Friday, April 27, 2018

April 2018 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for April...

1. This month I read The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright. I've long enjoyed Jamie's blog and was glad to see that she'd contracted to write a book. Here Wright recounts her sense of call to be a missionary, her critique of the system that funds and sends missionaries in general, as well as some of her personal life especially her marriage. Wright's humor is often self-deprecating and blunt, and she uses it well as she raises questions about faith, discernment, the church, and missions.

2. The eighth season of The Walking Dead concluded this month. The entire season featured the escalation and then the conclusion of the "All Out War" between Rick's assorted allies and Negan's Saviors. The story is a highlight of the comics, but it was written in such a way for the show where there was a lot of wheel-spinning, with even entire episodes maybe having one zombie sighting in between endless scenes of people shooting at each other. There were some high points, often involving side characters, that did some interesting world-building, and when the parts featuring the main players gave them something worthwhile to do, it was as compelling as the series has ever been. But I have to say that while I still consider Sundays at 9 p.m. to be appointment television, the show doesn't have my attention the way it used to, and I'm sad about that.

3. I binged through Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel this month, starring Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam Maisel, an upper-middle-class housewife whose life takes some unexpected turns which lead her to try stand-up comedy. The show is set in the 1950s, and Miriam's life struggles and her attempts to break into the business intersect with the issues of that period, including the emergence of women's and civil rights. The dialogue is snappy and the acting is crisp, and with equal parts comedy and drama it's a fun and original story of a woman charting her own course.

4. I watched the second season of Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix this month, starring Drew Barrymore as a suburban wife and mother-turned-zombie and Timothy Olyphant as her loyal husband. The two are still wrestling with how to address her condition while trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life for themselves and their daughter. Of course, nothing is simple for them, especially as they begin to trace things back to the possible cause of the zombie virus. The show is very clever and has a dry, dark sort of humor that I've always loved. Each season so far hasn't left much in a tidy bow by the end, but it is so quick and compelling that I'm looking forward to the third.

5. Bishop Briggs released her first full-length album this month, Church of Scars. I've been a fan ever since I first heard "River" and "Wild Horses" a couple years ago and greatly enjoyed her self-titled EP. Much like what came before, this album is high-energy and defiant, and features the same forceful electronic-based sound that hooked me back when I first encountered her. Here's the first single, "White Flag:"