Beaver

My Year In Media

Many of us are happy and, in some cases, relieved to see 2020 come to an end. The year was replete with loss and constant uncertainty; however, various forms of media have been instrumental in helping us cope with changing lockdown measures, turning an otherwise isolating experience into something manageable, and offering a welcome distraction. I want to highlight some of the different forms of media that have brought me joy this year. And what better way to spice up the usual ‘best of the year’ list than by using the well-known carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ as a format? 

Please note that there are spoilers ahead but nonetheless, enjoy my creative interpretations and recommendations.

‘On the first day of Christmas. my true love sent to me a Partridge in a Pear Tree…’

It was surprisingly difficult to find a film or book where they mentioned either pear trees or partridges; therefore, my first recommendation is a rather creative interpretation of the first line of the carol. The events on Hulu’s The Great often go pear-shaped. Plans are foiled, relationships crumble and the characters find themselves facing obstacle after obstacle in an attempt to realise their goals. The Great is a hilarious semi-accurate depiction of Catherine the Great’s rise to power in Russia. Her fervent belief in a better Russia teaches us that our actions can help usher in a better future, something to hold on to in these difficult times. 

‘On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Two Turtle Doves…’

The second line of the carol reminds me of the beauty of love and it gives me an excuse to highlight one of my favourite fictional couples of the year, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy from DC’s Harley Quinn. In the second season, we see our favourite anti-heroine, Harley, with the help of her coterie, fighting against the supervillains who have taken over Gotham City. Sparks fly between Harley and Ivy as their friendship deepens. The season features a wild bachelorette party, breaking into various villain strongholds and of course, attempts to seek world domination, making it a must-see. 

‘On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Three French Hens…’

We head off to France for the third recommendation with French-Malian artist Aya Nakamura’s album “AYA”. Nakamura is renowned for her ability to blend and utilise different genres and this is evident in her most recent album which features Afrobeats and more traditional R&B songs. While she successfully and confidently carries the album, there are features from French artist OBOY and British artists, Stormzy and Ms. Banks. Some of my favourite songs on the album include the mellifluous “Fly” and the catchy and romantic “Love de moi”. 

‘On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Four Calling Birds…’

Despite the discussions speculating what exactly is meant by four calling birds, one of the dominant interpretations suggested that the line refers to songbirds. This perspective gives me the opportunity to highlight some of the songs that I’ve listened to on repeat during this period. “Fancy” by Amaarae encourages women to feel good about themselves, a recurrent theme in the artist’s debut album. The eponymous song “Ungodly Hour” by Chloe X Halle touches on the importance of working on yourself and loving your flaws in our intimate relationships. In “Stuck On You”, Giveon croons about acceptance and acknowledging the end of a relationship that no longer serves you despite how you feel about the person. Finally, “19” by Flo Milli is nothing short of inspirational, talking about being young and successful and refusing to be distracted by the opinions of others. 

 ‘On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Five Gold Rings…’

Not quite five gold rings, but it’s pretty close. After two seasons of courtship, David Rose and Patrick Brewstew wed in the final season of Schitt’s Creek. Their wedding featured a heartfelt serenade of “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey, naturally. The final season of Schitt’s Creek is proof of the Rose family’s growth. They face difficult and complicated issues during this season but their responses mark how far they’ve come. The Roses outgrow their initial superficiality in favour of pursuing more profound ambitions. This type of development makes Schitt’s Creek a wholesome, warm, and incredibly witty watch. 

‘On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Six Geese a-Laying…’

The sixth day of Christmas is about bringing forth new life and I wanted to draw attention to the release of a new podcast Successful Failures. Hosted by two LSE students, the podcasts analyse the habits and mistakes of successful people and encourage us to view failure as a stepping stone to achievement. Interviews include professional artists and entrepreneurs as well as discussions on notable talents including Oprah Winfrey. As a final year student, I am well acquainted with failure and this podcast encourages me (and its listeners) to view failure as a starting point rather than a finish line. 

‘On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Seven Swans

 a-Swimming…’

A retelling of the original Lion King film, Beyoncé’s Black Is King acts as a visual accompaniment to the 2019 The Lion King: The Gift album. This image is from the “Mood 4 Eva” music video in which Beyoncé and Jay-Z are swimming in luxury…literally. The song encourages us to celebrate our journeys and victories. If we attempt to match up the song to the events of the original film, this music video parallels Simba’s departure from the Pride Lands. While he is not greeted by Timon and Pumbaa, he is welcomed and protected by Beyoncé who acts as a guide throughout the film. Black Is King draws on African and Afro-diasporic cultures and histories in order to produce work that honours the importance of legacy and evokes pride in Blackness, thus making it an affirming watch.

‘On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Eight Maids a-Milking

This recommendation features a quasi-literal depiction of the gift assigned to the eighth day of Christmas. The newest season of Big Mouth opens with Nick, Jessi, and Andrew heading off to summer camp. We are introduced to new characters including Seth, Nick’s summer camp best friend, Nathalie, a young trans girl, and Milk, an annoying nerdy character who often contributes to conversations by adding irrelevant anecdotes about his dad’s friend Bob Reedy. The summer camp is only a part of the season’s storyline. We see the characters come face to face with anxiety and dealing with complex identity issues in typical Big Mouth fashion, that is in the crudest manner possible. 

‘On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Nine Ladies Dancing…’

After the success of the humorous Chewing Gum, Michaela Coel returns with I May Destroy You, a drama that addresses sexual assault and trauma. This image is from an episode that takes place in the past. Best friends Arabella and Terry are in Italy where Arabella is supposed to be working on her new book. The duo decides to enjoy a night out (wow, remember that?) dancing, inebriated and, basking in the joy of their friendship. I think this episode speaks to the overall idea at the heart of the show. Yes, I May Destroy You tackles consent but it is also about the support systems and friendships that support you through difficult times. 

‘On the tenth day of Christmas. my true love sent to me Ten Lords a-Leaping…’

For my tenth recommendation, I have managed to feature a literal lord, Louis Partridge, who plays Lord Tewksbury from the film Enola Holmes. Starring Millie Bobby Brown, the film follows young Enola as she searches for her mother in London with the help of fellow runaway Lord Tewksbury. There are clues in the form of riddles, tense family relationships, and of course, murder. The film focuses on female empowerment as Enola refuses to conform to societal expectations as she chooses self sufficiency and intelligence above being poised and meek. Her proficiency proves useful as she searches for her mother, tries to prevent Tewksbury from being murdered, and outsmarts her brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, at every turn. What a girl. 

‘On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Eleven Pipers Piping…’

The eleventh recommendation features yet another creative interpretation. Billie Piper plays Suzie Pickles in the drama I Hate Suzie. Suzie is a mid-level celebrity who finds herself in the middle of a scandal after some of her compromising pictures were leaked. The leak impacts her career (despite the efforts of her manager and best friend Naomi) and emphasises the strain in her marriage. The show is modelled after the stages of emotional trauma. We follow Suzie as she experiences a myriad of emotions from shock to her attempts at bargaining and finally, acceptance. 

‘On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me Twelve Drummers Drumming…’

To round up my list, I conclude with Sahbabii’s most recent album “Barnacles”. Following on from his 2018 album “Squidrific” featuring some of my favourite songs including “Anime World” and “Boyfriend”. “Barnacles” is a continuation of the dreamy, autotune sound which has made Sahbabii popular. My personal favourites include “Purple Umbrella”, “House Party” and “Pregnant” but the sixth song “100 Round Drum” is particularly apt for the twelfth day.

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