Not Just Books: July 2021

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

Documentary: “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young”

After watching “Eco Challenge” and reveling in my own laziness as I watched teams complete ridiculous feats of strength and endurance, it was only natural to jump into another such story. This time, a documentary on the strange, bewildering world of The Barkley Marathon, a crazy-pants race that embraces all the weirdness. For one thing, you have to be invited to participate. And then there are a bunch of random rules, like the fact that on the day of the race’s start, no one actually knows when it will begin until they hear the sound of a Conch shell being blown. And once the race actually begins, its a cross-over between endurance cross-country racing and one’s ability to navigate a largely unmakred trail. Oh, and it’s five loops of a brutal, uphill and down 20 mile track that must be completed within 60 hours. The thing is so crazy that it went years and years before anyone even completed it, and only 15 people have completed it in the race’s 35 year history. The documentary is not only a great look in the the history of the marathon, but it follows a particularly interesting year for the race itself. Definitely check it out if you want to be amazed at what the human body can do!

Reality Websites: Zillow/

This is only being included because there’s finally a happy ending to what was a grueling spring for me and my family. After our second son was born last fall, our cozy little house was suddenly way too small, so we got into the housing market. At THE WORST TIME EVER! Anyone who’s looked for a house this last year can attest to how crazy the market has been. We looked at around 50 hours and made double digits’ worth of offers on houses before finally getting one. We move in about three weeks, so really what I’m highlighting here is my absolute joy to NEVER look at Zillow or again (at least not for the foreseeable future!)

Movie: “Ford v. Ferrari”

Lastly, a movie that I really enjoyed (though there were more tears than I was expecting from a moving about car racing, something I’m actively uninterested in for the most part). This movie had been on my radar for a bit, mostly because I like Matt Damon in practically anything. However, I’m not a huge Christian Bale fan (though I recognize his talent) and, as I said, car racing…But I enjoyed the heck out of this movie! I didn’t know anything about this story or the car companies behind it and their connection/process with race cars. Most likely, I enjoyed this history side of the story more than anything. But if you’re into car racing, this is definitely a movie to check out. And even if not, the strength of the story and acting are enough to elevate it to appeal to most everyone, especially those who appreciate movies with connections to true stories.

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Cold Case”

Right after I graduated college into a recession and limited employment options, I would spend my days job searching and watching reruns of cop procedurals on cable. One of my favorites was “Cold Case”, a show about homicide detectives who would reopen unsolved cases that could span back decades, and also deal with their own personal issues. For years I figured that it would never be released on DVD or streaming, as every episode used popular songs from the era of the case, and therefore licensing would be a nightmare. Well either it’s different with streaming or HBO ponied up, but regardless “Cold Case” is on HBOMax WITH THE ORIGINAL SONGS! That was my one caveat on a rewatch: it had to have the music, as the music really sells the emotional punches and beats (there are actually a few episodes I know I can’t watch because they are so sad, no small part due to the music selections). I also like that we get to know the victims a bit because of the flashback format, which makes it feel more personal and resonant. I’ve cried MANY times on my rewatch, so you know it still packs a wallop.

Podcast: “I Pray You Put This Journal Away”

I’ve mentioned the podcast “Some Place Under Neith”, and when they did a series on the Institute on Basic Life Principles cult with a focus on the Duggar family, I was both deeply fascinated and also completely horrified (especially when they went into a deep dive on predator Josh Duggar; my God. LOCK HIM UP AND NEVER LET HIM OUT). One of the podcasts that they recommended was “I Pray You Put This Journal Away”, and I knew I had to listen to that next. It is a podcast by a man who not only grew up in the IBLP, but was also friends with Josh Duggar, and left the church when he was older and realized how oppressive and predatory this fundamentalist Christian lifestyle was. This podcast is partially him talking about the Duggars, but is mostly him reading through his journal at the time and reflecting about what it was like to grow up in this kind of culture, especially as someone with undiagnosed autism. It’s personal and very reflective, and I enjoyed his insight into the IBPL’s fucked upness, as well as how he and his wife (also an ex-fundamentalist) went on journeys of self discovery and empowerment.

Film Trilogy: “Fear Street”

Trust and believe, I am going to go into full deep dive reviews on all three movies in this trilogy to complement my “Revisit to Fear Street” series on here, but I just want to give a shout out to it as a whole. Because AHHHHH, this trilogy is SO DAMN FUN! As you all probably know, I grew up reading “Fear Street” books, and couldn’t have been more pleased to find out that Netflix was releasing movies based on the books. Well, sort of. They’re a lot gorier than anything on the page, but that works out just fine for me because I love me a good slasher film! A group of teens in 1994 accidentally awaken the dark powers of long dead witch Sarah Fier, and to save themselves they need to figure out what she wants. This happens to involve a curse that goes back centuries, and therefore they are going to need some help from those who have dealt with it before. With homages to the original series and some new mythos, as well as really enjoyable characters and gnarly death scenes, the “Fear Street” Trilogy is a blast. Look for more comprehensive reviews in a couple weeks!

Not Just Books: June 2021

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

TV Show: “Lucifer”

I’ve highlighted this one before, but it finally, finally, dropped the second half of episodes for its two-part fifth season. I was particularly excited for the musical episode that had been promised in the promotions, and boy, did it deliver! The show came up with a clever excuse for this sort of episode and it, of course, played perfectly to Tom Ellis’s strengths as a singer. My favorite song was his spectacular rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” As a whole, I’m still enjoying the heck out of this show. It’s been particularly good in recent seasons as it has embraced the supernatural aspects of its concept and moved further and further away from its strictly procedural beginning. The sixth season has already been filmed, so I’m hopeful that the wait won’t be as long before we get our next set of episodes!

Documentary: “This is a Robbery: The World’s Greatest Art Heist”

My husband and I took a break from watching documentaries about bombers and instead dived into this interesting piece about a robbery that took place in 1990 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Neither of us had even heard about this robbery, but the documentary is quick to point out that, by price, it was the largest art theft to have ever taken place (a bigger one happened only in 2019). There are many curious events all wrapped up in this robbery, from the strange selection of pieces that were taken to the baffling fact that none have been recovered in thirty years, despite massive rewards being continuously posted. I don’t have any unique interest in art theft, so it speaks to the quality of this documentary that I was completely absorbed by the story and still think about it fairly often. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for an interesting documentary series that isn’t focused on a serial killer!

TV Show: “The 12 Monkeys”

I never watched the 90s movie “The 12 Monkeys.” For some reason, I had it in my head that it was a horror movie? Thusly, when I saw that there was a tv show inspired by it, I assumed that, also, was horror. Well, I randomly looked into it a bit more recently and discovered, nope, it’s pretty much just a straight up time-travel/post-apocalyptic story, the exact kind of thing that’s right up my alley. So far, I’ve really been enjoying it. The best that can be said is that the show is entertaining enough that I’m not getting too caught up in the mechanics of time travel, something that is always the biggest challenge for any story featuring that device. Instead, the use of time travel so far has been very clever and interesting. We’ll see how it resolves in the end, though, since I think that’s always the biggest challenge with time travel: how do you finally close the loop?

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Loki”

I’m definitely not at all caught up when it comes to the MCU, and I’m not really in a hurry to be (my one regret: I still haven’t watched “Wandavision” and I know I need to!). But I’ve always had a soft spot for Loki, and I DEFINITELY have a thing for Tom Hiddleston, so I bumped the new TV series “Loki” to the top of my MCU priority list. Am I a little lost? Sure. But it doesn’t matter! It’s still fun! Loki has found himself detained by The Time Variant Authority, a bureaucratic organization that monitors the Timeline to make sure nothing messes it up. Which Loki has. Now he has to work with them to stop a more dangerous time ‘variant’, and perhaps earn his freedom. Hiddleston is great, and the show is both really funny, and also a snappy crime thriller procedural. And Owen Wilson is a fun TVA agent named Mobius who is a mentor to Loki, and is utterly not phased by his histrionics.

Film: “The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It

This selection is partially about the film itself, but partially about the context in which I watched this film. I have vaguely mixed feelings about “The Conjuring” franchise, as while I really love Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren, the real life Warrens were manipulative, overzealous con artists. I also have a really hard time with the fact that these films are, in a lot of ways, Evangelical Conservative propaganda. BUT ALL THAT SAID, they’re pretty fun as well as kinda gross. And my friends in my Terror Tuesday horror movie club decided that we should get together in my backyard to watch it so some of us could meet in person for the first time. In this one, Ed and Lorraine investigate the case of a man who is accused of murder, and claims that he is possessed and the demon was the one who killed his victim. It has some fun scares, and some creepy content. So “The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It” was not only a fun film, horror movie wise, but also it was a wonderful time with dear friends who could finally get together and see each other.

Film: “Moana”

This is definitely not a ‘new to me’ film, as I have loved “Moana” since around the time that it came out. It is making this list because my kid just discovered it, and therefore we have been watching it almost every day together. But as I’ve been watching it, again and again (and again and again) it hasn’t lost any of it’s shine or charm. I really love the story of Moana, the daughter of an island leader who is chosen by the ocean to return a magical stone to a goddess. For if she doesn’t, the entire world, including her island, will fall to waste and rot. The songs are phenomenal, the main character is well drawn out, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is always a joy, this time as Maui, the demi-God who inadvertently set off the chain of events. I suppose I’m lucky that my kid’s obsession is a movie that holds up after repeated viewings. Because I have a feeling this is going to be a thing for awhile…

Not Just Books: May 2021

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

TV Show: “Victoria”

My love for romantic period pieces is ever-lasting. However, I had been long resisting checking this one out because, well, obviously the ending isn’t super happy. But in a moment of weakness, it being too long since my last period piece indulgence, I finally started it up a few weeks ago. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since! This is a beautiful show full of all the period touches that lovers of this genre look for. Gorgeous costumes! Excellent dialogue! Romance summed up in tension-filled dance sequences! It’s also gotten me down a number of historical rabbit holes as I’ve researched the real-life events the show incorporates. But I’ve still promised myself that I’m going to preview upcoming seasons/episodes so that I can “nope” right on out of there before getting to, you know…that part. Don’t judge me!

Amazon Show: “The World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji”

So, apparently this was a show from super early in the reality tv era, back in the 90s in fact! But these types of extreme races have taken place continuously since then and Amazon wisely read the room on reality competition shows and revived it. I had never heard of adventure racing before this, but man, it’s crazy. Essentially, teams of racers have to cover a massive course and have time limits on reaching certain mileposts along the way. I’m talking hundreds of miles over crazy terrain (hiking, biking, swimming, etc.) covered in a few days on very little sleep. It’s truly insane watching some of these teams go. It was also really interesting seeing teams from around the world and the various cultures and approaches they all brought to the race. If you enjoy reality competition shows, this is definitely one to check out.

Movie: “Prospect”

I’m probably in the huge minority for this opinion but…other than baby Yoda, I didn’t really like “The Mandalorian.” So much so that I haven’t even bothered to watch the second season. Part of my displeasure with it was the absolute waste of Pedro Pascal as the main character. He’s such an excellent actor, and losing the ability to watch his expressive face as he portrays a character is just such a shame. So I was really excited to check out a sci-fi movie where we get to better appreciate his skill! Add to that the intriguing, tension-filled concept of an odd-couple pair trying to escape a dangerous planet in order to catch the last ship going by. The world building was really interesting and both lead performances were phenomenal. Definitely check it out if you enjoy science fiction stories.

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “The Serpent”

In a moment that feels classic to my mother’s and my relationship, she texted me asking if I was going to watch “The Serpent” on Netflix because it sounded like I’d like it but would be ‘too dark for her’. I immediately looked it up, and on my viewing list it went. Surprisingly to me, I had never heard of French serial killer Charles Sobraj, who murdered backpackers in South Asia along the Hippie Trail. “The Serpent” is a dramatized mini-series about Sobraj, and the Dutch Embassy investigator Herman Knippenberg who is on his trail after two Dutch tourists go missing while in Thailand. Tahar Rahim plays Sobraj with cool malevolence, his demeanor incredibly calm as he does terrible things. But honestly, it was Jenna Coleman who really shined, as she plays Marie-Andree, the wife of Sobraj who is complicit in his crimes after falling madly in love with the killer and the lavish lifestyle he uses to lure in his victims. It’s suspenseful, disturbing, and addictive as we watch Sobraj kill, and Knippenberg pursue.

Film: “Nobody”

I have loved Bob Odenkirk since his time as Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad”. I’ve also had a not so subtle crush on him since about that time as well, which a few people have informed me is strange. So when the trailer dropped for “Nobody”, in which Odenkirk plays a former hitman and kicks a whole lot of ass and looks good while doing so, I pretty much yelled from the rooftops “WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, HUH?!” In “Nobody”, Odenkirk plays Hutch, a retired ‘auditor’ whose profession had taken out incredibly dangerous people that the Government couldn’t get otherwise. His retirement has made him feel soft and inadequate, and after his house is robbed and he doesn’t act, his frustration gets taken out on bad men with bad connections. Now Hutch has to save his family from an eccentric Russian mobster who loves karaoke. It’s a whole lot of fun, over the top, and Odenkirk looks damn good and puts in a fun performance.

Video Game: “New Pokémon Snap”

If it’s a new Pokémon game, I’m going to be on board, as relaxation and cuteness are two things that I like to indulge in from time to time. And this past month I was dealing with some frustrating medical issues (nothing dangerous, just inconvenient) that made me really want to be able to relax and relieve any kind of tension I was feeling. So I got myself “New Pokémon Snap”! Like the original game on the N64, the basic premise is that you go around taking pictures of Pokémon, and the better or more interesting the shot, the more points you get. Given that the original game only had the original 150, and this new game has ALL of them up until this point, this has a lot of potential for novelty (especially since I am not as familiar with a good chunk of the newer Pokes). It’s cute and chill and low stakes, and I love taking pictures of all these cute critters!

Not Just Books: April 2021

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

Netflix Movie: “Rebecca”

I watched the 1940 version of “Rebecca” back when I was a kid, and my family was going through a classic film phase. It was one of my early exposures to Gothic stories, especially ones that aren’t set in the “Wuthering Heights”/”Jane Eyre” period of history. So I was excited to see that we were getting a new version of the story in 2020. While the movie is a shorter affair and thus has to greatly reduce the time it spends developing the creepy nature of the house and Rebecca’s history, I did, overall, enjoy this version. Lily James was perfectly cast. Armie Hammer was…also there. I do wish the movie had leaned in a bit more into not only the abject creepy aspects of the story, but also the isolation and “fish out of water” feeling that our heroine languishes beneath for much of the book. Fans of the novel should definitely check it out.

Movie: “News of the World”

I haven’t gotten around to reading “News of the World” yet, though my husband and in-laws loved it. I have read the author’s other book, “Rebel Women” and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to check this movie out. Set shortly after the Civil War, the story follows a man who’s made a profession of travelling the south reading newspapers to the gathered towns people who have little access to what is going on in the further reaches of their own country. Along the way, he meets a young girl who has been raised by a Native American tribe and also doesn’t seem to fit in the current world order. It’s a lovely movie, with the beautiful landscape and cinematography almost stealing the show from the main leads. But Tom Hanks is a joy as always and Helena Zengel was excellent as well. There were definitely tears involved, but I really loved this movie and would definitely recommend it to most everyone.

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “The Nanny”

I had always said that the moment that 90s sitcom “The Nanny” dropped on streaming, that would be one of the greatest streaming moments of my life, and lo and behold, HBOMax went and made my dream come true! I loved this Fran Drescher comedy from the early to mid 1990s, where she stars as fun and sassy Fran Fine, a Queens woman who ends up nannying for a wealthy Upper East Side family. And while it certainly has its dated elements (all the Trump jokes just don’t feel so funny anymore), I am still completely enamored with this show. The cast is hilarious, and all of them having great chemistry with each other (my favorite is sarcastic and dry butler Niles, because of COURSE). The fashions of the era are AMAZING in their gaucheness! And Fran Fine is still a wonderful main character with a great sense of humor and a lot of heart (why yes, I have cried a few times during this rewatch). Even my husband loves to get in on the action, given that part of his family were, indeed, Jewish New Yorkers living in Queens. It’s just wonderful and I’m so happy I can stream it now.

TV Show“Ted Lasso”

I’d heard about “Ted Lasso” in passing many many times in the past year, and while I kind of knew what it was about (“Jason Sudeikis plays a sports coach, right?” was my exact question to my husband), I didn’t know too much. So when my husband decided to watch it, I went in a little blind. But man, I’m glad he threw it on our TV, because it is A DELIGHT! Yes, Jason Sudeikis plays Ted Lasso, an American football coach from Kansas who is recruited to go be the new European football coach for a team in England. While the owner of the team, Rebecca, has her reasons for hiring a man completely oblivious to how the game of soccer works, Lasso is optimistic, incredibly kind, and has the gumption to try and bring his team together! It’s supremely sweet, has a lot of really heartfelt performances (my personal favorite is that of Juno Temple who plays Keeley, a footballer’s girlfriend who is just the cutest), and yes, is VERY funny. And with everything going on, it’s a lovely escape.

Joint Pick

Film: “Promising Young Woman”

We both individual started entries for this movie before realizing it, so instead of repeating ourselves, here’s a joint entry! This thriller film daunted both of us for awhile, but we each finally sat down to watch it and OOF. It is really good, but really, REALLY dark (though apt as hell). Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, a woman who wants to get vengeance for her best friend, who was raped by Cassie’s medical school classmate, and who died by suicide after no action was taken against her rapist. Cassie spends her free time pretending to be drunk at clubs and bars, and when men take her home in hopes of taking advantage, she reveals her sobriety and turns the tables. When she finds out Nina’s rapist is getting married, she decides to punish everyone she feels led to Nina’s death. It’s a searing, dark, and sometimes very funny film that less so takes on men (though it’s true there are few men in this who aren’t terrible), but more takes on a society that allows men to victimize women without consequence. It also takes on the ways that trauma can completely take over someone’s life. Steel yourself for this one, guys.

Not Just Books: March 2021

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

Documentary: “Murder Among the Mormons”

What can I say, sometimes I can definitely get on board Kate’s “true crime” binge fest! And apparently by bent leans towards…bombers? But more than the bombings themselves, this documentary explores the crazy world of the Mormon church and its ongoing reckoning with its own history. As a relatively new religion, the search for primary objects from the early days of the church is a profitable business, indeed. But what happens when the best of these profiteers may not be what he seems? I had never heard anything about this particular story, so it was incredibly interesting seeing how these events unfolded. Like I said, the bombings themselves are almost the least interesting aspect of the entire affair! If you enjoy true crime documentaries and want an inside look at some of the workings of the Mormon church, definitely check this one out!

Movie: “The Disaster Artist”

Apparently this was the month where I decided to just, I don’t know, become Kate?? She watched this movie right around when it came out and highlighted it then. For whatever reason, it took me until now to get on this bandwagon. I’d never actually seen “The Room,” but like everyone else, it seems, I knew a decent amount about it and could quote all of the pop-culturally required scenes. But man, what a whacky story it was watching it play out in this film! The Franco brothers are each incredible in bringing these two characters to life. I almost have to give more credit to Dave Franco for expertly playing the more straightforward of the two while bouncing off all the craziness that James Franco was bringing to his version of Tommy. It would be really easy to be lost in the background behind all of that, but Dave Franco does a great job of portraying why his character would tolerate and go along with some of Tommy’s more crazy plans. I really enjoyed this movie, though by the end, I still felt as confused as ever about how any of this actually happened in real life. But that’s probably the point!

Netflix Series: “Maniac”

Lastly, my husband and I just finished this series on Netflix. I’m…not even sure how to explain it? I think the best way to put it was as my husband said: it’s essentially “Inception” but on acid. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone really show their acting chops in this twisty, alternative reality that explores mental illness and grief. They each play a variety of different characters throughout, and Stone’s accent work is particularly impressive. I was confused about 90% of the time and still feel like I was missing some of the metaphors and parallels throughout. But it was still a great show to watch over a week (can’t have too many breaks between episodes or the confusion just escalates!). Fans of strange, sci-fi-y stories who like darker themes to their entertainment should definitely check it out.

Kate’s Picks

Film: “Freaky”

Given how much I love the “Happy Death Day” movies, when I heard that Blumhouse was releasing another horror comedy from the same director, I was automatically interested. This month I finally watched “Freaky”, a horror movie that’s part slasher gore fest, part “Freaky Friday” shenanigans. When an awkward teenage girl named Millie is attacked and stabbed by a notorious serial killer called the Blissfield Butcher, her escape is nothing short of a miracle. But the next morning, when she wakes up, she is in her attacker’s body! And on the flip side, the Butcher wakes up in her body. Now Millie, in the body of a hulking, wanted killer, has to figure out how to switch their bodies back before it’s permanent. And the Butcher is having fun in an innocent looking body to wreak havoc in (but also dealing with the misogyny that teenage girls have to face). It’s hilarious and gory, and not only is Vince Vaughn on point, Kathryn Newton is both relatable AND terrifying in her performances.

Podcast: “Some Place Under Neith”

I’ve been trying to expand my podcast listening beyond the general two that I religiously listen to. So when there was an advertisement for “Some Place Under Neith”, a new missing women podcast, before one of the old reliables, I was very interested to check it out. This brand new show (like only a couple eps have dropped thus far) that has a focus on women who have straight up gone missing and/or haven’t been seen in years. The circumstances can range from potential kidnappings, to off the grid activity, to cults or extremist sects (the first couple of episodes have focused on Scientology and Shelly Miscavige. Hosts Natalie Jean and Amber Nelson strike a good balance of wry comedy and genuine respect and concern for the potential victims, and make the content very easy to connect to. I’m very excited to see where this series goes and what stories it tells.

TV Show: “It’s a Sin”

If you want to be completely devastated by a mini series that is incredibly relevant, look no further than “It’s A Sin”, a show that kicked me in the emotions repeatedly. And repeatedly. And repeatedly. It’s the newest work by Russell T. Davies, the creator of “Queer as Folk”, and it is by far one of the best mini series I’ve seen in awhile. Taking place in London over a span of the early 1980s to the early 1990s, it follows a group of friends, many of them gay men, who are just starting to live their dreams as the AIDS pandemic starts to take hold. As those around them get sick, the denial, government negligence, misinformation, and bigotry makes facing reality hard for many of them. Until it’s too late. It’s stark, it’s emotional, and it is absolutely devastating. It is must watch TV that has amazing performances, nuanced characters, and ever relevant messages. And I spent the majority of it sobbing uncontrollably. So not exactly light viewing. But necessary viewing nonetheless.

Not Just Books: February 2021

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

TV Show: “How I Met Your Mother”

Apparently when I add a new small child to my life, my reaction is to re-watch sitcoms? Probably because of the short 20-minute format that allows for the brief moments of freedom I’m allowed in any given day. Add that to a show I’ve already seen and you have a media option that is perfect for someone who really doesn’t have the time to be watching anything in the first place and instead is just delusionally tricking themselves into thinking they do have such time. I have…feelings about the end of the show. So I’m sure once I get there I’ll probably just skip it. But it’s definitely a fun re-watch in the mean time. The cast has great chemistry and the early seasons especially take full advantage of the unique format of the show with its time-jumping and memory format.

Podcast: “Binge Mode: Harry Potter”

Like HIMYM, I remember when I had my first baby, I, appropriately, binged the entire “Binge Mode: Game of Thrones” series. So is it any wonder that this second go around found me listening to this? The two hosts are hilarious and I find that I’m enjoying this second outing even more than the first as I know (and like) “Harry Potter” better than “Game of Thrones.” The series is definitely filled with spoilers for the entire book series so if you’ve somehow lived under a rock for the last twenty years, this may not be for you. But any avid Potter fans are sure to enjoy it! I’m still only a few episodes in, but I can’t wait to hear their take on some of the key moments in the book that always stood out for me. It’s this type of shared experience that makes re-reading and talking about mutually beloved books so enjoyable to book nerds.

Movie: “Tenet”

This was one of the few movies of the last year that was released in theaters after COVID hit and upended life as we know it. I don’t think it performed particularly well, but it didn’t seem that that was a reflection on the film itself which seemed to be generally well-reviewed. Plus, Christopher Nolan is usually a fairly solid bet. My biggest take away? I think he was trying to out-do himself and make this movie even more confusing than “Inception.” Ultimately, I think that movie was the better and more smart of the two, but “Tenet” was definitely a fun, twisty movie that left you really thinking at the end. At one point early in the movie, a character says “Don’t think about it, just feel it.” And I really think that has to be the viewer’s mantra as well when going through this the first time. You just have to trust that answers will come. I was able to guess a few of the twists and turns, but exactly how everything played out, right up to the end, was a constant source of wonder and thrill. Definitely check this out if you enjoyed “Inception” and movies like that!

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Search Party”

I am still obsessed with the HBO Max show “Search Party”, which started as a satirical series about aimless Millennials who go on a search for an old classmate who has gone missing, and last season left off with one of those Millennials getting away with murder…. only to be kidnapped herself. Season 4 is where we are now, and Dory has, indeed, been kidnapped by her stalker Chip, who has masterfully crafted her disappearance as an indulgent self exploration journey so her friends won’t wonder where she is. And it keeps going from there, to the darkest places yet, so I LOVE IT, of course. Dory has gone through so many metamorphoses during the series, and Alia Shawkat plays her so well that I’ve run the gamut on how I feel about her as the show has gone on. I still love John Early’s narcissistic Elliot, of course, but it’s Susan Sarandon who really shines, as she plays Chip’s eccentric Aunt Lylah and is probably the funniest member of the cast this time around. It’s still biting, and it’s darker than ever, but I love it so.

Film: “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar”

It’s been a long and hard winter, guys, but I’ve been keeping up with friends as best I can. So when my friend Tom suggested to our friend group that we virtual watch “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar”, while I wasn’t totally familiar with what it WAS, I was on board. And guys…. I LOVED IT. The absurdist comedy is about two middle aged women besties named Barb and Star who decide to take a trip to Florida’s Vista Del Mar… and then find themselves unwittingly in a crazy supervillain plot that will surely put them in peril. Not that they realize this, even when they start cavorting with a lovelorn henchman named Edgar. The comedy is hilarious and totally out there, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo are absolutely delightful as the title characters, and Jamie Dornan manages to steal the show as Edgar, whom said friend Tom aptly describes as ‘the best himbo’. I was laughing the whole time, and am absolutely going to watch it again and again until me and my friends can go on crazy vacations once more.

Netflix Series: “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer”

In college my psychology degree had a focus on abnormal psych, specifically on psychopathy. I took a seminar on psychopathy and serial killers, and my final paper was on Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker. This guy is a literal nightmare. So I waited until my husband got home from a business trip before I sat down to watch “Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer”, lest I freak myself out too much to sleep. This series follows the investigation into Ramirez’s killing spree, and while it centers the narrative on the investigation itself, it also gives a lot of time and voice to the victims, be they survivors or family members of those he murdered. What felt unique about this series is that very little time is actually devoted to Ramirez’s background, which I thought was effective in that it makes it so we don’t waste energy on trying to understand why he did what he did, and instead focus on the horrible damage he did to others. It sometimes feels like it borders into sensationalism, but I thought that it never quite stepped over the line (your mileage may vary in this opinion, of course). Overall, it’s well researched, well presented, and another interesting true crime docuseries.

Not Just Books: January 2021

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

Netflix Movie: “The Midnight Sky”

Yes, another space-related movie/show for me! But who can resist when you open up Netflix and there is George Clooney staring at you soulfully from the preview panel! Perhaps a bit hard to watch right now, the story focuses on Clooney, one of the last men alive on a world struck by some catastrophe. Alone (or is he?) in the Artic, Clooney’s character desperately tries to get a hold of a crew of a space expedition that is returning home after years away, unaware of what has happened on Earth. The movie alternates swiftly between quiet, reflective moments to heart-stopping action that has you on the edge of your seat. There are several twists and turns that the savvy viewer will pick up on. And the ending definitely sparks conversation if you watch it with another person!

Netflix Show: “Bridgerton”

So those who read my three mini reviews for the first book in this series will know that I had some feelings about the first book in the Bridgerton’s story. And knowing that this first season was focused on this same book, I went in with some definite questions about how certain aspects of the story. And…well, it wasn’t perfect in that area, but definitely much improved. And the sheer joy that is the rest of the show ultimately made up for it with me! This was probably always going to be a win for me, though, as I love historical romances of this sort. The witty, elegant way of talking. The beautiful dresses and balls. And here, the diverse casting and the way the show itself engaged with these topics rather than just throwing a diverse cast together and thinking that was enough. If you’re a fan of the book series, you’re sure to like this. And if you’re a general fan of historical romance shows like “Outlander,” “Poldark,” or any of the Jane Austen adaptations out there, this is probably also for you!

Movie: “Moneyball”

While I don’t get around to watching much baseball myself anymore, I’ve always loved the sport (though the Mariners have always been the team that just loves to hurt you!). But I never got around to watching this movie until now. It was all the better to watch now, though, as I was able to watch it with my husband who has an encyclopedic memory for all things sports related and could rattle off all kinds of extra details about the players and coaches depicted as we watched. And, of course, Brad Pitt is excellent in almost everything he does. The movie was also surprisingly funny, something I wasn’t expecting going in.

Kate’s Picks

Netflix Show: “Cobra Kai”

It’s BACK!! After my husband and I binged Seasons 1 and 2 of the “Karate Kid” continuation, we were on pins and needles waiting for Season 3. Season 2 finished with huge cliffhangers: the kids from Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do had a showdown at school that led to Miguel being thrown over a balcony by Robby and sent into a coma! Johnny was forced out of Cobra Kai by Kreese, who was making moves behind his back like the evil bastard he is! ALI HAD CONTACTED JOHNNY RIGHT AFTER HE THREW HIS PHONE INTO THE OCEAN! Season 3 picks up a couple weeks later, with Johnny in a pit of depression, Daniel dealing with his business being affected because of the fight making media headlines, Samantha suffering from PTSD, and Miguel in physical and emotional recovery. And it only gets better from there. I love how this show continues to explore baggage, trauma, and the relationships between parents and their kids. Plus, Johnny is still so crabby and bitchy yet filled with all the pathos, which you can just hook up to my veins because I LIVE for that kinda thing. And once again there’s an epic cliffhanger, so we CANNOT WAIT for Season 4!!

TV Show: “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Back when COVID first sent us all into a new normal that has continued far longer than any of us anticipated, I figured that there would be a hold on new TV content indefinitely. Well, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” instead brought their contestants out early, quarantined them, tested them over and over, and then shot a season of the show. Given that no one got sick, I guess they were careful? Regardless, we now have Season 13 of “Drag Race” and it’s…. different. We’re only a few episodes in as of now, but the format has changed, with the queens separated into two groups (COVID safety protocols? They didn’t say.) right off the bat with a marathon of six lip syncs. Combine change with a really good previous season and I’m still trying to discern what I think overall, BUT ALL THAT SAID there have been some great runway looks and some stand out queens already (Gottmik, Tamisha Iman). And this may just be another example of a new normal…. Or maybe just a stunt. Regardless, I’m happy we do have new “Drag Race”!

Netflix Show: “Lucifer”

Like Serena before me, I have started watching “Lucifer”, the Fox turned Netflix show that tells a very loose adaptation of DC’s interpretation of Lucifer Morningstar. Given that I’m doing a “Sandman” re-read right now, I thought I ought to check out this show and boy am I mad that I didn’t check it out earlier. Because I LOVE “Lucifer” and all of the characters in it. I also love the idea of Lucifer Morningstar hanging out on Los Angeles and lending his sarcastic and bitchy hand to a no nonsense detective (and also getting some much needed therapy), which is basically the premise of the show. So we get a police procedural with angels, demons, and fun dialogue, as well as a cast that has great chemistry with each other. Like it’s hard to pick a favorite character because they are all so good. It has really filled the void for me since I was so disappointed with the last season of my other Hell centric show, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”.

Not Just Books: December 2020

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

Movie: “The Devil All the Time”

Let’s be honest, I mostly watched this movie because the cover image on Netflix featured Tom Holland who can pretty much do no wrong. I didn’t even know much of what it was about! Which is probably for the best, because it was way darker than I probably would have picked at the time. But still, oh so good! Telling the winding story of young man growing up trying to save those he loves from the evil lurking all around him, this movie takes its time spinning out just how awful everyone can be. Other than Tom Holland, of course! About halfway through the movie I started getting super nervous about where it would end, but I’ll say I was pleased with how it ultimately turned out. Also, interesting note, this is yet another reminder of how good of an actor Robert Pattinson is. I’m always glad to see him in things like this where it seems he is beginning to recover from the…vampire…incident.

TV series: “West Wing”

Ok, ok, I know I said I watched “The American President” because I didn’t want to commit to a re-watch of this entire series. But I caved, alright! The election was stressful and what followed afterwards has been stress ongoing. So yes, I retreated to a fantasy world where politicians (on both sides of the aisle, for the most part!) all behaved like decent human beings. One of my favorite parts of this series is the last few seasons that focuses on the next presidential race. There, the show makes a concerted effort to portray the nominees for both parties as worthy candidates with their own strengths. It’s really the epitome of wish fulfillment! We’ll see if I make it through the entire series or, more likely, this will become the kind of thing that I revisit whenever the real world of politics begins to feel like too much noise.

TV series: “Supernatural”

Can my whole summary paragraph for this choice just be me sobbing uncontrollably? Because that’s the most accurate depiction of how I feel right now. I didn’t get around to finishing this until this month (turns out that, shocker!, two babies are more work than one!), but I managed to avoid spoilers in the meantime. My sobbing reaction is twofold: 1.) Obviously this show loves to tug on heartstrings and has been doing it for years. So there’s no way fans were going to escape unscathed from the finale. And 2.) It’s over. After 15-16 years, it’s actually over! I mean, at this point, this show has been my longest long-term relationship pretty much! I started watching this at the beginning of college, and it’s seen me through all the ups and downs of my 20s and through to my mid-thirties, married and with two kids. In a lot of ways, I feel like I was on a journey right alongside Dean and Sam. There isn’t a single other show that I’ve followed as faithfully or loved as thoroughly. It might sound cheesy, but I have a hard time seeing another show ever really replacing it as my all-time favorite.

Kate’s Picks

Netflix Show: “The Queen’s Gambit”

I’m no chess player, though I do have a nice nordic viking style set that I got back in high school. I haven’t actually played on it, however. But when I heard all the hype about “The Queen’s Gambit” from not only the Internet but also my cousin and her husband, I decided that I should give it a go. It follows Beth Harmon, an orphan in the 1960s who learns to play chess from the janitor at her orphanage, and who is a prodigy. As she grows and hones her skills, she starts competing in tournaments and making a name for herself because of her youth, prowess, and gender. But fame and winning comes with a price, as Beth struggles with her new notoriety, insecurities, and a growing substance abuse problem. Anya Taylor-Joy is fantastic as Beth, and the ways that the show depicts her process, and makes chess into a thrilling and pulse pounding event, kept me on the edge of my seat.

HBO Max Show: “The Flight Attendant”

So I read Chris Bohjalian’s thriller novel “The Flight Attendant” around the time it came out, and it never made it to the blog because I didn’t find the room for it. But when I saw that it had been adapted into a TV series, I thought that it would work a LOT better in that format, and boy does it! Cassie is a globetrotting flight attendant who likes to drink, party, and hook up all around the world. But then she wakes up in Thailand next to the body of handsome and mysterious Alex Shokolov, the man she had met on a flight the day before, whose corpse is covered in blood. No memory of the night before, Cassie panics, cleans the scene, and flees. But what she doesn’t know is that not only are the feds in the U.S. interested in what happened, so is someone else who is tailing her. My husband and I are addicted to this thrilling show, with great performances from Kelly Cuoco, Rosie Perez, and Michele Gomez.

Film: “Wonder Woman 1984”

Was it as good as the first one? No. In fact, a lot of people seem to be disappointed with “Wonder Woman 1984” But I’m not sure that it could have matched the emotional weight of the war film that was “Wonder Woman”. And since I think that trying to match that tone could have led to many inauthentic stumbles, I am okay that it didn’t try to meet that level. Instead, “Wonder Woman 1984” is more of a traditional superhero movie with a super hero and some super villains with outlandish plans, but set against an 80s back drop. Diana is now living in Washington D.C. and trying to leave the weight of her loss of Steve Trevor behind. When a mysterious stone falls into the hands of wannabe oil tycoon Maxwell Lord, people’s wishes start coming true, including Diana’s wish of getting Steve back. But when the cost of the wishes starts to spiral into chaos, Diana has to step up to try and stop Lord. Gadot was awesome as always, and newcomers Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig hold their own. Again, not as good as the first one, and at times it can feel a little scattered. But it is also fun and entertaining and hopeful. Which is all I wanted for the end of 2020 as my husband, baby, and I spent Christmas in quarantine.

Not Just Books: November 2020

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:

Movie: “The Aeronauts”

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary recently, and so we were looking for a good movie to watch on our “date night” at home (damn you Covid). This was one that I’d on my list for a while, and it seemed like a good fit. Inspired by a true story, it’s the tale of a scientist and an aeronaut who set out to study the patterns of the weather and attempt to rise to the highest elevation achieved in a balloon at the time. Of course, things don’t go to plan, and I can testify to this being a bit more stressful than I had anticipated. But it was also beautiful to look at an Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne are excellent in everything they’re in. It’s a lovely little movie, and one I highly recommend.

Netflix Show: “Away”

I really like movies and shows about space. They can be pretty hit and miss, but the ones that are good are often very good. This made it a no-brainer for me to check out “Away” when it dropped on Netflix. Telling the story of a group of astronauts setting off on the first mission to Mars, the show is a gripping tale of family, exploration, and the struggles we all bring with us, even out into space. The acting was all solid, and I really enjoyed Hillary Swank’s performance. Some of the space stuff…was, eh. I feel like there were times where the show definitely veered into the unnecessarily dramatic. Real astronauts are incredibly professional and put that above almost everything. Some of the early events of this show definitely had me raising my eyebrows. But, hey, it’s still a space show, so I enjoyed it overall.

TV Show: “Documentary Now!”

My husband and I are becoming more and more pathetic on our general bedtime. We can blame the kids, age, whatever, but it’s still a fact. It’s gotten to the point that if it’s even close to 9, we feel hesitant about starting up another 40-60 minute episode of whatever show we’re watching. But we also don’t want to be in bed before 9! What to do? Start watching a 20 minute parody show of course! I hadn’t heard of this show before, but Aaron had. It’s basically mocking our current obsession with documentaries and the different ways they’re filmed. We’ve only watched a handful at this point, but they’re pretty good. If you’ve seen the original documentary or documentary series that a particular episode is mocking, it’s all the better. I’ve particularly enjoyed the one about professional bowling and the one about a famous chef who is know for his beans and rice. If you’re looking for a way for fill 20 minutes or so, this is definitely worth checking out!

Kate’s Picks:

Video Game: “Blair Witch”

As someone who is a huge, HUGE fan of “The Blair Witch Project”, when I heard that they were coming out with a video game called “Blair Witch” I was super interested. Unfortunately it was right around the time I had my kid, and I didn’t have much time for video games. But this past Halloween season I was reminded that I still hadn’t tried this game, so I got it for my Switch. You play as Ellis, a man suffering from PTSD who is in a not so good place, and who joins a search party for a missing boy in the woods outside Burkitsville. Using your dog Bullet and various items, you find clues about the missing boy… but as the game goes on, you find yourself lost in the woods hunted by something. I wasn’t able to REALLY pick it up and concentrate until recently, and boy oh boy is it freaky.

Disney+ Show: “The Mandalorian”

If you asked me if I was a “Star Wars” fan, I’d probably say ‘kinda’. I like the original trilogy, as well as a few of the (previously canon and now non-canon) Expanded Universe books. I also don’t really like Westerns. So because of those, I held off on “The Mandalorian” for awhile, and now I’m regretting not diving in sooner. A nameless Mandalorian (bounty hunter group that Boba Fett belonged to as well) has adventures in bounty hunting across the galaxy, and after rescuing a baby from Yoda’s species (or Baby Yoda as he is called) he has found a new purpose. It’s a sci-fi meets wandering gunslinger tale, and it works really, really well. I’ve always liked the Mandalorian mythology, and this show is very ‘Mad Max’ in the sense that it’s also very much about the people he helps in each episode (and soooo many guest stars!). I’m hooked. And Season 2’s premiere ended with a HUGE moment that made me gasp.

Film/TV Franchise: “The Purge”

So my anxiety was off the charts going into Election Night at the beginning of the month, and for whatever reason I decided to alleviate those anxieties by watching a bunch of “The Purge” content. I watched “The Purge” TV show Season 2, I watched “The Purge: Election Year” (on Election Night itself!), and then as we waited for counts I watched “The First Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy”. While it may look like this franchise is another foray into torture porn horror or other splatter punk genres, it is also a deeply interesting satire of American society and the violence that runs deeply within it (and those who benefit from that violence, and are the main victims of it on a systemic level). And hey. It’s not too audacious to say that I see a LOT of similarities between the New Founding Fathers of America, the evil far right party in the “Purge” universe, and the current GOP. Sorry not sorry.

Not Just Books: October 2020

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

TV Show: “The Great British Baking Show”

It’s back!!! I was very concerned that like many of my favorite shows, this was going to be delayed and/or cancelled this year because of The-Pandemic-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. I swear, it’s trying to ruin everything! But not the happy, British baking fun times! Instead, the show created their own little baking bubble where everyone remained together throughout filming and were thus able to film a pretty standard season. We’re only a few episodes in, but it’s great as always. My husband and I always pick two favorites to win and see who comes out on top. I’m 2 for 1 so far (there were seasons where neither of us got it right), so I’m hopeful my picks come through again so I can maintain my lead!

Netflix Movie: “Enola Holmes”

Of course I watched this movie. It’s like it was practically made for me. Sherlock Holmes re-telling? Check. Millie Bobby Brown? Check. Superman? I mean, Henry Cavil? Extra extra check! This was such a charming little movie. The acting was all superb. It leaned into the quirkiness of its concept, and of course, historical mysteries are always my jam. It’s the kind of thing where my biggest criticism of it is why it couldn’t have been longer? Like a mini series or something! But alas, all good things and such. Perhaps they’ll do a sequel? They definitely leave it opened ended enough to support that. But knowing Netflix….*sigh*

Movie: “A Knight’s Tale”

I loved this movie when it came out. It was a go-to for me and my sister when we were younger and wanted a feel-good romantic comedy to watch. Sadly, she owned the DVD and cruelly took it with her to college. So it had been quite a while since I had seen it and I was thrilled when I saw it pop up on Netflix. Of course, watching it now is a bit bitter sweet, all things considered. But it’s still such a fun ride, if you get past the sadness. And also so weird! I want to be in the meeting where someone pitched this movie to producers. A medieval story about a knight, but with a bunch of modern music and anachronisms every where. Very weird, but it worked!

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Evil”

Oddly enough, it was my mother, a woman who doesn’t care for horror as a rule, who told me I should watch this show. Perhaps it’s not that shocking, given that she was a HUGE fan of shows like “The X-Files” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and “Evil” definitely harkens a bit towards shows like that in a lot of ways. It follows Kristen, a forensic psychologist, and Acosta, a man studying to be a Catholic priest as they go out, by orders of the Catholic Church, to investigate potential demonic and supernatural events to see if the Church should perform exorcisms and other rights. In lighter hands it could have been a feel good CBS show, but it’s dark and hell and can give a serious case of the creeps to its viewers. Even this self professed nonbeliever. I love Kristen, I love Acosta, and I love their companion Ben, a tech whiz who is there to find hard scientific evidence (played by the HILARIOUS Aasif Mandvi). Also, the always unsettling Michael Emerson is there to play a potential demon who wants to throw wrenches into the teams work.

Netflix Show: “The Haunting of Bly Manor”

Honestly, they had me at a creepy version of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” in the trailer. Well, also at the fact that this is the next Mike Flanagan famous haunted house story adaptation. Based on “The Turn of the Screw”, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” has updated the classic mind twisty story of a governess and her charges in the isolated countryside. Much like “Hill House” before it, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” takes themes from the source material to tell a new story, in which a Governess takes a position at the Country House Bly Manor watching a man’s niece and nephew, and starts to experience strange things. Flanagan and the others expand upon this, with new characters, an updated timeline, and some twists that make it all the more intriguing. Plus, creepy creepy moments and unsettling ghosts galore! It’s the perfect Halloween watch! But be sure to have tissues handy. I spent the last half of the series bawling on and off.

TV Show: “Canada’s Drag Race”

I was VERY happy with season 12 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, and knew that I was going to be craving more drag show content as the year went on and my need for levity remained in midst of everything else going on. Well never fear, because The Great White North has its own offshoot drag competition! Enter “Canada’s Drag Race”! While it’s officially part of the RuPaul brand, instead of Ru and the usual set of judges, we have a three judge panel (consisting of Stacey McKenzie, Jeffry Boyer-Chapman, and “Drag Race” alum Brooke Lynn Hytes), a rotating host, and a group of awesome Canadian Queens ready to fight for the crown. I love seeing the drag cultures of different countries from around the world, and I also liked the stripped down and organic feel of this first season (a stark contrast to a now VERY regimented and commercialized U.S. “Drag Race”). Plus, all the Canadian references are just wonderful (including an “Anne of Green Gables” inspired look in episode 1). I hope that we get more of this in the future!