In spite of the Total Request Live and low-cut bootleg pants of it all, Josie and the Pussycats captures—and then eviscerates—the bizarre contours of early-2020s culture with more clarity than any piece of contemporary media.
The appeal of The Real Housewives of New York City is that it’s an environment in which rare depictions of the knotty, strange inner lives of adult women and standard-issue, heavily produced reality TV antics coexist in perfect harmony, where novelistic character development and cheap episodic entertainment take on a symbiotic relationship.
PEN15 always captured my own distinct subspecies of early-‘00s teenage awkwardness with horrifying and delightful accuracy, but I don’t know if it got sadder in 2020 or if I did.
The best sports documentaries are those that remind us that these sweeping cultural legends center around protagonists who share our mundane flaws, who disappoint those they care about, who aren’t immunized against suffering and self-sabotage any more than the rest of us normals.
I avoided both Heat and Jackie Brown until 2019. I recognize that this is irrational self-sabotage. It is, in this case, especially irrational behavior given that my number-one all-time celebrity crush is mid-‘90s Robert De Niro.
Broadcast News presents adulthood as an exercise in weathering the relentless sensation of being not-quite-enough and not-quite-right.
It’s not death and disaster and grievous harm that incite my anxiety if I consume too many consecutive episodes of ER—it’s the randomness of those things, the way the show forces me to grapple with the uncontrollability of our physical and psychic vulnerabilities, and the fact that pain is an inevitable consequence of having a human body.