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Podcasts, Musicals and Television, Oh My: Recommendations From A Cultural Addict

A brief disclaimer: I have no authority to tell you what to do with what little time you have as a uni student. However, as an addict of all things television, musical, and podcastical (fairly certain this is not a word, but it sounds like it should be), I would like to share with you some entertaining and spectacular things that might have slipped under your cultural radar. My recommendations to save you from your midterm slump or a slow Sunday afternoon are by no means obscure, but they are delicious bits of artistic content that may have gone unnoticed. God knows all of you actually have a life outside of obsessing over musical soundtracks; that’s my job. I think that my family and friends are sick and tired of me telling them how these things changed by life, so I shall share my affliction with you.

Television: The Affair

Beginning its second season after picking up two Golden Globe wins, The Affair follows just that: an affair. Like I said, groundbreaking stuff here, people. Noah Solloway (Dominic West), a struggling writer falls in love with a Montauk waitress, Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson) while visiting there with his family. It sounds terribly lame and predictable, but it is anything but. What makes The Affair such fantastic television (besides the haunting opening title sequence with Fiona Apple music) is its dualing narrative structure. The entire first season each episode was split into two parts: one for Noah and one for Alison. It demonstrated how people see every situation differently and, maybe most importantly, how they see themselves. 

The creators paid every detail of the show an immensely keen sense of attention; changing things between versions of the story, such as what someone is wearing. The entire time you are on this journey, with each character, unsure what the “true” version of the circumstances are. It makes it an incredibly reflective yet thrilling experience as the viewer.

This season, and smartly so in my humble opinion, the points of view have expanded to four, including those from the estranged spouses of Noah and Alison, Helen and Cole. It is an intelligent and creative look at married life, and just life in general, without all the murder and nudity of something like Gone Girl (just kidding, there’s lots of that). If you missed the first season, it’s only 10 episodes. You can catch up in no time. 10/10 Gabbys would recommend.

The Affair, Showtime, 10 p.m. Sunday

Television: Fargo

Okay, so I came late to the Fargo party, missing the first season like an uncultured peasant. I hate myself for it. It was wonderfully acclaimed (garnering it 2 Golden Globe wins last year), blessed by the Coen brothers (who both act as executive producers), and was cited as some of the most cinematic television of our time. However, seeing the promo with the killer fun 70’s clothes, amazingly talented cast, and Midwestern goings-on, I knew I could not miss it this time around (despite the fact it is on at 10 o’clock, and that is far past my bedtime). The promos also hooked me because of the musical accompaniment; I am also a sucker for any creative use of Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time” (See American Horror Story: Coven). I have still yet to watch the first season (Television Gods, smite me if you must), but it is an anthology series so I felt it could wait until I finished catching up on Homeland.

The first two episodes were slow to start, but then bam! They seriously drew me in. The acting is perfect, the costuming is purposeful and complex, the cinematography is insane, and it has the delicious, black-comedy of the Coen brothers that I worship. I cannot speak much more about the plot, but if you are familar at all with Fargo, or the Coen brothers, you can assume what is in store. Also, this is a spoiler-free zone. It is something you must experience with your own eyes, if only to see the handsome face of Patrick Wilson. 

Fargo, FX, 10 p.m. Monday

Podcast: Gilmore Guys

The title is fairly self-explanatory: it is guys that discuss any and all things Gilmore Girls. I feel that this recommendation is especially timely seeing as there are talks of a Netflix revival of the beloved Amy Sherman-Palladino show about a fast-talking mother-daughter duo. Let me begin by stating that the podcast is a wonderful content medium, and this was actually the one that got me hooked altogether. Kevin Porter, a life-long Gilmore fan, and Demi Adjuyeigbe, a first time watcher, set out to tackle the 7 seasons of the show (now possibly 8) with charming humor, honesty, and impressions (lots of impressions). They have a plethora (just getting in my SAT vocab) of incredible guests, including members of the cast and crew, as well as figures in the television and pop-culture world.

I find myself listening to it and bursting out laughing while walking across campus, which is incredibly embarrassing, but totally worth it. With their various segments (Pop Goes the Culture, Fffffffffffasion!, etc), undying love for Kelly Bishop, and various uses of Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved”, they never cease to amuse. They are about halfway through Season 5, so there is hours and hours and hours of hilarious commentary to sift through. Although I am a longtime Gilmore fan like Kevin, this podcast is a glorious thing to be listened to, even if you have never watched the show.

Gilmore GuysiTunes/Soundcloud, Monday and Wednesday (All 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls are currently streaming on Netflix)

Podcast: Tom & Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest

I honestly cannot remember the day when I discovered Tom & Lorenzo’s blog, but it is part of my daily routine to check it for hilarious takes on red carpet style, television recaps, and general deliciously witchy judging. What began as a Project Runway blog, turned into Tom & Lorenzo, Fabulous & Opinionated. And it truly is fabulous. I could not contain my excitement when they announced in March that they would be beginning a podcast. They discuss everything from RuPaul’s Drag Race to Outlander to why celebrities need to learn how to dress for their movie premiere (something also discussed extensively in their first book, Everyone Wants to Be Me or Do Me: Tom & Lorenzo’s Fabulous & Opinionated Guide to Celebrity Life & Style).

They have even interviewed The Fug Girls, Mo Ryan, Shiri Appleby, and Mad Men costume designer, Janie Bryant. I am always insanely impressed by their commentary on fashion, costume design, and practically anything. If you have any interest in fashion or pop culture at all, you will adore this podcast as much as I do.

Tom & Lorenzo’s Pop Style Opinionfest, iTunes/Play.It, Friday

Musical: Hamilton

I decided to save the thing I am most obsessed with for last, so as not to frighten the reader with my ramblings. Okay, so let me set the scene for you: A rap-musical about founding father (without a father, got a lot farther… Sorry, but bursting into song has become a habit from listening to this album endlessly) Alexander Hamilton written by the incomparable Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In the Heights”). Are you hooked? You are. I know it. I certainly was upon viewing a video of Miranda performing the opening song of the show, “Alexander Hamilton,” at The White House Poetry Jam way back in 2009. The musical began Off-Broadway in February 2015 and received critical acclaim and mass audiences. It moved to Broadway in August, and is still being performed. Tickets to the performances are nearly impossible to obtain, which is why they began hosting Ham4Ham, a lottery that includes performances outside the theatre before the show begins. So yes, this thing is a huge deal and where have you been if you haven’t listened to the soundtrack an exorbitant amount of times? 

There is so little I can say to truly explain how this music makes me feel. Yes, me, the woman of nearly infinite words; it is just that incredible. I think the people in my apartment building have to hate me, as nearly everyday I find myself blasting “My Shot” and dancing around my apartment. What is even more amazing about the soundtrack is that it is essentially a history lesson. You are learning! I know more about Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law than I ever thought I would need to. Another thing that makes Hamilton unique is its insanely diverse cast. Painting the picture of America’s past while including people of every race and ethnicity makes for an extremely cool and modernized way to bring history into the 21st century. With Miranda as Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, Phillipa Soo as Elizabeth Schuyler, and Jonathan Groff (a.k.a., “Groffsauce”) as King George, the talent in this show is endless.

While a trip to New York to see the show is a bit of a stretch, listen to the soundtrack. If I cannot convince you, let these countless celebrities shame you into doing so:

So listen to the soundtrack for Meryl (and yourself).

Hamilton: Original Broadway Recording, iTunes/NPR

Thank you for taking this journey through my obsessions with me, you brave soul. If you made it to this point you deserve one of those t-shirts that say “I Survived the Ravings of a Televison-Obsessed Lunatic”. (I will get those made up straight away for you.) Take my recommendations with a grain of salt, as you may hate all of them. When schoolwork and the weather has you trapped in your apartment, you will thank me for giving you something new to discover. 

 

 

Images and Links: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfb18hV3q9A, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxC0wZIhZak, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6muh9kTlr88, http://i.giphy.com/yidUzG803M2Av2rERy.gif, http://i.giphy.com/5wWf7H1D7tlcGGvByLe.gif, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSX5kMM8rpE, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Ivs45gmeo, http://i.giphy.com/IkPHw1GReYT7i.gif, http://tvline.com/2015/10/19/gilm…,

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gabrielle is a fourth year student at McGill University. She watches a lot (some might say too much TV) and has gotten into screaming matches over movies. In her spare time, she enjoys being utterly self-deprecating. For clever tweets, typically composed by her favorite television writers, follow her twitter. For overly-posed (but pretending not to be) photographs follow her Instagram.
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