The weather might be heating up, summer finally upon us, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your time at the beach, camping, hiking, barbecuing or engaging in other outdoor activities. Not when there are countless shows, movies, podcasts and other digital entertainment to consume. So set aside the bathing suit and sunscreen. Put on your most comfortable loungewear, order a pizza or five and get ready to binge.
Arkham Horror (Third Edition)
In 1987, Chaosium released an adventure board game called Arkham Horror set in 1926 in Lovecraft’s fictional city of Arkham. In November of 2018, Fantasy Flight Games released a third edition of the game incorporating design elements from Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror: The Card Game. The publisher establishes the premise: “The year is 1926, and it is the height of the Roaring Twenties. Flappers dance till dawn in smoke-filled speakeasies, drinking alcohol supplied by rum runners and the mob. It’s a celebration to end all celebrations in the aftermath of the War to End All Wars. Yet a dark shadow grows in the city of Arkham. Alien entities known as Ancient Ones lurk in the emptiness beyond space and time, writhing at the thresholds between worlds. Occult rituals must be stopped and alien creatures destroyed before the Ancient Ones make our world their ruined dominion. Only a handful of investigators stand against the Arkham Horror. Will they prevail?”
An Ars Technica article praised the game, stating, “Arkham Horror Third Edition is a classic struggle of agency versus impotence, set in the uncanny world of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. It’s a tight and structured design, one much cleaner than its previous iteration. At times, the game can almost feel as if you’re on rails, churning toward impending doom with little say in the matter.”
Bend the Knee: A Song of Ice and Fire Podcast
After nine years, the Game of Thrones television series has finally played itself out but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your favorite characters. Listen in to Bend the Knee: A Song of Ice and Fire Podcast which is described by its creators as follows: “Bend the knee and join us each week as we re-read the epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Each episode will contain a small council meeting for updates on the HBO show, Winds of Winter, and GRR’s ‘Not a Blog.’ We also include a short history lesson from A World of Ice and Fire. Finally, we take an in-depth look at each chapter of the series.”
Dead to Me
If you’re in the mood for a Netflix binge that’s both deeply funny and hauntingly sad and dark, dark comedy web television series Dead to Me was released on Netflix May 3. A Variety review offers the following summary of the 10-episode first season: “Dead to Me follows Judy and Jen, who become best friends after bonding over the depth of their grief and the inability of most anyone else to understand it. Jen is furiously mourning her husband by playing amateur sleuth around their wealthy Orange County neighborhood, inspecting every jerk’s cars for evidence that could tie them to the hit-and-run that shattered her life. Meanwhile, Judy’s hopes for a family have fallen apart in a way that has shocked her to her core, leaving her reeling, rudderless and even scared for what might be yet to come.”
In addition to superb performances by the two leads, Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, the supporting cast is sufficiently entertaining that you might find yourself wondering where you’ve seen them before. Good Housekeeping’s “This Is How You Know Everyone From the ‘Dead to Me’ Cast” can fill you in on their backgrounds.
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
If you’re looking to feel uncomfortable while enjoying your latest Netflix binge, I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson is the six-episode sketch comedy series of your dreams. A Vulture article described the series as “a surreal panic attack of a show. [Tim Robinson’s] last series, Detroiters, was beloved by comedy aficionados everywhere. Many of his fans and formers castmates show up on I Think You Should Leave: Sam Richardson fights a skeleton army with Ebenezer Scrooge, Will Forte enacts mid-flight vengeance, and Kate Berlant acts as the Little Edie of Jim Davis’ Garfield mansion … Not since Lord of the Flies has humanity seemed so bestial, savage to their fellow man, and with almost no control of their bowels.”
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists
If you miss the teen drama mystery thriller television series Pretty Little Liars that ran between 2010 and 2017, you’re in for a treat with the sequel Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionist which Forbes called “even more bonkers than the original.” The 10-episode series, released on Hulu on March 20, has been praised for delivering a similar tone, aesthetic and storyline to the original series with Forbes stating, “Bonus: The Perfectionists might be even more heightened and insane than its predecessor. Depending on how you feel about juicy, sometimes noir-like teen drama, full of mystery and attractive cast members, that’s a great thing. Pretty Little Liars made its mark on television as a fashionable whodunit that included a rather alarming amount of murder, along with creepy dolls, double identities, and long-lost evil twins, just to name a few things from seven seasons …”
On April 19, Hulu debuted a 10-episode comedy web television series The New York Times would call “a quietly revolutionary comedy.” The article further explains, “But what is remarkable about Ramy isn’t that it significantly differs from other millennial coming-of-age stories. It’s that it doesn’t. The comedy, debuting Friday, tells the story of a young American Muslin grappling with his faith along with the usual array of 20-something pressures: romance, career aspirations, drugs, parents. It’s a simple formula, but after decades of Muslims being depicted onscreen as terrorists and villains or otherwise pushed to the side, it’s practically revolutionary.”
As the story goes, quadruple threat Aidy Bryant was driven to co-create (as well as co-write, co-executive produce and star in) the Hulu comedy Shrill after being offered mediocre and disappointing acting roles. Shrill tells the story of Annie, an aspiring 20-something journalist navigating life as an unapologetically fat person—a word she chooses to own and reclaim.
In “A Fat Girl’s Take on Shrill” Variety acknowledges trepidation about the premise before applauding the final outcome, stating, “Would Shrill be able to walk that fine line of dealing with the indignities of being fat, while also telling stories that everyone can relate to? Each of the six episodes only gets better and better as the characters are more developed (the supporting cast is stellar and even the slacker boyfriend Ryan, played by Luka Jones, is surprisingly layered) and the stories take on more of a collective feel … Even if you haven’t struggled with body image, who can’t relate to feeling unappreciated at work or misunderstood by your parents? … In short, Bryant and company have achieved the best kind of art; a specific story that manages to feel universal.”
In mid-April Vulture announced that an eight-episode second season of Shrill would be released some time in 2020.
If you’re eager to watch Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson on screen together you could watch Captain Marvel or you could watch the Netflix coming-of-age film Unicorn Store which originally premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. While reviews are somewhat mixed—Screenrant said the movie “has more style than substance, but a charming lead performance and important message to buoy it”—a CNET review raves that “Larson and Jackson should be a buddy duo in at least 20 more films, unicorn-related or not.” The movie dances a fine line between fantasy and reality, with Jackson playing a “Mr.-Magorium-meets-Willy-Wonka figure in his pink suit” and Larson playing a character named Kit who flunks out of art school for being too creative. Will everyone connect with this unabashedly whimsical coming of age tale? No. But for the unicorn- and rainbow-obsessed who can’t seem to find a place for themselves in the cold, modern, corporate world, it might strike a powerful chord.