I started watching Supernatural in 2013, which is quite late for a show that aired on a channel that went defunct in 2006 (The WB). Supernatural itself had aired a year earlier, in 2005, and with its eleventh season became the longest running American fantasy television series in history. In 2013, I was a junior in college, just starting to develop a critical consciousness and an awareness of feminism, but at that point I had spent years immersed in fandom, so I was familiar with media criticism.
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.
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (★★★★★)
- A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (★★★★☆)
- The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (★★★★☆)
- Devolution by Max Brooks (★★★★☆)
- Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York by Sari Botton (★★★★☆)
- Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (★★★★☆)
- Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (★★★☆☆)
- Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark (★★★★☆)
MONTHLY TOTAL: 8
YEARLY SO FAR: 62
I’ve had a pretty good reading month. Not a single two-star read and mostly four-stars, and also a new favorite with Mexican Gothic, which I seriously hope everyone reads because it is absolutely amazing. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of my favorite authors and she’s written one of my favorite books of all time, so I’m so delighted to see her finally getting some well-deserved recognition! I also read two more Hugo nominee books, which means I just have two left, so I think I’m on track! Continue reading “Wrap-Up: June 2020”
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”
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)”