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TV Corner: Monsterland

Monsterland is kind of like Black Mirror, only with supernatural creatures instead of technology. Based on the short story collection North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud, it is indeed very American in its horrors; I might even call it a modern iteration of American Gothic. It’s not a Creature Feature; though the monsters are very, very present, they are not the focus of the horror. They are only peripheral to the very human characters’ trauma and the hard and sometimes despicable choices they find themselves forced to make when put between a rock and a hard place.

Monsterland is an indictment of the failures of the so-called American Dream. Its characters struggle with poverty, sub-par healthcare, sexual assault, lack of abortion access, racism, abusive parents, corporate greed, mental health, and more. The realism inherent in their struggles elicits an existential dread that easily eclipses any fear of monsters. And no, it’s not particularly subtle in its messaging, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a show very suitable for 2020, and I absolutely loved it.

I want to talk about the individual episodes, but it’s very difficult to do so without spoiling some plot elements, so be aware of that if you continue to read, if you want to remain totally unspoiled. However, while I’ll be revealing significant plot details, I’ll avoid revealing any major twists or reveals.

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TV Corner: Ramy

ramy

A little over two years ago, I wrote an article for The Mary Sue called The Complicated Role of Arabs in American Television. In said article, I discussed the dearth of roles for Arabs on TV, and then proceeded to do an in-depth analysis of the – at the time – only three Arab characters in the history of American television. Two weren’t even played by Arab actors, and only one had a plotline that didn’t revolve around terrorism in some way.

When I saw the ad for Ramy, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. A whole show about Arab-Americans? On a popular American streaming service? A show about Arab-Americans in America that has nothing at all do with terrorism? A comedy, at that? With actual Arab actors speaking actual Arabic instead of mangled gibberish? Continue reading “TV Corner: Ramy”

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TV Corner: A Discovery of Witches (Season 1)

a discovery of witches

If you’ve only read the first five pages of a book and could immediately tell you weren’t going to get along with it, is that technically DNFing? Does it count if you literally couldn’t make it past the first chapter?

That is what happened when I attempted to read Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. When the book and I didn’t get along (I can’t even tell you why – something about the writing bugged me), I thought I would try the TV series, which is basically a mash-up of Twilight, True Blood, and Outlander. Continue reading “TV Corner: A Discovery of Witches (Season 1)”

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TV Corner: Salem (Season 2)

salem

Oh lord. This has been one hell of a season. This will be a spoiler-filled discussion, fyi. Also, if you’ve watched this show, please come talk to me about it!

Salem is such an odd show – I can never quite tell what it wants to be. I’m not sure its writers know either. It’s such a muddle of things – mythologies, folklore, morality – and it is ever-changing and ever-shifting.

Continue reading “TV Corner: Salem (Season 2)”