Stuff we liked this Reading Week

There was no chance we’d be studying over the break. So, with lockdown limiting our options for respite, the solutions to burnout were simple: Media, lots of media. From a never ending supply of TV shows, books, movies, and music, here are The McGill Tribune’s favourites from Reading Week 2021.

A Discovery of Witches, India Blaisdell

Adapted from the trilogy by Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches is a must-watch show for lovers of fantasy and dark academia. Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) is a witch and university professor who, while conducting research at Oxford, accidentally finds a magical book that has been missing for centuries. Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode) is a vampire who believes this book could save vampires, witches, and daemons from extinction. Once Matthew and Diana meet, they quickly fall for each other. Bathed in gorgeous orange and blue lighting, and led by a strong cast and script, the show hooks its audience with an enthralling, romantic, and binge-worthy narrative.

Clone High, Michelle Siegel

In the midst of everything 2021 has thrown at students thus far, I found solace in returning to a simpler time: The early 2000s. Released in 2002, Clone High is an odd conglomerate of historical science fiction animation mixed with a healthy dose of parody and self-referential humour. The show follows the teenaged clones of historical figures as they navigate the woes of high school life in the shadow of their biological counterparts. Created by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse fame and Bill Lawrence of Scrubs fame, Clone High is an angsty and humorous portrait of a time that many university students do not actively remember, yet feel immense ownership and kinship toward.

One Night in Miami, Angelica Voutsinas

On Feb. 25, 1964, following Cassius Clay’s shocking defeat of Sonny Liston, the infamous boxer met with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown to celebrate his historic win. While the world will never know what these four influential actors in the civil rights movement discussed, One Night in Miami depicts playwright Kemp Powers’ fictional account of the evening. The play-turned-film’s one-act structure features a series of conversations between the four together and broken off in pairs, allowing for the cast’s intoxicating performances to shine. Each actor’s ability to depict such iconic figures—not mention their enthralling group dynamics—makes for a captivating account of this historical and elusive meeting.

You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried, Erika MacKenzie 

If you are as obsessed with 80s teen movies as I am, you will love Susannah Gora’s 2010 book on the stories behind some of the most beloved movies, filmmakers, and actors of the era. Gora dives into the history behind films like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Say Anything. She also discusses John Hughes’ legacy and his reputation as the most prolific writer of the decade. The book explores how the young actors of the 80s, such as Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Judd Nelson, were named the “brat pack” after an infamously unflattering 1985 New York Magazine article was published describing the group as hard-partying, spoiled Hollywood royalty. Despite the challenges that the article posed for these actors’ careers, their films remained the most cherished works of a generation.

“YESS i’m a MESS,” Wheelchair Sports Camp, Atsushi Ikeda

“The hardest shit since MC Ren”? Contentious maybe, but let’s roll with rap scholar Mac Foster’s comment, since Kalyn Heffernan, the queer, disabled MC of Wheelchair Sports Camp just dropped the hardest track you have heard since lockdown. Think Crumb’s pristine psychedelia mixed with up-your-ass brass hits and a flow that is as ruthless as it is relatable; “boo hoo” //and// “me too.” Better yet, do not think at all and just watch the band tear it up in full PPE as Heffernan flies out of her ballpit of a bedroom to declare “YESS I’m a MESS / YESS I’m in debt / YESS I’m upset / But I got outta bed / So it can’t be that bad / can it?” Just //try// to answer that one.

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