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When I was 11 years old and first cracked open John Green’s novel “Looking for Alaska,” I immediately fell in love with the air of mystery that surrounded Alaska Young, the elusive girl of male protagonist Miles Halter’s dreams. Every emo tween wanted to be Alaska: free-spirited and enigmatic, as shown through the eyes of a helplessly enamored boy.
Set after World War I, “Peaky Blinders,” the fifth season of which came out this month, is centered around the Shelbys, a Romani family who have made their name as gangsters in the streets of Birmingham, England. At the head of the family is Thomas (Tommy) Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, a ruthless and overly logical patriarch who, at the end of season four, becomes a newly minted member of Parliament to fulfill his longtime goal of becoming a legitimate business owner and politician who speaks for the people. While the show maintains its focus on the Shelbys’ endeavors to cultivate power and protect their own, the fifth season adds depth to the show in its discussion of mental health and morality.
I’ve followed Netflix’s animated series “Big Mouth” since it debuted in 2017. I’ve loved every minute of it since, including its third season, which was released on Oct. 4. But I know that it rubs some people the wrong way, and I can see why it does. The sexual jokes are blatant and graphic — which can feel especially inappropriate considering that the characters are middle schoolers — and visually, the show is a tad more grotesque than your typical animation.
In the Drake-produced HBO series “Euphoria,” Generation Z is diagnosed and deified. Drawing attention to teen sex lives, drug abuse, family troubles and identity crises, “Euphoria” defines a generation by its most dramatic manifestations. The show’s narrator, lead and Gen Z translator Rue Bennett, played by former Disney Channel star Zendaya, is a biracial teenager struggling with drug addiction and the loss of her father. Self-aware yet unstable, Rue is the ultimate unreliable narrator. Rather than offering her audience righteous honesty or a critic’s presumed purity, Rue makes a show of the archival and analytical process. Just as drugs allow her to edit and enhance her own experience and perception, Rue, as narrator, takes liberties in her storytelling and invites us to trip alongside her. Through her constant battles with relapse, she teaches us what it means to actively recover and revise oneself. In doing so, she suggests that she is, in fact, a representative of her generation — those young adults born in the late ’90s and early 2000s who’ve been shaped by a constant surveillance and demand for self-narration. Where this generation is concerned, “Euphoria” argues that the revision of society and self is, perhaps, Gen Z’s birthright.
This isn’t necessarily something I’m proud of, but over the past few weeks, I have joined a group of my friends to hate-watch “The Bachelorette.” Together, we screamed at the screen, laughed at the absurdity of limo exits and cringed at the corny pickup lines. It was a ritual that I enjoyed for the community aspect of it; the television show just happened to be there. However, it became increasingly evident to me that the popular “romantic” and long-running reality T.V. show’s portrayal of gender dynamics is extremely concerning, as it celebrates contestants disrespecting boundaries and using violence and deceit in the pursuit of love.
On Fourth of July weekend, I powered up my laptop, logged into Netflix and clicked on the big, bright banner advertising the release of “Stranger Things 3.” My expectations were low. After a lackluster second season, I missed the excitement that surrounded the series when it first premiered — back when the #ImWithBarb campaign trended on social media, memes about Eleven’s name went viral and Eggo waffles surged in sales. I wanted the third season of the sci-fi-horror series to bring the same magic it had created with its 2016 launch. One weekend-long Netflix binge later, I am confident that the magic of “Stranger Things” has finally returned to Hawkins in what may be its best season yet.
BDSM is a topic of fascination that has been rising bit by bit outside of the shadow of stigma in recent years. With videos like Buzzfeed’s “Couples Try Bondage For The First Time,” released two years ago, and “I Became A Dominatrix To Control My Anxiety,” released just a year and a half after — with plenty of other tangentially related videos in between — it’s clear that BDSM is no longer something people are ashamed of talking about. If anything, kinky has become cool, and there’s a large market of people who want to know more.
The CW Network’s show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has been my favorite TV show since I binged the first three seasons of it last term, which is also when I learned that the next season to my newfound favorite would be its last. My experiences with last seasons for personal favorites in television have not been great, so I was nervous and disappointed about the end to a TV gem that I had just discovered. Luckily, the fourth season of the show was yet another strong addition of a chapter in the protagonist’s journey of self-acceptance and learning to navigate personal relationships, while also fulfilling its role as a final season well by tying the story together in a satisfying conclusion.
Before winter break, I had never seen a single episode of “Game of Thrones,” let alone read one of George R.R. Martin’s novels. By the time break ended, I had seen almost the entire HBO fantasy series, not just because I was enrolled in the winter class, ENGL 53.6, “Game of Thrones: Reimagining Medieval History as an Allegory of the Present” with English and creative writing professor James Dobson, but because it’s the type of show that once you start, it’s near impossible to stop. Once I finished season one, I started season two. Before I knew it, I was one of the many eager fans anticipating the release of season eight.
The Fab Five, the beloved group of queer men on the Netflix series “Queer Eye,” are back for their third season in Kansas City, MO — more sparkly and delightful than ever. After two seasons of makeovers in Atlanta, GA, the group hones in on the Heartland of America. Filled with stunning transformations, heartwarming moments and plenty of “yaass girl”s, the third season entertains with its bright, feel-good plot and humor.
“The Umbrella Academy” is probably one of the most off-putting shows on Netflix. It opens with a scene at a pool in Russia, in which a teenager spontaneously gives birth in the pool after giving a potential suitor a peck on the cheek, setting the stage for the chaos that ensues.
There was a moment of collective solidarity on the Internet — which is really rare, considering it’s the Internet — when Fox announced the cancellation of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in May of 2018. Fans of the show, from Lin Manuel-Miranda to Guillermo del Toro, all tweeted their outrage, leading to the show’s resurrection at NBC a mere 31 hours after the announcement of its cancellation.
When I returned home for the winter holidays this past November, my parents announced on the drive back from the airport that we were moving out of the home we had lived in for the last 14 years. I reacted as anyone might after an abrupt announcement that they were losing their childhood home: nervous laughter, and then an incredulous “What?”
Airing in July this past summer, HBO’s “Sharp Objects,” an adaption of “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn’s book of the same name, sets out to remind its audience of what is unique to the identity of the Midwestern United States and what is possible within the supposedly limited format of the miniseries. Following the story of St. Louis Chronicle journalist Camille Preaker, played by Amy Adams, “Sharp Objects” takes its audience on the journey of an investigative reporter who must vanquish her own demons while hunting down others. Assigned to report on a murder and a series of child disappearances in rural Missouri, Camille is forced to return to the fictional town of Wind Gap, Missouri, the hometown she had long left behind.
A masterful and satirical take on the crime drama complex that has swept the nation, Netflix’s “American Vandal” is mysterious, delectable and utterly ridiculous. Using a documentary format, “American Vandal” mocks the sophistication of the crime drama gaze by putting all its investigative energies toward deciphering the absurdities of high school life and the low-level offenses of the fictional Hanover High School’s student body.
On Jan. 3, Freeform debuted the first two episodes of “grown-ish,” the highly-anticipated spin-off of ABC’s “black-ish.” “grown-ish” follows Zoey (Yara Shahidi), the eldest Johnson daughter, through her freshman year of college and journey into adulthood. The show is fresh, colorful and fun, featuring a diverse cast of characters and strong writing. “grown-ish” manages to build on the success of “black-ish” while asserting itself as distinct and worthy of anticipation. The show retains many of the core elements that allowed “black-ish” to rise as a critically-acclaimed sitcom on ABC. For example, “grown-ish” also stresses audience education, offering brief insights into character background and historical context, a practice which takes on new meaning as Zoey is tasked with learning who she is, where she comes from and how she wants to exist in the world.
Watching the opening scene from the new Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” I knew immediately that the titular character would get cheated on. A woman does not happily bounce through her daily, homemaking chores that seamlessly in the first few minutes of a feature without foreshadowing the demise of that perfect, happy routine by the end of said feature.
When the original “Twin Peaks” aired over 25 years ago, it was a TV show about a mystery. With its revival this year in the form of “Twin Peaks: The Return,” the show itself has become a mystery.
Diane, 11:30 a.m., May 21. In a few hours “Twin Peaks” will debut a third season after a 25-year absence, now as “Twin Peaks: The Return.” It would be an understatement to say that I am tense with anticipation.