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Brave knights. Fair maidens. A damsel in distress. That is sooo 476 AD. At least, we'd like to think it is.

Let's face it: The Middle Ages is one of our favorite periods of history to relive. And what is it often chockfull of? Dudes with swords who kick butt and helpless princesses who need saving.

Out of date, right?


Unfortunately, the truth is that men in the "lead" and women in "supporting roles" is as present now as it's ever been. Many of us are still bafflingly uncomfortable with the idea of a female president, but totally fine with a president who belittles and objectifies women on a near-daily basis!

That presents a special challenge for modern day re-enactments like Medieval Times, an elaborate theme restaurant in the United States and Canada that entertains diners with a live-joust and other medieval performances.

Though its show is set in the Middle Ages, Medieval Times' audience lives in the year 2018. And, lately, the restaurant's owners were getting more and more feedback about their 30-some-year-old performance: It needed more women.

Early this year, Medieval Times decided to make a big change to some of its shows: They would now feature a queen in charge, instead of a king.

Who rules a kingdom? A king, of course!

Well, not so fast.

All photos by Medieval Times used with permission.

Sure, the Middle Ages were the heyday of the patriarchy in a lot of ways, but queens were powerful, too, and played important roles. They were often key strategic advisors to the king behind closed doors. (Catherine de Medici, one of the late queens of France, was known for being particularly conniving and ruthless, for example.)

So, yeah. Queens did more than just sit around and look pretty.

Yet, since Medieval Times first opened its doors in 1983,the company's restaurants typically feature a live scene starring a "king" hosting a jousting tournament for the viewing pleasure of himself and the audience while they down their supper.

Clearly, rewriting this script wouldn't exactly be a stretch of history.

Actress Erin Zapcic prepares for battle.

Fortunately, starting at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey location on Jan. 11 — and soon rolling out to all nine Medieval Times restaurants — "Queen Dona Maria Isabella" is taking over.

“Where previously our female characters played in more supportive roles, we are now showing a woman fully in charge, a woman whose authority is sometimes challenged, but she quickly rises to the occasion as a strong leader, squelching opposition,” says Ingrid Hunt, senior general manager at Medieval Times, in a press release.

The update might seem like a small tweak, but it's a big win for better representation.

Some data suggests that while roles for women (in Hollywood, for example) are on the rise, they still only make up about 32% of speaking parts. Female leads are even more rare.

Shows on broadway have a similar problem.

So a major rewrite to a decades-long show like Medieval Times — that brings in over 2.5 million audience members every year — is actually pretty awesome.

And the Chicago Times reports that the show's director, Leigh Cordner, took the gender-flip extremely seriously, spending well over a year rewriting the performance script to accommodate a matriarch in a powerful way.

We only hope that more and more shows follow suit and start to think outside the box about how women and people of color can be better represented in their performances.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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