“I am a long-time fan of the TV drama Hannibal, and this season has been the best so far on all counts. Hannibal and Bedelia’s discussion of the vitality of aesthetics in the first episode set the tone for the entire season thus far. Brian Fuller has taken season three to luxuriate in all of the most beautiful and disturbing aspects of his show, allowing himself off the leash in tandem with the titular cannibal. The third season of Hannibal has been all about aesthetics, setting the horrific acts of Dr. Lecter against the Rococo[?] beauty of Florence to emphasize his disconnection to his actions. What’s been particularly interesting about the season so far is that unlike previous seasons, Hannibal’s murders have primarily been ones of utility. They were not necessary by any means, and he has certainly taken pleasure in them, but for the most part every kill has served a purpose beyond ridding the world of the tacky and rude. I was devastated to hear about NBC declining to renew the show, and I really hope that someone else will pick it up. As of early July both Netflix and Amazon have declined, so I’m very concerned that Hannibal won’t be able to reach its full potential. Luckily, we still have Brian Fuller’s American Gods to look forward to on Starz next year.”
– Rachel Catlett, TV & Film Writer
“There is a whole wide world out there on Netflix that I have just barely scratched the surface. My queue is full of shows that everyone tells me I HAVE TO WATCH, so I’ve finally gotten around to The Office, which has been on my list since I got a Netflix account. The show is funny and awkward to the point of physical discomfort, but it has such great moments of truthfulness and the weirdness of working in corporate America. I’ve been enjoying the relationships that are built between the characters (I’m in Season 3 and I have so much Jim and Pam angst right now that it’s not even funny). Like Parks & Rec, the relationships between people in the office are what make the show bearable, despite the horribly not-PC-ness of some of the episodes. I’m enjoying the show a lot, but I still have over six seasons to go. I can totally get through that before my busy fall season starts, right?”
– Christina Casano, Assistant Editor
“Of course I’d heard of Parks and Recreation before, but for some reason, I just didn’t see it working for me. Eventually I gave in and watched the first 5 episodes with it having not much of an effect, but one of my brothers saw me watching it and decided to give it a try himself. Two weeks later, he’d already binge-watched all available 6 seasons and was eagerly awaiting the last one. So a couple of months later, I gave it a second chance, and boy, am I ever glad I did.
Parks and Rec is now and forever more one of my top three favorite series ever. Amazing, diverse, endearing, memorable and complicated characters, a cast that’s sheer perfection, unbelievably witty and hilarious but also very touching and heartfelt writing, this series is absolute perfection. It is relentlessly funny, but also speaks strongly on social issues and makes bold statements on everything from gay marriage, feminism and sex-ed to men rights activists (“You guys got nothing! You are ridiculous!”). I don’t think I ever connected this strongly with a comedy series (sorry Friends, that also includes you), and I can’t recommend it enough.
While watching this series, I went through a range of emotions that I didn’t even know were available to me. Equal parts silly and serious and sad and joyful, this series resonates strongly because of the beautiful humanity behind it. I recently watched the finale and I’m empty inside. Time to binge-watch all seven seasons into infinity.”
– Lorraine Avecedo-Franqui, Staff Writer
“Near the end of June, I finally got around to watching more of Mononoke (no not the Miyazaki movie… it’s definitely not the Miyazaki movie). A spin-off from a series called Ayakashi: Samurai Ghost Stories, the show centers around an unnamed “medicine seller” who hunts down mononoke (unnatural spirits). To defeat a mononoke, he needs to find out its Shape (form), Truth (origins), and Reason (motive). Since it’s dealing with spirits, it has plenty of creepy moments. It balances its suspense with its gorgeous animation. What’s interesting about it is that the animation relies on a technique where patterns on characters, backgrounds, etc. aren’t animated. For example, if a character is wearing a plaid shirt, the pattern on the shirt will still stay the same no matter the movement of the character. Usually a technique like that is seen as a cop out, but in the case of this show, it gives the series a unique style while also making certain moments unnerving. Even though I’m half way through the anime, I can’t wait to finish the rest.”
– Janelle Smith, TV & Film Writer
“This month I decided to delve into the world of comic books for the first time. A friend of mine lent me some comics to start with, and now I’m completely obsessed with Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples. The series takes place in a Star Wars-like universe and tells the story of a man and woman from warring races that fall in love.
The writing is outstanding, and even though the characters are alien and fantastical, it’s written with such contemporary-sounding dialogue that it’s easy to forget you’re reading sci-fi. If you’re looking to get into comic books/graphic novels, I would highly recommend starting with Saga, because if you do what I did and binge-read all the trade paperbacks in a short amount of time, it feels like you’re just reading a really great contemporary novel. The illustrations are gorgeous as well, though, and all in all the Saga series is a great work of art.”
– Laura Jewell, Staff Writer
“The first time I heard about Black Mirror was during a Nerdist episode where Chris and Kyle were freaking out about the fact that the show might not have been on Netflix anymore (as of this writing, though, it still is, don’t worry!). I don’t remember which guest they were discussing the show with, but the consensus was clear—watch this freakin’ show. And after seeing it for myself, all I can say is, watch this freakin’ show. Described on IMDb as a show that focuses on the darker side of life and technology, each episode of Black Mirror is standalone, so you can start off wherever you want, but the first episode is a punch to the face, and I can’t really imagine starting anywhere else. There isn’t an episode that didn’t end with me just staring at my laptop screen, feeling super creeped out while also wondering what the hell just happened. This series is sharp, unsettling, and just plain rad, and it’s only got seven episodes so far (including a Christmas special), so if a satirical take about freaky things that could happen in the not-too-distant future is your thing, totally give Black Mirror a shot.”
– Allison Racicot, Audiobook Reviewer