What to Watch: April 2022

Because the semester is ending and this is the last of these what to watch lists (if you haven’t already, you can check out the what to watch list for February and the what to watch list for March here) I wanted to share some fun books, movies, TV, and podcasts that can be fun for finals de-stressing.

Books

1. Brain on Fire

Cover for Susannah Cahalan's novel "Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness"

This is an incredibly fascinating nonfiction book about a journalist facing an unknown health condition and her journey through that. She pieced together the narrative through her own fragmented memories and the accounts of those around her. It was also made into a movie on Netflix back in 2016 starring ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, which I haven’t seen. What I can say is that the book is an incredibly interesting story that I really loved.

2. Circe

Cover for Madeline Miller's novel "Circe"

In my first watch list I recommended the book The Song of Achilles, and Circe is by the same author. It’s adaptation of Greek myth, this time intersecting with stories such as the Minotaur, Jason and Medea, and Odysseus. It’ told from the perspective of the witch Circe and follows her immortal life, spent exiled on an island. As always with Miller’s work, the writing is beautiful and feels very personal.

3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Cover for Jonathan Safron Foer's novel "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

While the perspective shifts can sometimes be hard to follow at times, the story is a really emotional one. It tells the story of a nine year old boy whose father died in the 9/11 attacks on New York. Oskar attempts to solve the mystery of a key he found in his father’s things. In doing so, he uncovers his family’s history. This book made me cry the first time I read it.

4. Her Body and Other Parties

Cover for Carmen Maria Machado's novel "Her Body and Other Parties"

When I attended the AWP conference last month, I was able to hear the author, Carmen Maria Machado, speak at some of the panels. She’s brilliant and since then I’ve read this book, and it’s really good. It’s a collection of short stories that combines, “psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism,” according to the novel’s description.

5. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Cover for Stuart Turton's novel "The 7 and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle"

This book is a mind-bending murder mystery. Our protagonist relives the same day over and over for eight days, each day waking up in the body of a different guest. The protagonist doesn’t know who they are, but they do know that they need so solve the murder of heiress Evelyn Hugo. Oh, and they’re being hunted while doing it. Confused? Honestly, I was too, but this novel has a really interesting conclusion and is a really fun, if difficult, thriller.

Movies

1. Crush

Poster for the Hulu show "Crush"

At the time of writing this, this film hasn’t come out yet. But it’s easily one of my most anticipated of the year. It’s a queer romcom made by and starring queer women. While I can’t get more specific without having seen the film, I’m excited to watch it and support more queer media.

2. Onward

Poster for the Pixar film "Onward"

I love this movie. It was the last movie I saw in theaters before they were shut down during the initial lockdown and it’s such a cute adventure film. I recently started playing Dungeons and Dragons for the first time and revisited the movie and it’s still one of my favorite Pixar movies. It’s ultimately just a perfect movie to relax watching.

3. The Batman

Poster for the DC film "The Batman"

This was my first experience with a Batman movie. And I liked it. I really liked how the detective elements played with the superhero elements of it, I thought it made for a really interesting dynamic. You’ve probably heard about this movie and have probably heard better analyses of this, so I’ll just end with saying that it just released on HBO Max.

4. What Happened to Monday?

Poster for the Netflix film "What Happened to Monday"

When my partner and I first started dating, they showed me this movie, and I just came across it again recently. It’s a science fiction world where each family is only allowed to have one child and follows a family of identical septuplets. The sisters each go out one day a week for years, until one of them disappears.

5. Your Name.

Poster for the film "Your Name."

I watched this film for a film class last year and it was maybe my favorite film I watched for that class. It centers on the connection between the protagonists, Mitsuha Miyamizu and Taki Tachibana, in which they continually switch bodies. It follows their relationship and plans to meet and is really emotional and definitely made me cry when I watched it. It’s also an absolutely gorgeous film.

Television

1. Abbott Elementary

Poster for the ABC sitcom "Abbott Elementary"

The first season of this fantastic new sitcom just wrapped up and it’s such a fun time. It follows a group of young teachers working in a public school and all of the hijinks that ensue. And it takes place in Philly! You can watch all of the episodes for free right now at the link above, if you need a break from your schoolwork by going back to school.

2. Gotham

Poster for the DC show "Gotham"

After watching The Batman, I finally gave in and watched Gotham, a show my partner has been recommending since high school. And I have not regretted it for a second. Each of the characters is portrayed so expertly and the whole show leans into the campiness. I’m partial to Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin and Cory Michael Smith’s Riddler, personally, but really the whole show is a really great time.

3. Hannibal

Poster for the NBC show "Hannibal"

This comes with a huge content warning and is absolutely not for anyone who’s squeamish because there is a lot of graphic depictions of murder and mutilation and cannibalism. With that being said, it is a wildly engaging show and is without a doubt the best iteration of the character. Mads Mikkelsen is incredible as Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy is a fantastic Will Graham.

4. Heartstopper

Poster for the Netflix show "Heartstopper"

I have been excited for this show for a while now and it did not disappoint. Based on a series of graphic novels by Alice Oseman, Heartstopper tells the story of Nick and Charlie and their friends as they navigate high school and falling in love. Easily bingeable, with only eight episodes that are only half an hour each, this show is just a really great piece of queer representation.

5. Our Flag Means Death

Poster for the HBO show "Our Flag Means Death"

If you haven’t seen this new comedy on HBO Max, what are you waiting for? Gay. Pirates. Taika Waititi. Need I say more?

Podcast

Avatar: Braving the Elements

Artwork for the podcast "Avatar: Braving the Elements"

If you’ve never seen the show Avatar The Last Airbender or its sequel show, The Legend of Korra, you should definitely watch them, they’re incredible and a lot of fun. But if you have seen them, podcast might interest you, which is hosted by Dante Basco, who voiced Zuko, and Janet Varney, who voiced Korra. Sometimes breaking down episodes, sometimes interviewing other actors and creators, giving behind the scenes insight, and discussing themes and designs, this show is perfect for any Avatar fan.

Thanks so much for following these what to watch lists this semester, I really hope you’ve enjoyed them and that these recommendations can carry you through finals season. Comment below with your favorite books, movies, shows, and podcasts to watch to destress!

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