While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!
Movie: “The Courier”
My husband and I happened on this movie purely by opening up Amazon Prime and clicking on the first movie with a recognizable face. Both of the main actors, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel Brosnahan, were familiar from other things we’ve enjoyed…and that’s about all we knew. The story is based on real-world events where a British salesman ends up sneaking messages in and out of Russia during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a completely unfamiliar story to me, and entirely more stressful than I had planned for the evening. But it was a great film and the acting was superb. I recommend it for any fans of historical dramas.
TV Show: “Survivor” season 41
Covid has definitely thrown out all sense of normal, and one of the things to go has been my usual twice-yearly guilty pleasure show: “Survivor.” Well, at last it’s back! I was super excited to check out the first episode and, not surprisingly, things felt a bit disjointed after being off air for so long. I liked a lot of the twists that were introduced (lack of supplies, more choices that require strategic thinking). But there were also some big misses. The shortened length of time (while probably necessary due to Covid) makes it hard to get to know the cast even as we saw two go right off the bat. There were also a few awkward moments where the show may have been trying to make changes for the right reasons, but did it (twice!) in such the wrong way (performative and throwing some question marks on whose voice holds the most value) that they almost undercut the entire thing. Honestly, if they had just made this change quietly in the background without trying to get pats on the back from viewers, I’d have had a lot more respect for it. As it is…I think it didn’t play well. Ah well, what would the show be without these highs and lows?
TV Show: “Superman and Lois”
Of course I had to watch this show! I was a bit nervous going in, because, while I did watch all of “Smallville” back in the day, I didn’t continue with all of the other “Arrowverse” shows that came out since. And I knew that Superman and Lois both showed up in “Supergirl” on and off so I was concerned that I’d be lost without watching more of those shows (a huge time commitment at this point). But I’m pleased to report that the show stands perfectly well on its own. I was also a bit nervous about how I’d like a show that featured their kids so heavily. I’m usually there for the romance and action, not kid drama. But I did end up liking the choices that were made with the two teenagers. I also really, really liked Tyler Hoechlin as Superman/Clark. He perfectly embodied the character and is probably my favorite version of both characters since Dean Cain’s version way back in the 90s with my beloved “Lois and Clark.” Definitely check this out if you’re a fan of Superman stories!
Video Game: “Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!”
I have never really dabbled in dating sim games, though I did give in and download “Choices!” on my phone at one point. But that’s my only experience. One week my husband said he was playing a really ‘strange’ game, and told me that I should give it a try. Like, said ‘it’s Friday night, I think you should play “Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!”‘. I didn’t really know what this game was, outside of him saying it was ‘strange’ and ‘dark’. So when I opened it up and it looked like a typical Japanese School Girl dating sim, I was confused…. Especially when I was bombarded with trigger warnings from the game itself warning me about ‘disturbing content’. So on the surface, “Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!” has you, the protagonist, join a school literature club with four cute girls, Sayori, Yuri, Monika, and Natsuki. But about halfway through it took a TURN. Which had me saying WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON over and over again. “Doki Doki Literature Club” is anything but a dating sim, and it messed me up in the best way a video game can. And that’s all I will say about it. Because you really gotta go in with little knowledge of what’s coming (but I will say take those trigger warnings at the jump seriously).
TV Show: “Only Murders in the Building”
Though it wasn’t super difficult for me to turn my back on scumlord Woody Allen and his movies, I will admit that the film “Manhattan Murder Mystery” was a movie I knew I would probably miss, as necessary as it was to cut it out of my viewing habits. But lucky for me, the new series “Only Murders in the Building” is VERY MUCH filling that admitted void. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez play neighbors in an upper crust Manhattan apartment building, who are all true crime nuts. When there is an apparent suicide in their building, they are all so intrigued by the potential for murder that they start investigating it themselves… and stumble into something potentially dangerous. On top of that, they, too, have their secrets. With hilarious results! Martin and Short are always golden and they bring their A game to this show, but Gomez keeps up with them with ease. The chemistry is there, the characters are hilarious, and the mystery is solid. And I love seeing all these characters bumble their way through an amateur murder investigation, with witty dialogue and legitimate suspense to boot. I also find myself feeling very clocked at the true crime fandom satire, so that’s fun.
While I myself have not been taken in by Multi Level Marketing scams, I know some people who have. I’ve known people who have sold Jamberry, Pure Romance, Beach Body, and hell, even my grandmother sold some aloe vera based products through such a thing back when I was a little girl (that said, the muscle balm she had lasted for years and it was SO EFFECTIVE). I had heard of LuLaRoe here and there as a particularly predatory one, so when I saw Prime had a new docuseries on that MLM called “LuLaRich” I was definitely interested to check it out. And oh boy, was it an even bigger mess than I ever could have imagined. Essentially, LuLaRoe is a clothing based MLM that sells gaudy leggings, and after it exploded in popularity a few years ago everything imploded. Women were pulled into an unsustainable and predatory scam, and while some flew high, others fell hard after going into serious debt. “LuLaRich” exposes a lot of the behind the scenes drama, and it interviews not only former employees, but the super disingenuous and creepy married couple that is still in charge today. It’s frustrating and maddening and super messy, and we binged it in one night because we couldn’t turn it off it was so engrossing.