Highlights from the last month, as chosen by the entertainment buffs at Red Bee.
BEST TV SHOW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
You won’t be prepared for the punch that Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You delivers. It’s brave, it’s modern, it’s powerful and it’s one of the most important pieces of TV, if not storytelling in general, that we’ve seen for a long time. Against a background of young modern living - drugs, friendship, travel, work, sex – several experiences and stories are interwoven, exploring the complex issue of consent with varying degrees of brutality. The characters feel fresh, the narrative does not hold back, and the story is spun out with such care, emotion and ease that your head is sure to be left spinning. We’re actually starting to feel like the ‘you’ of the title might refer to the viewer. Go binge-watch the latest episodes on BBC iPlayer now.
BEST PODCAST: THE WEEK UNWRAPPED WITH OLLY MANN
The Week is well known for being the publication that takes points of view from across the global media spectrum, and packages them into a neatly- organised and easily-digestible magazine format. The Week Unwrapped podcast works slightly counter to this model, seeking out instead three stories that haven’t made the news headlines in the past week, but stories that, they predict, will impact all of our lives. The wry, personable and ever-charming Olly Mann hosts, accompanied by three editorial experts from The Week’s digital team, and the ensuing debate plays out less like a topical panel discussion, more like an overheard pub conversation between people who are definitely more intelligent and more interesting than your own mates. The last month has covered topics including human hibernation, paedophile hunting and seasonless fashion.
BEST VIDEO GAME: THE LAST OF US PART II
The Last of Us Part II is a dark, emotive masterpiece that explores the themes of vengeance, tribalism and morality to deliver an experience that raises the bar for story-led video games. Set five years after the multi-award-winning original, the story picks up with Ellie on a relentless journey across a post-pandemic America seeking vengeance and closure for a devastating loss. As Ellie hunts those responsible one by one, she is confronted with the physical and emotional repercussions of her actions. Despite the critics being unanimous in their praise, the game has somewhat divided audiences due to its bleak narrative, extreme levels of violence and many dark twists that leave the player reeling. Admittedly, it’s both uncomfortable and exhausting to play, but that's also what makes it great. The captivating and nuanced storytelling, combined with stunning visuals, fine voice acting and perfectly-tuned gameplay mechanics really push the boundaries of the video game medium. Creators Naughty Dog should be applauded for not playing it safe and delivering an experience of such ambitious scope and emotional depth.
BEST ALBUM: MORDECHAI BY KHRUANGBIN
Texas trio Khruangbin come back with a third studio album, Mordechai. Like all their music before, it’s heavily influenced by Thai funk, jazz, and blues, with melodic basslines backed up by relaxed chilled-out drums, twangy guitar and dreamy vocals. Following their more country-inspired EP, Texas Sun, featuring Leon Bridges, this makes the transition back to their original sound. It’s a relaxed album that is perfect for working to.
BEST BOOK: THE VANISHING HALF BY BRIT BENNETT
The story of twin girls growing up in a fictional town in the Deep South in the 1950s. It’s a town inhabited only by light-skinned black people, and the girls run away at 16 only to be separated and lead two very different lives. One returns to her hometown with her black-skinned daughter, the other ‘passes over’ to be white and raises her daughter as such. You will find it immediately engrossing, exploring the lives and identities of all four female characters tackling race and gender in different towns and cities of the United States all the way to the 90s.
Stay tuned for more next month