|The Crown (Netflix)
Before you bring it up, yes, I know I've watched a lot of cheesy Christmas movies, but hey, it is 2020 and if Hallmark/Netflix/Lifetime Christmas movies distract me from the state of the world for a little bit, I'll take it.
Anyway, here is everything I watched in November. What a month!
Holidate (2020, dir. John Whitesell)
Starring Emma Roberts and a knockoff Hemsworth brother, this probably Netflix's raciest entry in the holiday movie genre, as there is more sex and swearing than I've ever seen in a holiday movie, but why not play up to the lack of content guidelines on Netflix? This was a nice easing into the Christmas movie genre for the year, as it encompasses a whole year of holidays and thus only features Christmas for about a third of its runtime. The characters aren't entirely likable, as they are rather selfish, but it's fine enough.
A Welcome Home Christmas (2020, dir. Brian Herzlinger) and Operation Christmas Drop (2020, dir. Martin Wood)
I'm looping these two together because they were both tied to Veteran's Day and feature military-related plots. Welcome Home Christmas (on Lifetime) is a sweet story about veterans adapting to life back home (and finding the meaning of Christmas, of course!) but Operation Christmas Drop (on Netflix) is a genuinely good film with a cool true story behind it. Watch out, Vanessa Hudgens, Kat Graham may be coming for your crown as Queen of Netflix Holiday Fare.
Midnight At The Magnolia (2020, dir. Max McGuire)
Always a sucker for a good "friends realize they are in love with each other" plot, plus fake dating! And Christmas!
The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020, dir. Mike Rohl)
Warning: don't watch this while under the influence, because while keeping track of 2 Vanessa Hudgenses was manageable in the first Princess Switch, keeping track of 3 is actually pretty difficult! Especially when at times one Hudgens is pretending to be another Hudgens who in turn is pretending to be another Hudgens, but the first Hudgens is unaware of the other switch and...wait, now I'm confused.
A Timeless Christmas (2020, dir. Ron Oliver)
Time travel and magic-based Christmas movies > the typical "city girl comes to small town to learn the true meaning of the holidays" plot. This is a winner.
Christmas On Ice (2020, dir. John Stimpson)
Ice skating! Political intrigue! A shocking twist that adds more depth to this than your typical Lifetime fare. It's pretty cute!
Various news coverage from CNN, MSCNBC, ABC News and Fox News the week of the Election
Wow, can you believe that the election was just a month ago? It feels like forever ago, but let us remember forever the week I spent streaming various cable news networks on my laptop while I pretended to work (a joke, if anyone from my work is reading this, of course). And of course, let us always cherish the tireless work of John King and Steve Kornacki, our Map Kings.
The Mandalorian (began season 2)
Baby Yoda is back, and now he's got a real name! I freakin' love this show. Each week Mando and Baby Yoda show up on some planet, are given a task in return for some information on their larger quest, do the task, get the info, and then cruise onto the next planet. It's the best! I also just love all the day players who show up in each episode, because there's nothing I love more than shouting, "Hey, it's that guy from that show!" every week. Also, gotta give it up for Frog Lady one more time.
Superstore (began season 6)
I was very excited for Superstore to return because if there was any network show I trusted to tackle the pandemic with both verity and levity, it's the one about a bunch of big box store employees stuck in the midst of essential work. The reality of that handling has been a little frustrating; characters in the background will wear masks while walking around as the foreground characters speaking to each other will appear maskless. In one scene, two characters, masked, walked up to each other, and then proceeded to take their masks OFF! In a crowded store! I recognize the reality that the actors are being monitored and safe, and that there was probably a lot of pushback from decision makers about hiding actors' faces behind masks, but if you are going to address coronavirus in your work, I feel like you have a responsibility to do so truthfully and with respect to the guidelines that people should be following.
Okay, that was my rant about masks on TV this fall!
This is no Big Little Lies but it does star Nicole Kidman (and fellow Paddington-verse villain Hugh Grant) and centers on a scandalous murder in an upscale community, so it does fulfill that BLL itch. At just 6 episodes, this limited series is fun and will keep you guessing to the end, but let's face it, the real star of the show is Kidman's tremendous wardrobe of moody coats.
The Queen's Gambit
I'm sorry that I doubted all the people who said that a show about chess was riveting and exhilarating. I didn't believe you until I, too, watched this miniseries and found myself absolutely in awe. I think the story is just so lovely and powerful, and Anya Taylor-Joy is tremendously talented. By the end of the final episode, I was completely satisfied with the story's conclusion. I know the show has been a huge success for Netflix, but I pray that they don't make a second season. If anything, give me a Jolene spinoff, but I was so immensely pleased with how the story ended, and that is so rare these days.
Dash & Lily
Hey look, there are even Christmas TV shows these days! I read Dash & Lily's Book of Dares way back in high school and loved it, and the show is cute and captured the dreamy, romanticized view of New York City that I pictured all those years ago.
The Crown (season 4)
I think The Crown is television at its finest, but I also knock it for being at least 50% montages of pasty British people staring out the windows of their palatial estates while dramatic violins swell. But wow, does this latest season feel singularly breathtaking in its analysis of the British crown. With the introduction of both Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, this was, in many ways, the moment we've been waiting for since the show first started, and wow, did it live up to expectations.
I do find it interesting how some people view The Crown as pro-royalist, because I've always viewed it as a devastating evisceration of the Windsors and their cold, loveless demeanors, but I suppose taking any time at all to craft a television series around them admits their importance. The Diana stuff is all rightfully depressing, but the Princess Margaret-centric episode this season is perhaps the most damning depiction of the royals we've yet seen. It is wonderful, devastating work.
The Expanse (seasons 1 and 2)
This show is definitely hard Sci-Fi with a capital S, but it's captivating. I started this show on Thanksgiving, just over a week ago, and at the time of writing this I'm actually almost done with season 4 so...yeah, I'm a fan. Also, The Expanse serves as another reminder that I never ever want to go to space. There are simply too many dumb ways to die.