Welcome to The Culture Wrap! Our Friday feature edited by Jessie Tu, that shares her pick of things to read, hear and watch. Just in time for the weekend.
I May Destroy You
I have a thing for geniuses. Meaning, I pay attention to them. They’re rare, duh. So when I come across one, I get really, really excited. Michaela Coel is the latest genius on my radar. You’ve probably heard of her? Or seen her? She created and starred in the show everyone seems to be talking about. All my friends are plastering my message inbox with “YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS.” There are huge adulations surrounding this U.K-based narrative of a young woman named Arabella, who is attempting to rebuild her life after being sexually assaulted in a nightclub.
It’s one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of 2020, capturing the particular zeitgeist in a rigorous way. They’re calling itself a “Comedy Drama” – but really, what I sensed was this terse, concise tenor that feels both delightful and strange: the tone of each scene shifting side to side like a manic basketball player. Michaela Coel created, wrote, co-directed and executive produced the show. (Genius? Yes.) As the Pilot Club’s Billy points out, she’s a classic and ultimate auteur.
Have you seen Black Mirror? Or Chewing Gum? She’s in those shows too. If you’re into fashion, this show will whet your appetite. Arabella and her friends sport the most interesting clothes and outfits, brighting up the aesthetically drab city landscapes of London. Arabella is an emerging celebrity — a Twitter star-turned- novelist who has just had her first book out (“Chronicles of a Fed-Up Millennial”) and everyone is sprinkling her name into their conversations. But the fame is new, and it’s raw and it’s fresh, and Arabella isn’t quite sure what to make of it. It’s fleeting, like so much of today’s late-capitalist patriarchal machinery that is our society. There’s an internal anxiety that Arabella feels, which I felt it too, watching her work out what happened to her one night, when she drank a bit too much, and can no longer remember what happened to her body.
The camera pans across spaces and scenes and conversations; it’s a restless pilot (I’ve only seen the pilot as of today, but ready to binge on it on BINGE this weekend). My favourite thing about this show is how unalienating it feels. I felt utterly embodied in the space Arabella moves around, the Hackney area of London; all her friends are queer or polygamous or black or persons of colour; there’s such a diverse range of corporeal vividness from each character; Arabella’s a party girl, but an endearing one. The friendship dynamics are so compelling. So unhetronormative. I can’t stop quoting Billy from Pilot Club (a must-listen for all art/culture consumers) so I’ll just add one more: in their latest episode, he announces this show as one of the most original shows that’s been made in 2020. Big call. But he’s 100 percent right.
Highlights of the Week:
I’m Listening to…
Jay Som’s latest album “Anak Ko”
Gemma Carey’s memoir “No Matter Our Wreckage”