Tag Archives: television

October 2019 Recommendations

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Show Title: All Rise

Episodes: 6 (at time of writing)

Where to Watch: CBS All Access

It’s been a long time since I started and stuck with a CBS drama but this one immediately captured me and became my favorite new show of the fall season. Probably my favorite fall show of the past few seasons, if I’m honest. It feels more like an ABC drama in some vague, undefined way with its emphasis on character development and their relationships with each other and less focus on the case itself and that’s absolutely for the better. The cases are designed to tell you something new about these characters and what they stand for, while being interesting in their own right. The choice to center the show around a judge and not a lawyer provides more flexibility in what they’re able to cover and means justice doesn’t have to look like a guilty/not-guilty verdict. But mostly, it’s all about the characters. I love that the majority of the show revolves around people of color and that there are so many women who not only respect each other professionally but champion each other in their personal lives. I love everything this show has done so far and I need it to continue for many more seasons, so if anything I’ve just said sounds appealing, please go watch this show! 

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Book Title: All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages

Author: Saundra Mitchell (editor) – anthology w/various authors

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

This anthology is packed full of incredible stories by many popular YA authors. I love the idea of a book designed to show that queer people have always existed even if our terminology has changed throughout time, especially one aimed at teenagers. It does skew very American and European and seeing something that takes place in 1999 in a historical fiction collection makes me feel ancient. However, as a whole, it’s a very strong collection and I really enjoyed the majority of these stories. Some particular highlights for me were “Roja” by Anna-Marie McLemore, which is exactly as beautiful and lyrically written as everything else she writes and starts the anthology on an extremely high note. “Burnt Umber” by Mackenzi Lee was very cute with a similar style to “Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue”, “Every Shade of Red” by Elliot Wake was a new take on Robin Hood that I adored, and “Three Witches” by Tessa Gratton was beautifully emotionally evocative. It was a great blend of known and unknown authors to me and one of the stronger anthologies I’ve encountered recently. 

June 2019 Recommendations

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Show Title: Good Omens

Episodes: 6

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Look, if you follow me on either Twitter or Tumblr, you’re well aware that this is my latest obsession. I read the book about 6 years ago and loved it so I was already the target audience for this show. But thanks to some brilliant casting choices and shifting the story just enough to primarily be a love story between Aziraphale and Crowley on their mission to avert the apocalypse, it beyond delivered. From the outset, it was conceived to be a tribute to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s friendship with him and that care came through in everything they did. It’s a celebration humanity’s ability to choose paths other than the ones seemingly ordained to us and to make the world something we can be proud of. The Them standing up to the Four Horseman because they know they deserve better than a ruined world and Adam standing up to the devil to point out that biology doesn’t determine parentage are gorgeous moments in what was actually one of the weaker points of the show. Where it truly excels (and what has caused the bulk of the media attention) is in the developing relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley as they forge their own side out of a shared love of humanity and each other. The cold open of the 3rd episode is 28 minutes long and entirely devoted to their history with each other over 6000 years and it was brilliantly done and acted. They put in the time to develop their relationship so that you really feel the impact of their fight at the end of the same episode and it’s that dedication to character work in a 6 hour long show that I appreciate so much. While this isn’t fully a story about them, they’re the hook and in order for everything else to land (and to overlook things that may not have been as strong), we had to believe in their connection and they delivered. After a frustrating spring of uneven character work on other shows, this was exactly what I wanted.

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Book Title: The Luminous Dead

Author: Caitlin Starling

Genre: Sci-fi/Horror

It can’t be easy to write a book in a very confined setting with only two characters but this debut manages to do just that in a compelling way. Em and Gyre are full of secrets and past pain that both drives them and holds them back from truly living and to see them be confronted with those pasts and also begin to find healing in their initially reluctant friendship and growing feelings was incredible to read. Yes, it’s a story of exploration and the drive to push on despite obstacles and the gradually unfolding story surrounding these particular set of space caves is interesting, but it’s the revelations each girl has in the process that will pull you in the most. They had to put their life (in Gyre’s case) and their hopes (in Em’s) in each other’s hands and that’s no easy task. It required vulnerability and trust that neither of them knew how to give when they started this journey and at the end, there was no one else who could fully understand what they’ve been through. To have to anchor someone and fight for them when their senses could no longer be trusted. To accept the help when it seems so much more seductive to let go and lose yourself in the pain. The character work is the focus and while that may not be what someone is looking for in a horror book, it was absolutely the right choice for this particular story and I really enjoyed it. 

 

May 2019 Recommendations

Show Title: The Expanse

Episodes: 36

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

Episodes: 12

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.

Continue reading May 2019 Recommendations

January 2019 Recommendations

Over the course of a year, I watch and read a lot of things that I love. Some make it on to my year-end lists but others (like the two shows I mention today) aired last year or earlier and I didn’t get to them in time for them to make my list. There is so much content out there and depending on who you follow on social media, you may or may not see any buzz for an individual show or book so I wanted to draw some attention to things I enjoyed in the hopes that someone will find something to add to their TBR or to-watch lists. What good things did you read or watch this month?

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Show Title: Élite

Episodes: 8

Where to Find It: Netflix

If you like high school dramas and don’t mind subtitles, this is the show for you. Part Gossip Girl, part Riverdale, this teen soap is full of characters trying to figure out who they are, budding and faltering romances, and lots of bad decision making skills. If that weren’t enough to deal with as a teenager, there’s also a murder mystery that’s told in flash-forward glimpses of the investigation and interrogations. Secrets are unraveled and alliances are formed as the final episode reveals the culprit and sets up what is sure to be an equally entertaining (and most importantly, already ordered) season two.

This sort of show is an easy sell for me. I love a well-made teen soap and the added suspense of the murder mystery makes it all the easier to binge. What I wasn’t expecting was to love these characters as much as I did. No one is entirely what they seem and as walls come down and circumstances shift, we get to see new sides to everyone that don’t make them better people necessarily but do make them more complicated and less archetypical. They are messes but they’re now my messes and I can’t wait to see more of them next season.

Continue reading January 2019 Recommendations

Best of 2018: TV Characters

As I said in Sunday’s post, I watched less TV than usual this year. I think I loved the things I watched more on average but it did give me fewer characters to choose from. As I started making this list however, one similarity jumped out at me. It was a harsh year and as a result, I trended toward kind characters. I wanted to see people who cared about others and weren’t afraid to show it. I wanted characters who did what they could to make a difference. I wanted characters with strong connections to others. They were the perfect balm for me this year and I imagine will continue to be so in the future. What characters did you love most this year?

1. Penelope Alvarez (One Day At A Time) Justina Machado is one of the most underrated actresses on television right now, as I tend to mention on twitter after each new season of One Day at a Time and during awards seasons, so it’s unsurprising that Penelope is one of my favorite characters. She is strong, and driven, and an incredible mom, and most of all, feels so incredibly real and human. I love her when she is strong and fighting for herself and her family and I love her when she gets scared and wants to quit school and when she’s in the middle of a rough depressive episode. She is everything I would want to be in life and I feel so fortunate that she exists for me to love and admire.

2. Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista (Pose) This was a year of loving found families even more than usual for me and there is no one better to represent that than Blanca. When she was disowned by her biological family, she found a new one in the ballroom world. When Elektra couldn’t provide the emotional environment she desperately wanted, she went out and started her own house so that no one would need to feel alone and without anyone in their corner again. She has fought for the life she wants and she’ll fight to help her children and her friends have the lives they want as well. She is the kind of person the world needs more of and exactly the type of character I want to celebrate most this year.

3. Charlotte Wells (Harlots) My darling girl. She is a fascinating set of contradictions and complexity and I love her for it. She feels so deeply, whether that feeling is good or bad, and because of her position, she often needs to keep those feelings locked away because they are dangerous. She is full of love for her sister and her pa and for her ma, as she learned this season, even as she is full of rage and resentment toward her ma and Lydia Quigley and the entire system that has enabled their actions for the pleasure of men. She is simultaneously cunning, patient, impulsive, and reckless. For better and worse, she is the daughter of Margaret Wells and that has given her strength and a steely determination while also giving her wounds she may never fully recover from. Her reunion with Margaret only to lose her again was heartbreaking and I’m very curious to see where she goes from here as she steps up to run the house next season.

4. Eleanor Shellstrop (The Good Place) It’s been quite the year for Eleanor. She visited the Bad Place, got brought back to life, learned she and her friends were ineligible to ever get to the Good Place, made peace with who her mom was and wasn’t, and learned she was in fact still capable of love. Eleanor is a mess a lot of the time, but she’s also grown beyond the person she was at the start of the show. She has a strong group of friends, she’s facing her past demons and confronting them, and she’s found the value in doing good even without the potential reward of an afterlife. She’s become a better version of herself without fully losing the Arizona dirtbag part of herself and it’s been a terrific journey to watch.

Continue reading Best of 2018: TV Characters

Why I Love Television

To kick off the month, I want to talk about why I love television. What is it about this medium that makes me want to write about it on a blog and spend my free time watching it or discussing it?

To start on the most basic level, I watch TV because it makes me happy. It’s an activity that I enjoy so therefore want to spend my time doing. The short episode lengths make it easy to fit into my day. I can keep track of several shows at once, so I always have something to fit my mood.

If that were as deeply as I wanted to think about my love of TV, that would be fine but then I wouldn’t be me. The “examined” part of this blog name isn’t just about looking at trends in television or looking at larger societal implications of what we are watching. It’s about looking deeply at yourself and using your consumption of television to tell you more about yourself. It’s an introspective process and one I very much enjoy.

Continue reading Why I Love Television