Saying “what a strange year” is both such an understatement and so obvious that I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said, but I can’t help but say it anyway. What a strange, strange year. Mostly I turned to books to get me through it, but there were also plenty of standouts in other mediums that offered entertainment and escapism through the weirdness of 2020. Here are a few of my favourites from the year in music, tv, film*, and podcasts.Continue reading “My favourite music, tv, and podcasts of 2020”
The last few weeks have been hard. I mean, obviously the last seven months have been hard, but the last few weeks have hit another downswing.
Cases here in Ireland are going exponentially back up, the government has thus far decided another full lockdown isn’t necessary despite the strong recommendations of the Emergency Health committee (citing mental health and unemployment as a reason despite having spent the last decade being criticised for underfunding mental health services, and the last few months claiming that unemployment support payments are too high), and with the weather changing to autumn (which in Ireland is aka winter lite aka endless rain), it’s hard to find things to get excited about after work when I know it’s going to be shit weather and I won’t even be able to go out for a walk and some fresh air.
When I start feeling like this, it’s nice to have some cosy, happy things to turn to. The media equivalent of comfort food, these are the things that have been making me feel good when everything else feels bad.Continue reading “Comfort food, in media form”
In September 2005 I had just started high school. On Tuesday, September 13, I think I had an orchestra rehearsal, if I remember right, but there was this new show premiering on the WB that I was super excited about because I loved (and still love) all things paranormal. So I set up my VCR to record it—unfortunately the episode ran five minutes over so I missed the ending, but it didn’t matter, I was instantly hooked on this story of two brothers searching for their missing father and hunting ghosts and demons as they went.
I mostly try to avoid calling a celebrity a hero of mine. Being someone whose work I enjoy does not a hero make, and especially in recent years I am wary of heaping too much praise on (particularly a male) celebrity when I don’t know what they could have been doing behind the scenes on set or in the recording studio. But I have no hesitation in saying that Anthony Bourdain, who was found dead today of apparent suicide, is one of my heroes.
My three favourite things are travel, food, and writing, and Bourdain was an inspiration to me in all three. I’ve read several of his books, seen all of his shows (most episodes of No Reservations more than once), and any time I am going somewhere new one of the first things I do is check if Bourdain had done a segment there and what he had to say about it. He travelled the way I want to travel, and he ate the way I want to eat—not because of the variety and amount that he got to experience, but because of the way he honoured each place he went and each meal he ate.
There’s nothing I can say about my delight for the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor on Doctor Who that hasn’t already been said. For an alien creature that can canonically change genders with their various regenerations, it’s beyond time for the Doctor to be female after a string of a dozen males. For one of the biggest science-fiction works in the history of sci-fi television, it’s a cool move to put a woman behind the wheel of the TARDIS (doubly so in conjunction with a new showrunner finally replacing the increasingly odious Stephen Moffat). And, unsurprisingly, it’s brought out the worst in internet trolling.
The Doctor is a Man. No, the Doctor is a Time Lord. Why does it need to be Politically Correct? Well, the probability of a coin coming up heads a thirteenth time after 12 in a row is pretty unlikely (unless you’re in a Tom Stoppard play), so it’s really more about being Scientifically Correct. And the classic: they’ve ruined my childhood! Look, I know the show is about time travel, but you know that’s just pretend, right? The Doctor can’t really go back to the ’70s and erase all your childhood memories of the colourful scarf and the celery lapel and the bad special effects.
When filmmakers want to retell a familiar story, it seems that they tend to turn to remakes or reboots, recreating a version of the original work with a new cast and crew, perhaps throwing in a cameo from the original star as a plot point or just a wink and nod to long-time fans. While there are occasional instances of many-years-later sequels, it seems that usually after a certain period of time filmmakers feel that audiences prefer to start fresh.
On the other hand, television seems to lend itself better to continuations of old stories, perhaps due to the ease of a next-generation series a la Girl Meets World or the upcoming Fuller House, or the procedural nature of a show like The X-Files (of which I have not yet watched any of the latest episodes because I’m saving them to binge watch all at once). Given that this tendency toward long-awaited continuations has led to Netflix confirming a four-part Gilmore Girls revival, I definitely can’t complain.
Like most book-obsessed, somewhat nerdy girls my age, my two fictional role models growing up were Hermione Granger and Rory Gilmore. We had so much in common: both of us always with a book in our hand, focused (sometimes overly so) on school—we even both studied journalism! Rory was smart, driven, and even if she wasn’t real, I looked up to her. I was devastated when her college years arrived and she turned off track (why did you steal that boat, Rory, why?!?!), and elated when she returned to college, with the finale sending her off on the campaign trail to report on Barack Obama.
Then there’s Lorelai. If Rory is who I was, then Lorelai is who I wanted (and still want) to be. Not the teen-pregnancy-with-awful-Christopher part or the terribly-strained-relationship-with-her-parents part, but pretty much everything else. She, too, was smart and driven, owning her own business and finding a perfect niche. She was witty as hell and enviably funny. She had great friendships in her town and an even greater relationship with her daughter. And our all-consuming coffee drinking habits are remarkably similar.
The minor characters are just as wonderful, with so many memorable supporting roles like Paris Gellar, Lane Kim, Luke Danes, and the only one of Rory’s boyfriends who really matters, Jess Mariano, but the titular Gilmore girls are by far the most important to me. When I was a kid I wasn’t much of a television watcher so most of my fictional heroes came from books—the aforementioned Hermione Grander, the Enchanted Forest Chronicles‘ Cimorene, and others, but Lorelai and Rory were the exception. To this day, I think that the more I am like them, the better.
In a way, this makes me nervous for the Netflix revival of the show. I remember my heartbreak when Rory “let me down” by stealing a boat and quitting my college, my devastation when Lorelai and Luke broke up. My diction may be slightly exaggerated here, but only slightly. What if Lorelai and Luke don’t get back together? What if Rory goes back to (ugh) Logan? More importantly, what if she’s not still writing? What if she’s changed? I mean, sure, I’ve changed too since 2007, but I’m a real person; I’m allowed. All revivals contain a certain amount of fan service; most creators aren’t as diabolical as to completely destroy everything their audience loved about the original, even in the name of progressing the story, and I’m totally okay with that when it means things turn out the way I want them to.
On the other hand, I do care about the story. Gilmore Girls wasn’t a generic show I watched for the eye candy. I cared (still do) about the characters and their lives like they were people I knew in my own life. And so I’m willing to be disappointed in the name of good storytelling, if it comes to that. But, you know, ideally the storytelling is great and leads to Rory and Jess getting back together to write novels in Brooklyn. Regardless, as the theme song says, “Where you lead, [Gilmore Girls,] I will follow.”