What to binge before you get your vaccine; yes, this is a challenge
2021 is finally here. Election madness is over, vaccines are rolling out, and nothing is on fire—for the time being. Though we’re glad 2020 is over, the Poly Editorial Board looks back fondly on the media that was released during this hectic year. Since online is the new outdoors as we wait for herd immunity, here are some of our favorite movies and shows from the past year to help you get through the Spring semester. Have a favorite that isn’t listed here? Write a review for us!
The Half of It, Netflix
The Half of It was director Alice Wu’s return to film after a 16-year break since her debut, Saving Face. This movie follows Ellie Chu, a high school senior living with her single father, as she befriends a popular boy and uses her talent for prose to write love letters to his crush, “Cyrano de Bergerac” style. It is a classic odd couple story, with two people from polar opposite ends of the movie-high school social spectrum forging an unlikely friendship. All the while, Ellie is navigating her white, conservative town as a first-generation Chinese-American lesbian; she translates phone calls for her father and has to bear homophobic remarks from the pastor of the local church. While it contains elements of a generic teen movie, The Half of It—based on elements of Wu’s own life—is a carefully presented love letter to friendships.
Senior Managing Editor Medhini Mankale ’23
I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Netflix
Charlie Kaufman’s superb manipulation of metaphysical topics in his screenwriting makes I’m Thinking of Ending Things a truly engrossing and thought-provoking film. A young woman and her lover embark on a road trip to visit his parents during a fierce blizzard while she contemplates their relationship’s future. This elegantly bizarre and disorienting narrative’s brilliance only reveals itself upon fully digesting the film’s plot.
News Coordinator Richard Gonzalez ’23
From the heartwarming storylines to the wonderful music and animation, Soul is something you definitely don’t want to miss. Following jazz teacher Joe Gardner and the rambunctious soul 22, Pixar’s spin on what makes life worth living is fun, sweet, and truly a pick-me-up during the pandemic. Grab a blanket and some snacks; watch it with friends and family for a real treat!
Editor in Chief Sarah Shiang ’23 and Business Manager John Stotz ’22
Tenet is a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated field of sci-fi action films. Despite its complicated and confusing plot, it proved engaging even on the first view when the true nature of events remained obscured. Regardless of the level of comprehension, I found it quite novel and enthralling in a genre that has grown stale with predictable superheroes and aggrieved abominations. If you need something to occupy your mind besides doomscrolling, watching Tenet is the way to go.
Features Editor Leah Sweeney ’24
I remember writing a review of the first season of Hilda in 2018, but I really don’t think that I did it justice. Showcasing vibrant animation and captivating storytelling, Hilda follows the life of a girl on a fantastical adventure in a world full of magical creatures and illustrates the nuanced tensions between each of them as they struggle to understand one another and share this Earth. As Hilda—a headstrong, outspoken, and curious girl—navigates the town of Trollberg, we see a diverse cast of characters adding life and detail to this world—good, evil, misguided, and everything in between. Although it took two years for season two to arrive, it’s clear that the creative team behind Hilda put a lot of thought into both the writing and design of the show, making it well worth the wait.
Technology Director Namish Gali ’22
The Mandalorian, Disney+
If you missed the extensive craze about this show and Baby Yoda, I would implore you to watch The Mandalorian, even if you do not enjoy Star Wars. With some episodes reminiscent of enjoyable Spaghetti Westerns, the show mashes together science fiction and westerns in a pleasing manner. If you never got into Star Wars, this show eases into the wider universe with the Mandolorian’s cultural naivety allowing a slow introduction of Star Wars jargon. Season two builds upon the previous season with the Mandalorian crossing paths with established Star Wars characters as he searches to return Baby Yoda to the Jedi.
Business Manager John Stotz ’22
The Blacklist, Netflix
Anyone who watches The Blacklist instantly falls in love with the eccentric, whimsical, and criminally violent anecdotist known as Raymond Reddington. Although the other cast members hold my interest as well, he frankly makes the show for me and my family. The episodes are always entertaining, with plot points varying from a teen trying to romance his love interest with a gadget that controls electronics to a mad scientist who murders politicians in his quest to save the environment.
Copy Editor Dylan Sheils ’24
Based on the novel series, Bridgerton is a new Netflix show. Best described as an 1813-style mashup of Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, and Gossip Girl, the show incorporates the charm of a period film with the liveliness of a 21st century teen drama. While it’s definitely not for younger audiences, this love story is sure to spice up a dull and boring quarantine. An added perk is that it’s only one season long, so it’s totally bingeable.
Publicity Coordinator Laura Zwirn ’23
Big Mouth, Netflix
Having just reached its fourth season of slightly disturbing vulgarity, Big Mouth strikes a strange balance between absurdity and relatability. The main characters of the show are in middle school, struggling through puberty. Each of their challenges is represented by its own character: hormone monsters, anxiety mosquitoes, the depression kitty, and the shame wizard. Like all of us, each character is both supported and sabotaged by these feelings on their journey towards self-acceptance. I think most viewers can see themselves and their own experiences in at least a few of these varied and well-written characters.
Associate Ed/Op Editor Maya Johnson ’23
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Amazon Prime Video
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is a great two-season show about a CIA analyst who suddenly goes from a desk job to his first field assignment after uncovering information about a terrorist group. The show is based on characters from Tom Clancy’s “Ryanverse,” with the role of Jack Ryan played by John Krasinski. I highly recommend the show for people who enjoy political action thrillers. Every episode keeps you wondering about the next, so make sure to pace yourself with this short series.
Ed/Op Editor Shardul Joshi ’23
The Last Dance, Netflix
The Last Dance is a docuseries on Michael Jordan’s illustrious basketball career, focusing on the Chicago Bulls 1997–1998 season. I was never a big fan of any sports, but the enigmatic nature of Michael Jordan proved nothing short of captivating. The documentary truly encapsulates Jordan’s innate basketball abilities as well as a success-oriented mindset that can assist in any endeavor.
Associate Ed/Op Editor Avery Clark ’24