It’s been awhile! *looks at the state of the world*
That said, I have much to share, so I’m just going to jump right into what I’ve been watching and reading since the last update! As always, if I forget a title, I’ll mention it in the next wrap up. Here we go…
On the very last day of the Masterclass buy one annual membership to all classes get one membership free sale, I got together with a friend and we took advantage. I had taken the Shonda Rhimes class two years prior thanks to a friend. I had longed to take her class ever since it was announced that she would have a masterclass so that was very kind of my friend! Now, I’m excited that I not only have access to rewatch that class but watch the other 23+ classes that I want to take. I am so excited that I finally took the plunge. If the pandemic was a reminder of anything for me, it was a reminder to never limit investing in yourself. So if there’s a class that I want to take, I will do everything in my power to take it and not limit myself to only 1-3 workshops/conferences/etc… a year. Obviously, I have to budget, so I will use wisdom here. But don’t let the fear of what I think I can’t afford take over every single time.
For TV writers trying to break in, particularly those who are marginalized, In the Cut LA offers affordable seminars as well. I started taking the seminars almost right away, as they were figuring things out themselves. I took the Comedy 101 Class and Drama 101 class and despite the “Comedy” and “Drama” in the tile of each class, they were both the same exact class with different teachers and no actual emphasis on the skills needed for the different sides of the coin. It was more like a Writer’s Room 101 Class. Since the first few seminars, I’ve taken some more and each one has really ironed itself out and they are more distinct now, which is great. So I recommend checking these out if you can.
Drama… I don’t believe that I mentioned Unorthodox (Netflix) last time I blogged so I want to mention that it is definitely worth watching. This is a reminder though that this is fiction and entertainment, not a documentary about Jewish life. Please keep this in mind as you watch this dramatization. As for what I watched in May and so on, Into the Night (Netflix) was absolutely fantastic! It better get a season 2, oh my God! It was wonderful! It’s in French, so use subtitles if you don’t speak French or your French isn’t that great and you don’t want to miss anything.
Hollywood (Netflix) was not what I thought it would be . With the people attached, I honestly thought that it was going to have more of a fantastical element to it. Thankfully, it doesn’t. Hollywood is compelling all on its own. While I did enjoy this reimagining of old Hollywood very much, I was disturbed by two things 1) It really doesn’t understand the breadth of its supporting gay Black character or any Black character which brings us to 2) Why on earth did they not have a dark skin actress play Hattie McDaniel? I love Queen Latifah! Love her! That said, we all know that Hattie McDaniel was blackity-black. Dark skin to the bone. There ARE heavy-set dark skin actresses out there who could have rocked this just as well, so this role was heavily miscast for one, and two, it was a completely missed opportunity story-wise to dig deeper here. Black identity and the intersection between black identity and gay identity did not have the balance that it should have had with the groundwork of this story being gay identity. So that was disappointing. Great show but you can see where the ball was dropped.
Snowpiercer (TNT) FINALLY dropped on TNT and I have been in absolute heaven every single Sunday because of it! I knew that it would become one of my favorite shows as soon as the show was announced and wow did it deliver. The season finale aired last week and ahhhh I cannot wait for season two! Fingers crossed for season two!
Blood & Water is Netflix’s second South African original series and it’s so much fun! It’s been awhile since I could really sink my teeth into a teen drama and this one is everything I wanted. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend tuning in asap. The first season is only 6 episodes, so it’s super easy to binge. The show has already been renewed for season two so the wait begins!
My ultimate favorite and probably my favorite series of the entire year is I May Destroy You (HBO), created by and starring Michaela Coel. This series is absolutely phenomenal. It should be required viewing for everyone. The way that this show so honestly and openly tackles sexual assault and rape head on…I’ve never seen such candor in exploring what it means to understand what’s happened to you, what can be done, what isn’t done, and healing from all of it. This show. Oh my god. It is everything. It’s everything.
Comedies…I really enjoyed Betty (HBO) which I mentioned getting to in the last post. It’s just so refreshingly full of joy, which is what we need right now. Then, I finally got around to watching #black AF (Netflix) which has gotten many mixed reactions and I can definitely see why. I was entertained. Also worth mentioning, the latest season of the comedy talk show, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (Netflix)! If you don’t yet watch, fix yo life!
Finally, documentary series. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (Netflix) is wildly disturbing. I stayed away from this news cycle so this documentary was very eye opening for me as far as the lengths of what he did went and even more disturbing than I mentally prepared myself for. Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO) is even more thrilling and exhilarating than it was watching so much of it play out in real time. I need to get back to the book. I started it shortly after the book released and it was just not the right time for me to get into the book but after watching this documentary, I think I’m ready to pick it back up!
I still have yet to watch Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (HBO), The Weight of Gold (HBO), Stockton On My Mind (HBO), the new season of Queer Eye (Netflix), Jo Koy: In His Elements (Netflix), and The Last Dance (Netflix) so these remain on my watch list!
May started off strong with The Half Of It (Netflix) which is probably one of my favorite films of the year. As we’re now in mid-July, the last movie that I saw was The Old Guard (Netflix) which is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and stars KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzar, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Wow. The choreography in those fight scenes? Oh my god. I think it’s safe to say that this is THE action movie of summer 2020.
The only piece of media that I’ve rewatched this year is Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, which Disney+ recorded on broadway magnificently. Oh my goodness, words cannot even convey how happy it makes me to know how accessible this musical is now.
I also put a call out on Twitter for movies that made you bawl crying. Not just a few tears but uncontrollable sobbing. Either people don’t know how to follow directions or people sob way more than I thought. Actually, it’s both because I asked for no animation recs and some still decided to rec them anyway. 🙂 I gathered about 18 of the films that were recommended to me, 8 of which are already on my watch list but I’m bumping them up. So far, I’ve watched a handful and not a single tear has fallen. But I am watching some really fantastic movies that have been gone unwatched by me for far too long, so I guess there’s that. So far I’ve seen The Last Samurai (Netflix), The Danish Girl (Netflix), Ad Astra, and The Farewell.
I have yet to see Palm Springs (Hulu) but something tells me that I’ll be watching that later today and based on the cast, I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m going to love it.
Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story (Netflix) was disturbing but so, so important to watch. Becoming (Netflix), the spin-off documentary based on Michelle Obama’s memoir of the same name. It was just as wonderful as I imagined it would be. If you haven’t read her memoir, I highly suggest doing so. Better yet, listen to the audiobook which she narrates. Disclosure (Netflix) is a must-watch documentary which follows prominent voices in the trans community as they talk about their experiences working in Hollywood and Hollywood’s responsibility when it comes to representation. Athlete A (Netflix) gives more insight into how Dr. Larry Nassar was able to get away with abusing so many gymnasts as the official doctor of USA Gymnastics . Spelling the Dream (Netflix) is a documentary I’ve been waiting for, for years! I am so fascinated by the National Spelling Bee and this doc follows the decade long successes of the winners and what they do to train for the National Spelling Bee. LA 92 (Netflix) follows the LA riots after Rodney King’s attack. The Pixar Story (Netflix) is a fascinating look at not only the beginning of Pixar but the work culture of one of the most prominent entertainment studios in the world. Showbiz Kids (HBO) was so captivating and heartbreaking and moving. I loved that the documentary didn’t solely focus on child stars who ended up meeting an early end or downfall and was very varied, because these experiences are similar but still not the same..
It’s July and I’ve only read 25 books. I’m 30 behind if I’m trying to read 100 by the end of the year at a steady pace but this year has been wild so I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I read what i read. You can follow what I read on Goodreads.
I’ve recently read and want to mention All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson who is from New Jersey! Ayyyyy!!!!! Also, shout out to my lovely friend, Colleen who got me a copy of this book when I was unemployed and itching for a copy of this!
I also loved Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. I have the hardcover but I also listened to the audiobook via Scribd. I haven’t used Scribd since it first launched in 2007 and back then, I only used it for about a week. The selection was not wide, obviously since it had just launched, but I wasn’t exactly sticking around to wait until it grew. Cut to now, with Amazon’s increasing world domination, it’s impossible to justify going to Audible the few times that I do, when there are other options out there and I really don’t need to own any audiobooks. I rarely re-read and I don’ ever re-listen.
So after seeing a tweet about Scribd, I decided to check it out again with the 30 day trial and determine if this would be my new second choice to my library. At this rate, it probably will be. How can you beat paying $10 a month for unlimited audiobooks, ebooks, and more when Audible makes you pay $14.95 a month for 1 credit which is basically only $5-$10 off one ebook? I used Audible a ton when Audible Daily Deals were still a thing for non-Audible members. But ever since they cut off access to non-members, I’ve only bought a single audiobook through Audible. But with Scribd, I can access so many books right now that are on hold at my library for weeks, sometimes months and that makes Scribd a million times worth it. I’m a mood reader so there’s nothing worse than waiting forever for a book on hold and when you finally get it, you’re not in the mood to read it. Scribd doesn’t have access to every single audiobook out there on my TBR but it will certainly make a nice dent in my TBR so I’d say it’s totally worth it for me.
Now I’ve read in comments for reviews of Scribd that it claims to offer unlimited access to audiobooks but it’s really only allowing access to 2-3 popular titles and it has arbitrarily limits on what you can listen to each month after that. So that concerns me. I’ll try Scribd out for 2-3 months to see if I run into any issues and if it’s worth it. So far, the only issue I’ve run into is me saving titles 3 weeks ago to listen to later and then this past week, none of them are saved. So that is frustrating. But aside from that, I haven’t had an issue with the number of titles that I’ve listened to. Time will tell!
What did you watch or read and enjoy this month?