Show Title: The Expanse
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
I might be slightly hesitant to recommend an ongoing show with a stellar season three after I was so disappointed by The Magicians last month but no matter where Amazon takes the show in season 4 (and hopefully beyond), I can’t regret falling in love with the Roci and pretty much everyone who has ever set foot on it. Even when you aren’t invested in the plot, you can’t help but invest yourself in these characters. You want to love them and root for them because that’s what they do for each other. Whether it’s Amos’s loyalty to Naomi (and then the rest of the crew) or Alex doing everything he can to make the Roci feel like home and for its crew to be a family, the show offers more than lip service to the idea that these people care about each other. Their relationships drive their actions going forward and in doing so, affect the plot. That’s what I need from my TV shows and why I am so ready for this show to be back.
Show Title: Fleabag
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Yes, I know everyone TV-adjacent is talking about this to the point that it risks becoming oversaturated and pushing people away. And yes, I also know with certainty that it’s going to end up all over my Best of 2019 posts and I will therefore have other opportunities to write about it. But I also haven’t been able to to stop thinking about season 2 and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s ability to craft a show and therefore it deserves a rec for this month. I liked season 1 a lot – the structure was intriguing, I loved Fleabag for all of her flaws and pain, and Olivia Coleman is clearly having an incredible time playing the deliciously wicked stepmother. Season 2 turned my appreciation into a full-blown love affair by giving me a story about healing and being able to move forward despite the tragedy of one’s past as well as the power in letting yourself be seen. It is impeccably constructed, features a relationship with so much chemistry and potential that you’ll root for it even knowing it’s probably doomed, and while it’s probably not a show that will appeal to everyone (much like Waller-Bridge’s other creation, Killing Eve), if it works for you, it will probably really work for you. It was one of my most anticipated returns of the year and it surpassed all my expectations.
Book Title: The Weight of the Stars
Author: K. Ancrum
Genre: YA Sci-fi
This is one of the warmest, kindest books I’ve read this year. It’s a story about yearning and healing and loving fiercely and fighting for your family in whatever form it takes. The found family in this story is everything. I loved the group of people Ryann has taken under her wing over the years and the way they do what they can to look out for her and for each other. They’re all different with their own prickliness and complications but their love for each other is a constant that they’ve come to rely on and it is beautiful. The love story in this is also extremely wonderful, especially if you love a good enemies (or at least antagonists) to lovers story. These characters are all treated with so much dignity and respect and it grounds the book in the midst of corporate fuckups and the prospect of sending a bunch of teenagers to space. It was exactly what I needed to read at the moment and I need more people to fall in love with this incredible book.
Book Title: Middlegame
Author: Seanan McGuire
My love for Seanan McGuire’s work is well-documented around these parts. So naturally, I was excited for Middlegame which she’s described as the best thing she’s written. From a technical level, I have to agree. The writing is absolutely stunning and the style draws you further and further into the world until it becomes hard to shake off and you don’t want to put it down. It’s a book ten years in the making and while there are elements that will be familiar to frequent readers of her work, it stands on its own as something different and special. Roger and Dodger made my heart ache for them on more than one occasion as they learn how to exist as connected but distinct parts of a whole. Their bond and the differences in the way they view the world are gorgeously described and they leapt off the page for me and made me want to protect them from the people who viewed them as tools. It’s a book that is both a little detached and intensely emotional and visceral (at least for me) all at once and that juxtaposition absolutely works in its favor. It’s weird and disorienting in an appealing way and I can imagine it will only get better on reread.