Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week’s entries come from: Abbie Sears, Rachel Stewart, and Hawk Ripjaw.
Abbie: Last week was a huge week in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend world. Kathryn Burns won her second Emmy for her Choreography work on the show. Show creator Rachel Bloom also won an Emmy for outstanding original music and lyrics for the song “Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal” from Season 4. When Rachel took to Instagram to announce the news, she also very casually dropped another huge bombshell: Rachel Bloom is having a baby! It hasn’t been confirmed whether the child belongs to Josh, Greg or Nathaniel just yet, but we all know it’s Team Greg!
So while Rachel has been busy planning for upcoming live shows and parenting, she also managed to record an amazing hour-long podcast as a guest on Rupaul’s What’s The Tee? With Michelle Visage. The second I saw this I got so excited because this is one of my favourite podcasts of all time and they have had some fascinating guests such as Tituss Burgess and Lisa Kudrow!
Rachel Bloom features on Episode 222 and it is my absolute favourite episode so far. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a CW show that is available to binge on Netflix and it is my favourite television series to this day. In this podcast we get to hear some behind the scenes details involving the process of recording music videos alongside a television show and how time consuming that can be.
Ru, Michelle and Rachel also get into topics such as plastic surgery, growing up in a Jewish family, and what life is like when you’re with a partner and married for so many years. In an interesting segment, Rachel also discusses how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was recently recognised as a show that represents diversity in an unseen way. Rachel cast what she referred to as a “Filipino bro” as the male lead of CXG and has received such praise and gratitude from the Filipino and Asian community.
Josh Chan is seen as almost a sex symbol in the show which is something almost unheard of unfortunately in television. In fact, she brings up the point that Asian men have been de-sexualised in the media for years, and so it’s truly refreshing to see a character like Josh Chan. It’s not only about the male lead, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend portrays an entire Filipino family and it’s clear that the closeness and warmth of such a community is something special and dear to Rachel’s heart through the process of filming those scenes.
Both CXG and Rachel Bloom have broken boundaries with what they’re putting out into the world! As Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is over, it’s an absolute delight to be able to connect with Rachel through everything new she’s giving us. She is such a beautiful and fascinating person and honestly even if you have never seen the show or heard of Rachel, you should take the opportunity to listen to this episode of Whats The Tee? It’s a hilarious hour with some wonderful friends who chat about whatever comes to mind and I feel that what made this episode particularly special is that Ru, Michelle and Rachel have so much in common too, from filming television and making music to long term marriage and a general love for musical theatre. You can find What’s The Tee? on Soundcloud, Spotify, and iTunes.
Rachel: “They mistook my kindness for weakness,” Lana Del Rey croons on “Mariners Apartment Complex.” Her latest album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!, proves she’s not playing around anymore.
Since she broke onto the scene with her stone cold classic “Video Games,” Lana Del Rey has turned her cinematic songwriting lens on all things Americana. Her early work has always felt equal parts David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino, bouncing back between Cali and New York City backdrops. She’s been two parts torch singer to one part poet.
But the dream has shifted, as has her beloved US of A, and the music reflects that through the album. Over the course of her catalogue she’s been at war with her inner demons, and the battle continues ever on with her trademark sound with Fiona Apple-like flourishes:
So I moved to California, but it’s just a state of mind
It turns out everywhere you go, you take yourself, that’s not a lie – “Fuck It, I Love You”
Fear love, fear fun, fresh out of fucks forever, trying to be strong for you – “Venice Bitch”
But the real stunner (and what should be the closing track) of the whole album is “The Greatest.” It feels like a goodbye that isn’t quite a curtain call like the Beatles singing “Don’t Let Me Down” on a rooftop. She’s missing someone, but she’s missing more than that—it’s that loss of innocence, perhaps comfort in pop culture.
We didn’t know that we had it all
But nobody warns you before the fall
And I’m wasted
Don’t leave, I just need a wake-up call
I’m facing the greatest
The greatest loss of them all
The culture is lit and I had a ball
I guess I’m signing off after all…
Don’t leave us, Lana. We need you more than ever.
Hawk: I never saw Amazon Prime’s new streaming series Undone coming, but I’m glad I’ve started watching it. Undone is a drama from the creators of Bojack Horseman, and it shows in some distinct ways. The show follows Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar) nearly dying in a car accident, and awakening to find that she can see and talk to her deceased father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk). At this point, the world around Alma starts to shift: it appears that the world outside the hospital room is racing by as if she were on a train; she and her dad are suddenly whipped back into the car before impact and just as quickly whisked to the night he died.
Alma’s mother suffered from a neuro-degenerative disorder that eventually took her life. Jacob tells Alma that the reason the world suddenly seems so distorted is that she is essentially falling through time, and that her near-death experience has unlocked gifts that allow her to manipulate time. Not only that, but the night Jacob died when Alma was a young girl wasn’t a simple auto accident: he was murdered when someone ran him off the road. With Alma’s gifts, she can find out who killed Jacob and possibly stop it from happening. Her father adds that the disease her grandmother died from was that very same set of gifts, and she couldn’t control them.
This small detail is what drives the mystery of the show: it’s possible that none of this is happening, and Alma’s brain may really be struggling to deal with the trauma in her life. Immediately before her accident, she ran away from an ugly argument with her soon-to-be-married younger sister Becca (Angelique Cabral). The crux of the argument was Alma trying to convince Becca to not get married, because “We’re broken people, and we break people.” Becca retorts with “You don’t even know all the things wrong with you,” to which Alma counters that she is, in fact, fully aware of what’s wrong with her.
Alma is a toxic, self-absorbed and miserable person who, like many of the greatest characters in drama, conceals her pain with comedy. Undone is, at times, searingly funny, but it always feels grounded in Alma’s character, like it’s exactly the sort of thing she would do or say. At her core, Alma is heart-wrenchingly broken. She lashes out at her mother Camila (Constance Marie) because she believes her mother has been keeping information about Jacob’s death from her. She’s terrified of committing her life to a relationship with her boyfriend Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay) and having children. She actively sabotages those around her, but mostly because she can’t handle being around them long enough to potentially truly ruin their lives.
Undone is delivered in the animation style known as rotoscoping, probably most recognizably utilized in Richard Linklater’s creepy Keanu Reeves drama A Scanner Darkly. Everything was blocked and shot in live action then painted over for the finished product. Rosa Salazar, who managed to conquer the uncanny valley as Alita in Alita: Battle Angel, is incredible as Alma, and Bob Odenkirk is great as always. The entire cast gives vividly impactful performances, and the softer-angled, more colorful approach to the rotoscoping makes the show a sight to behold.
Through their many conversations throughout the 24-ish minute episodes, Alma and Jacob fall through time and space. They revisit conversations and moments, and Jacob attempts to explain the bizarre cosmic concepts of his existence and Alma’s powers, as the entire universe falls apart and flies back together around them. Like Netflix’s incredible Russian Doll, Undone is a funny, heartbreaking and beautifully creative show about dealing with trauma, and definitely worth a watch.
Those are our recommendations this week. What are yours? Let us know in the comments!