Tag Archives: the expanse

Best of 2021: Television

It was a weird TV year. There were long stretches of time in which I just didn’t consume any scripted content. Or that I only got to because I was watching them with a friend. But then there were things that grabbed hold of my heart and made things feel right and normal again for a while. So this is less a list of my favorites of the year and more a list of shows that made me want to talk about them for some reason. Sometimes it was a character, sometimes it was a premise, and sometimes it was because it was everything I wanted it to be and more.

If you’re looking for more year-end content broken up into categories, you’ll want to head over to Marvelous Geeks for some amazing recs and thoughts. And if you’re looking for a gorgeous essay on change and TV and what we needed (or specifically what Katie needed) this year, head over to Nerdy Girl Notes.

Leverage Redemption I needed this reboot/revival/return to be good. I love the original SO MUCH and desperately did not want to be let down. I trusted the creators but years of television have taught me that’s a dangerous thing. Thankfully, my faith wasn’t misplaced and I largely adored this season. My show came back, just as I would have wanted it. Not the exact same, it’s somehow less subtle now in its condemnation of the bad guys (and the real people they are based on) and it’s angrier because it’s 2021 and we’re all a little angrier about the ways in which we have been failed by so many systems. But the heart is the same. This family is the same. That drive to make the world just a little bit better is the same. It felt different without Hardison, in many ways, he is the glue that keeps everything together. But I love the explanation given for his absence and like the original did with Gina’s pregnancy, this version let Hardison grow as a character while giving Aldis Hodge the ability to keep his very busy schedule as his career skyrockets. But wow did I love the new additions to the cast. Our dear Mr. Wilson as the vehicle through which we explored the Jewish concept of redemption was a fantastic way to give shape to the season and he ended up being an incredibly endearing character on top of it. And then there is Breanna Casey. That fresh perspective she brings as a young woman who hasn’t known a different world breathes new energy into the show. Everyone else’s worse is her normal and her speech about that is the reason I will follow John Rogers as a creator wherever he goes. I am thrilled we are getting a second season to spend with these characters because I am not ready to say goodbye again. The only thing that could make it better is if they follow through on what they’ve written and make my beloved OT3 fully canon. It’s right there and while they are amazing now as they are, there is that potential for something even better and I want it.

Ted Lasso More than anything else on this list, I would have liked to rewatch this season before writing this like I normally would have. I think it would have benefited from a second watch in a binge format but I didn’t get to do it so instead I’m just going to talk about the things I loved the most instead of tying anything together nicely. I continue to be fully on board with Ted and Rebecca as a ship and want to yell about it all the time. If Leverage Redemption didn’t exist, they would be my #1 ship of the year. I love Rebecca being the one to consistently see through the walls Ted puts up (however positive they may look, they are still walls) and continuing her actions in Make Rebecca Great Again to show up and support him however she can. I love Ted being the person who knew exactly what to say to Rebecca at her father’s funeral and that he was the first to join in with her song. They understand each other and care for each other in ways that are simultaneously very quiet and very loud and I hope we get to watch them gravitate back toward each other next season as they get out of the dark forest. I love the redemption of Jamie Tartt alongside the fall of Nate Shelley. One blossomed under Ted’s style of leadership as soon as he let himself actually embrace what he stood for and one repeatedly pushed it aside because he couldn’t see past his own issues to believe in what he was demonstrating. And most of all, I love AFC Richmond as a club and as a family. Every scene of the players together in the locker room and the Christmas dinner at the Higgins’ house and the fact that every single person showed up for Rebecca at her father’s funeral (she’s not alone any more and I have entirely too many feelings about it) is what my found family loving heart needed from this season. It was dark and many characters were going through things and isolating themselves or shutting down communication when they needed it most. But it was never without hope or without love. 

The Expanse I will admit that I have not started the final season yet. But the back half of season 5 was more than strong enough for the show to make this list and it is primarily for one reason. Dominique Tipper gives one of the most extraordinary performances I have seen of determination and survival and intelligence and love in the season finale “Nemesis Games”. Naomi is an incredible character and Tipper does not get nearly enough credit for the absolutely incredible work she is doing and I will be mad about it forever. In addition, the reunion scene on the Roci is one of my favorites. They are a family and they may have lost someone but they are still strong and have each other. They are each other’s people and no amount of distance has shaken that and that’s the story I will always want from my science fiction (and television in general). I don’t want this story to end but I can’t wait to dive into the final episodes soon because I have faith that they will nail this ending. 

Continue reading Best of 2021: Television

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. 

Continue reading Monthly Recommendations: February 2021

Best of 2019: TV Series

I feel like I complained a lot about TV this year but despite some disappointments and hurt, it was probably overall one of my most enjoyable in quite a while. Whether it was because I was better at stopping shows that ceased to make me happy or because I discovered so many great new things, I can look back at this year and find so much to appreciate. Once again, half hour shows are where it’s at right now for creative and unique storytelling whether its in the format of the show or the types of stories being told. As evidenced by this list, it was a terrific year for female creators telling very specific stories and doing so incredibly well and a terrific year for compassionate storytelling. It wasn’t always nice and happy but so much came from a place of love and care for its characters and their world and that’s what I want most.

Thanks for hanging around for another year and don’t forget to check out the many wonderful lists over on MGCircles and a fantastic year-end essay at Nerdy Girl Notes!

1. Fleabag Season one of this show is good and creative and rightfully brought attention to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for what she created. Season two is extraordinary. It is emotionally resonant, creatively efficient storytelling and it deserves every one of the accolades it’s received. It’s simultaneously soothing and unsettling, which makes perfect sense for a show that is about connection. It’s a season of healing and acceptance, particularly self-acceptance, and the fucking terrifying nature of vulnerability and letting yourself be seen. It’s raw and visceral but not in a way that screams at you. It’s a seductive whisper instead of a roar. It asks you to open your heart and experience the exhilaration of falling in love with someone who is everything you need but that you ultimately can’t have. It’s not anger that ends the season and it’s not even really heartbreak, although that is a component, it’s learning to be present and to sit with your emotions instead of shoving them aside. There’s not a quippy joke meant to deflect and for the first time, Fleabag is going somewhere we can’t follow. She’s ready to be alone now, knowing that she is capable of connection and that she can love and survive even after the loss of that love because she’ll carry it with her. She doesn’t need to run from her own mind and pain to keep going. It’s powerful and deeply affecting in a way that is really only possible when something is as well-constructed as this season was. Everything about it is thoughtfully chosen and led to a whole that was somehow even stronger than the sum of its parts. 

2. Good Omens This show came at precisely the right time. After a spring season of television that was once again rough on my emotions in an unplesant way (seriously shows, stop doing this), Good Omens came along with a terrific adaptation of a book I already loved, with a terrific cast, a ship to fall head over heels for, and a celebration of humanity and our ability to choose a path other than the one seemingly laid out for us. The love Neil Gaiman put into this show to make it something his best friend and co-author Terry Pratchett would have been proud of is evident in every choice and especially in interviews. The humanism that is a hallmark of Pratchett’s work is all over the show. It sees who we are, for better or worse, and says that we can choose better. The Them standing up for the world they want to be grow up in against the Four Horsemen and Adam telling Satan that he’s not his real dad despite that being his whole purpose of creation are a demonstration that we don’t have to accept what we’re told is the way things should work. We can rebuild something of our own, something that makes space for all the things we’re told are impossible. We can make a world where an angel and a demon can dine at the Ritz because the side they’ve chosen is the one they can be on together, where a witch burns the prophecies that are her legacy in order to discover a life where she makes her own choices. It is a show full of hope and love that I will cherish forever. 

3.  One Day At A Time Look, this show has been at or near the top of my lists for the past two years and this year is not going to be an exception. I love this family, the ethos behind the show, and the cast and writers too much for it not to appear. It continues to be smart and full of laughter and warmth and love in its third season as we see Schneider relapse, Penelope become a Nurse Practitioner, Elena and Syd becoming more serious, and Alex trying drugs and promptly getting grounded. It handled things like street harassment, addiction, mental health, and sex with it’s typical consideration and compassion for these characters and lets them have their own perspectives and challenges. They feel like real people that you might know and want to spend time around and you can’t help but love them and root for their successes. It’s not easy to make characters that feel so well-formed and each choice they make feel like it comes from who they are and not whatever topic they want to address, plot point they need to squeeze in, or punchline they need to hit but they have consistently done a terrific job from both a writing and acting perspective. This show is incredibly special to me and PopTV swooping in and saving it was a highlight of my year.

4. Vida This is a show with a vision and a fierce pride and joy in the communities it represents. It also has a deep compassion for who these characters are and what they have been through. As a result, it feels unlike everything else on television right now. Everyone is allowed to be full of contradictions, no one can easily be defined as good or bad. It allows space for complicated issues and is content to sit with the lack of easy answers. Above all, it’s a show about family and learning how to connect and come together after time and distance apart. Emma and Lyn’s relationship with each other and their complicated memories of their mother and her legacy are the backbone of the show. The grace it gives them to navigate that space even when its ugly and come to terms with the loss of a woman who raised them and influenced the person they became, for better or worse, while recognizing that they didn’t truly know her is extraordinary. I can’t speak to the specific ways it portrays Latinx and specifically Mexican culture but every choice they make feels like it’s one made from love and care. It doesn’t feel made to explain things to others, I know I only pick up about 75% of what’s being said when the characters are speaking Spanish, and it’s stronger for it. I love everything Tanya Saracho has created in this show and cannot wait for whatever s3 brings. As long as it maintain its compassion, and I have no reason to believe it won’t, I’m in until the end. 

Continue reading Best of 2019: TV Series

Best of 2019: Moments

There were a lot of noteworthy bad decisions written for television in 2019, often with cringeworthy interviews that followed that doubled-down on the poor choices. But sometimes, writers got it exactly right. They gave us moments that reassured us, surprised us, spoke to important societal topics, and made us feel. They were the ones that understood their characters and the contexts in which they operate and created worlds we wanted to be a part of. They gave us something to aim for as we make the world around us a more compassionate and inclusive place. They valued relationships and emotional history. They were the moments that reminded me why I love television even when it’s frustrating me.

1. Jaime knights Brienne (Game of Thrones) This moment, even more than their sex scene, is the culmination of five seasons worth of character and relationship development. It is everything Brienne has secretly wanted for so long yet it felt outside of her grasp because of her gender. Until Jaime (thanks to a good idea from Tormund) decides to change it. There was no way for this scene to be any more meaningful. It needed to be Jaime that gives this to her. He has seen very clearly who she is for the past 5 seasons and been grateful for and humbled by her sense of honor and duty. It’s her firm belief in the vows of knighthood that reminded him of his own and called him to fight for Winterfell and humanity. It’s a moment that only Nikolaj and Gwen could have made together. Their love for these characters and their ability to have full conversations with nothing more than a look were absolutely essential. There is love and admiration and gratitude and the terrifying and healing nature of being so clearly seen. I love how thrilled everyone else in the room is for Brienne (especially Pod) but it’s evident how much they all faded away during the actual knighting. It was Jaime’s declaration of love and something that needed to be said on what they thought could well be their last night alive. For one moment, Brienne of Tarth got everything she wanted. She got the honor of being called a knight and a man who genuinely cared for her as the extraordinary woman that she is and she deserved nothing less.

2. Aziraphale and Crowley Through Time (Good Omens) TV shows spend time on what matters and too often, that’s used as an excuse to forego character moments in favor of plot. But that character and relationship building matters, it’s why viewers care about what happens. The episode three cold open told us what Good Omens valued. They spent half an episode (about 8% of the total show runtime) dedicated to Aziraphale and Crowley’s incredibly slow courtship. The bond and trust between them and shared appreciation (or at least lack of disdain) for humanity is vital to understanding why they make the choices they do in the following 3.5 episodes of the show. It is an utterly delightful half hour as we fast forward through history including the Flood and a production of a struggling Hamlet and watch these two settle into their roles as something approximating allies and friends. We see the moment that Aziraphale realizes that he’s a little in love with Crowley, not after he rescued Aziraphale from the Nazis but when he saved the books from the ensuing bombing, and the moment where it all gets to be too much with Michael Sheen’s devastating line reading of “You go too fast for me, Crowley”. These actors are fantastic together and by the end, we’re rooting for them to succeed in their mission to avert the apocalypse and settle down together. That is the whole point of that cold open and it’s perfect. 

3. Queer Gatekeeping (Vida) I wish that this scene was available somewhere as a clip but in lieu of that, each word is link to a different tumblr gifset and that will have to do. Before we get to the content and why it’s remarkable, I want to take a moment to point out how gorgeous the lighting in this scene is. Their designer did a terrific job fitting the mood of a wedding but also making everyone look incredible. I absolutely adore Emma’s righteous indignation at yet another group of people trying to police her identity and her expression of it and Nico’s use of sarcasm to rebut all the ridiculous gatekeeping present in this scene. It’s cathartic for anyone who has ever been worried that they’re somehow not queer enough because they don’t tick certain boxes or for anyone who has been explicitly excluded from a community in which they’d hoped to find acceptance based on appearances or snap judgements. It’s an incredible scene and I so appreciate the writers for very clearly pushing back against that sort of judgement and policing.

4. Jimmy’s non-vows (You’re the Worst) I cannot thank Stephen Falk enough for this moment. Nothing about Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship has ever been conventional. In their words, it’s “ugly and uncomfortable and haunting and brilliant and thrilling”. But it’s theirs and its what’s right for them as people in this moment of time. Their happy ending isn’t necessarily a wedding and kids and promises to be together forever. Instead, Jimmy promises to love Gretchen and commit to being with her every day until they decide otherwise. It doesn’t require long-term commitment on either of their parts but does ask them choose each other over and over again. And that is perhaps one of the most romantic things I’ve seen a show do. Gretchen has never been convinced that she’ll be anyone’s choice nor has she believed she should be. As she mentions prior to this moment, she can’t promise Jimmy forever when she’s not convinced she can promise herself forever. But they can give each other one day at a time. They get an ending that feels right to them, not only to honor the characters and the journey they’ve been through over five seasons but also to honor the attachment the show has cultivated to them. Falk never ended to pull the rug out from under them and have them end up alone and miserable because it felt cruel to the audience and in a year where that seemed all too common because of “clever writing” or “realism”, I appreciated it more than ever.  

Continue reading Best of 2019: Moments

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