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My Recent Media Diet (May, 2020)

· 1067 words · 6 min read

Previously: March/April, February, January, Best of Media, 2019

Time to catch up with things I’ve been watching/enjoying! I am shamelessly copying Kottke’s format, with some minor changes. It was a very strong month for TV shows, with Never Have I Ever, Normal People and The Great being its highlights.


Weathering with You (Tenki No Ko, 2019): I’ve long been waiting to watch this and had high hopes for it, as it was created by Makoto Shinkai who also made one of my favorite animes ever, Your Name (Kimi no Na wa). The animation is gorgeous, but the story left me sorely disappointed and I bailed halfway through.


Popstar: Never Stop Stopping (2016): This was loads of fun. Way more fun than I expected. I already liked Lonely Island so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Anyways, I loved it. It’s the This Is Spinal Tap of the 2010s. (A)

The Losers (2010): Very dumb, but also, mostly very fun. (B)

The Lovebirds (2020): This was fun. I mostly background watched it, but I did focus more when it was necessary and in the final 30 minutes or so. There is nothing special about this movie, but there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes. (B-)

Background watch

New section! I started doing jigsaw puzzles, and I needed something to play in the background and/or during work. These are the ones I’ve seen so far. I’m probably not going to give these a proper rating.

Star Trek II (1982), III (1984) and IV (1986): These were okay, I guess. It’s been a long while since I watch them. It’s startling just how much the Klingons are a stand-in for the Soviets. The highlight of these is definitely the 4th movie.

Star Trek: Voyager (season 4, episode 25 “One”): I try not to watch too much pandemic-related content, but I felt the urge to rewatch this in the background, and it was pretty good.

The Death of Stalin (2017): Meh. I barely paid attention.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011): I couldn’t even get through it as a background watch.

Top Gun (1986): Ok so the thing is, in 2020, Top Gun reads like a parody of itself. The dialog is so incredibly cheesy and over-the-top that it is nigh impossible to take the movie seriously. I’m still excited about the coming sequel, though.

TV shows

Billions (season 5, episodes 1-4): This show has long reached its natural endpoint and now it’s just a soap opera disguised as prestige television. But also? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s very entertaining and I have nothing to complain about. (A-)

Defending Jacob (miniseries): This is not a bad show (it has some strong performances, including Sweater America as one of the protagonists) but at the end, it felt like a pointless one. Does it have a message? I guess. But it’s mostly a very depressing much with basically no rewards. Skip it. (C)

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (season 1, episodes 1-4): This is an excellent behind-the-scenes series about the show. Instead of going through episode-by-episode, they choose to focus on different aspects each time, and I think that format works well. (A-)

Halt and Catch Fire (season 2 episode 6-10): Still extremely good. I’m saving the last two seasons for harder times. I love this show to bits. (A)

Killing Eve (season 3, episode 4-7): The third season continues to be a massive improvement over the second one, and in episode 5 they deliver the best one they’ve ever made so far. This season does feel weirdly unfocused in specific ways. I think the show also suffers from the fact that they kinda got to a good natural endpoint at the end of season 1, they had to make more of it. In any case, a lot hinges on the last episode; we’ll see how it goes; I’m moderately optimistic. (A-)

O.J. - Made in America (miniseries, episodes 1-2): This is a well-produced documentary, and it gave me a lot of background on the, uh, pre-murder days of O.J. But once it gets to that, I had to stop because that bit is just too gut-wrenching.

Mythic Quest: Quarantine (special episode): This was fun! Not quite as Emmy-worthy as they want it to be, but still, very good. Especially impressive in how quickly they put it together. (A)

Never Have I Ever (season 1): This is the best new TV show I’ve seen in 2020 so far. A smart teen dramedy about grief and being South Asian in America, among other things, created by Mindy Kaling, who’s fantastic. (A)

Normal People (miniseries): Actually, no, THIS is the best new TV show I’ve seen in 2020 so far. It utterly destroyed emotionally. The writing, the acting, the cinematography, it’s all perfect. Go watch it immediately. (A+)

Run (miniseries, episode 4-7): So overall, this was good; the side-story with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character made it even better. But I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed by its final, somewhat anticlimactic episode, and the fact that tonally it was all over the place, and not in a good way. (B+)

Snowpiercer (season 1, episodes 1-2): Yikes. The movie was great, but this has way too much torture porn and not much else, really. The pilot ends with the most predictable twist in the history of television. I bailed in the middle of episode 2, and I won’t be missing it. (F)

The Great (miniseries): This is, well, one of the best new TV shows of this year. A pitch-black satirical dramedy, a fictionalized tale of the early beginnings of Cathrene the Great that made me laugh more than anything else in 2020, probably. But they don’t quite stick the landing, which is a shame. Nevertheless, It’s heaps of fun, and I highly recommend it. (A-)

The Last Dance (miniseries, episode 1): Eh, this wasn’t my jam. I’m not that into basketball. I bailed after 30 minutes or so.

Trying (miniseries, episodes 1-3): I started watching this, and I don’t know, there is nothing wrong with it but it feels like the story is a bit too thin to hold everything together? I might finish it. Or not.

Westworld (season 3, episode 8): Yeah, this sucked. The whole season was terrible. (F)

Patriot Act is back, and it’s as good as ever! Still not watching Last Week Tonight, though and honestly? Not missing it that much.

My Recent Media Diet (March/April, 2020)

· 1149 words · 6 min read

Previously: February, 2020, January, 2020, Best of Media, 2019

Time to catch up with things I’ve been watching/enjoying! I am shamelessly copying Kottke’s format, with some minor changes.

Wow. Jesus. It’s been, uh, a decade since my last post and a lot has changed. I was way too overwhelmed with gestures with hands to finish it so this will be a combined March/April post.


Bad Education (2019): This is a movie, though it’s an HBO movie. It’s filled with a ton of stars and it’s like the worst bits of oscar-bait movies meet with the worst bits of prestige television. It’s just… boring. (C)

Cittadini del Mondo (2019): Both me and my sister agreed that this movie is boring and left the movie theater halfway through.

Meet Joe Black (1998): Rewatch. I tried and I tried and I just couldn’t get into it, even though I really liked it a couple years ago when I first watched it.

Melting Souls (2018): This is a fascinating documentary about factory workers in the middle of nowhere, Norilsk, Siberia. It was a good watch. Not sure where you can watch it; it’s up on Vimeo but with French subtitles. There is a longread in the NYT that serves as a de-facto epilogue for it, though. (A-)

National Treasure (2004): This was surprisingly fun! Probably one of the better Nick Cage movies. (B)

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019): What happens if you take the AO3 tags “slow burn” and “pining” and turn it up to like, 200%? This movie. It’s awesome. It’s my second favorite movie of the year after Little Women. Go watch it, it’s out everywhere. (A+)

TiMER (2009): This would have been a “meh” low-budget scifi but then they had to completely mess up the ending. Ugh.

The Gentleman (2019): Left the movie theater after 30 minutes or so. I was in a bad mood, but later on, I checked out the rest of the plot on Wikipedia and had no regrets. If you want to watch something from Guy Ritchie, just stick to Lock, Stock… and Snatch, his two great movies he keeps trying to recreate for the last 20 years.

The Revenant (2015): I had low expectations but I ended up kinda loving this? I’m not 100% onboard with the ending but I’ll allow it. This movie is a hell of a ride and done amazingly well. Iñárritu has a good reputation for a reason. (A)

The Way Back (2020): This new Sad Ben Affleck movie is solid. If you like watching Ben Affleck being Sad for two hours, this is definitely your movie. There is also basketball. (A-)

Transformers (2007): God this is boring even as a background watch.

TV Shows

Amazing Stories (season 1, episode 1): Oof, yikes. This show is stuck in the 80s. I might check out more episodes, but I probably won’t? Mostly a waste of time. (C)

Devs (miniseries): Well, this sucked. It starts out strong and fairly quickly gets worse and worse. However, do give it a try; it’s very much a love/hate kind of show. You might just end up loving it, several of my friends did. (C)

Doctor Who (season 12, episode 10): This season has been a letdown overall but the last two episodes were not half bad, by Doctor Who standards anyway. Still, I’m starting to miss Moffat, as bad as that era could be at times. (B-)

Halt and Catch Fire (season 1, season 2 eps 1-5): Rewatch. This is one of my favorite shows, and it’s one of those that gets every season. It starts out strong; the first few episodes are great, but the second half of the first season is Not Great. It really starts finding itself in season 2, when they figure out which characters they should focus on. Season 2 is far from perfect, but I already know it gets even better. I know this may be a tough sell but if you haven’t: watch this show. You won’t regret it. (B-; B+)

High Maintenance (season 4, episodes 4-5): I watched two episodes of this, and then I had to stop because The Plague started and there was just something overwhelming about seeing NYC business as usual in the show. I might watch the rest of the episodes of the season later though. (A-)

Homeland (season 8, episodes 4-12): This season was probably better than the previous two; more tightly written, but still sticking to the — by now — standard Homeland tropes, playing them to their logical extremes. This was the final season of the show and the ending is very on-brand, for better or worse. (B-)

Killing Eve (season 3, episodes 1-3): Season 1 of this show is a masterpiece; Season 2 is a mess and ultimately a disappointment. However there are signs that things might be improving, so I’m cautiously optimistic. (B+)

Run (miniseries, episodes 1-3): This is a show created by Vicky Jones (Fleabag) and produced — among other people — by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which was already enough to make me watch it, and boy does it deliver so far. (A)

Star Trek: Picard (season 1, episodes 7-10): An inconsistent ending to an inconsistent season, that’s noticeably better in its second half and yet stumbles landing it. There is another season coming, should we survive the Plague, and I’m kinda looking forward to that. (B-)

The Magicians (season 5, episodes 9-13): I love this show and the characters so fucking much. Another show that mostly got better every season; I have a spoiler-filled love letter written. I saved up the final 5 episodes for a particularly tough time and after I was done with them, I cried for like half an hour, mostly because it was over. The ending was great. The final episodes were great, I’ll miss this show so much. (A)

Unorthodox (miniseries): Ok so don’t let my grade deter you. This is a great show about a girl escaping the ultra-orthodox Satmar Jews in Williamsburg and starting a new life in Berlin. I just really feel like it needed one more episode for it to really bring it home, but even as it is… it’s good. There is a “Making Unorthodox” episode on Netflix as well; make sure to watch it after you’re done with the show. (B+)

Westworld (season 3, episode 1-7): God, this season is so bad. The first two episodes are great but then it goes downhill rapidly. Watching it feels like a goddamn chore. I don’t even know why I’m doing this to myself (I do know, I’m too invested.) One more episode to go and the 4th season is already ordered. (C-)

I had to stop watching Last Week Tonight for my sanity — I just can’t take anymore news these days, even if they are occasionally funny. See you John after the Plague is over.

My Recent Media Diet (February, 2020)

· 1117 words · 6 min read

Previously: January, Best of Media, 2019

Time to catch up with things I’ve been watching/enjoying! I am shamelessly copying Kottke’s format, with some minor changes.


I started reading Better Than IRL, which is about the Old Internet and how people find community there. I hope I can finish it, I’ve already read two essays from it.


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019): I did not grow up with Mr. Rodgers, in fact I have not heard of him at all before the documentary came out last year. I was very cynical going it but by the end, it won me over to at least some degree. (B+)

American Factory (2019): What happens when a Chinese company opens a factory in Ohio and cultures clash? This movie, among other things. It’s an interesting watch, well worth it. (A)

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): Rewatch. It’s pretty good but it takes like half an hour for it to really get going and that kinda sucks. Still, once it gets going, it’s great. (B+)

Force Majure (2014): This was great, though I’m not really happy with the ending. It didn’t stress me out nearly as Marriage Story did, strangely. (A-)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (2010, 2011): Rewatch. I just wanted some emotional catharsis in my life and also our heroes being desperate in a forest. It kind of delivers on both, though not enough. The romantic pairings are a complete nonsense and the epilogue never happened. (B-)

Interstellar (2014): Wow, I was on a 2014 streak I guess? Anyways, another rewatch, the third time I’ve seen this movie and I just, love it so much. Yes, the third act is not as great as the first two but I don’t care. It’s the epic space drama we very much needed, the sound is amazing, the visuals are amazing, the actors are amazing. (A)

Miss Americana (2020): This is a pretty great documentary about Taylor Swift and I enjoyed it a lot. (A-)

Speed (1994): Technically a rewatch, although I’ve only seen it as a kid and didn’t remember too much. I thought it’d be bad but actually this is a pretty good 90s action movie. (A-)

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015): I’ve been sort of meaning to watch this for years but I was kind of meh about it until I saw Bel Powley in The Morning Show where she’s great and that gave me the final push. I didn’t regret it; it’s a decent coming-of-age movie. (B+)

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020): I liked the first movie but I bailed halfway through on this one. Meh.

Uncut Gems (2019): I tried watching it once and turned it off after 40 minutes because it was too stressful. I tried again about a month later and then I just dissociated enough to not feel anything. It’s just not my movie, even though Adam Sandler is objectively great in it.

TV Shows

Altered Carbon (season 2): I really enjoyed this, I might even write a separate spoiler-filled review. I decided against rewatching the first season and in retrospect I kind of regret that. In any case, it was great, developing existing and new characters and the show’s mythology. (A)

Cheer (season 1): I have mixed feelings about this show. I loved it, and now I’m emotionally invested in several kids featured, but also I’m wary of the whole authoritarian coach as a savior thing and worried what will happen to everyone once they stop doing cheerleading because it’s a thing you can’t do forever. In any case, I highly recommend it. (A+)

Doctor Who (season 12, episodes 6-9): This season has been a letdown overall but the last two episodes were not half bad, by Doctor Who standards anyway. Still, I’m starting to miss Moffat, as bad as that era could be at times. (B-)

High Fidelity (season 1): I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the movie in ages, but I enjoyed the twists the made with this show. Zoë Kravitz is great and so are the supporting characters. I hope it gets another season. (A-)

High Maintenance (season 4, episodes 1-3): The best show about New York is back with an amazing first episode and two other ones that are, at parts, a bit meh, but even a “meh” High Maintenance episode is a great High Maintenance episode; they have such a high bar. (A)

Homeland (season 8, episodes 1-3): One more season of Carrie ugly-crying, which so far has not really happened but all in due time. It’s mostly the usual though episode 3 was quite good. (B)

I Am Not Okay With This (season 1): So this is based on a comic book by the same person who wrote The End of the Fucking World (which I love) but the show is kind of a letdown. It’s short and feels like the second half of the season is missing; it has a lot of style, but not enough substance. If they make another season, I’ll watch it but I’m still somewhat disappointed. (B-)

McMillions (miniseries): I wanted to like this, but I quit after 3 episodes. As much as I like Agent Doug, they drag out the story too much and that kind of ruins it for me.

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (season 1): A sitcom about a game studio. This takes 2-3 episodes to warm up but if you stick with it, it gets really good. Episode 5 is particularly great. (A-)

Occupied (season 1): I bailed on this around episode 8. I wanted to like this but I mostly watched it because it’s a Norwegian show. It’s just… not good.

Star Trek: Picard (season 1, episodes 3-6): I continue to be very disappointed about this show, though episode 6 was not half bad so maybe it gets better in the second half? Let’s hope so. (B-)

Stargate SG-1 (season 4, episode 6 “Window of Opportunity”): This is something I rewatch every Groundhog Day because, well, it’s the Groundhog Day episode of this show that I love very much and it’s fun every single time. (A+)

The Magicians (season 5, episodes 4-8): I love this show and the characters so fucking much. There was a fairly week episode this month but otherwise, it really delivers every week with all its unashamed craziness. (A)

UnREAL (season 2 episodes 9-10): This show is just, bad for me, not unlike You was not long ago. I will work very hard not to watch the final two seasons because again, bad for me. (B)

I’m still watching Last Week Tonight and it’s fine but the long segments are just increasingly meh.

My Recent Media Diet (January, 2020)

· 1129 words · 6 min read

Previously: Best of Media, 2019

Time to catch up with things I’ve been watching/enjoying! I am shamelessly copying Kottke’s format, with some minor changes.


For the Love of Men by Liz Plank: Hey, I read a book! Someone give me an award. *ahem* Anyway! I’ve written about it a bit in this post and I have a lot more to share soon. This is the book I evangelize right now to everyone I meet, especially men.


Adam (2019): Adam was very controversial before it came out (it has an IMDB rating of 2.8), and yet people would benefit a lot from watching something before forming an opinion about it because it’s a great movie about a complicated subject, that does not give you easy answers but also manages to surprise you more than once. I loved it. (A)

Fargo (1996): This is the movie I watch when I crave some snow porn; I’ve seen it three times now I think. I was just in the mood to see a lot of snow. That and the amazing Frances McDormand. And everything else. I love all of it, it’s a masterpiece. (A+)

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019): Yeah, no. Turned it off after 20 minutes or so. I think Kevin Smith did great movies (mostly) in the 90s — Clerks, Clerks 2, Mallrats, Dogma — but this is literally just overt fanservice with no story. I’m too old for this.

JoJo Rabbit (2019): This was great! It takes real skill to make a satire about nazis in 2019 but Taika Waititi pulls it off. It’s funny and it’s heartfelt and it’s smart. You should watch it. (A)

Knives Out (2019): This was fine? Daniel Craig is great and a sequel is in the works with his character which I’m happy about. I sort of get the hype around it but I don’t think it’s as great as it was hyped. Still, I was somewhat entertained. (B-)

Little Women (2019): This is the best thing I’ve seen in this year so far (well, this and Sex Education, see below). I’ve never read the book, though I was somewhat familiar with bits of the story. I loved almost every minute of it; it has a ton of heart, great actors, amazing visuals and clothes and directing and everything, really. It’s also clever how it subverts some of the stuff in the book; I’ve read the plot summary of it after watching the movie. Give it all the Oscars, especially the ones it was not nominated for (I’m looking at you, Best Director). (A+)

TV Shows

Doctor Who (season 12, episodes 1-5): This must be the worst quality drop from one season to the next in the history of Doctor Who. The previous one with the new Doctor was pretty great, or so I remember; this is a clusterfuck with the notable exception of the fifth episode, which was pretty good, and gives me some hope that the quality may recover. (C)

Don’t Fuck with Cats: Hunting and Internet Killer (miniseries): I watched the first episode and a bit of the second but these true crime shows are not for me.

Little America (season 1): I loved this so much; this show was almost engineered to make me cry in its final minutes. Yes, the stories are a bit too sweet and a bit too idealized sometimes but I don’t care. I’m glad that season 2 was already ordered. (A)

Messiah (season 1): This was not nearly as bad as the critics (mostly) panned it and overall I mostly enjoyed it. It’s a decent exploration of faith. If it gets a second season, I’ll watch that. (B+)

Sex Education (season 2): This will definitely go on my “Best of Media, 2020” list, and ranked much higher than its previous season. I wrote more about it in detail here with spoilers. Without spoilers: this season is better than the already good first one and it’s filled with wonderful characters I love and care for and manages to give justice to the existing ones while introducing a few more into the mix. Season 3 is almost a sure thing, thankfully. (A)

Star Trek: Short Treks (episode “Children of Mars”): This was fine. (B)

Star Trek: Picard (season 1, episodes 1-2): I was really looking forward to this but so far this is a letdown. Clumsy exposition, worse than usual pseudoscience, questionably decisions in the pilot and so on. I’ll keep watching it and hope it improves, but I might lower my expectations a bit. (C)

The Good Place (season 4, episodes 10-13): Let’s face it, this final season was probably the weakest. And yet it gave us one of the strongest episodes ever (episode 9, the one about Chidi) and ended on an almost perfect note; I was close to crying more than once. Overall I’m satisfied. (A-)

The Magicians (season 5, episodes 1-3): Look this show is a mess, it was always a mess and I know I keep using this phrase but it’s a loveable mess. I love these characters so much and I will be watching it until it gets canceled. In these first three episodes, they took a complex topic and explored it well and I can’t wait for the rest. (A-)

The Witcher (season 1): I mean, this is also a loveable mess in a way I just wish the first few episodes weren’t so information-dense with next to no exposition; I had to read recaps to make sense of the whole thing. Someone described it as “Xena/Hercules meets Game of Thrones cover band” and honestly that’s pretty accurate. It has a lot of potential, though, so we’ll see what the next season brings. (B)

UnREAL (season 1; season 2 episodes 2-8): You think you’ve seen TV shows about despicable people? Go watch the first season of UnREAL because it takes this genre to a whole new level. A trashy show about a producing a trashy reality show; deeply broken and traumatized people doing everything they can and then some to exploit and manipulate other, even more broken and traumatized people. The second season is starting to get a bit tired, though and I don’t know if I’ll stay for its final two ones. (A-; B)

You (season 1 and 2): I really enjoyed the first season but the second one is more of the same and eventually I could not handle being in the protagonist’s head anymore, it was just too much toxic masculinity for me, even if that’s the whole point of the show. I read the recaps for the rest of the season and, I mean, wow. Not gonna say anything else. And I’m definitely not watching the third season if that happens. (A-; B-)

Best of Media, 2019

· 2360 words · 12 min read

I’ve been blogging about the things I’ve been watching almost all year (here’s the latest one, with links to all previous installments). As part of looking back at this year, below is a list of movies and TV shows I’ve enjoyed the most this year. Media that was released earlier but seen in 2019 and rewatches count as well. My post, my rules. Settle in; this will take a while. But it’ll be worth it.


I can’t really rank these because they are so diverse, so these are in just alphabetical order. They’re all great in their own ways and you should watch them.

Booksmart: The funny and smart teen movie of the year. I have some extremely minor gripes with it, but overall, I loved it.

Cruel Intentions: You couldn’t make this movie in 2019 for many reasons that become immediately obvious once you’ve seen it, so thank god they made it 20 years earlier. Pitch black teen comedy / drama, with great leads and a killer soundtrack. I loved almost everything about it.

Fast Color: An amazing superhero movie unlike any other, that is criminally unknown. Gives me hope that that this genre can contain multitudes.

Free Solo: One of the best documentaries I’ve seen in 2019, hands down.

General Magic: The other great documentary this year about the company you probably didn’t know about and yet influenced all the computing devices and gadgets you have today.

Good Boys: This was my laughing-out-loud-during-the-whole-time movie this year. It’s fucking hilarious with some really smart writing.

Long Shot: I guess this is more of an honorable mention, but really, who would have thought that Seth Rogen could make a smart and raunchy comedy in 2019? That’s good? Not me. And yet. It’s good.

Spotlight: A great movie about journalists doing their jobs and being great at it. Pure competence porn. Proves that you can make Oscar-bait but also make it actually good.

Toy Story 4: I really didn’t expect this to be one of my favorite movies this year but here we are. Possible the best one in the series. But like, Disney, don’t tempt fate by trying to make a fifth one.

Yesterday: I almost passed on this, and then watched it one day anyway and was so pleasantly surprised. It’s a great Richard Curtis movie (the guy who made Love Actually and About Time, for example.) How you feel about this will largely depend on how you feel about his other movies, and that’s all I’m going to say. I loved it.

Wag the Dog: A great black comedy in itself, but it becomes legendary once you watch it and learn that it was released a month before the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which makes it downright prophetic.

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine: I love Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and despite its faults, this documentary is a must-watch for anyone who’s a fan.

When Harry Met Sally…: Arguable the OG romcom of the modern era, that still holds up 30 years later. Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner — they are all great individually, but all of them together made something special.


I didn’t watch much anime at all this year. I tried out a couple of shows but never got into them. That being said I did a rewatch of Kimi No Na Wa and it’s still a great movie.

TV shows

Okay, so I’ll break this down into a couple of lists, because boy did I watch a LOT of television this year. First is a top 20 of things I’ve seen in 2019 and was released this year and/or it had a season released this year:

  1. Russian Doll (season 1): An amazing show about trauma, connection, growing and so many other things. I wrote about it in detail with spoilers here. The second season is coming and I’m both excited and worried about it, but I think trust its creators enough not to fuck that up.
  2. The End of the Fucking World (season 2): An amazing show about trauma, connection, growing and so many other things. Yes, I’m repeating myself. There are so many parallels between TEOTFW and Russian Doll, even though they are very different; I love them both and I thought about it a lot and I can’t decide which one would deserve the first place this is only in second place because markdown is stupid. This show managed to pull off a second season that’s possibly better than the first one; one I didn’t think it needed a second season the first place. I wrote about it a bit more without spoilers here.
  3. Fleabag (seasons 1 and 2): Everything Phoebe Waller-Bridge touches turns to gold, and this is no exception. Another show about, yes, you know it, trauma, connection, growing and so many other things. So fucking good in every possible way.
  4. The OA (seasons 1 and 2): Hey did you know that Netflix’s business strategy is canceling shows after two, or, at best, three seasons? That’s precisely what happened to The OA which was by far the most mind-bending thing I’ve seen this year. It’s gonna fuck with your head and then fuck with it a lot more, and you’ll enjoy it. And then it’s canceled because fuck Netflix. It’s still worth watching, though.
  5. You’re The Worst (season 5): The final season of the best American fucked up couple on television. I’m still mad at its creators for mercilessly toying with my feelings until almost the last second, but it pays off tremendously. They pulled off a perfect ending, in every possible way. Kudos.
  6. Chernobyl (miniseries): It’s brutal. You know from the start it’s not gonna end well. You know history (at least the basics). And yet, it’s five hours of great television, created by the guy who wrote *checks notes* The Hangover 2 and 3. People truly contain multitudes.
  7. Catastrophe (season 4): The very likely final season of the best half-American, half-Irish fucked up couple on television. In each season the show got better and better and it ended on a high note.
  8. Bonding (season 1): Short and sweet and heartwarming and funny, not at all what you’d expect at first. I really hope it somehow gets another season.
  9. Succession (season 2): Part of me wanted to rank this higher but there were so many other good things this year. Still, the sophomore season of Succession was a great watch. Team Shiv for life.
  10. The Morning Show (season 1): I’ve said this many times and I’ll say it again. Is this a good show? Eh, not really. Is it an entertaining show? with a few exceptions, extremely. And that’s why I love it.
  11. Euphoria (season 1): This gave me all the feels, in many ways. I loved it, but I am worried if they can keep up the quality of the show. We’ll see next year.
  12. High Maintenance (season 3): This show about the nameless weed delivery guy in New York started on Vimeo and eventually migrated to HBO. It delivers consistently great episodes with very human stories. In its latest season, the protagonist plays a slightly more prominent role than usual, but not to the detriment of the rest. I hope they’ll keep going for many more seasons.
  13. The Mandalorian (season 1): If I put aside the fact that Baby Yoda is extremely cute — and he really is — there were only three episodes I liked this season (4, 6, 8). But those three were genuinely good and the last one makes me excited about what’s coming next.
  14. Star Trek: Discovery (season 2): Woo boy, this was a mess, especially when they change showrunners mid-season. It was, however, pretty good overall, and it’s still the best second season any Star Trek show ever produced, with the possible exception of DS9.
  15. Easy (seasons 1-3): Loosely connected stories of people in various stages of life and love in Chicago, done really well. I liked it a lot.
  16. Tales of the City (2019 miniseries): So I watched this without even really knowing the previous series existed, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It’s a mess, but a very lovable mess.
  17. Unbelievable (miniseries): This is an emotionally hard watch, especially the first two episodes, but it’s worth it. Great leads and a good story.
  18. When They See Us (miniseries): The other hard watch; even if you know the story and know how it ends, it’s still brutal.
  19. The Good Place (season 4, eps 1-9): This only gets on this list because of episode 8 and 9. The latter is a masterpiece that made me cry. But why did I have to suffer through 7 mediocre-at-best episodes first?
  20. Silicon Valley (season 6): This show overstayed its welcome and the final season was uneven and mostly forgettable — except the series finale, which was really well done and very satisfying, so it gets to be on this list.

A few more honorable mentions from this year:

Broad City (season 5): I feel like Broad City also overstayed its welcome but its final season was still pretty good.

Sex Education (season 1): This was pretty good, I just couldn’t find a place for it among all the other good shows. Season 2 is coming really soon.

Counterpart (season 2): The second season was uneven, even though the actors and the characters were great; but the writing didn’t quite live up to it. It got canceled, but it does have an ending.

Killing Eve (seasons 1 and 2): Look, the first season is almost a masterpiece; Phoebe Waller-Bridge was the showrunner and was involved heavily otherwise, and both Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh are great leads. But the quality drops sharply in season 2 and it ends in a way that undermines a lot of things it was building up towards which just pissed me off. I’ll still watch the next season; maybe it improves again.

The show that I never rank but I love: Patriot Act which is always great, the best news entertainment show on TV right now. Check out the Deep Cuts on Youtube as well.

Still with me? I’ve got a few more shows that I watched this year but were released earlier.

The Leftovers (seasons 1-3): I could write several pages about this show. The first season is extremely solid already, but the second one is one of the best seasons ever created in the history of television. The show is very overwhelming emotionally; I ugly-cried after the season 2 finale. But it was totally worth it. Season three is a mixed bag, and part of things the whole thing would have been better off being canceled after the second one. But it wraps things up in a way that’s very on-brand for The Leftovers and is ultimately worth watching.

Crashing (miniseries): A quick, funny show from Phobe Waller-Bridge from 2016. It should be binged in one sitting and you’ll be very satisfied.

Schtisel (seasons 1 and 2): This Israeli show was created a few years ago but it really blew up this year when Netflix picked it up. It’s complex with a great ensemble of characters. The writing is very uneven but I can’t help but love the show. It’s very different from what one’s used to with Western television. Thanks to its newfound popularity, a third season is now in the works.

Goliath (seasons 1-3): Billy Bob Thornton plays a mostly-high-functioning alcoholic down-on-his-luck lawyer, and he plays him brilliantly. Each season has a different feel to it; my favorite is probably the first one, but the second one was pretty great too. It gets uneven oftentimes, and some characters are criminally underused (particularly her daughter). I stopped watching the third season after a few episodes because it was too horror-ey for me. It’s coming back for its final season sometime in the future; I’ll check it out.

And finally, the greatest disappointments of the year in no particular order (but I’ll definitely start with GoT first):

Game of Thrones (season 8): I mean. Looking back, things really started going off rails after they ran out of the books after season 5, but I think everyone kept making excuses for the show — including me — and hoped that the final season will be a worthy payoff. So much for that. We did get like two goodish episodes (the first two) but the rest is just, ugh. So bad. Not to mention you couldn’t see shit during the dark scenes and then they kept doubling down on that.

See (season 1): This show was never good to begin with, even though it had a really strong and unique concept. Any sort of hope I had after the first three episodes that things would get better got quickly disproved and it just kept going downhill. A shame.

The Expanse (season 4): Much of this was table setting for Season 5 — which is happening — with frustrating storylines, characters acting out of character and a very one-dimensional villain. I hope they do better next year.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 3): Yet another show with a season that was all over the place. It had its good parts but a fair amount was less than stellar. And then they shit the bed in the final 15 minutes. I don’t have high hopes for the next season, but I’ll check it out.

The Magicians (season 4): It was an uneven season but I will never get past the season finale and what they did there. It feels off and it feels wrong and it still makes me angry.

Veronica Mars (season 4): Ugh, yikes. This season was already weak and then they made things a whole lot worse in the final episode. Shouldn’t have been surprised given that the movie was not great either.

If you’re still reading, thank you and I salute you; please leave a comment so I know there are people who appreciate 2380 words about stuff I watch. This was a good year for movies but an especially great one for television. We’ll see how 2020 will go.

My Recent Media Diet (February, 2019)

· 489 words · 3 min read

Here’s a bunch of television I’ve been enjoying recently.

Russian Doll: This was the highlight of recent times: 8 episodes of pure fun, with a proper ending. It’s best watched not knowing anything about it but here are the first five minutes: Nadia leaves her birthday party, and on the way home gets hit by a taxi, and dies. The next moment Nadia is back where the episode started, alive and well, on her own birthday party. It’s up on Netflix.

Star Trek: Discovery (Season 2): I’ve only seen three episodes of the new season so far but all of them have been great and I very much like this new take on Star Trek. The fact that it’s a prequel to The Original Series bothers me, though, because they could have had a lot more creative freedom and do less retconning if it would be set in another universe. It’s also up on Netflix or CBS All Access if you’re in the US.

Hanna (pilot): This is based on the excellent movie of the same name. Hanna is raised in the forest by his father in isolation, training her to be self-sufficient and strong, because someone in the CIA is hunting them for Reasons we don’t know yet. The pilot shows a lot of promise, but we’ll have to wait until March to see the rest. It’s up on Amazon Prime Video.

Strike Back (Season 5): A big, dumb action series about Section 20, a black ops group of MI6, saving the world, or at least parts of it. The writers’ contract mandated at least two machine-gun fights per episode. It’s… okay at best, I won’t be watching Season 6.

Counterpart (Season 2): Just before the end of the Cold War, scientists in East Germany discovered a parallel universe, a clone of theirs. In present day, Howard is working as a low-level bureucrat at the UN, overseeing the connection between those worlds, too low on the food chain to know what his actual work is about. Until one day, his “other” shows up, demanding to speak with him…
Season 2 has one episode left but so far the series shows no signs of getting boring or tired. Highly recommended.

The Good Place (Season 3): This has been quite a ride, huh? The first part of the season is a bit disorganized but it gets better as they go along and boy did they put on hell of a season finale. Can’t wait for Season 4. If you haven’t seen this series, check it out and don’t read anything about it, because spoilers can ruin at least half the fun. Should be up on Netflix in Europe.

The Punisher (Season 2): I loved the first season, but I quit this season after four episodes. The antagonist of Season 2 is just really, really bad. If you can get past that, it’s on Netflix.

What have you been watching lately?

My Recent Media Diet in the Last Days of 2018

· 312 words · 2 min read

I was planning to possibly dive into the YearCompass, I even put it on my todo list to print it out and take it with me to my favorite coffee shop, but I forgot to look at my todo list. Ah, the joys of ADHD. They do have a PDF that you can do electronically, but it’s not a great user experience.

I binged on the first season Condor yesterday, and I have to say it was a pretty fun spy thriller. I’m looking forward to Season 2.

Before that, I watched the first season of Impulse, which is, uh, I guess inspired by one of my favorite Sci-fi books, but they only took the fundamental concept of the book and made into a pretty good teen drama, with this season focusing primarily on sexual assault and its effects.

I got a kick out of the first season of Succession which is cut from the “despicable rich people prestige TV” genre (see also: Billions). Pretty much everyone in it terrible in their own different entertaining ways, with no real heroes and yet you find yourself rooting for people.

Do yourself a simple favor and check out A Simple Favor (sorry) if you haven’t seen it in the theaters: it was one of the most fun movies I saw in 2018. I hesitate to say anything about it as it is one of those movies that is best enjoyed going in knowing nothing about it; even stating its genre is a possible spoiler in my book, so you’re just gonna have to trust me on that one.

Oh, and the Big Fat Quiz of The Year 2018 is out, which is an annual TV event of mostly British comedians being funny while pretending to play a quiz. It has two-thirds of The IT Crowd and also Michelle Wolf, among others.

Onwards to 2019!