Not Just Books: September 2022

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!

Serena’s Picks

Amazon Prime Show: “The Boys”

This show has been out for a while (season 3 came out this year, I believe), and it’s the kind of think that you’d think I’d immediately jump on, being right in my favorite genres wheelhouse. However, I heard a lot about how dark it was when it was first released. And in the midst of all the turmoil of raising small babies, I just had a hard time wanting to work myself up to watching something supposedly so dark. But I’m so glad I finally got to this! And, yes, it is dark. But I also think the show does an excellent job of balancing these darker moments with healthy doses of heart and humor. I never turn off an episode feeling depressed or pessimistic, which is the kind of dark that I was anticipating and the kind I’ve struggled with watching more recently. This, on the other hand, is decidedly goring, graphic, and unafraid of killing its darlings. But it’s also just fantastically written with incredibly solid character at its heart.

TV Show: “Alone”/”Alone: Frozen”

We got a double dose of “Alone” this summer/fall! Not only was there the most recent, regular season, but immediately following that started up a new show focusing on returning contestants getting set out only a few short weeks before winter sets in, with the goal of lasting 50 days. I really enjoyed the regular season (I particularly liked this year’s winner and their unique strategy for outlasting competitors). And this new show is also quite good with some of favorite past contestants returning for another go. I definitely have a favorite and have my fingers crossed they’ll do well! It’s also all the more gratifying watching this show from the couch as I can begin to see the signs of fall and winter coming for me and appreciating my cozy blanket and wood fire place.

TV Show: “The Great British Baking Show

It’s that time of year again!!! And the first episode is always the most fun for my husband and me. For several years now, we’ve had this game going where we have to pick two bakers each and see who can get farther with a baker still standing. Not to brag or anything, but we’ve been shockingly good, often coming up with the top 4 bakers picked from the very go of it all. We’ve also never failed to pick the winner between us (though I’ll brag more and say I’ve won more often and most recently, having picked last year’s winner.) We’ll see if our streak can continue! And even if not, who cares? There’s no way to not have a great time with all of this wholesome British baking goodness.

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Cobra Kai”

IT’S BACK!!!! I don’t know what we did that earned it coming back before the end of the year, but “Cobra Kai” dropped Season 5 in September and I was, of course, immediately obsessed. I love having Johnny Lawrence on my TV screen so that I can bask in all his himbo glory. When we left off in Season 4, The All Valley Tournament had ended with Cobra Kai beating Eagle Fang/Miyagi Do, and Terry Silver getting Kreese out of the way while Johnny and Daniel closed their dojos doors. Oh, and Miguel ran away to Mexico to look for his father, as he felt rejected by his surrogate dad, Johnny. So jumping in had high tensions and high emotions from the get go, and I was ENTHRALLED AS I ALWAYS AM! The drama! The goofiness! The heart! JOHNNY LAWRENCE!! I still love this show and it’s self awareness of how goofy it can be, but also how it can hit so many emotional beats and address trauma in fairly thoughtful ways…. And did I mention Johnny Lawrence? I’m still in love with Johnny Lawrence.

Film: “The Black Phone”

This one has been on my list for a long time, and when it dropped for rental on streaming I decided to make an evening of it. So on my solo trip up North this past month I sat down one night with my dinner in my hotel room and loaded it up. And it did not disappoint! Based on the Joe Hill short story (published in “20th Century Ghosts”, which is now called “The Black Phone” thanks to the movie), it follows a teenage boy named Finn who is kidnapped by a predator called the Grabber. While sitting in his basement cell, an old black phone rings, and when Finn answers, it’s the voices of the Grabber’s previous victims, giving him information on how to escape. I love the short story, and I thought that the movie was a good adaptation. Ethan Hawke is unsettling as hell as the Grabber, but all of the child actors, especially Madeleine McGraw as Finn’s clairvoyant sister Gwen, were on point and effective.

Podcast: “Someplace Under Neith”

I’ve already highlighted this podcast, way back when it was first dropped, but I’m highlighting it again for a few reasons. The first is that they are now in the midst of their second season, as unlike other podcasts I tend to listen to they do have chunks of episodes and then extended breaks. The second is that now that my kid is in preschool for a couple hours a few days a week (good lord where has the time gone), I can actually LISTEN to my podcasts again in a reasonable manner, and this one was the first I caught up on. I still love how Natalie Jean and Amber Nelson take on cases and stories of missing and exploited women and girls, and how they shine a spotlight on stories that may not have as much notice or attention because of various unjust factors. Their righteous anger and advocacy also has some good balances of heart and humor as the two friends talk and banter, but it never loses focus and it never feels like its at the expense of the subject matter at hand. I’m glad I can finally keep up with more than just one podcast again.

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