2018 looks to be a killer year for media. While the Marvel gods blaze on, literary fiction ramps up, neon dystopian thrillers are everywhere and diverse perspectives take the forefront. Here are some top shows, movies, and books to dive into now, or to add to your pre-order list stat.
3 Shows Not to Miss
1. Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
Black Mirror fans dying for more content have a reason to rejoice! Amazon has picked up where the British show left off, ready to serve your dystopian needs with its own grab bag of techno-horror thrillers.
The series is based on stories by the late author Philip K. Dick, whose writing we have to thank for Blade Runner and Minority Report. It also features some heavy hitting talent: Bryan Cranston, Janelle Monáe and Steve Buscemi, for starters. Carve out a weekend to snuggle with your pet on the couch and think about the possibility of dark alternate dimensions. Catch it now on Amazon Prime.
2. The Chi
The fight for the soul of Chicago is ever-developing, with Donald Trump deriding it one day and Kim & Kanye naming their daughter after it the next. The hotly discussed city is now the focus of a new Showtime drama, The Chi, which may just mine its inner life the way The Wire did for Baltimore.
The series was created by Lena Waithe, who you may know as Denise from Masters of None. As the first black woman to win an Emmy award for “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series,” she’s poised to bring a unique and human spin to how we think about the city. You can currently watch the first several episodes on Showtime.
3. 2 Dope Queens
Our favorite podcasts becoming shows? That’s a trend we can get into. One of the latest podcast-to-show adaptations is 2 Dope Queens, based on the podcast hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. Not only does it carry Daily Show cred (Williams was a senior correspondent), but it also has ties to Broad City, as Robinson is a consultant on the show. (You may have also read her memoir, You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain.) To make it even better, the show is directed by legendary comedian Tig Notaro. Look for their four specials on HBO, starting Feb. 2nd.
ALSO OF NOTE:
– Grown-ish, a spinoff of Black-ish, follows daughter Zoey to college. Out now on Freeform.
– A remake of Heathers is coming out this spring, although it’s been criticized for “punching down.” Catch it on the Paramount network March 7th.
– In the trend of vintage reboots, the legendary Roseanne returns March 27th on ABC.
– FX’s American Crime Story is back, this time covering the assassination of Gianni Versace.
– Comedy Central’s new show Corporate looks to be Silicon Valley mixed with Office Space.
– Good Girls brings Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta together in a dark bank heist plot. Watch it on NBC February 26th.
3 Movies Not to Skip
1. Black Panther
It’s hard not to get chills from Marvel’s Black Panther trailer, especially when it ends with Gil Scott-Heron’s refrain that “the revolution will not be televised/ the revolution will be live.” Jam-packed with talent including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, Black Panther looks to rival Wonder Woman in reframing heroism away from white dudes.
It premieres smack dab in the middle of Black History Month on February 16th. While you’re waiting, check out the recent comic books written by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
2. Isle of Dogs
The world feels bleak and cold right now, all the more ripe for Wes Anderson to swoop in and capture our imaginations with twee set details and unlikely friendships. Cue the “squee” as you watch this trailer for his latest imaginative tale, Isle of Dogs, following a series of mutts that have been outcast in futuristic Japan.
A little boy goes to find his dog on a garbage island (literally!) and adventure ensues. It’ll pull your heartstrings for all the fuzzy buds who just want to find their way back to a kind human’s couch. Hopefully there will be a sequel, maybe called Tree of Cats?
3. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Can Star Wars keep up its good luck? Its last three movies have been met with relative praise, if not obsessive toy-buying and Etsy crafting. Now, the universe expands even more to focus on the life of Han Solo. Starring Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke and newish player Alden Ehrenreich, it looks to be chock-full of chase scenes and Wookie calls.
Rabid fans will have to sustain themselves by rewatching old flicks for awhile, as it won’t come out till the holiday season. Why not start your own crafting venture to capitalize on the fandom sure to come?
ALSO OF NOTE:
– A Wrinkle in Time is back as of March 9th, this time trippier than the last and featuring Ooooooopraaaah!
– Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s novel, brings another promising dose of dystopian sci-fi gamer fiction to life onscreen. It opens on March 30th.
– In the intoxicating Acrimony, Taraji P. Henson plays a spurned wife getting her revenge. This thriller also hits screens on March 30th.
– 2017 felt conspicuously absent of J. Law. That streak ends with Red Sparrow, wherein she plays a Russian ballerina turned intelligence officer. Reconnect with Jen on March 2nd.
– Love, Simon aims to recreate the magic of The Fault in Our Stars with a story of a teenage boy hesitant to come out of the closet. Look for it in theaters on March 16th.
3 Books for Your Shelf
1. Feel Free by Zadie Smith
How many of us were first inspired to put pen to paper by the exquisite, brilliant and funny Zadie Smith? This year, the British writer is about to publish Feel Free, a collection of non-fiction essays, some published in the New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. In this collection, Smith covers everything from the modern trap of Facebook to why relativism made us fail future generations on global warming.
Judging by the title, it may just be an unexpectedly upbeat read for the dire times we’re in. Grab your copy on February 6.
2. Florida by Lauren Groff
Novelist Lauren Groff made waves with earlier titles Arcadia and Fates and Furies, which excelled in intricate character development and considerate prose. The latter was even Amazon’s “Book of the Year” in 2015. Now, she’s back with Florida, a short story collection about the oft-maligned state.
Groff uses Florida’s tempestuous climate as a muse, evoking storms and sinkholes as settings for broken families to search for meaning. Will this be the year that the short story takes center stage in fiction? Maybe so. Look for the book once your summer starts to heat up on June 5th.
3. Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
Fans of classic southern saga Their Eyes Were Watching God will be treated to a previously unpublished book by the late Zora Neale Hurston this year. Her new book isn’t a novel but a true story of the slave trade.
To write it, Hurston interviewed 95-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who was at the time the last survivor of the transatlantic slave trade. She spent three months with him in Plateau, Alabama collecting his accounts of the cruelty he faced in his lifetime. Look for the book to go on sale May 8th.
ALSO OF NOTE:
– The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara explores Harlem’s ’80s and ’90s world of LGBT youth. Watch for this on Feb 6.
– Creative Quest is the guide to being creative you never knew you wanted, until now. Written by none other than Questlove, it’s sure to be a hearty dose of inspiration. Out April 24.
– Not that Bad by Roxeane Gay takes on the world of rape culture with the essayist’s frank, vulnerable voice. Definitely not one to miss on May 1.
– In The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, a woman inherits a Great Dane from a mentor after his suicide. Get your copy Feb 6.
– January’s Neon in Daylight, by Hermione Hoby, gives Sweetbitter fans another chance to see New York City through a newcomer’s eyes.
– Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi takes us on a journey from Nigeria to the USA, told by ancient souls trapped inside one body. Look for the book on shelves February 13.
Becky Lang is a writer, creative director and occasional podcaster living in Minneapolis. She also likes to draw dogs and female protagonists.
BY Becky Lang - January 30, 2018
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.