What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #35

I told you that there was a lot to be watched, which is why this post has come so soon after the other one. The thing is, there’s even more ahead in the upcoming days and weeks. I’ve never felt this blessed with summer content as this year, even if I burn through shows in a matter of days. Here’s what I’ve been watching.

Love, Victor (Season 1)

I liked Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and I liked the movie they made out of it. When they announced a spin off show, I thought it would be about Leah or any of the other people that Becky Albertalli had written books about, which are actually set in that universe. However, having now watched Love, Victor, I think they made the right choice to establish a storyline with a new cast. 

Coming out is always a unique experience and Victor doesn’t need long to realise that his won’t be anything like Simon’s story (I mean, I’d hope so. Getting outed against your will should never ever happen). His circumstances are different, he’s from a far more conservative latinx family, but we also see him questioning his sexual identity more than we did Simon’s. It was a great mix of nostalgia for the movie with cameos and definite callbacks to it (watch the gay character compliment Victor’s shoes in his first scene, just like Simon tried to compliment leaf blower dude’s boots) and entirely new elements.

Having this be formatted as a show, there was more room to explore the stories surrounding Victor rather than rushing through them like they sometimes had to in the movie. There really wasn’t any character that I didn’t like and I have a deep appreciation for the nuances to all of them. Mistakes are made, that’s just the way life goes. The episodes ended up only being 25 minutes and while I really enjoyed the final shot (it was brilliant!), I would have liked 13 or 15 episodes better than the 10 we got. I breezed through the entire thing in one afternoon and we will have to wait quite a while for more content (hoping there is more), so I just wanted that tiny bit more. I know, I am greedy.

For fans of: Love, Simon, coming out stories

The Order (Season 2)

Season 1 of the Order was a bit of a surprise to me. While I could see that the budget wasn’t always on par with what they were trying to accomplish, the show managed to completely reel me in. I had missed my wolves dearly, because let’s face it, the Knight of St. Christopher and Randall in particular were a prime reason for me to watch. Now I am done with the season and miss these idiots already again. You’d think I’d learn to pace myself, but no.

Anyway, the entire season was comprised of two-parters for episodes. That was strange, but worked pretty well, because it didn’t seem like it was too out of context but still with an overall arc that bound it together. I tend to get very angry at the choices the characters make, because a lot of them are inherently dumb, but I still like watching the show. Here are my main thoughts on this season:

  • Lilith deserved better and got the only romantic storyline I didn’t mind.
  • WHO asked for those new ships? NO ONE. I don’t like them. I don’t want them. The only romance Hamish has is with liquor and Randall is just too himbo for the person they paired him up with.
  • I actually liked Jack’s bleached hair. Make it come back.
  • Alyssa remains a big ???
  • Actually found the threats more credible this time around.

For fans of: magic, werewolves, secret societies, demons, haywire shenanigans

The Politician (Season 2)

The main reason I love this show is the impeccable cast. I’ve become more involved with politics as I got older, but it’s usually not a topic I seek out in particular, but The Politician is still something I enjoy very much. Maybe it’s because this show is so much more about ethics and morals (and their difference) rather than actual politics. There’s plenty of talking points the show goes through, touching on issues that concern us right now in real life, while mostly using them the way actual politicians do – as topics that could get you votes but that won’t necessarily be followed up on. Instead, the show keeps focusing on Payton and whether you need to be a good person to do good things for society.

While I do think that there’s a lot less bite to this season, there is something that just keeps me so very interested in what comes next. We’ve spanned about 7 years time in just two seasons and all I want to know is what Payton will do next. Will he be president one day? Will he actually do good things with the power he has?

Don’t expect anything realistic in this show, I hope that was obvious in the first season already. This is a satire and over the top! Messages are there, but they might not always be in your face, masked by louder topics instead. I firmly believe that you can take away a lot from this show, but most of all, it’s cast is just a joy to watch.

For fans of: satire, politics and scheming, the formidable cast, Ben Platt singing because Ben Platt

Doom Patrol (Season 1)

I am just trying to catch up on DC content, especially with the new season around the corner. I have sort of distanced myself from most of the CW content, not because I have anything against them in particular, but a lot of them just get worse as they go on. I’ve completely lost track of what’s happening, but also just found that I liked the darker aesthetic of the non-CW shows better.

Doom Patrol is incredibly random. I have no other way of describing it. More than once, you think that the episode couldn’t get more ridiculous, be it in visual effects or storyline, but it just seems laughable. Yet, at the same time, it deals with so many far more serious topics. I think they don’t always manage to keep the right balance, but they sure know how to keep it interesting. I’m excited for more.

The only thing I can’t stop thinking about is whether Matt Bomer and Brendan Fraser are always in their costumes or if they have stand-ins and do ADR (voice recording) later on. Don’t know why I can’t shake that thought.

For fans of: random chaos, antiheroes, misfits turned family


This is it! Did you watch any of those things? Could I persuade you to check them out? Let’s chat!

Normal People: Book vs. TV Show

Normal People has been all the rage when it first released with people binging it up and down. Since the book it’s based on is also a bestseller, I can only say I missed out on that hype as well. Late to the party, as I tend to be quite a lot sometimes, I really wanted to catch up on the phenomenon and indulged in both recently. So, what else would be the perfect subject for yet another book vs. TV show post?

General Plot

Connell and Marianne have known each other since school, running in different circles and yet finding and undeniable connection between them. Even when life takes them into separate directions, they find themselves gravitating towards each other continuously. Told through snapshots of specific moments and turning points in their lives, often with time jumps of several months in between them, you get to witness their unending love, their platonic and romantic entanglement.

TW: emotional, physical and sexual abuse, depression, suicide and suicidal ideation, anxiety/panic attacks (+for the show especially: graphic nude scenes, full frontal nudity)

Book

Normal PeopleI went into this book without any sort of expectation. I might have come across the trailer at that point, but I’m consuming so much media, I hardly remembered anything. I was a blank slate going into Normal People.

Reading it ended up being exhausting and frustrating and intimate and soul-crushing and strange. I was not ready for the harshness that the reality of the situations brought with them. In the beginning, I was too distracted by the format and lack of quotation marks (which I really, really missed) to realise just how deep this story was going to cut.

It’s rare that you find someone you click with on such a profound level. Connell and Marianne could be their best and their worst selves with each other and I found very little judgment that came with it. They were infuriatingly frustrating in that they lacked the communication skills to just tell the other person outright what they wanted, when all they seemed to need was each other, happy. A connection like that is nonetheless rare and even when they, once again, messed everything up with each other and hurt deeply, it was undeniable that they preferred to be in each other’s lives.

It’s a tough read, because it feels truthful and real in a frightening way. The situations were always portrayed as vulnerable and ugly, but also warm and hopeful in far fewer but still existing moments.

This book carves a hole into your soul and leaves you with an empty pit inside you. There’s simply nothing there afterwards and you want to fill it with something, but just like the characters have proven time and time again, it’s really difficult to find something that will actually make you feel better instead of just more miserable. I don’t know if this open end was genius or the final cruel gut punch. It leaves it up the reader to interpret whether happiness is fleeting and we should appreciate the moments we get, or whether this is not the end. Not truly at least.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! The only reason I subtracted a star is because this book made me feel miserable in so many moments, but that’s a very personal reason.

Page Count: 290
Publisher: Faber & Faber

*click on the cover to get redirected to Goodreads*

TV Show

For those of you who know me, you are well aware that I watch a lot of shows and movies that have been adapted from books (sometimes even vice-versa), but this one truly hit me in an unexpected way. It’s rare to see something so flawlessly translate to the screen, where the vibe, the expressions, the dialogue, the atmosphere and the feeling remain exactly the same as I had felt them during my reading experience.

The casting of (at least to me) rather unknown Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones was a bold choice that paid of in its entirety. The show hinges a lot on their talent, but they were magnificent in their roles. Their performances felt authentic and raw, dragging you into the tumultuous emotional life of the characters even deeper. There was something so utterly intimate in the way they portrayed Connell and Marianne, I would have believed they were those people instead of acting if anyone had claimed it to be the case.

There’s a couple things that are hard to watch. All these moments are existent in the book as well, but there is something so very different about imagining it and seeing it actually happen in front of you.

The only real difference I could spot was maybe Marianne’s mother. It’s not that she was necessarily a better person, but while I found her completely uncaring and cruel in the book, I thought she had glimpses of thought and care for her daughter on the show.

I must give great credit to the various directors of the episode, editors and just all crew involved. Whoever did the score (actually let me look that up real quick to tell you) … it’s several people, but the score is comprised of mostly acoustic and instrumental tracks, with some covers here and there that fit the atmosphere perfectly. So, whoever did the song selection, you also did a phenomenal job! Everything about the show managed to convey emotions, be it in the framing of the shots, the music, the silences, the colors, the set design or looks interchanged between the actors. Everything felt intentional and there’s very few instances that don’t manage to hit home.

From the massive response the show has received, I can tell that there is a certain want or need for a second season. This sequel would be completely unrelated to the book, because it finishes the exact same way as the show has. Open, free to interpretation, mournful. I would be interested to see this end on a happier note, although I am not sure that’s what the story is destined to be. For now, the cast has said there is no definite talk of a continuation. Maybe that could change with the increased interest?

Until then, you can lust after Connell’s chain with me and the rest of the internet. I love how iconic it has become and that it has its own Instagram profile. Even more so do I love the fact that Paul Mescal is raffling off one of his chains for a good cause. You have until the 8th of June, 2020, to try your luck here. Paul chose a great organisation, Pieta, which provides free therapy to those engaging in self-harm, with suicidal ideation, or bereaved by suicide in Ireland.

Conclusion

There is no better or worse in this case. I have rarely encountered such a faithful adaptation that doesn’t just match the actual dialogue, but also manages to convey the exact same vibe of the story. While I do think that the book adds a bit of inner monologue that’s helpful in some scenes, and I’d therefore recommend reading it first, they are equally as good as the other.


Have you read Normal People? Have you watched it? Are you as obsessed with Connell’s chain? Let’s chat!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #24

This will likely be one of the last “normal” posts of the year! Tomorrow there’s the usual trailer post and then come Monday I am going to go WILD with multiple ranking posts almost every day of the week. It’s going to be interesting to see if I can really follow through on it, but I did tweet about it already and am saying it here as well, just to hold myself accountable. Anyway, I watched a lot of stuff and it was as follows:

Marvel’s Runaways (Season 3)

I am really sad this was the last season of the Runaways, but they really did try to give it their all. In some ways that worked better than in others, but I am glad they tried to fit the content of about three seasons into those final ten episodes. Maybe some more time would have helped with certain storylines, but I particularly lived for the cameo of Cloak & Dagger! I love Tandy and Tyrone and they fit in with the other kiddos so well, I basically just wanted them to stay.

While I understand Marvel’s need to start fresh and cancel everything that they didn’t start themselves as canon-part of the greater MCU, I am disappointed they weren’t willing to work with anything pre-existing at all. I understand that there are complex character-specific contracts and that they couldn’t just continue with the Netflix shows (as there are clauses about waiting periods until they can use characters again), but Runaways was produced by hulu which is owned by Disney as well, so I don’t see the issue here …

Lastly, something happened at the end of ep. 9 of the season and I would have never in a million years forgiven them, if they had ended it on that note. They remedied it though, so for that alone, I am already so very grateful. At least I got that!

For fans of: evil parents, teen superheroes, messy relationships, found family, cool cameos

Soundtrack (Season 1)

This show was a bit of a surprise hit for me. Usually, I am not too fond of musical content, but none of the people actually sing on the show, they just use music and lip-syncing to dramatise scenes. Well, that’s not entirely true, since some of the characters are in the music industry, but overall it isn’t really a musical, but rather the OG song of Imagine Dragons starts playing and someone just mouths to it.

While the show looks more on the light side, it had surprising depth to it. As much as I could see this as a standalone season, over the course of the episodes, you really connect with the characters and want to know more about them. Without giving anything away, I love that it has a “This Is Us”-kind of approach to the timeline and really neatly works with those different layers.

For fans of: music, fresh faces, family-centered struggles

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I feel like, in order to properly review this movie, I would have to go in depth and therefore spoil some of the things that happen in the movie, but I don’t want to do that. So, I am going to try and be very vague. IF you still haven’t watched this and want to go in completely blind, then by all means, feel free to skip everything about this movie and just continue reading about the next show. Overall, I can tell you that I was disappointed with the movie. While I did chuckle and felt entertained during the run time of the film, the movie just didn’t make sense within the universe and was a huge disservice to so many characters. Here it goes:

  • Redemption through death is one of the laziest tropes ever. It’s rarely ever satisfying, it’s an easy cop-out to not do the work and let the character actually show that they are better and I am still mad it was used in this movie.
  • Rose, as a character, was completely sidelined, which made it feel like the writers gave in to the hate and cowardice of the fanboys who harassed Kelly Marie Tran, to the point where she had to leave social media. She had 73 seconds of screentime. Let that sink in.
  • They initially made it seem like this trilogy was about how ANYONE could use the force, not necessarily people of a specific heritage. Also, they negated the statement that everyone has a certain light and darkness in them, by basically saying that a specific character only had “dark” thoughts due to their heritage. Another easy out if you ask me to blame her doubts on her DNA.
  • Finn and Poe had great chemistry, we all saw that! But, to say it in the kind words that Oscar Isaac used, the Disney overlords were too cowardly to do anything with it. Instead they insert a new female character, who’s face you literally never see, just to make sure no one is getting ideas about Poe being anything but straight.
  • Speaking of Finn, his character was also done dirty. I am glad he is force sensitive, but the boy didn’t even get to say whatever he wanted to tell Rey in a precarious situation. Guess we’ll never find out now.
  • They did things with the force that were never done or mentioned before. They weren’t just inconsistent with it in terms of other movies, but within the movie itself it didn’t always work the same way. It’s almost as if it just does whatever they want it to for the convenience of their writing.

Seriously, my highlight of the movie was a little droid who had some unknown past trauma and respectfully rolled away saying “no, thank you” whenever someone tried to touch him. Even more so enjoyed how the good guys all respected that and didn’t force themselves on it. That was my favourite part.

The Witcher (Season 1)

I have neither read the books nor played the games that this show is based on, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I want to warn anyone who isn’t sure about watching it that it heavily features nudity (especially of women) and violence, to the point where I sometimes skipped scenes, but it doesn’t deter me from still recommending it as a watch.

It’s definitely a show where you have to pay attention and I would recommend watching it within a short period of time, just because the timelines and story is more complex than it might seem and it took most people (me included) until at least episode 4 for all pieces to really fall into place. I like the world-building a lot though and am glad it already got renewed for another season which will air in 2021. It has a couple minor flaws (some *romantic* relationships were too intense too fast for me, like dude, no way could you fall in love with someone that quickly), but the performances all around were magnificent. The fight choreographies were beautiful, the characters layered and three dimensional and even the animals (shout out to Roach) were cool. I especially liked the dynamic between Geralt and Jaskier, because I love a good we-are-friends-but-I-will-never-admit-that-out-loud-relationship. Also, Henry Cavill gave so much depth to a single “fuck”, I am in awe!

For fans of: Fantasy settings, magical creatures, complex timelines and world-building, Henry Cavill in a weave

Lost in Space (Season 2)

I really liked the last season of Lost in Space (you can read more about it here) and I was really happy to have enjoyed this one as well. First of all, JJ Feild was a great addition to the cast. It’s really never a mistake to have that man on board, please, cast him in more stuff. Second, Don is still one of my most favourite characters. I think the writers picked up on the fact that people didn’t love the underlying romantic tones they gave him with Judy (since she is what? 19?), so there was a lot less of that happening. However, I loved his scenes with Penny. Legit some of the favourite of the season for me. And third, the Robinsons remain a beautiful complex mess of a family and I am here for it.

The season felt different than the last one and I would have preferred some more intimate conversations between a couple characters, but I really liked where we went overall again. Just like last season, it ended on a huge cliffhanger though, so I am just praying we get more episodes. 

For fans of: space adventures, hero-villain-friendships, family dynamics

YOU (Season 2)

I know this show is crazy. I honestly don’t understand how people are swooning over Joe as a character, because it’s a big NO from me. If we are talking about Penn’s performance as Joe though, that’s a whole other story. He very openly advocates for people to look at Joe critically and to not see the show as a “how far are we willing to go for love?”-thing, but rather as a “how far are we willing to go to forgive an evil white man?”, which I applaud him for. And those are legit his words, I did not phrase it like that myself in case some people feel attacked in their white male privileged ego.

I wasn’t sure if a second season with more or less a similar premise would work, but I was positively surprised by how smoothly they made that transition without getting repetitive at all. I would LOVE to talk about so many things but so many of them are spoilers. Let’s just say that I liked how they managed for the viewers to root for Joe to take down another bad guy (like, if someone has to do the dirty work, might as well let it be the “villain”), but I was a bit disappointed with the pay-off from some scenarios. It felt like really good writing that didn’t end up where you sometimes wanted it to. Definitely could see another season in the future and would 100% watch it.

Finally, I did love how ambiguous the whole “did he finally find his match?” tagline for the season was and how I guessed it right though.

For fans of: creepy white man inner monologues, “is that still love?”-questions


Did you watch some of the things as well? Are we on the same wavelength concerning opinions? Let’s chat!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #23

Hello again, I’ve been watching some great stuff! I even considered doing a more thorough #CurrentlyWatching post for some of them, but then just didn’t have it in me. I hope these briefer accounts work for you as well and that you’ll maybe check some of them out!

Reprisal

Whatever you think this show is, you are not prepared! It released last Friday and I sat there and binged all 10 hours of it, because I was so transfixed, and even then I just wanted more. Reprisial is brilliant, noir, funny, smartly edited (in both visual and sound-mixing ways), aesthetically pleasing and despite an a tale as old as time revolving around revenge, utterly and completely unique. You have to understand, this isn’t our world, our earth. This is an entirely new universe. It’s as if someone mixed all the eras we knew and made something completely of their own by having rock-a-billy style clothing, burlesque, beautiful old cars and cellphones exist on the same plane.

If I had to pick a favourite performance, I really couldn’t (although I will forever hold a soft spot for the three River Phoenixes). Someone meticulously casted this and made sure that even side characters would remain memorable. The occasional 4th-wall-breaks just add to the ambiance. I generally like gang-settings (if they aren’t too tied with boring drug business) and this was no exception. When you watch those characters, you will get chills because they are so sweet and dark at the same time. All I want is another season now … like, literally, right NOW.

For fans of: stylized noir Sons of Anarchy, complex characters with shifting loyalties

Virgin River

Sooo … Netflix recommended this to me (cause my profile is curated very well and recs are usually on point), but doesn’t promote this in any way whatsoever. That is super apparent when you look at the trailer … For those of you who think “wow, this just seems like Hart of Dixie”, I get it. The comparison alongside with one for Saving Hope was one of the first that came to mind for me as well. However, the books this show is based on (and believe me it’s a long series of books) were released way before Hart of Dixie … so, I don’t know who took inspiration from who. The casting is a little funny considering the resemblance of the content though.

Anyway, I really liked this! It has drama, but not the unnecessary kind, just the personal one that everyone who has lived a life with some baggage brings along. It has a lot of heart and now one of my favourite “boring” ships, as I like to call them. There’s obviously heartbreak, but the development of the relationship has a certain pureness to it. Something that builds from friendship and genuine care for one another into something more. I love those!

For fans of: small town love stories with medical aspects

Merry Happy Whatever

This was okay? I am not going to go around and praise something to the heavens that I didn’t absolutely love, but it was alright. I find it tricky to really make this into a continued series, since it would mean you only ever get to see the family around holidays or special events with large breaks inbetween. I am someone who doesn’t love that, because then they always pretend like nothing whatsoever happened in those 10-months or whatever and only the 5-day holiday is where all the drama stems from.

Anyway, it’s still a nice, family-oriented show. I loved the coming-out storyline for one of the characters (not going to say who, because spoilers?), but other than that, it was a lot of standard stuff.

For fans of: former Disney kids

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 3)

I love this show so, so very much! It breaks my heart whenever a season ends and this time was no different. Maybe it was even more heartbreaking that last time and I didn’t think that was possible, because Zachary Levi is a darling and basically played the perfect man on the show and I am rambling … Anyway, I consider Miriam “Midge” Maisel to be one of the smartest and most funny people, but boy, she messed up … I saw this coming a mile away and it still hurt like hell.

None the less, this season was another treat! I don’t know how they keep the brilliance coming, but they just do. My favourite episode was maybe episode 5, because Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce is just pure magic. His sadness is killing me and the way he looks at Midge – seriously, get yourself a partner that looks at you the way Lenny looks at her. I am just always so terrified, thinking about what happened to him in real life and I just don’t want to see that on screen. He shows up like once or twice a season and still is one of my favourite characters in the entire series. (And Benjamin. I do love Benjamin.)

For fans of: Midge Maisel, Lenny Bruce looking at her like she hung the moon

Did you watch any of the shows mentioned above? Would you like to? I am always here if you want any more information, let’s chat in the comments!

Fall Review: Casual & Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Usually I review shows that air on the same day, but what can you do, I totally forgot to write the post when the show actually aired.

Casual

Network: Hulu
CastMichaela Watkins, Tommy Dewey, Tara Lynne Barr, Patrick Heusinger, Nyasha Hatendi, …

A recently divorced woman moves in with her bachelor brother and her daughter. They all try to maneuver the crazy world of dating and staying sane in general.

I did not expect to love this show as much as I did! It’s like a weird Indie movie in TV show format and that’s totally my thing. The awkwardness was palpable, it was hilarious, had smart dialogue and was just generally great. I loved the dynamic between the main cast, especially Alex (Tommy Dewey) and Valerie (Michaela Watkins) as siblings. In my mix it’s not just a comedy but also has a bit of drama mixed in.

I could see this not being everyone’s type of humour, however the show is on my TV Fall list and for now it will most definitely stay there!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Network: The CW
CastRachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Santino Fontana, Pete Gardner, Vella Lovell, Donna Lynne Champlin, …

Young and successful lawyer Rebecca is unhappy with her life, that is until she randomly meets her ex Josh. Even though their meeting only takes minutes, she discovers that she still has feelings for him and he gives her the idea to move across the country to his home town. 

I am so conflicted about this show. On the one hand I am not in love with the musical-aspect of the show, but I did laugh a lot! The title already hints at Rebecca’s behaviour being a little … irrational, but I don’t think she’s actually a nutjob – maybe a little crazy, but aren’t we all? In my mind she didn’t follow Josh across the country for love, but rather to find a way to finally be happy. She chose finding her own way and doing what she wants over guaranteed success and that’s actually kind of brave. But don’t worry, the show’s theme is definitely a light-hearted, uplifting and bubbly one – not all that serious.

My favourite character so far is Greg (Santino Fontana), the barman and a friend of Josh. Also, I think Crazy Ex-Girlfriend works quite well in combination with Jane the Virgin, which is why I will watch a couple more episodes before committing to it for good.

Did you watch either one or both shows? Did you like them or not?