Well Guys, 2020 is FINALLY over!
I think we can all agree it was an absolute nightmare of a year. A lot of us lost our jobs, or were forced to work from home.. along with a whole list of bizarre 2020-specific horrors.. like all the toilet paper in the city being sold out, the whole “TIGER KING” saga, playing way too much “Animal Crossing”, deciding to get into “Tik Tok”.. and just basically wearing sweatpants for 9 months. While this year had it’s awful moments, it also had lots of moments of joy. In a weird way, being forced to slow down & stay home, ended up making me closer than ever with my loved ones. We also welcomed a new puppy into the family, and managed to have lots of local adventures. I will admit, even though I had more time than ever, I’ve never been less productive. It was a mix of anxiety, depression, and just sort of being in a general slump. I read a few books that I liked, a few I hated, and a handful of ones I LOVED. Same goes for TV & Movies. I’ll spare you all the bad ones, and I’ll share the BEST of the best.
I’m not going to bullshit you here and pretend I didn’t COMPLETELY drop the ball with blogging this year. My monthly wrap up’s sort of fell away, and instead of just ignoring it fully, I decided to just pick my absolute top 5 (or so) in each category.. TV, Movies & Books. I watched so many brilliant things this year, I couldn’t just let it go without sharing at least something about it.
I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolution’s, but I am going to try to get back into a more consistent blogging schedule.
I hope you all had an amazing Holiday Break, and that you are all staying safe & sane out there.
Here’s to 2021. I hope it’s a brighter year for us all.
So without even FURTHER ado… here is my “Best of 2020”,
The Best of Television 2020
1.) “Schitt’s Creek”
I kind of feel like I was the last person in the whole WORLD to get on this train, but I’m so glad I did. Wow. This is absolutely one of my all-time most loved shows ever! It’s the cutest, funniest, most feel-good & laugh out loud relatable thing. It was created by Dan Levy and his father Eugene Levy, and they play Father & Son on the show as well. There is a reason almost every cast member won an Emmy this year! I loved every single episode of this show, and it gets better and better with every minute. Dan Levy is fucking hilarious, and an absolute style ICON in this. I purchased like three Etsy re-makes of his infamous graphic sweaters! If you haven’t seen this show yet, every season of it is streaming on Netflix.. and you need to RUN and put it on. You will thank me later, I promise.
Wikipedia Plot Blurb
(It consists of 80 episodes spread over six seasons. Produced by Not a Real Company Productions and Anonymous Content, the series follows the trials and tribulations of the formerly wealthy Rose family when they are forced to relocate to Schitt’s Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke.)
2.) “Normal People”
HULU/ CBC GEM
I am so obsessed with this show, that literally everyone I know is so annoyed with hearing me talk about it haha. “Normal People” by Sally Rooney was one of my favorite books of 2019, and when I heard it was coming to Hulu (US) CBC (Canada), I was thrilled. I can’t really find the words to explain how deeply this show affected me emotionally. The acting was so seamless, and beautifully understated. Paul Mescal who plays Connell, absolutely blew me away with his incredibly vulnerable and realistic portrayal of mental health struggles. The chemistry between these two actors was beautiful, and felt so real. The sex scenes were the most realistic examples of real-life sex I’ve ever seen. It almost felt like being a fly on the wall.. in an almost uncomfortably realistic way.
This show is the best book-to-screen adaptation I’ve ever seen (which is high praise). The cinematography, the intimacy, the scenery.. just all of it together was magic. Please please watch this.
Google Plot Blurb (Harpers Bazaar)
Like Rooney’s original, the Normal People series follows the complicated relationship between two small-town Ireland classmates—Marianne, a wealthy loner, and Connell, a popular boy whose mother works for Marianne’s family—as they explore themselves, each other, and how to move through the world as “normal people.”
I’ve heard a lot about this show, but I hadn’t had a chance to really dive into it. I LOVE the Actress Issa Rae, and when I realized she not only stars in “Insecure” but she CREATED this show, based on her Web Series.. I was all over it. This show is absolutely hilarious, and reminds me a lot of “Girls”. It’s a brilliant “coming of age” story, about a few 20-something friends finding love, finding themselves.. and just having all kinds of hilarious/ wild/ SO entertaining adventures in L.A.
Google Plot Blurb (Ace Showbiz)
(“Insecure” is a half-hour comedy follows the friendship of two modern-day black women, Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) and all of their uncomfortable experiences and racy tribulations. … Meanwhile, Issa’s boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis), who has fallen victim to complacency, works to get his own act together.)
4.) ” I May Destroy You”
I wasn’t prepared for what an intense, hard-hitting & incredibly impactful experience this show would be. I’d heard rave reviews for this one, and I didn’t know much about it going into it. I do think it needs a Trigger Warning for sexual assault though, because it’s a major plot point, and you shouldn’t go in blind to that.
This is a story about a young woman who is sexually assaulted on a night out in London, and the aftermath. How she copes, how she tries to get justice and piece together the fragmented memories of the night. I won’t lie, this is a very difficult watch, but I think it’s an incredibly well done & very important show. I’ve never seen the subject of sexual assault approached in a such a way, and I really think it was powerful. The show is so beautifully shot, and has such a unique style & eye for colours and wardrobe. The lead Michaela Coel, who also wrote and created the show.. was mindblowingly good. (I May Destroy You creator and star Michaela Coel says that writing about her sexual assault in the new HBO show was a “cathartic” experience. The show is based on the real-life experience .-NME)
Google Plot Summary (BBC)
(The series explores consent as it tells the story of Arabella (played by Coel), a woman who is sexually assaulted after having her drink spiked on a night out. … But when she is spiked with a date-rape drug, she must question and rebuild every element of her life,” the BBC said of the series.)
5.) “Feel Good”
This show was created (and stars) the hilarious Canadian Comedian Mae Martin. It’s the cutest love story, and also a deeply introspective and personal journey with sexuality and addiction. I loved it so much, and I can’t WAIT for Season 2 to come out soon.
Google Plot Blurb
(A semi-autobiographical comedy series from comedian Mae Martin, `Feel Good’ is a deeply personal and poignant story about the unique pressures of navigating the modern-day fluid landscape of gender and sexuality. It follows recovering addict and comedian Mae, who attempts to control the addictive behaviours and intense romanticism that permeate every facet of her life. Things become even more complicated for her, as she gets into an all-consuming relationship with her new girlfriend, George, played by Charlotte Ritchie.)
The Best of Film 2020
1.) “The Assistant”
This movie STRESSED me out so much. It was so deeply chilling & disturbing.. but in the quietest of ways.
Google Plot Blurb
(Jane, a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, just landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. Her day is much like any other assistant — making coffee, ordering lunch, arranging travel accommodations and taking phone messages. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colors every aspect of her workday, an accumulation of degradations against which she decides to take a stand.)
2.) “The Other Lamb”
A haunting beautiful cult-style movie. I LOVED every stunning frame of this film.
Wikipedia Plot Summary
(The story tells of teenage girl Selah (Raffey Cassidy), who was born into a cult and cut off from modern society. She lives with a band of similarly cloistered young women in a remote forest commune presided over by a man called Shepherd (Michiel Huisman), a controlling, messiah-like figure.)
3.) “Black Bear”
This movie threw me for a loop. So intense, and intensely meta. Loved this. Aubrey Plaza was fucking STUNNING in this. Wow.
Google Plot Summary
(A filmmaker plays a calculated game of desire and jealousy in pursuit of a work of art that blurs the boundaries between autobiography and invention.)
A really artistic, darkly comedic, and refreshing take on the usual teen “cancer story” film. Beautifully acted, and deeply affecting. I still think about this movie all the time.
Google Plot Summary
(When a seriously ill teenager falls for a small-time drug dealer, her parents disapprove. However, she soon finds a new lust for life from her blossoming romance.)
This movie is so visually stunning & has such a quiet yet horrifying pace to it. It all unfolds almost as a pastel nightmare.. but in the best most ultimately satisfying way. The plot sounds strange, and I mean it IS strange.. but the movie is so rich in symbolism & other shit. Ahh it’s so good.
Google Plot Summary
(A young housewife with a seemingly perfect marriage and life develops a disorder that gives her an irresistible urge to eat inedible objects.)
5.) “Blow The Man Down”
This movie is almost like everything I could ever have imagined in a small seaside/fishing coastal town.. wrapped up in a snarky little dark comedy. The VISUALS were beautiful.. I mean they shot the movie in Maine, and it’s so stunning. It’s so atmospheric, and weirdly hilarious.. while also being a thrilling mystery. Loved this so much.
Google Plot Summary
(Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man. To conceal their crime, the sisters must go deep into the criminal underbelly of their hometown, uncovering the town’s darkest secrets.)
The Best Of Books (That I Read In 2020)
I read some other things, but nothing I liked even close to these four!
1.) “Wow, No Thank You”
By, Samantha Irby
“I don’t have good processing skills—at least I don’t think I do, because I turn everything into a fucking joke and then bury it in a shallow grave in whatever part of the mind something you never want to think about ever again goes…until its decomposing hand emerges from the dirt on a random Tuesday at 3 a.m. to remind you of that embarrassing thing you thought you’d forgotten.”
HILARIOUS Memoir, by the LEGEND that is Samantha Irby. It’s so funny I literally laughed so loudly, so often, that Ryan was creeped out from the other room haha.
Good-Reads Plot Summary
(A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.
Irby is turning forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and is courted by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife and two step-children in a small white, Republican town in Michigan where she now hosts book clubs. This is the bourgeois life of dreams. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “skinny, luminous peoples” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” and hides Entenmann’s cookies under her bed and unopened bills under her pillow.)
2.) “No One Asked For This : Essays”
By, Cazzie David
Blisteringly honest. . . kind of like if a David Sedaris book was written by an anxiety-ridden millennial who grew up in Hollywood.”
– Entertainment Weekly
“Cazzie David is the delicious antidote to the poison of basic influencer culture. This book will make all misanthropes feel seen and loved – well, seen and tolerated.”
-Diablo Cody, screenwriter and author of Candy Girl
From writer Cazzie David comes a series of acerbic, darkly funny essays about misanthropy, social media, anxiety, relationships, and growing up in a wildly eccentric family.
I think by now you guys all know how much I LOVE Larry David. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is one of my all-time most loved shows. I fell even MORE in love with his daughter Cazzie, when I stumbled upon her You-Tube show “Eighty Sixed”. She explores the cringe nightmare, that is Millennial culture & hookup culture. She also writes online articles about all kinds of stuff for “Airmail Weekly”, and I became obsessed with her lyrical voice. Cazzie is fucking hilarious, and whip smart. I have never related quite so much to a book of essay’s, as I have with this one. I think a major part of this is because like Cazzie, I too grew up with a major Anxiety Disorder & am generally anxious/neurotic about everything in my life. I just LOVED every word of this book. You gotta read it.
Good-Reads Plot Summary
(For Cazzie David, the world is one big trap door leading to death and despair and social phobia. From shame spirals caused by hookups to panic attacks about being alive and everyone else having to be alive too, David chronicles her life’s most chaotic moments with wit, bleak humor, and a mega-dose of self-awareness.
In No One Asked for This, David provides readers with a singular but ultimately relatable tour through her mind, as she explores existential anxiety, family dynamics, and the utterly modern dilemma of having your breakup displayed on the Internet. With pitch-black humor resonant of her father, comedy legend Larry David, and topics that speak uniquely to generational malaise, No One Asked for This is the perfect companion for when you don’t really want a companion.)
3.) “Every Boy I Ever Kissed”
A Memoir By, Nellwyn Lampert
This book was beautifully written, and so deeply heartfelt. I related so much to Nellwyn’s story, and her stories were so full of humor and heart. I loved everything about this book! I had to stop reading so many times, to sit back and think about my past.. because literally so many of these situations I could relate to SO deeply. I felt very seen by this book. She writes about the experience of being young, and discovering yourself with SO much personal insight.. it blew me away honestly. I can’t wait to read what she comes out with next. Nellwyn is a brilliant talent, and I’m going to be gifting this book to all my friends!
Good-Reads Plot Summary
(A bold step toward a new cultural narrative around sex.
Sex was supposed to be easy. It was supposed to be fun, liberating, and empowering for a girl who’d been brought up thinking the battle for sexual equality had been won. But for Nellwyn Lampert, losing her virginity would turn out to be anything but simple. Whether she was being confronted with porn-induced erectile dysfunction or other crises of masculinity, nothing went according to plan in the bedroom. Instead, Nellwyn had to learn to navigate the realities of sexual liberation, female empowerment, and masculinity all on her own.
In this coming-of-age memoir, Nellwyn looks back on her experiences with humour and insight to explore what true liberation and empowerment may look like for today’s young women. Her many unexpected adventures will prompt reflection on a bigger question: What does it mean when our experiences fail to live up to who we think we should be as liberated, postmodern women?)
4.) “The Naked Truth”
A Memoir, By Leslie Morgan
I loved this memoir so much. I found it VERY empowering to read about a narrative we don’t hear much about in current Fiction/Non-Fiction. This is a story of a Woman.. who when her life falls apart.. she grabs it by the hands and turns it into her own narrative.. into her wildest dreams. She goes for what she wants, with such bold confidence.. that I found it insanely inspiring. I was cheering her on every step of the way, and I felt very very proud of her for SMASHING the narrative that society paints divorced women into.
Good-Reads Plot Summary
(Newly divorced and determined to reclaim her life, Leslie Morgan, bestselling author of Crazy Love and Mommy Wars, decided to spend a year searching for five new lovers in this “highly stimulating story of a midlife education” and “steamy, liberating tale of self-exploration and self-love” (Kirkus Reviews).
When Leslie Morgan divorced after a twenty-year marriage, both her self-esteem and romantic optimism were shattered. She was determined to avoid the cliché of the “lonely, middle-aged divorcée” lamenting her stretch marks and begging her kids to craft her online dating profile. Instead, Leslie celebrated her independence with an audacious plan: she would devote a year to seeking out five lovers in hopes of unearthing the erotic adventures and authentic connections long missing from her life.
Clumsy and clueless at first, she overcame mortifying early missteps, buoyed by friends and blind faith. And so she found men at yoga class, the airport, and high school reunions—all without the torture of dating websites. Along the way she uncovered new truths about sex, aging, men, self-confidence, and what it means to be a woman over fifty today.
Packed with fearless, evocative details, The Naked Truth is a rare, unexpected, and wildly entertaining memoir about a soccer mom who rediscovers the magic of sexual and emotional connection, and the lasting gifts of reveling in your femininity at every age. )
2.) Fiction/ Thrillers/ YA Fiction
1.) “Darling Rose Gold”
By, Stephanie Worbel
“Most people font like holding on to anger. They feel it crushing and consuming them, so they let it go. They try to forget the ways they’ve been wronged.
But some of us cannot forget and will never forgive. We keep our axes sharp, ready to grind. We hold pleas for mercy between our teeth like jawbreakers.
They say a grudge is a heavy thing to carry.
Good thing we’re extra strong.”
I really loved this book. I reminded me a lot of the Hulu show/true-story “The Act”. This was a bit of a hard read, and really dives deep into some dark family dynamics. It’s an amazing Thriller, that I tore through in one sitting. My Mom and I read it together, and she was calling me every day to ask how far I was in the book. So much fun! This NEEDS to be a movie!
Good-Reads Plot Summary
(For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.
Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.
After serving five years in prison, Patty begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes. And Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…
And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home)
2.) “The Test”
A Short Story
By, Sylvain Neuvel
This was a quick little read.. that reminded me SO much of “Black Mirror”. It was deeply unsettling, and I’ve been thinking about the story.. and what it “meant” for weeks. This one got it’s hooks into me deep.
“When faced with a choice, humans almost invariably seek a no-action, no-change option, even when one of the presented alternatives is quantifiably and logically more advantageous.”
Good-Reads Plot Summary
(Britain, the not-too-distant future.
Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.
He wants his family to belong.
Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.
When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.
How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?)
Thanks for Reading,
Lets go 2021!
(Dress: Shein Canada)
(All Photography of Me & Books @Carly Ingram Photography 2021)
(All Photos of TV, Movies @Google Images 2021)