So a lot of people do their top reads/movies/whatever lists. And I was going to do these posts in December but didn’t get around to finishing them. We’re not even two weeks into 2016, though, so I still have time!
There’ll be three posts. Today is movies/TV shows. The next one is books on Wednesday. The last one is games on Friday. I’m picking three of each. It was really difficult to narrow things down but here we go. Part of what I looked at was the stuff that stayed with me for several months if not the whole year.
I passed this by on Netflix a lot when it first showed up because the “poster” image was a dude with a gun, and it’s not that I don’t like dudes with guns, but it just seemed “meh”. Finally I clicked over and decided to try because I knew part of it takes place in Nairobi and I have a WIP set there.
Oh. My. God.
I flew through the entire first season and thought about nothing but this show for weeks afterward. The characters stayed with me and I obsessively refreshed for news of a second season (WHICH IS HAPPENING, YAY).
Instead of summarizing, here, have the trailer:
It took me two episodes or so to really get into it, and I had no idea what was going on. It is not perfect, but from a writer standpoint I grew to have incredible appreciation for how this story was being told–it is not easy with a cast of eight characters who are the protagonists of all their own stories with their own ensembles around them. I can forgive a lot of initial confusion because of how goddamn hard that had to be to write, but ultimately it was pulled off beautifully.
The diversity of the cast is of course getting a lot of buzz, and rightly so. People who think calls for diversity is about checking off a box need to go sit in the corner now. In Sense8 we have pretty white cis hetero people, yes, but a Korean woman (who does kickboxing and somehow rose above a stereotype of Asian = martial arts), a lesbian trans woman (played by a trans actress instead of sticking a cis dude in a dress), an Indian woman, a Kenyan man, a gay Mexican man (and did I mention LOTS OF PRETTY BOYS KISSING), and also Naveen Andrews who I adore and will watch in anything and swoon every time. No one is just checking off boxes with this, and part of the reason it doesn’t feel like tokenism is because each of these characters is the center of their own story and there are lots of people of colour and sexual orientations.
The bloody brilliant thing about Sense8, though, is the overall theme of connection. How people who are very different can connect completely and totally, how our struggles can be shared. It’s beautiful and hopeful (and for me a sort of natural extension of In Your Eyes, which I’ve seen a bazillion times and adore), which is all too rare.
Also, this scene:
Also, it brought us this, which tops the Hannibal‘s “Wendigo Quintet” of o.O love scenes.
2. Jessica Jones
I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for Jessica Jones.
It struck me, while watching it, how much time I have always spent watching pop culture and mainstream media and looking for something, anything, that is feminist. “Hey, this movie has two women talking–feminism!” “Look, this TV show has a lady kicking ass and saving people–feminism!” Like, who here watched Silence of the Lambs and thought OMG look, a lady in a male-dominated field, battling sexism, and she gets to save the day–my hero(ine)! This fixes everything…oh no, wait, it doesn’t but still, GO CLARICE.
And then Jessica Jones comes along and this, THIS is what I have always wanted.
This is the rare thing that covers the aftermath of rape with the focus on the survivor, that explicitly condemns everything the perpetrator does without placing any blame on victims. Stalking and abusive boyfriends, coping with PTSD, ladies who get to do more than stand there and look pretty–all wrapped up in a Marvel superhero show.
It also helps tremendously that she’s a traditional “unlikable” heroine–prickly, snarky, all hard edges–who drinks a lot, and the show is dark and disturbing in all the right ways. BE STILL MY BEATING HEART, I COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS MYSELF.
Interestingly, in November after it debuted, and more and more people were watching it, I noticed a trend on Twitter with a lot of male viewers complaining about the serialized nature and they had all these criticisms, and I realized for once…I am not objective. At all. With the exception of a some lack of intersectionality of the show’s feminism, I can’t honestly get critical about it. I can’t tell you anything about the structure or the pacing, I don’t know if the heavily serialization works or not, or anything else. THAT is how much it means to me to see something like this reflected on TV. I don’t know or care if anything is technically wrong with it; all I know is that survivors say to other survivors “this is not your fault” and I can’t think of anything more important.
This is a show where one of the characteristics of the villain is that he tells random women to smile. If you don’t get the power in that, this is probably not a show for you.
Also, if Luke Cage is just thirteen episodes of Mike Colter rolling his eyes and punching people, I AM THERE.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
Fury Road shouldn’t work on paper. Like, there’s a car chase, and then another car chase, and then talking, and then another car chase, and stuff explodes and there’s a guy with a guitar and nothing is explained and I DO NOT CARE.
It works incredibly well, held together (for me) by the heart of the piece: that women are not things and that we can’t run away to a better world, but have to work together to improve this one.
Also, SHOOTING and CAR CHASES and EXPLOSIONS. <3
I have nothing else intelligent to add except for flailing excitedly and happy sighing; there are a million other thinkpieces out there about it and you can go read those.
It also resulted in my favourite mashup since Hannibal Development:
So those are my movies/TV shows for 2015. Next up will be three books that stayed with me.
What stuff did you watch this year that stayed with you?