recs

Plain Good Telly Rec: Hotel Beau Séjour

Kato

My weekends are a sacred time. I use them to sleep-in and unwind from the week before. If I’m feeling cheeky, I’ll hit up a local bunch spot with my friends (bottomless peach Bellinis anyone?). But usually, I spend them catching up on the shows I missed and maybe discovering a few hidden gems on Netflix. Last weekend, I hit the jackpot. I decided to watch the Belgian series Hotel Beau Séjour on a complete whim and I was hooked before the end of the first episode.

The premise of Hotel Beau Séjour is this: after a night out at her small town’s shooting festival, Kato wakes up on a hotel bed dazed and covered in blood. After taking a few moments to reorient herself, she gets up and walks into the bathroom where she sees her own corpse tossed into the bathtub.  She has no recollection of the night before or of who murdered her.

Only five people can see her while she roams around as the living dead. In addition to finding out who killed Kato, another central mystery of the series becomes discovering why they possess this ability. These “seers” include Kato's father, step-sister, an attractive stranger, the local police chief, and one of her childhood friends.

Generally, when I choose to watch a crime show, I prefer instant gratification. I have made it through eleven seasons of Criminal Minds, but I find it nearly impossible to sit through more drawn-out shows like Broadchurch, Happy Valley, and The Fall. I like to see the crime happen and then “catch” the killer all within a 50-60 minute sitting.

Full disclosure, Hotel Beau Séjour is nothing like that.

The pacing is a slow burn. The setting is drab, creepy, and foreboding. And as we know from Twin Peaks and Riverdale, there is always something ominous about a small town murder.

The ten episodes in this series are filled with frustrating coverups by those in power, exposed secrets, and tragic plot twists. These elements are all mindfully sprinkled in to make sure your scent is completely thrown off by the end.  After a marathon of suspense and build-up, once the killer is finally revealed, it is the most bittersweet release.

Once I finished on Sunday, I could not stop thinking about it. I tried to find articles about it and maybe  a few gif-sets to reblog on my tumblr. But the fandom landscape is bleak, y'all. So do us both a favor and go watch this show as soon as you can (...preferably while sending me a livestream of your thoughts while doing so).

Plain Good Telly Rec: Shadowhunters

139982_Circle_1291Winter is usually super difficult for me. I hate the cold. I hate the snow. And I hate how dark the evenings get. From the January to March I turn into a sentient blanket burrito. This year hasn’t been that bad for me and I know I have to give thanks, in part, to the unseasonably warm temperatures in New York (that pesky global warming strikes again). But I’ve also found solace in a cozy new fandom space. In honor of its winter break finale, I felt it only right to discuss my fairly recent television obsession: Shadowhunters. Though Shadowhunters is a Freeform network series clearly aimed for a teen audience, what it lacks in steamy makeout scenes, it makes up for in campy, supernatural adventure.

When I first decided to started watching after the recommendation of friend, I won’t lie, I was ready to tap out after the pilot. The acting somehow felt both stilted and over the top. The wardrobe and makeup was terrible (if I ever get a hold of Kat McNamara’s wig, I’d like to be the one responsible for setting fire to it). And above all, they kept trying to convince me, the viewer and native New Yorker, that the show takes place in Brooklyn. Even with the artfully injected stock footage, I found it very difficult and distracting at times to suspend my disbelief.

But every show has growing pains! I stuck by Clary and the Lightwoods. With season two came a bigger budget and the cast members themselves grew more confident and secure. As a direct result the characters felt more well-rounded and easy to connect with and love.

Queer representation within the media is always tricky thing. The ultimate goal is to have fully-fleshed and realistic characters who have healthy platonic and romantic relationships. I crave romantic relationships that are tender and compassionate without being watered down to it more palatable to the heterosexual but not explicit and over-sexualized to the point of fetishism.

I say all of that to say this: the relationship between Magnus and Alec (or "Malec" as they are affectionately referred to within the SH fandom) is one of my favorite queer couples on television currently. From day one the relationship always been about open and clear communication. They are allowed to argue and disagree, but more importantly they are given a change to talk and listen and move forward. Together. Stronger.

Shadowhunters isn’t perfect. Can any show ever truly be? But every week I find myself genuinely looking forward to new episodes and for now that’s more than enough.