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What I’m Watching / Reading / Listening: February 2017

These are some of the things I am currently obsessed with this month, giving you a glimpse of my media consumption habits.

Watching: The Young Pope on HBO

Directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring the inimitable Jude Law, The Young Pope is a surreal and oblique TV drama about Lenny Belardo, the fictional Pius XIII and the first American pope. As the show’s title suggests, Lenny is young, handsome, and iconoclastic, ready to bring new ideas and theologies into the traditionalist Vatican, much to chagrin of the priests surrounding him. Lenny also smokes indoors, drinks Cherry Coke Zero, and has major abandonment issues. His main adversary is Cardinal Voiello (Silvio Orlando), the Secretary of State, who is left scrambling and scheming to maintain the institution of the Church and handle the fallout of Lenny’s more outrageous actions. A little hard to follow at first (what with all the complicated hierarchies, interchangeable priestly names and faces, and Sorrentino’s penchant for unnerving dream-like sequences), nevertheless The Young Pope is a compelling combination of excellent actors, memorable imagery, and unexpected musical cues.

Reading: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I’ve already watched all of Netflix’s brand new A Series of Unfortunate Events episodes. Twice. It only makes sense that I’d be drawn back into one of my elementary school reading obsessions, pouring over the exploits of the plucky Baudelaire children, the fiendish villainy of Count Olaf, the despondent narration of Lemony Snicket, and the murky mystery of VFD. The series is as odd, clever, and dark as it ever was, delightfully mixing classic literature references, zany plot and characterization, and relentless pessimism into a uniquely tragic but enjoyable tale of three young orphans navigating a harsh and obscure world. Libraries have never been so vital and exalted as they are by Daniel Handler, the real author of ASOUE. Plus, the distinctive and sombre illustrations by Brett Helquist are pretty much the icing on this thirteen-layer cake.

Listening: No Such Thing As a Fish podcast

No Such Thing As a Fish is an offshoot of the popular British trivia quiz show QI. Four QI researchers, or “elves” as they are nicknamed, each present their interesting fact of the week and chat gamely and hilariously about anything and everything. For example, did you know that astronauts have to relearn how to speak when returning to Earth because they’ve gotten used to the effect that zero gravity has on their tongues? The core group of NSTAAF consists of Dan, Andy, Anna, and James, with the occasional guest comedian or another QI elf substituting in for one of them when necessary. The weekly show is incredibly addicting and has managed to expand into a small TV show called No Such Thing as the News (available on YouTube) as well.

What media are you enjoying currently? Comment below!

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