Caitlin's Pop of Culture: Quarantine Edition

To quote Ferris Bueller: “Life comes at you fast.” By now, everyone has been hit with the effects of COVID-19 and should (emphasis on should) be locked away in their homes. But, what does one do when they’re forced to remain inside? Watch all the things available on streaming and on-demand movie services! Well, that’s what I’ve been doing. Below, I have some great shows and movies that can help cure your boredom. It may be a lot, but come on, what else do you have to do?

  1. 1. Cheer

    Netflix is entering into the zone of reality/documentary-style shows, and “Cheer” is a prime example of the streaming platform’s ability to make quality content. “Cheer” follows Navarro College’s competitive cheer team, who just so happens to be the top cheer team in the nation. The show follows the team’s road to finals at Daytona Beach and features a cast of characters along the way. “Cheer” is fun, emotional, and nerve-wracking all at the same time! This Netflix original is a hopeful and inspirational series to watch during these uncertain times.

    Rating: A

  2. 2. Looking For Alaska

    Netflix isn’t the only streaming platform with originals! Hulu has some outstanding and very underrated shows to get you through this time! “Looking For Alaska,” based on the novel by John Green, tells the story of Miles (Charlie Plummer), a.k.a Pudge, who moves to boarding school to find the deep meaning of life. There, he meets his fiery roommate, Chip/ “The Colonel” and the beautiful and mysterious Alaska Young (Kristine Foresth). Thanks to them, Miles gets pulled into a heated prank war, but his perspective on life soon changes when tragedy strikes. In terms of John Green books, this one isn’t my favorite, but this miniseries has made it a lot more appealing. The directors have nailed the early 2000s vibe with the music and aesthetic of the show and have found a way to create just the right amount of teen angst. The writers have also done a fabulous job here and have fully developed each character, especially Alaska. Here, Alaska is a fascinating, complicated character. She is so much more than just the girl Miles daydreams about and, in turn, the audience can fall in love with her too. “Looking for Alaska” is a powerful, well-written teen show that is perfect for anyone of any age!

    Rating: A

  3. 3. Four Weddings and A Funeral

    And when I talk about underrated shows, I’m specifically talking about this one! Why has everyone been sleeping on this incredible show!! Based on the classic 90s rom-com, “Four Weddings and A Funeral” centers on Maya (“Game of Thrones’” Nathalie Emmanuel) an NYC-based political speechwriter who heads to London to meet with her three best friends from college, Craig, Ainsley and Duffy, for a fabulous wedding. From there, things get complicated, and the friends must weather through a year of ups and downs. Created by the incredible Miny Kaling, “Four Weddings” has everything rom-com fans have been looking for! A racially diverse cast, complex female characters, realistic circumstances and electric chemistry between couples! Once again, why hasn’t anyone mentioned this show before! If anything, this show should be on the top of your binge list!

    Rating: A+

  4. 4. Love is Blind

    After a very lack-luster season of “The Bachelor,” I was looking for something that would make me believe that reality shows can produce real love. So, Netflix’s runaway hit, “Love is Blind” was the solution. Hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, this reality show is a social experiment to see if love is, well, blind. Contestants meet in pods where they communicate with the other person without seeing them. Couples then pair up and propose without ever seeing their partner. Intriguing? I know. From there, the couples do meet and see if they will let the real world or physical attributes get in the way of their relationships. I have to give it to Netflix. It’s an interesting concept, and they found some really interesting characters. But, “Love is Blind” just doesn’t hit the same way “The Bachelor” franchise does and feels a lot more manufactured than the ABC classic. I do look forward to a possible second season of this show, and I think with a bit of tweaking and finding a good cast, “Love is Blind” could become the next hit show to find love on. 

    Rating: C+

  5. 5. Awkward.

    High school and coming of age sucks, and life’s many confusing, stressful moments can be, well, awkward. “Awkward,” the show follows high school sophomore Jenna Hamilton, who suddenly becomes the talk of her school after a misunderstood suicide attempt. But Jenna has bigger concerns. She’s been secretly hooking up with popular jock Matty McKibben, who refuses to acknowledge their relationship in fear of having to take a few steps down the popularity ladder. Luckily, Jenna has her bubbly, energetic best friend Tamara by her side to battle the queen bee, Sadie. Once again, this show features some well-written, complicated characters. But what makes “Awkward” one of the best of its genre is that it does not try to preach their audience a message, but instead lets “Awkward” be a show about young adults trying to find their place in the world. The show also features a fun, young ensemble without any weak links and nails each comedic line. “Awkward” is yet another underrated gem just waiting to be binged!

    Rating: B+

  6. 6. All The Bright Places

    Quirky, artsy teen dramas have always been the rage, and Netflix wants to make it one of its trademarks. “All The Bright Places” continues that mission, but in a very lackluster way. Based on the novel by Jennifer Niven, the film follows high schoolers, Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) and Theodore Finch (Justice Smith), who are complete opposites but become bound together by the scars of past trauma. Once again, this is a young adult novel I have read, but I wasn’t too crazy about it. For me, the novel had some great moments, but its overall message was messy and possibly problematic. This adaptation is even more bland and problematic. The film has two great leads with great chemistry and has found that indie film aesthetic everyone seems to be loving right now. But, mixing these elements cannot make up for the film’s weak screenplay and writing. Everything just felt rushed. Time was not given to build Violet’s and Finch’s relationship, and its tear-jerking ending came all too quickly with not enough falling action. Overall, this adaptation seemed half-best and not at all what the film should and would have been. 

    Rating: C-

  7. 7. Bombshell

    When a story makes headlines, you can almost guarantee that it will be made into some form of entertainment media. “Bombshell” is a film ripped from the headlines and details the sexual harassment case against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Focusing in on two well-known faces of Fox News, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), along with a composite character played by Margot Robbie, “Bombshell” is the first in what I imagine will be a long line of movies covering the #MeToo movement. 

    Given that it’s the first, I’m somewhat understanding as to why the movie lacked some creativity and meaningfulness in its production. While Theron gives a great impression of Kelly and Robbie offers power to a character that many women can identify with, the mockumentary style of the film doesn’t do it any favors and fails to nail the harmful effects of the patriarchy, especially in journalism and other media outlets. Still, I applaud everyone involved with the film for bringing the stories of these women and many others to the screen and taking a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace. Because of “Bombshell,” hopefully, more stories of what women have faced will be met with high praise when they too reach the screen. 

    Rating: C

  8. 8. A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood  

    Have you ever watched a movie and found it to be the exact opposite of what was advertised? Nope. Well, “ABDITN” is that movie. Advertised as a film about the much-beloved Mister Rogers, “ABDITN” is really about up and coming journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), who posses a lot of anger regarding his family and past. This makes him the least likely person to interview legend Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), but the two become friendly during the interview, and Rogers changes Lloyd’s take on life for the better. It’s hard to walk into a film expecting one thing and getting something else entirely, and I think this clouded my judgment of the film. I understand why Mister Rogers would not make a good protagonist in a movie. He’s just too good and not as complex. Instead, he’s positioned as a positive antagonist. His ideas of happiness and forgiveness are so radical that they play against the lead, who could be any of us. Still, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this film. I can’t tell if I liked it or even disliked it. So, I invite you all to decide on a rating for this movie that has left me very indecisive.

    Rating:?

  9. 9. Julie and Julia

    My guess is that cooking has been on everyone’s new isolation agenda, so why not be inspired by the cooking queen herself, Julia Child! “Julie and Julia” stars the much-beloved Amy Adams and Meryl Streep and intertwines the lives of Child and a woman spicing up her life with Child’s french recipes. Written and directed by the wonderful Nora Ephron, “Julie and Julia” is just plain fun! Meryl makes a great Julia, and Amy is doing what she does best: a likable, bright-eyed woman. “Julie and Julia” is a cute, fun tale of two women that is sure to brighten your mood during these troubling days. 

    Rating: B+