The best TV shows of 2015 are pretty underrated

As the semester draws to a close, you might happen to find yourself with some extra free time, especially once finals are over.

And what better way to spend your newfound freedom than binge-watching a few TV shows? Many viewers will turn to mainstream atrocities like The Big Bang Theory or The Voice. Others will turn to popular epic series like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, which certainly have their value.

But when it comes down to it, the best TV shows of 2015 are actually quite underrated. You may have heard of them, but it’s likely that you haven’t seen them. So without further ado, here are three great shows on TV this year that you could watch over Winter Break.

FARGO

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Via FX Networks

Fargo is the best kind of spin-off. The premise for the show is loosely based on the 1996 Coen Brothers movie of the same name. The plot of the movie, and each season of the TV show, centers around the people living in the region surrounding Fargo, North Dakota. The show serves as both a dark comedy and a crime drama, rendering it both hilarious and gripping. It’s an anthology series, so each of the two seasons tells a different “true story” from a different year. Despite the fact that each episode begins with the disclaimer “this is a true story,” the series is completely fictional, setting up the comical tone from the get-go.

Both seasons of the show, which are equally excellent, focus on a murder and the chaos and violence that occur as a result of them. I’ve never seen drama and humor combined in such a well-done way that Fargo does. While character development is an intriguing element of the show, the plot, in my opinion, is what makes this show so thrilling to watch. Yet the show is also very deep, and has complex and reoccurring themes that are enjoyable to analyze. If you’re a fan of Coen Brothers films, dark humor, crime shows, or just good television, you’ll enjoy Fargo. I can’t recommend it more.

You can watch Fargo on FX, or for free on FX’s website by logging in with a cable provider.

MR. ROBOT

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Via USA Network

Mr. Robot is truly unlike anything else on television. Its first season premiered this year and is, in my opinion, a work of genius. It follows the life of a cyber-security engineer and hacker named Elliot who is, frankly, pretty messed up. As you discover watching the show, Elliot has a form of mental illness that changes his perception of reality. What makes this show so unique is that, just as Elliot’s own mind deceives himself, the show essentially deceives the viewer. We see Elliot’s dark, cruel world from his own depressed and anxious mind.

The plot of the first season focuses on Elliot joining the hacker group fsociety (similar to Anonymous) to try to take down one of the largest corporations in the world, E Corp. The show examines the relationships between Elliot and the people in his life: his coworker and childhood friend Angela, a man from fsociety named Mr. Robot, another hacker named Darlene, and a struggling executive at E Corp. There are many excellent twists in the show’s story, which I can’t get into without spoiling. It’s also worth noting that the show’s visuals are stunning and extremely unique. The cinematography is great, but what sets Mr. Robot apart is that almost all of its shots are slightly off center, reflecting Elliot’s mind.

The show’s first season is not only one of the best works of television this year, but I would say of the decade. I’m very much looking forward to its next season in 2016. You can watch every episode of Mr. Robot for free on the USA Network’s website with a cable login, or just on TV.

MASTER OF NONE

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Via Netflix.com

Master of None takes Aziz Ansari’s life and comedy and turns it into a compelling piece of art. The freedom of streaming services like Netflix have made unique and compelling shows as Master of None possible. The show, created by and starring comedian Aziz Ansari, is about the life of 30-something actor Dev Shah, who is intended to be a reflection of Aziz in his early career. Each episode has a different theme with aptly-named titles, such as “Parents,” which focuses on the relationship between Ansari and his parents, and “Indians on TV,” which looks at the stereotypes and discrimination Indian-American actors face in the television industry. As a whole, however, the story depicts the relationship between Dev and his eventual girlfriend Rachel.

It’s also downright hilarious. I’m a big fan of Aziz’s comedy, so I knew I was going to love this show going into it. His observations about the absurdities of modern life resonates with many, which adds to the show’s appeal. Aziz’s entourage of friends are equally hilarious, which is what you would expect for a good comedy. But what I really love about this show is how it combines it comedy with a such poignant, artistic form of storytelling that can’t be found anywhere else.

You can watch the first season of Master of None on Netflix.

 

Speed review: 3 decent movies in theaters right now

During Thanksgiving break I was able to sacrifice enough of my hard-earned free time to watch not one, not two, but three new feature films in theaters right now.

I’ve also used said free time to briefly review these movies. So without further ado, here are three decent movies you can watch in cinemas near Athens or your hometown.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2

An overall satisfying conclusion to the series 

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via moviepilot.com

Mockingjay Part 2 is the fourth and final Hunger Games installment and is a thoroughly enjoyable action film. After seeing all the previous Hunger Games films each previous year, it’s safe to say this film was a satisfying conclusion to the series. But it really had to be after last year’s Part 1, which felt unnecessarily split. The franchise made like Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hobbit by splitting its final film into two movies. Yet while the previous film felt devoid of plot and action, Part 2 was full of it. The film contains many enjoyable action sequences perfect for popcorn-munching blockbuster fun. The plot moves along quickly and never slows down until the movie’s conclusion.

Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress and does a great job portraying Katniss once again, but the same can’t be said for the film’s other actors. Though this film is an adaptation of a novel, it seemed like it kept adding random characters the audience really doesn’t care about and isn’t emotionally invested in. On top of that, after four movies, the “love triangle” with Gale and Peeta seems very forced. The only other thing I disliked about the movie was its ending. It seemed that it adopted the Return of The King ending disease in that the film’s ending dragged on and on. This is a *spoiler*, but the final scene in the meadow with Peeta seemed like way too much of a cliche “happily ever after” ending for something that’s trying to be a dystopian political film. Regardless, Mockingjay Part 2 is still a very enjoyable movie and, all in all, a satisfying conclusion to the series.

This film receives 3/5 Athens bricks.

 

THE PEANUTS MOVIE

A well-done homage to the beloved comic strips and cartoons

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via peanutsmovie.com

I went into this movie as a diehard Peanuts fan with high expectations, and left extremely satisfied with what I had seen. I read the Peanuts comic strip all the time growing up, and the Halloween and Christmas holiday specials are an annual tradition in my family. When I saw the trailer for the film, it looked like another cheesy adaptation that ruins its beloved source material. However, in this case, I was proven wrong.

The Peanuts Movie is an extremely well-done homage to Charles Schulz’s original comic strip. Though you might expect that the classic feel of the comics and classic animated specials would be lost with 3D animation, it actually worked pretty well. Though the movie is in 3D, most of the scenes are set up like an actual comic strip because much of the movement is two-dimensional. For me, the film really had the look and feel of reading the comics. Besides aesthetics, however, the story was sufficiently entertaining. It combined several popular storylines from Shulz’s comics into one cohesive movie. The plot is centered around Charlie Brown trying to impress the little redheaded girl, and combines the stories of other well-known characters, such as his dog Snoopy, who embarks on a love story of his own. If you go into this movie looking for nostalgia, cuteness, and classic humor, you won’t be disappointed.

This film receives 4/5 Athens bricks.

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE

An extremely hilarious comedy that will get you in the Christmas spirit

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via rollingstone.com

I’m a sucker for raunchy comedies. For most movies, I’ll be trying to analyze it as much as I can to come to some kind of conclusion. But with hilarious, inappropriate comedies I get distracted and can only conclude that such movies were very, very funny. The Night Before was one of those movies. Though it’s definitely not the funniest movie I’ve ever seen, nor has is surpassed Elf in the world of Christmas comedies, it was still thoroughly entertaining.

The film follows the antics of three friends (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Anthony Mackie) who have an annual tradition of fooling around in New York City each Christmas Eve. Seth Rogen’s character was particularly hilarious. He plays a Jewish father-to-be whose wife gives sample of literally every drug as a Christmas present, and he proceeds to be insane for the rest of the film. This happens in most movies he’s in, but “Seth Rogen on drugs” never fails to be funny, in my opinion. The film’s themes of friendship and growing up stay pretty consistent throughout the story, which serves as a satisfying Christmas tale. If you’re looking for a laughter-inducing holiday comedy, this movie is right up your alley, but certainly isn’t anything groundbreaking.

This film receives 4/5 Athens bricks.

News Recap: Student groups ‘Stand with Mizzou’ and march in Rally for Campus Democracy

The past week saw two major activism events at Ohio University, both influenced by the ongoing protests at the University of Missouri.

Various student groups spoke out this week, including the Ohio University Student Union, OU’s NAACP chapter, BLAC, Sierra Student Coalition, among others.

OU students ‘Stand with Mizzou’ at NAACP event

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Lauren Bacho | The Post

After threats were made to students at Mizzou, Ohio University activism groups stood in support during a rally on Wednesday night. The event was held by OU’s NAACP chapter, who sent a letter to Mizzou in solidarity with the students there. [The Athens Messenger]

More than 100 people attended the event, which took place at Scripps Amphitheater. Student Union member Ryan Powers told The Post: “It’s important that we show the students at Mizzou that they are supported, and it’s important that we stand up to racism wherever its exists. One of the biggest reasons I’m here is because we need to start addressing racism in every aspect including at Ohio University.” [The Post]

Some students chimed in on social media about the event using the hashtag #OUStandsWithMizzou

Student groups march in Rally for Campus Democracy

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Olivia Miltner | The New Political

Then, on Thursday, student groups met outside of Baker Center as part of the Rally for Campus Democracy, in connection with the #MillionStudentMarch, a national campaign for college students. The event was hosted by OU Student Union, whose demands included having OU recognize student unionization, be transparent about its investments, and giving student oversight to a climate survey. [Facebook]

Over 80 attended the event, including members of student groups BLAC, Sierra Student Coalition, OU’s NAACP chapter and Bobcats for Bernie Sanders. Students marched from Baker to Morton Hill before stopping at the amphitheater in front of the four new residence halls on South Green. [The Post]

Jacob Chaffin, a graduate student in critical studies told The New Political: “I’m here because I’m a grad student at OU and I did my undergrad here. I’m in a lot of debt, right around the average of $28,000 of debt that Ohio University students owe when they graduate. So this is something that directly affects me.” [The New Political]

However, some students differed from the views of the protestors. In a letter to The Post, one OU senior said he disagreed with some of the protestors’ views and and said there was “no merit to protesting an entire smorgasbord of complaints at the same time.” [Jacob Zuckerman]

The Post also published a video summarizing the event:

News recap: How you voted in Tuesday’s election in Athens

This week saw the election of three Athens City Council members — including one independent — and the rejection of marijuana legalization in the state of Ohio. Voters also approved a measure that aims to reduce partisan gerrymandering in the state.

Below is our recap of the results of the election in Athens and what it will mean for Athens residents and Ohioans.

Democrats retained their majority on Athens City Council

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Dennis E. Powell | The Athens NEWS
  • Incumbent Jennifer Cochran and local business owner Peter Kotses, both Democrats, will claim two at-large seats on council, meaning the party will still have a 6-1 majority in Athens. [The Post]
  • The unofficial vote tallies released Tuesday showed that 35 percent of registered voters in Athens County casted their ballots, compared with an about 34 percent voter turnout last November. [The Athens NEWS]
  • While Kotses won about 27 percent of the vote and Cochran won 25 percent, the council race was the only contested race in this year’s elections. The chair of the Athens County Democratic Party said the two are “fantastic public servants and will represent Athens well.” [The Post]

  • Democrat Joan Kraynanski and Aaron Dauterman, an Ohio University senior who ran as a Republican, came in fourth and fifth place respectively in the council at-large race. [The New Political]
  • Kotses, a lifelong resident of Athens and owner of Athens Bicycle, received 1,763 votes, the most votes any candidate received. [The Athens Messenger]

Pat McGee will be the first independent to serve on city council in decades

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Oliver Hamlin | The Post
  • The Democrats didn’t win every seat on Athens City Council, however. Independent candidate Pat McGee won one of the three at-large seats, receiving 1,518 votes, or 23 percent of the total vote. [The Post]
  • McGee, a managing attorney with the Center for Student Legal Services, is the first independent to be elected to an at-large seat on council since at least 1982. [The Athens News]
  • McGee spoke to The Athens Messenger about his success as an independent candidate: “It says to me that people can look beyond labels, even when you have a fairly organized party that you’re opposing.” [The Athens Messenger]
  • The councilman-elect ran on a platform of putting Ohio University students first and encouraged them to vote. [The New Political]
  • McGee graduated from OU in 1970 and then travelled the world for a decade, but has lived in Athens for the past 35 years. Along with advocating for students, he supports marijuana legalization, a looser code enforcement and a raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as long as the money stays in Athens. [The Post]
  • In addition, WOUB published a series of photos depicting election night in Athens. McGee can be seen playing celtic music on the concertina at local bar Jackie-O’s celebrating his win. [WOUB]

No surprise here: Steve Patterson elected mayor of Athens

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Steve Patterson | @MayorPatterson on Twitter
  • Steve Patterson was elected mayor after running unopposed. Patterson, a Democrat, holds an at-large seat on Athens City Council and will begin his term as mayor in January. [The Post]
  • Despite running an uncontested race, Patterson campaigned door to door and watched the polling numbers closely Tuesday. He said he’s elated to have the support of citizens. [The Athens News]
  • Patterson suggested several efforts he wants to work on as mayor. He said he wants to start working on organizing the city’s Halloween block party far earlier, possibly in January. He also suggested ideas to turn certain parts of Uptown into “pedestrian corridors.” [The Athens News]
  • The mayor-elect told The New Political: “It’s time to take Athens to the next level. You know, I’m really tired of the brain drain, and I’m really looking forward to the brain gain in the city of Athens, trying to keep people here.” [The New Political]

Ohio chose gerrymandering reform but rejected marijuana legalization; Athens County said “no” to Issue 2 while Ohio voted “yes”

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Via Wikimedia Commons
  • Ohio voters had three issues to vote on at Tuesday’s election. Issue 3, the ballot measure that would have legalized recreational and medical marijuana in the state, failed to pass. Meanwhile, Ohio voters passed Issues 1 and 2, which aim to reduce partisan gerrymandering and limit the power of monopolies, respectively. [The Post]
  • The Post also reported that Athens County voters overwhelmingly rejected Issue 3, with about 64 percent of residents voting against the issue and about 36 percent voting for it. About 64 percent of Ohio voters voted “no” on the issue. [The Post]
  • The controversial Issue 3 proposed a monopoly for the commercial sale of recreational and medical marijuana in the state. The executive director of ResponsibleOhio, the group behind Issue 3, said the day after the election: “We started the conversation and we’re going to continue the conversation starting tomorrow. The status quo doesn’t work, it’s unacceptable and we’re not going away.” [The New Political]
  • Issue 2 was put on the ballot to specifically target Issue 3 and will still have consequences despite Issue 3’s failure. It states that if any ballot initiative includes a “commercial interest,” or is otherwise deemed a monopoly, voters will have to pass two measures, one to grant an exception and the other on the proposal itself. [The Athens News]
  • Issue 2 passed in the state of Ohio with about 52 percent of the vote to about 48 percent. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, Athens was one of 16 that rejected Issue 2, with a vote of 53.46 percent against the issue. [The Athens News]
  • Ohio and Athens County voters passed Issue 1, which will amend the Ohio Constitution in an effort to prevent gerrymandering, or the partisan drawing legislative districts. It will create a bipartisan redistricting commission with seven members, two of which must be from the minority party in the state. [The Post]
  • Finally, here’s WOUB’s Election Night Special Report that focused on the election’s state issues. [WOUB]

Halloween in Athens: Social media recap

Another year, another Halloween weekend filled with debauchery on Court Street and in Athens.

Students took to their phones before, during and after the Athens Halloween Block Party to share their experiences, both good and bad, on social media.

It turns out the Halloween block party actually began in 1974, as The Post tweeted out, when rowdy students blocked traffic on Court Street. The tradition continued each year until the City of Athens began sponsoring the event.

Before the chaos started, Court Street was completely empty. One clever Instagram user created a side-by-side comparison of how Court Street looked before and during the Halloween festivities.

Before and After #HallOUween ??

A photo posted by Nigel Harris (@scoob_96) on

Early on Saturday, students began donning their costumes, some perhaps getting a little too into the whole dressing up thing. One student’s tweet garnered over a thousand favorites on Twitter, featuring students dressed like animals acting in their natural habitats.

https://twitter.com/emma_lee_h/status/660821923031552002

Many a clever costume could be seen on Halloween. One Instagram user, depicted below, dressed up as Forrest Gump, the titular character of the 1994 film. It’s pretty clear the bench was an essential part of this guy’s costume.

Jenny and me was like peas and carrots. #HallOUween

A photo posted by Spencer Holbrook (@spencerholbrook) on

Squirrel costumes were extremely abundant this year. It’s not clear why this was so. It could be a result of OU students’ obsession with Athens squirrels or an immature need  to make jokes about “nuts,” or both. Regardless, squirrels were seen all over Athens on Saturday, both human and rodent.

Squirrel. Fucking. Squad! #HALLOUWEEN

A photo posted by That's So Athens (@thatssoathens_) on

As the evening progressed, the actual block party on Court Street took off. A photographer posted his photos from the event to Twitter, capturing the color and craziness of the festivities.

Here’s another photo of the block party someone tweeted, this one showing the immense crowd at the first stage at the intersection of Court and Union. A corner usually traversed by students walking to class or Uptown to get food was transformed into a massive rave.

https://twitter.com/NickBolin_/status/660714302639353856

One of the musical artists who performed Saturday, DJ B Funk, took to the stage dressed as the Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George. It’s safe to say Curious George would be very curious about B Funk’s performance at the block party.

DJ B Funk expressed his gratitude on Twitter after the block party had ended. Other performances on the block party’s two stages included such names as Get Weird, 2 High Crew, Ape Mode, Ghostowl and Blond. The Post reported about how those performances went.

Students weren’t the only ones walking the uptown streets on Halloween night. Local law enforcement was out in full force, including officers — and their horses — who patrolled the area. Martha Compton, director of Community Standards at Ohio University, tweeted her gratitude for the officers.

But another student wasn’t quite as excited about the horses as Compton was…

Not all the festivity occurred on Court Street during halloween. While students danced in the mosh pits on Court Street, others dressed as Jedi Knights from Star Wars battled it out on West Green. Whether the dark or light side prevailed that night is hard to say.

Much festivity also occurred on Mill Street, as massive crowds headed to and from from the block party. And with such festivity came more law enforcement, as officers shut down parties on Mill Street. Post News Editor Emily Bohatch tweeted about one incident.

Many students may have been surprised when the Daylight Saving Time change hit at 2 a.m. Student Senate President Gabby Bacha tweeted about her frustration experiencing 1 a.m. all over again.

The rain started to calm things down toward the end of the night. Many costumed individuals could be seen drenched by the rain, which was a sad sight. One Instagram user captured the night’s end as crowds left Court Street while the rain poured down.

That night, police made a total of 71 arrests, not including the arrests made on Friday. And not all of those arrests were OU students, however, with many of them being visiting students from other colleges.

The morning after, Post staffer Will Drabold captured the lines at Court Street eateries, presumably filled with many hung over students. Bagel Street Deli’s line ran as far as the curb, with customers staring at their phones waiting for breakfast.

One student summed up the Halloween festivities’ best features in one Tweet:

While this year’s Halloween in Athens may have seemed like a typical one, it’s safe to stay that students still enjoyed themselves and continued to document their night on social media.

Want to share your Halloween experience on social media? Tweet this article’s author @AlxMeyer.

Top 4 places to hike in Athens

For those looking to do some off-campus exercise in lieu of going to Ping, hiking in Athens is a great option.

The Athens area offers a plethora of scenic places to spend the day hiking on Appalachian trails. Here are the top four places in Athens to go hiking:

1. Strouds Run

Strouds Run is only a 15-minute car ride north of the Ohio University campus. The trails at Strouds Run wrap around the beautiful Dow Lake, where students can also go canoeing or kayaking. Many of the trails are open to mountain biking as well. Strouds offers miles of trails by the lake and up into the surrounding hills.

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The trails that wrap around Dow Lake stretch nearly 12 miles all the way around.
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A parking lots entrance to some of the trails at Strouds Run.
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The trails in Strouds are heavily wooded and feature patches of pine forest as seen above.
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A photo taken in early spring of 2015 on Sundown Trail at Strouds Run.

2. Sells Park Trails

The entrance to the trails at Sells Park stem off of East State Street via Avon Place. From OU’s campus, the trip would only take around 10 minutes by car or 25-30 minutes on foot. The trails at Sells Park wind up and down the hilly area, and feature dozens of massive boulders. The trails actually connect to Strouds Park, if one were to hike far enough.

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Sells Park leads to several other trail networks.
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One of the trails that stems from Sells Park, taken during winter 2015.
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Like many of the trails near Athens, the Sells Park trails can be both steep and muddy.

3. Trails at The Ridges

If you’re looking to hike in Athens without driving off campus, look no further than the trails by The Ridges. Ohio University owns a huge portion of forested land near its Ridges facility across the Hocking River from campus. The “nature walk” trails move through forests and meadows, and also pass through old cemeteries with unmarked graves.

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The university owns the entire portion of land devoted to the trails.
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The nature walk trails start only a short walk away from OU’s main campus.

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4. Bong Hill and Witches Hill

Many students know about Bong Hill, the infamous hill with a stunning view of OU’s campus. What many students may not know about is the hill’s neighbor, Witches Hill, with even steeper inclines and a different view. The trails to these hills can be accessed across Stimson Ave over the Hocking River, and include very rocky and steep inclines.

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Witches Hill trail also includes boulders.

Buckeyes in Athens: Ohio University students show their support for OSU

When Ohio University President Roderick McDavis welcomed this year’s freshmen at their 2015 convocation ceremony, he said they are not only “Bobcats today, but Bobcats forever.”

However, some Bobcats like to call themselves something else: Buckeyes.

Ohio State fans can be found everywhere at OU, from students, to faculty, to everyday Athens residents. While they all live in a college town with a full Division 1 Athletics program, many choose to cheer on the team from Columbus.

Take a few steps into one of Athen’s more popular book stores — College Book Store — and you’ll notice OSU gear in plain sight amidst the mass of OU items.

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For OSU fans coming to OU for the first time as students, remaining loyal to the Buckeyes in Athens can be challenging.

“It’s kinda tough being a Buckeye fan here in Athens,” OU student Megan Henry said. “I kinda feel like I have to hide that fact, especially at orientation when some of the administrators gave a funny talking to about how we go to OU not OSU.”

Henry said she’s been a Buckeyes fan since she was a kid, but left her OSU gear at home when she moved to Athens last year.

“I try to watch as many games as possible while I’m here in Athens,” she said. “It’s hard because I don’t always get the channel the Buckeyes are playing on or I’ll be busy.”

Henry said she did get to enjoy watching OSU’s national championship win last January.

It was so much fun watching the Bucks win the championship in my friend’s dorm,” she said. “I like being an OSU fan because it’s fun being a Buckeye fan. Our teams do exceptionally well. We have so many world-class athletes and Heisman Trophy winners.”

Another Buckeye in Athens, Liam Niemeyer, said he’s been a fan of Ohio State since he first moved to Columbus when he was six.

“Just living in Central Ohio indoctrinates you into the OSU fanbase,” Niemeyer said. “Everyone on Saturdays throws an OSU block party.”

However, he said coming to Athens changed his priorities. While he still is an OSU fan at heart, being a Bobcat takes precedence.

 “You would think there would be some inner-conflict of allegiances duking it out, but not really,” Niemeyer said. “I still cheer on the Buckeyes in football, but I know where my true home is now — it’s here in Athens”

Niemeyer said he still watches OSU games in Athens.

Whenever I watch them now on TV, I still get just as excited cheering them on as I would at home,” he said. “But if the Bobcats are on also, then OSU’s going in the dumpster of unworthy sports teams.”

Plenty of Bobcats have had their fair share to say about the OSU-OU debate on social media as well:

While Ohio University has a large following in Athens, its clear that Ohio State University still has fans of its own.