The best of entertainment from February 2020, as chosen by Red Bee’s entertainment experts.
BEST ALBUM: THE NEON SKYLINE BY ANDY SHAUF
To have a songwriter like Andy Shauf is rare. The Canadian’s latest concept album has 11 interconnected tracks all told like a story spanning one night. It goes like this: our narrator heads to a bar, hears his ex is back in town, she finally shows up and old feelings of young love, bitterness and dreams of how the future could have been soon resurface. But they eventually go their separate ways. Each track is a poignant, tender and deep exploration of past relationships, yearning and humour. Definitely worth a listen in full.
BEST TV COMEDY (1): INSIDE NO.9
The most surprising thing about this black comedy is how little attention it gets. It cleverly works to exactly the same brief each episode: a standalone 30-minute story, set in a single claustrophobic space, that never ends quite how you expect. Its knowing use of well-known televisual tropes, the intricate storytelling, and a cast list that reads like a Who’s Who of British television makes it easy to see why this is sometimes referred to as the show for TV industry insiders. Impressively for a comedy it is now in its fifth series and, joyously, rather like Black Mirror, you can watch them in any order. Unsure where to start? Try the one written in crossword clues (3-3), the one that plays out in total silence (1-2), or the one scripted entirely in iambic pentameter (4-1). Added bonus: they’ve just launched an accompanying podcast (Inside Inside No.9) so, once you’ve watched, you can discover where all the Easter eggs are hidden.
BEST BOOK: FASHIONOPOLIS BY DANA THOMAS
This book might make you question your love for fast fashion brands like Zara or H&M: an alarming insight into how cheap apparel costs the earth, literally. From the lengthy process of jeans making, for which a crazy amount of water is required, to the amount of plastic found in many garments and the sheer volume of waste, without sounding preachy, Fashionopolis provides a comprehensive deep dive into the industry and its exploitative and damaging effects. It also offers hope for the future of fashion, exploring the visionaries driving positive change and the technological advances, like lab-grown leather, required to produce fashion in a scalable yet sustainable way.
BEST FILM: THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD
Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell’s delicious telling of the Dickens classic deservedly cleaned up at the BIFAs. Filling the frame with characters as vivid and unique as the novel, aided by a cast with star depth from Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie and Tilda Swinton (who have taken the headline plaudits), all the way along to Red Bee favourite Darren Boyd as Edward Murdstone and Benedict Wong as Mr Wickfield.
BEST TV COMEDY (2): BOJACK HORSEMAN
Who knew an animated cartoon series about a set of anthropomorphous characters in a Hollywood satire could tell a compelling narrative that is hilarious one moment and gut wrenching the next? Over the course of its 6 season run, BoJack Horseman highlights issues such as addiction, family abuse and mental health in a brutally honest, oddly relatable and authentic way. Highly commended by critics and fans alike, it’s incredibly powerful stuff and the show creators deserve all the praise and recognition they receive for seamlessly communicating hard-hitting themes in 26-minute episodes. With a bittersweet series finale, it’s an important piece of media that deserves to be talked about.
Stay tuned for more in March