I watched the first episode of Paramount Heathers and it was just... so bad, and I really like Heathers, so I had a lot of things to say about it..."
Sarah Z (pronounced "Sarah Zed", not "Sarah Zee") is a Canadian video essayist dating back to May 2018. She began by covering topics like films and television before focusing more recently on social and artistic critique, such as discussion of the concept of authorial intent and criticism of "fast-food twitter".
- Alpha Bitch: Uses this as an example of how a cliched trope can be used well with regards to Cordelia of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - by putting her in unusual situations that forced her to learn and grow as a character.
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Discussed in her video on Queerbaiting, and how the term is often confused with Hide Your Lesbians (such as The Legend of Korra where Executive Meddling prevented the confirmation that the two characters were a couple until the finale) or Ho Yay (such as Scrubs, where the characters are clearly straight and their close friendship is Played for Laughs).
- Bias Steamroller: Happily admits that she'll be taking JK Rowling to task and has biased hate of the Harry Potter franchise.
- Both Sides Have a Point: One of her most notable qualities is her ability to see both sides of the argument she's presenting, helped by her background in debate.
- Broken Pedestal: How she feels about Supernatural. She loved it up until the sixth season (after the show had gone past its planned ending) but can't bear to watch it anymore.
- Canada, Eh?: In her Q&A she responds to a question asking if she's Canadian by dropping "eh" and "aboot" in a stereotypical accent. The way she pronounces "about" as "aboot" naturally also fulfills the trope.
- Caustic Critic: Sarah herself averts this trope but in her video titled "Bad Media Criticism", she demonstrates how the overuse of the trope can lead to nitpicking in place of actual critique.
- Death of the Author: Discussed extensively in her video on J. K. Rowling and authorial intent. She finds it inherently hypocritical that JK Rowling has been supportive of fan fiction and different interpretations of characters, but has been quick to resort of Word of God to debunk theories she doesn't like (like responding "no" to a fan asking if Sirius was gay).
- Designated Hero: One of her biggest complaints about the show Insatiable is that both of the main characters are unlikeable and very hard to care for.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil:
- Defied in her video on Theatre Bootlegs. She uses an example of the Heathers musical initially closing after a poor run, but developing a large following mainly through people who saw bootlegs of the show online. This popularity led to the show being revived.
- She also points out that theatre bootlegs are not going to harm the industry when the majority of viewers watch them because they can't afford to travel and see the show live, and that unlike film, a bootleg video is not a substitute for seeing theatre in the venue (and thus there will be people who pay to see the show if they get the opportunity).
- Double Standard: She talks about this in her video "Double Standards And Diverse Media", which mostly seems to relate to the fact that media that is already "woke" or progressive is held to a much higher, sometimes impossible to reach, standard, different than other media that aren't judged with the same standards, or even with the same criteria.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: She points out that Riverdale's attempts to address this with the Archie/Miss Grundy affair results in a Broken Aesop given how sexily the scenes were framed, and that it was still portrayed as forbidden love - rather than a predatory adult taking advantage of a naive teenager.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Her earlier videos were Danganronpa memes, much before she started doing video essays. And even some of her early video essays were more nitpicky complaining critiques of Heathers, 13 Reasons Why, Riverdale etc.
- Franchise Original Sin: As pointed out in "Why Friday Was Made", ARK Music Factory originally made pretensions towards being a legitimate record company as opposed to a vanity label, recording pop songs that, while not great, were more or less acceptable... until "Friday" by Rebecca Black, the worst song they ever recorded, became a smash hit in 2011 on the strength of Bile Fascination. From that point forward, ARK tried to make lightning strike twice with songs that were designed to be So Bad, It's Good by copying the "Friday" formula, to diminishing returns that culminated in the label folding in 2013. Moreover, Sarah also argues that the impact of "Friday" reached beyond just music, marking a negative turning point for internet culture as a whole. The massive controversy that swirled around the song demonstrated that anger and outrage could be very effective drivers of conversation and engagement, creating a template for later companies, celebrities, and influencers that engaged in publicity stunts designed to court controversy in order to build brand awareness.
- Genre Shift: Her video essays started out being critiques of bad media like Heathers, Riverdale, Supernatural etc but has shifted towards discussing social issues like the ethics of true crime podcasts, whether theatre bootlegs are a bad thing, parasocial relationships with YouTube personalities etc.
- Iconic Item: Her mugs.
- Jerk Jock: Feels like indulging in this stereotype is what results in Broken Aesops in 13 Reasons Why.
- "Just Joking" Justification: She says that a frequent defence of The Nostalgia Critic's bad faith criticism was that it was merely Doug Walker playing a character, and the opinions were those of a character for comedy. This defence is broken when she shows that The Nostalgia Critic's opinions would show up in Doug Walker's out of character reviews as well.
- Lampshade Hanging: Points out that having this does not excuse using problematic tropes or lazy writing - namely Cheryl mocking Betty and Veronica's gratuitous lesbian kiss in the Riverdale pilot, when the advertising still hyped it up like a Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss.
- Long Hair Is Feminine: Discusses this and how some girls may have been pressured into growing their hair long to conform to traditional feminity - and rejecting this later in life leads to prejudice towards those who do have long hair.
- Most Fan Fic Writers Are Girls: Debunks this in her video on authorial intent, pointing out that many fan fiction writers were LGBT fans interacting with media they liked in ways they could relate to.
- MST3K Mantra: She subscribes to this as long as the medium makes it clear that it's fantastical in nature. It's impossible for her to feel this way with one that's deliberately grounded in realism.
- Not Like Other Girls: Discussed and deconstructed in a video with the same title - where her thoughts on the matter say that it's far from just internalised misogyny or shallow bullying, but representative of a deeper problem where society pressures girls to conform to traditionally feminine traits and both accepting or rejecting femininity can result in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
- Offending the Creator's Own: Discussed in her video, Double Standards and Diverse Media which opens by explaining a story on Amelie Wen Zhao and how her planned trilogy of books as part of a series called "Blood Heir" was canceled due to heavy criticism of the first book's content on slavery (which could be interpreted as offensive by some people). She then explains that media that is made by diverse creators will often be held to higher standards due to perceptions that because they are in the same minority they are in, they would be able to avoid making the same mistakes those from non-marginalized groups make, when that's far from the truth.
- Pet Homosexual: Is particularly annoyed with how Riverdale reduces Kevin to this compared to the original comics - where his sexuality was incidental and he was a rounded character. In the show, he's reduced to being a Satellite Character that only exists to give Betty relationship advice and sassy one liners. And when he does finally get a storyline of his own, it plays into the All Gays Are Promiscuous trope.
- Real Women Never Wear Dresses: In I'm Not Like Other Girls?, she says that a lot of women who ascribe to this trope may have done so out of a rejection of traditionally feminine values that they may have been forced to conform to, or been mocked for not being.
- Recurring Extra: The mysterious, beautiful, and possibly omniscient Great Cheshire appears whenever a line from My Immortal is read aloud.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Doesn't feel that Riverdale is bad because of it being a Darker and Edgier take on Archie Comics, saying that a dark tone could have worked. In her view it's just bad writing.
- Sequel Episode: "Does JK Rowling's Transphobia Ruin Harry Potter?" is one to her previous video "JK Rowling and Authorial Intent". The video is technically a response to Rowling's well known bouts of transphobic behavior on Twitter getting worse and resulting in her releasing a manifesto online she nicknamed "TERF Wars", and subsequently makes another analysis about Authorial Intent and Death of the Author of how Rowling's views has influenced her writing and just saying "Hatsune Miku wrote Harry Potter" may make people forget that. The video makes multiple references to the previous video, which also referenced the behavior of fans towards JK Rowling's troublesome tweeting.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: At one point she goes off on a tangent about how the Gnome films are the best Shakespearean adaptations ever."You cannot change my mind."
- Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: In her video exploring the rise of "Doomer" culture, Sarah points out that letting oneself become so convinced that the world's problems are so terrible that they can't be fixed will only lead to the utter loss of hope and with it, the drive to try to fix those problems.
- Sleeper Hit: She merely made a ranting video complaining about Heathers, and was shocked at how many views and subscribers she got from it.
- Unnecessary Makeover: She touches on this trope and applying it to real life people in "How Fans Treat Creators", and how fans can sometimes feel ownership over a person's image the same way they might over a fictional character's. In her view, this is over-stepping a boundary, as a person has the right to do whatever they want with their own appearances - relating a message she once got from a subscriber who didn't like her haircut (at thirteen no less!)."And I'm just sitting there like 'Sir, what do you expect me to do with this information? I'm not going to un-cut my hair'..."
- Visual Pun: In her video "I'm Not Like Other Girls", she regularly switches between Tomboyish clothes (casual sweater, hair tied back) or Girly Girl (pink sweater, fuzzy bathrobe, long blonde wig) to better make her point about girls being pigeonholed into one role or the other.