COVID affected every aspect of our lives, including the art we consumed and, perhaps more importantly, how we consume it. We couldn’t go to the movie theater. Many artists we releasing their “quarantine albums”. Most shows and movies had to stop production for some period of time. Sports went away and then came back under weird conditions.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great year for the arts. It was just… different.
Because of this, we scrapped our plans to write the “Best Of” articles that usually appear in magazines and websites. We’re bringing back the Friday Five. We asked our writers and guest contributors to list their five favorite pieces of consumed media from the last year.
Like an aimless teenager wandering the halls, I am often late, not to important things– like class– but to pop culture. For instance, I just started watching Brooklyn 99 and started a TikTok this past spring.
So, as you might expect, The Great British Baking Bake Off was one such pop culture phenomenon that alluded me, until now. I’ll be honest: I have no other way to tell you what Series I have seen without referencing Big Streaming Service’s “Collections”. I have completed the most updated episodes of the recent “Collection” and “Collections” 1 and 2, which I can only assume is not Season, I mean Series, 1 and 2 because the contestants seem to already understand the show’s format and its hosts and judges.
As a teacher, I found myself watching this show and being simultaneously entertained and recognizing that the show has value in what we can learn from it about teaching and learning.
So, if you are a teacher, a parent, or a school board member or know someone who is or was a teacher, parent, or school board member, on your marks, get set, READ!
It’s a story set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. A bounty hunter, held to a deep code of honor, travels the stars with a tiny, magical being. His purpose: to bring this little one back to its people, but in order to do so, he must find his own clan who have gone into hiding.
This is the story of The Mandalorian, the brightest gem in Disney Plus’ crown and one of the best shows on television right now. It’s a fun space western that is absolutely gripping and exciting, and gives us many things to think about. After this last episode, one thing is crystal clear:
Last month, I said that life was going to get better when Fargo, the best television show to ever have existed, returned with new episodes on September 27th. Five days after the first two episodes aired, our stupid president got stupid COVID, and I don’t believe in coincidence.
With HBO Max, your pop culture viewing options are a plentiful harvest. You can catch up on movies you’ve never seen before. You can watch all of The Sopranosand try and figure out what gabagool is. You can start to binge all of the Studio Ghibli movies and then get angry when your wife watches Spirited Away with you and doesn’t “understand what the big deal is.”
HBO has always lived by the slogan that they are “not tv”. They’re something more, something better, and for the most part, they’ve lived up to that by going above and beyond. They don’t just give us a little show about dragons, they gave us Game Of Thrones. They just didn’t give us a crime show, they gave us two of the best ever with The Wire and The Sopranos. They didn’t just give usa new Perry Mason, they gave us a Perry Mason that fuuuuuuucks. (Author’s note: my wife says I talk about this too much.)
Veep. Curb Your Enthusiasm. True Blood. Last year, HBO received 137 Emmys nominations, which was 20 higher than the next highest network (to show you dominance, NBC finished in third with 57). Anything anyone can do, they can do better… and then they do it.
When HBO launched HBO Max on May 27th, everyone expected something special. For the most part, it’s pretty great. They’ve teamed up with Warner Brothers, New Line, DC Entertainment, Turner Movie Classics, Adult Swim, and others to give an amazing amount of content for it’s viewers. Considering we’re in a global pandemic, more content is a very, very good thing to most of us.
But they need to fire the person who arranged their movies. And they need to fire them today.
Twenty Three years ago, Beavis and Butthead, the show about two teenage slackers putting little attempt into being a part of society outside of their own couch, went off the air. In the ensuing two decades, the characters ostensibly never got smarter, but the country they exist in definitely did. Now, Mike Judge, the man who created the quintessential losers and would go on to create King of the Hill, Idiocracy, and Silicon Valley, is back to put the erstwhile duo into the present day. AND NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON!
The Last Dance, ESPN’s brilliant ten-part documentary about the Jordan era of the Chicago Bulls and their last championship season, ended last night and it has a lot of people feeling a lot of things. Personally, I’m pretty bummed that I don’t get to throw myself into any more of this amazing series about my favorite team in my favorite sport. I imagine my wife is relieved that she no longer has to watch this with the additional “Drufke commentary”, which is me telling her stories she does not want to hear during commercial breaks while also trying to justify how I only got one of the trivia questions correct. For Bryon Russell, I’m sure he’s trying to find a cave to hide in for a few weeks after being reminded that after telling a retired Jordan in 1993 that he would have been able to guard him, he unwittingly gave Jordan the fuel he would need to straight out embarrass Russell by scoring on him to win back-to-back finals.
Director Jason Hehir gave us everything we could have possibly asked for, and then some. This is a marvel in not just sports films, but as a documentary. Even I, a die-hard Bulls fan (I can, for example, spell Jud Buechler’s name correctly without looking), learned a whole lot of new things about this era of Chicago basketball. For example, I learned that John Paxson is now bald and kinda looks like Lex Luthor, which is apropos if you have paid attention to the decisions he has made since entering the Bulls’ front office.
However, as much as The Last Dance gave me, when it ended, I found myself asking four big questions. I present those to you here, so we may ponder them together.