February 2019 Recommendations

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Show Title: One Day At A Time

Episodes: 39

Where to Watch: Netflix

This isn’t a new show by any means. I’ve talked about this show in nearly every end of the year post I’ve written since the show debuted in 2017 and I will almost certainly continue that trend this year. But once again, it faces an uncertain future with Netflix’s opaque standards and an outside production company, so once again, I will ask that you give this show a chance if anything about it even sounds a little appealing to you.

This show is the new standard for how to do a smart, funny multicam sitcom well. The cast is terrific, the writing is sharp, and you can feel how much everyone involved loves what they are doing. You can feel Norman Lear’s continuing influence on this show and variety of timely comedy that blends laughter with discussion of serious topics like addiction, mental health, and consent. It’s a show that will make you cry because it’s genuinely touching but also because you love these characters and want their success and happiness.

Todd Grinnell is particularly exceptional in the third season throughout Schneider’s relapse and once again, I will be needing Justina Machado to be showered in every award possible. Every member of the main cast is doing truly incredible work and the amount of care that has gone into crafting these characters is evident. Elena gets to be taken seriously as a feminist teenager with a lot of opinions and her relationship with her Syd-nificant other is unlike anything else I’ve seen on TV. Alex gets to be a teenager who makes mistakes but is also a tremendous source of compassion and emotional support for his family. He’s not a warning (although the show is quick to point out the discrepancies in the way drug offences are treated by race in this country), he’s just him. And Lydia is as fabulous as any character played by Rita Moreno should be. She sparkles and is full of life and love for those around her and is a delight every moment she is on screen.

I could gush about the wonders of this show all day because it is incredibly special to me and it means so much to the communities that it represents. It deserves many more seasons and now is the time to start watching it on Netflix and fall in love with it as so many have.

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Book Title: The People’s Future of the United States

Author: Various Authors (edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams)

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy

With this book, Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams wanted to paint a portrait of the US at it may become and provide potential futures to believe in. Not all of the futures are happy and sometimes it’s easier to see how we get to this darker future than is comfortable but through it all, there is hope. There was a deliberate choice to center the voices of women, people of color, and those in the LGBTQ+ community (including those who exist at the intersection of those identities). Not only do they get to imagine a world where they exist in the future (something that has not been the norm in the scifi and fantasy genre, though that is changing), they get to be the heroes fighting (and sometimes winning) against an oppressive world to create something better.

The talent assembled in this anthology is incredible – we get short stories from N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Sam J. Miller, Daniel Jose Older, Gabby Rivera, and many other acclaimed and loved authors. As in any short story collection, there will be pieces that resonate more than others and that will largely vary by the reader and what stories they need to hear in that moment.

Short stories allow for creativity in storytelling that novel-length fiction can’t always sustain. Malka Older’s story is told as an excerpt from a textbook and presents a history of the future while Charles Yu’s is written in newspaper articles and the use of those devices does a remarkable job fleshing out their fictional futures in few words. Some other highlights for me include “Our Aim Is Not To Die” by A. Merc Rustad, “The Referendum” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, and (to absolutely no one’s surprise) “Harmony” by Seanan McGuire.

But unsurprisingly, my two favorite quotes of the book come from stories about stories.

There are stories about perfection, but those stories are lies. No one ever made the world better by being perfect. There is only mess in humans, and sometimes that mess turns to magic, and sometimes that magic turns to kindness, to salvation, to survival.” (“Read After Burning” by Maria Dahvana Headley)

And an author is just someone who tried their utmost to make sense of their own mess, and maybe their failure contains a few seeds to help you with yours.” (“The Bookstore at the End of America” by Charlie Jane Anders)

Stories are powerful. They shape our world and they can change our lives. They help us envision brighter tomorrows and give us the hope and strength to fight when the tomorrows aren’t as bright as we dreamed. They help shape our narratives about who matters. That is the guiding principle behind this anthology and these authors did a tremendous job with the theme they were given.

 

2 thoughts on “February 2019 Recommendations

  1. I’m still making my way through S3 of ODAAT (I’ve been in a TV funk, ugh) but so far it is delightful, and deserves ALL the viewers.

    I’ve seen that book floating around the internet over the past month or two and been curious, and I somehow missed that Seanan was part of the lineup, so thanks for recommending it here! Those quotes are wonderful, and I look forward to picking it up sometime.

    1. TV funks are the worst!

      I still don’t necessarily love short stories but this collection of them is really good on the whole. But mostly, you know I can’t resist a new Seanan story lol.

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