(I'm happy to take more topics!)
This is so tough for me to say because I consume a lot of media and I hate ranking things. So here's a list of 5 things I have enjoyed a lot over the past year! I will most assuredly forget things or leave things off that I will totally regret not mentioning earlier. Anyway, I'm just going to talk about what I liked about these things without caveats, even though they're imperfect and flawed.
This show was such a breath of fresh air! It's so easy for scifi/genre entertainment these days to be cynical and grimdark, and I'm no exception to that. It's so refreshing to have a show that is unabashedly humanist. It's not all sunshine and flowers. The world can be ugly and imperfect, too, But it's a show that believes human beings are worth caring about, that we can be better than we are. It's such a lovely and powerful message.
I noped out of Top of the Lake because it was so dismal and so bleak. I complained to a bunch of friends that I was sick of stories about 'men doing awful things to women'. I wanted more stories of 'women doing things'. And this is that show for me. It's all about women having agency, struggling to make correct decisions, even when the villain is the embodiment of a lack of agency. I loved the way the metaphors and the genre trappings fit together perfectly. I loved how many different types of female relationships and female characters are portrayed. I loved that it was a story about recovery not revenge.
Ms. Marvel (vol 1.)
It's a fairly standard 'girl gets powers, has to figure out how to use them and also how to maintain a secret identity', but it's done with such verve and detail and sweetness that I can't help but love it. The handling of Muslim identity was great. It taught me things I didn't know anything about. And I loved that I could see plenty of my teenage self in Kamala.
Magic Mike XXL
This movie is full of contradictions for me, but I can't help but be entertained by it anyway. Where the first movie is split between its desire to be gritty and real and also dirty-fun entertainment, this one throws out all the gritty realness in favor of going all-out on the dirty-fun entertainment. And strangely enough, it's a much better movie for that.
I am generally a sucker for Pixar, and this was just such a warm, heart-wrenching story of growing up, told in a delightful way. I legit cried like a baby in the theater because the emotions were so visceral to me. It makes its argument that we need to learn to be whole people, to embrace all the flawed, imperfect sides of ourself and use that knowledge to grow and become better. It doesn't make this journey easy. It's one of the hardest things in the entire world. And this movie is all about how difficult and how painful it can be and how rewarding it can be if you can succeed.
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