Monthly Recommendations: February 2021

I’m going to be honest, this wasn’t a great month of media consumption for me. I had movies and TV shows I wanted to watch that just never happened. I am also in a reading slump and only got through one book this month and it was only alright for my personal tastes. So this is a little bit of a lean recommendation post but feel free to leave the things you enjoyed in the comments and send me some secondhand joy along with things to add to my list that maybe I can actually get through in March.

Show Title: The Expanse

Episodes: 56

Where to Watch: Amazon

I recommended this show in a post just like this two years ago but with two more seasons completed and a final one announced, it feels like time to bring it back. Even if it’s only so I can tell you that the fifth season of this show featured some of the strongest performances on television and I am going to be eternally frustrated if/when (listen, I am under no illusion that Emmy voters even know this show exists) Dominique Tipper isn’t given every possible acting award. I will admit to struggling a little with this season because I missed having the Roci fam together and have had enough bad experiences with sci-fi and fantasy shows that separate their characters only to never really put them back together again. But I shouldn’t have worried, this show knows where its emotional core lies and the good these people have done for each other. Even with my slight disappointment at the separation, it led to two phenomenal stories for my two favorite characters. We got to see Naomi stand tall and take pride in the woman she has become and in the knowledge that she made the right choice for herself. She owned her past and her truth in the hopes of reuniting with her son and when that wasn’t possible, she did what she needed to do to save herself and was brilliant and brave and driven by the love she has for the family she’s made for herself. We saw Amos revisit his past and realize just how far he’s come and how badly he needs his family to be the person he wants to be. We saw his loyalty and drive and love alongside the brutality he’s capable of and it was everything I could have wanted from him. For a show that is telling a much wider story, it never loses sight of its intimate character moments. It is deeply concerned with making its characters feel like fully formed people and making you understand their perspective, even when you disagree. It’s a style of storytelling I will always appreciate and I’m grateful to them for doing it so well. 

Song Title: Fix You (Coldplay cover)

Artist: BTS

From: MTV Unplugged

On the off chance that you don’t have any BTS fans in your life who have been excitedly talking about this song nonstop since Tuesday, the group performed on MTV Unplugged this week where they treated us to 4 songs off their most recent album BE along with this cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You”. It was a song they said brought them a lot of comfort over the past year and hoped it would do the same for those listening and given the response, I’m going to say it did. They captured the feel of the song in such a beautiful way and it is probably one of my favorite vocal performances by them to date. I wanted to single out a moment or two but that is proving impossible so I’m just going to settle for singling out the majority of the song by pointing out how much the rap line’s harmonizations added and how fantastic they sound together in any combination. (For those unfamiliar, there are 3 rappers and 4 vocalists in BTS and we don’t get a lot of pure vocals in songs that aren’t specific to the vocal line) It’s an incredible performance that I personally think everyone should hear if they enjoy amazing vocals and one that has been on frequent repeat for me and many others this week. 

Song Title: Blue & Grey

Artist: BTS

Album: BE

From: MTV Unplugged

I had initially been planning to only talk about the cover above but felt like I was shortchanging them and the effort that went into creating BE. It was a pandemic album that allowed them the chance to express some of their own feelings as well as serve as a comfort to their fans at a time when concerts couldn’t happen. It is a product of their creative energy and love, from start to finish, and one they are incredibly proud of (as they should be, it’s great). This was the first time they had gotten to play two of the songs from the album live and while I loved both of them and still highly recommend checking out the performance of Telepathy because it’s fun and a bop, I’m going to single out Blue & Grey. It was a song that was originally written by Taehyung for his upcoming mixtape but he gifted it to the group after everyone else fell in love with it. It’s a song about burnout and the mental weight and loneliness it causes while also holding space for the knowledge that this will pass. It’s an emotional song and this performance amplifies that with the gorgeous staging. And of course, it sounds terrific. In particular, the harmony combination of Jin and Jungkook followed by Jimin and Taehyung is a standout, as are Tae’s closing lines. And if you watched these two videos and are now a mess of feelings, pick yourself up with the performance of Dynamite, a song that exists just to make people happy, and Life Goes On, which sounds phenomenal with a live band.

4 thoughts on “Monthly Recommendations: February 2021

  1. 1. I could read your Expanse thoughts forever.

    2. Every single one of those BTS videos is gold, and their “Fix You” elevates a song that has been covered 6 trillion times. How did they do it???? It’s so sincere and soft and pretty, and I’m in love.

    My TV rec this month is Derry Girls, which I started on a whim because its episodes were short enough to not make me hate my life while on the treadmill, and now it’s something I genuinely look forward to on the days I work from home. It’s genuinely funny, and every character is a mess in their own unique, relatable, and lovable way. But I have to single out the way the show manages to weave in the horrors of life in Ireland in the 1990s with teenage drama/hijinks in a way that feels like real life. Tragedy happens all around us, and yet our lives have to go on. We take the silly and the sad, the joyful and the heartbreaking, and life can’t exist without all of it. And the way the show strikes that balance is brilliant.

    I think for movies this month I’ll throw my weight behind Nomadland because you can get it for free if you have Hulu. I watched it last night and cannot stop thinking about it. It was big in its visuals and intimate in its storytelling in really lovely way. And it has more heart than any other movie I’ve seen this year. It’s a story of good people who’ve had bad things happen to them but never stop being kind, welcoming, and hopeful. It’s about seeing the beauty in a country that’s shown you nothing but ugliness. And it’s about working through grief and believing that we’ll see our loved ones again further down the road. I haven’t seen something this hopeful in a long time.

    Finally, I’m going to yell about Take a Hint, Dani Brown! because it’s the best book I’ve read in ages. It’s sexy and sweet and does fake dating SO WELL. It also talks about mental health realistically and believably gets in the head of a woman who likes her life as is and has a plan for her career and has no idea how to prioritize a relationship, until she realizes she’s doing it without even trying—because when it’s the right person, it doesn’t feel like giving up parts of yourself. I loved that both characters never had to change for each other; they just grew together. And the sex scenes were ON FIRE.

    1. If nothing else, BTS will always manage to be beautifully sincere in what they do and there was no better cover to express that.

      If it fits into anything you are doing or you can squeeze it in to something else, I need you to write about Derry Girls because everything you said is perfect. They find that balance in such an understated but powerful way and it’s just SO GOOD.

      And I am just so happy you love the Brown sisters as much as I do. Dani and Zaf are one of the best examples of what it means to grow together and to have the freedom to be more than you imagined because you have the right person by your side. And you are absolutely right, the sex scenes are on fire.

      Between what you said here and what you talked about in our Skype date, I am really intrigued by Nomadland and feel the need to get around to it sooner rather than my normal habit of watching things years after they come out.

  2. I’m finally catching up to the reading I’ve missed and so much yes to all your thoughts on The Expanse. The separation has really gotten to me too this season, but my God, the performances have been extraordinary. And I seriously have NO CLUE, how the Emmys keep snubbing? Like, I know there’s a weird hesitation towards sci-fi but you’re telling me fantasy like GOT got recognition and this is just crickets!? Ugh, it pisses me off to no end. But also it’s been such a joy to see you find happiness and excitement through BTS. Their song, Spring Day is one of the songs that keeps getting me through this quarantine hell we’re all still living through.

    1. YES. They threw awards at GOT even in seasons that were not good, where is The Expanse’s recognition???

      Spring Day is such a gorgeous song and such a good one to hold on to while we’re in this neverending quarantine.

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