.

My goodness, all these years on, the magnetic pull of Richard in this is still undeniable and he had such great chemistry with Daniela.

I still go back to North and South on occasion and re-watch scenes, especially from the final episode. It is still one of my favourite things Richard has ever done.

#Darvey magic: one million!

Almost exactly five years ago I made a Suits fan video called Bomb. It is set to Aloe Blacc’s song Ticking Bomb, a song that was also once used on the show and that I immediately liked. I made this video after the tenth episode of season 7 aired and Donna kissed Harvey out of the blue, surprising herself, Harvey and all the Suits viewers! We were left with that bombshell as a midseason finale and had to wait I think around two months, if not more, for that situation to be resolved.

All of my impatience and fangirl energy went into making a few ‘Darvey’ videos during that time of uncertainty (videos are all up on my Suits video page). Somehow this specific video must have gotten into some sort of YouTube algorithm and has become quite popular. I saw the numbers steadily rising when I logged in to YouTube Studio on occasion and recently the numbers have been rising so much, that I have now been following the progress of the views a little more closely. Today, the video hit one million (!!!!) views! (Click om image for larger view).

Here is the video itself:

That number is simply incredible to me, especially considering that it is blocked in the US and Canada, where I originally assumed most viewers would be. It is also viewable on Vimeo but gets nowhere near the high amount of views there (stuck on 241 there!):

There is no way that I could claim that this video has gone viral. After all, it’s taken almost exactly 5 years to get to a million views (and all my other videos are nowhere near those viewing numbers) but, by golly, it does give me a little tingle to know that so many people have apparently viewed at least some of it. I make no money whatsoever off these videos (I don’t have any copyright to the original materials used, after all) so I guess I’m helping make the copyright holders get richer. 🙂

A few more statistics about the video that I found in the video analytics, as averaged over the whole five years that it has been up on YouTube:

  • 47% of the viewers are female, 53% are male
  • The top 10 viewing countries: India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Peru and UK
  • 40.3% of viewers are between 25 en 34 years old
  • 79,2% of viewers watch the video on a mobile phone

Donna and Harvey, i.e. #Darvey, sure are magic all over the world, these numbers show it. Thank goodness they ended up together before the series ended.

I’m glad Darvey gets so much love. Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty sure knew how to bring those characters to life. Thank you to everyone who has ever viewed this video! Oh, and best thing for me personally? As much as I really appreciate them, it’s not necessarily the 1.000.000 views that make me happiest but rather the fact that on rewatching it, I still like the video and think it is one of my better efforts.


I don’t watch that much German television but one thing I do like to catch when I have time is a talkshow called Kölner Treff. The host, Bettina Böttinger, invites several guests like actors, singers, writers, journalists, etc. and in the round has conversations with them. She interviews each guest separately but often others in the round will also chime in and interesting talks happen. I never think to watch the show when it first airs (I think on Friday nights) but when I can (and when I remember to) I catch it on repeat on Sunday mornings, over my bowl of Weetabix and a cup of tea.

I am not very in tune anymore with the current German cultural landscape, I haven’t been for many years, which means that I often won’t even know most of the guests on there, except for maybe some older German showbiz people I knew from the time I / my parents lived there in the 1980s and 1990s. Regardless, the conversations are often interesting, more or less, and every time I come away learning something about people.

Yesterday I watched one such Kölner Treff episode…

… and the guests were alright, didn’t really do that much for me even though I do always enjoy the conversation, until Bettina came around to interviewing the final two guests. One was a war journalist called Katrin Eigendorf who I would love to hear more from and the other was a young, red-haired actor called Daniel Donskoy.

Source and link to the video of the show

Katrin Eigendorf was very interesting and I liked what she had to say about her work, about neutrality in journalism not always being good and virtually impossible, and also about her private life, being mother to a handicapped son who died at 17. With Daniel Donskoy I immediately felt this sense of recognition and familiarity. I had never heard of him before, but apparently he also played a tiny role of Princess Diana’s lover James Hewitt on The Crown in season 4.

What drew me to him was his diverse identity, not necessarily professionally but personally. Born in the USSR, moved to Germany as a baby in 1990, later also lived in Israel and Berlin and London. He has Jewish parents but is also secular and feels like he belongs everywhere and nowhere. The 14 minute interview (in case you’re interested, link is here) made me curious about a show he makes called Freitagnacht Jews where he interviews people over dinner who talk about their (liberal) Jewish life and experience in Germany.

He has made eight 25 minute Freitagnacht Jews shows interviewing other German Jews (playlist is here). I have been watching these shows yesterday and today and I feel this connection with him in his struggles with identity and not being able to (or wanting to) label himself which made me think of how I see my identity as well. I also really connected with his normality of being (secular) Jewish, it felt like I could be sitting at the table with him and his guests and join in with the discussion of my Jewish life, even though I am not Jewish! I really had fun watching these and they really made me think. By the way, I also quite like the title song to his show and will tune in to his second series when I can as well…

So… the thoughts on my own identity have been swirling around my head these past two days. Like him, I too have lived in several countries. Like him, people make assumptions about who I am when hearing only a bit about me. Also, this concept of starting over again in different countries and cultures is very recognizable to me.

I was born in Jerusalem to Dutch parents and lived there until I was 10. Except for once, I can’t remember thinking anything about my identity back then but I am not sure whether it was due to me being a young child or whether everyone I knew in my international school or outside school were all ‘different’ with diverse and complicated backgrounds. My background didn’t seem that different. The one time I remember realizing I was different was when I used to admire the school uniforms these Palestinian girls wore in the Old City in Jerusalem. They wore these blue and white striped dresses, under which they also wore their long trousers. As I loved those outfits, my mother once bought me such a dress and I wore it to the Old City one day. I was very blonde with blue eyes and walking dressed as an Arab schoolgirl through the Old City drew so much attention (and pinching of my cheeks that I can still feel the soreness from to this day), I realized that I was something different than a regular Palestinian schoolgirl and I don’t think I ever wore that outfit again, at least not publicly. Children want to blend in, after all

I first started feeling really different and ‘the other’ when I lived in Germany in my early teens. Of course, it didn’t help that we moved from a world city such as Jerusalem (where identity is more connected to religion than to nationality) to a little village in Germany. I was the foreign outsider and many thought I was Jewish, due to my name and ‘coming from Israel’. I learned to speak German like a German and completely learned to blend in (again the need to not be so different from my peers), with the people later never questioning my ‘German-ness’ if I didn’t tell them anything about me. It helped that I ‘looked’ German too. However, I always felt separate inside and even somewhat guilty for wanting to blend in like that.

When I moved to The Netherlands at 16, I spoke Dutch as learned at home but I still needed to learn about Dutch life and culture. Many thought I was a ‘good’ German as they thought I was not only German but also Jewish (again due to my name and that faint connection to Israel everyone somehow seemed to know about). In those years, I learned to embrace my being different instead of trying to hide it away and I always amused myself by correcting people’s assumptions about me. It also helped that I was at an international school again, where lots of the kids had different diverse backgrounds, and I didn’t stand out as much. By the way, I haven’t been mistaken as German now for many years, as my German has deteriorated somewhat and I have lost any hint of a German accent in my English or Dutch speech that I may have had for a while there.

Nowadays I’m not ever considered anything else than Dutch, although some may comment on me maybe being English when I throw in an English comment or sentence. And they don’t understand how I can be so fluent in English when I have never lived in an English-speaking country (apart from a 5 month internship in England in the 1990s). And if I want to travel to countries in the Middle East other than Jordan or Egypt, I may encounter troubles getting in as my name sounds Jewish and my passport says “Jerusalem” as my birthplace, even though I am not Jewish and my stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very middle of the road, not particularly favouring any one side. Yes, this identity thing is complicated and not only when it comes to nationality.

People also think I am a religious Christian, especially when they hear that my father was a pastor and a theologian and I do feel at home in Christianity but I also feel at home in Judaism. If I had to choose a religion to follow, it probably would be Judaism, but right now if I had to categorize myself I would in essence call myself a non-religious humanist.

And then there’s also my family, which is also complicated! If I introduce my black brother or my Arab looking brother as ‘this is my brother’ you can just see the questions appear in people’s eyes. Explaining my family is a whole process of its own!

I have now lived in The Netherlands for many years and at first glance and when people first get to know me, I am a ‘standard’ Dutch person even though after all these years I still don’t feel that way. There always, always, in each new acquaintance I make, comes a time when I feel the need to define myself as not standard Dutch. When people ask me where I’m from, I always hesitate to answer because I never quite know how to answer that. There is never one quick simple answer. Yes, I have the Dutch nationality and while I like living here in The Netherlands and I do have this whole Dutch background, I don’t like to be pinned to just the Dutch nationality. So, when people ask me where I’m from or if I’m religious or they ask me about my family, I usually say ‘it’s complicated’ and if they have half an hour, I can make some time to explain. And I haven’t even gotten around to explaining anything about my professional identity and what it is I look for in work. I’m quite restless in that as well.

All my life I have tried to fit in while on the inside rebelling against the feeling that I need to fit in. I want be to seen as ‘normal’ on the one hand and my life has become quite ‘normal’ too because I do feel quite comfortable with that, yet on the other hand and at the same time I struggle against ‘normality’ and don’t want to be stuck in the same thing forever. When I try to explain my background to people, it can feel like I’m bragging and that they may think that I think I’m ‘better’ than them. If I don’t explain about my background, I feel like I’m holding back or even lying. And always I somehow feel restless, like I’m not living up to the potential of my diverse youth and yet at the same time also being happy with my family and work now. Identity and figuring life out is a tough thing… will the struggle ever end? Or is it the struggle that makes it interesting?

Daniel Donskoy is 20 years younger than me, but I have become a bit of a fan because he has made me actively think about these questions of identity again and it’s very interesting for me to see how he figures out similar life questions for himself. Should he ever write a book about all that, I’d be very interested to see how he tackles that. I sometimes consider writing something about identity myself but then always fail on figuring out precisely how to do that and from what angle to approach it. Maybe one day, when I am old and grey and very wise and have more time on my hands and more patience, I will be able to figure that out.

Go Luke!

So, I may have mentioned before that on occasion I enjoy watching Hallmark movies. There was a time I watched a lot of them but I have become a little more selective over time because they really start to blend into each other and some (especially the Christmas ones) can really get on my nerves. I do have a few favourite Hallmark actors and I always tune into their movies when a new one of them airs. One of my fave Hallmark actors is Luke Macfarlane. He’s made something like 13 Hallmark movies and going through his IMDB list, I can list these as my faves of his:

Especially the last one, A Valentine’s Match, is quite lovely but I like pretty much all the ones he’s in because I like him! They are all what you expect from a Hallmark movie but these do have that bit of extra charm or bite.

There is one Hallmark that he did that I did find quite awful: Sense and Sensibility and Snowmen. Except for the names, the characters were nothing like the Jane Austen novel or all mixed up. The actress playing Elinor (Erin Krakow, I can never quite warm up to her, she’s also one of the leads in When Calls The Heart) was more like a Marianne in character. Kimberly Sustad (I really do like her) played Marianne but was was far more like Elinor in character. Luke played Edward Ferris but I saw no Edward Ferrars storyline in him. And while there was a Brandon (Jason McKinnon), he was nothing like the tortured soul Colonel Brandon.

Left to right: Jason McKinnon, Kimberly Sustad, Erin Krakow and Luke Macfarlane

I might have liked that movie alright if it had NOT been linked to S&S, but because it does link to S&S, I can’t see it as a separate entity and I found it pretty disastrous. I might watch bits again just for Luke and Kimberly (maybe they should have matched those two up instead?) but other than that, this is the one Macfarlane Hallmark movie that makes me cringe. OK, getting off my soapbox now…

I haven’t watched Luke in a Hallmark recently, so why mention him now? Well, he’s in entertainment news a lot now because he has just made a new movie called Bros, which is a Judd Apatow movie, a romantic comedy about two detached gay men, who have given up on love, falling for each other. It is co-written by Billy Eichner, who also stars in it, and Luke plays the other main character. Luke has been openly gay since the mid 2000s but has not made any feature films yet. This one is with an all LGBTQ+ cast and seems to be quite big. I for one am quite stoked at Luke getting a shot at a bigger audience!

I read that the film had a disappointing opening weekend and that Billy Eichner (whom I’ve never heard of before, other than possibly in passing) has his own theories as to why. I can’t speak to that, what I can speak to is that I do very much enjoy a good romcom and by all accounts, this one seems to be romantic and funny. I plan on going to see the new Julia Roberts / George Clooney one and I also want to see this one. Not because it’s gay or straight but because Luke Macfarlane is in it and he can do sweet and soulful and charming really well and if it really is a romcom that is well done, well, then I sure don’t want to miss it. I’m rooting for Luke!

Mandy Patinkin liked it…

… as did Chris Evans (who seems to be friends with Eichner, so may not be unbiased).

… and maybe I will too? I’ll have to wait and see and in the meantime I’m glad that Luke is getting more exposure. Maybe that will bring him some different kind of (and more challenging) work to sink his teeth into. I’m curious to see what more he can do.

A Zoey jukebox

The other day I mentioned watching Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. On and off, some of the songs and their connected scenes in the TV series have been playing in my mind. So, I thought I’d share here as well. All the videos are quite short, most songs are between a minute and a minute and a half long (or around two minutes max), so quite perfect for quick musical fixes.

In the show, the father (Peter Gallagher) of main character Zoey (Jane Levy) has a rare disease that causes him to lose his muscular faculties. From the beginning it is clear that he won’t have long to live as he sits rigid and silent on the couch, only able to look and take in but not able to communicate with those around him. As Zoey can hear people’s innermost feelings in song hallucinations (that no one else can hear or see) she also unexpectedly is able to connect with her father in song. It was such a powerful moment for me to see her communicate with her father again. It really struck a chord as my father too was not able to communicate well with us in his final years and I would have rejoiced at such a moment that Zoey is able to have with her dad.

I already shared my favourite dad and daughter moment in my earlier post but can’t resist sharing it again here as well. I think it’s the video I have re-watched most.

On a lighter note, Zoey hears her best friend and co-worker Max (Skylar Astin) pronounce his true feelings for her…

… and is touched by his intention to stand by her…

Her other co-worker, who becomes a friend as well, is Simon (John Clarence). I can so very well identify with the sentiment in this brief song, especially in a work setting. “My name is NO!” is something I think all of us have felt at some point, whether in work or in life outside of work. This cracks me up and I am keeping this in the back of my mind for future reference.

Ah, and there she is, Lauren Graham! She plays Zoey’s boss Joan in the first season who becomes empowered after she finds a way to deal with her husband.

I’m not too fond of love triangles, but there is one on this show as well, with both Simon and Max vying for Zoey in a musical battle.

I really like group numbers like this one where a lot of the main cast get to play a part.

There’s a racism storyline in the second season and before Simon holds a press conference to confront the world with the racism in his workplace, Zoey hears his heartfelt plea to please not be misunderstood.

This video of Simon expressing his frustration about the self-congratulatory white world around him not seeing the racism is good too.

This following video is so relatable. Sometimes, when everyone around you is cheerful, you can’t help it, you still remain sad…

Goes for this following video as well. Zoey and Max aren’t quite as into this dress up marathon as everyone else seems to be.

Mo (Alex Newell) is Zoey’s genderfluid neighbour and friend who falls in love but still has some things to work out with the man he loves…

Zoey’s brother Andrew (David Clarke) and his wife Emily (Alice Lee) have some beautiful moments together…

… while even the outward quite perfect Emily also falls apart on occasion. Alice Lee who plays her is really so heartbreaking here.

One of the saddest songs is this one from the final (Christmas special) episode. At this point in the story Max temporarily also has the power to hear the ‘heart songs’ that Zoey normally hears and is stunned by the outpouring of grief that isn’t as visible on the outside. I so very well understand how the family feels.

To end on a more positive note, everyone wanting to kiss each other during a party is kinda sweet.

Of course there is far more, like a long funeral scene set to American Pie (on YouTube it is split into three videos here, here and here), but these are the ones that most stuck with me – my own personal Zoey jukebox so to speak.