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  • Writer's pictureSarah McDonald

Pop Culture Check-in: Episode 2

What I'm Watching: WandaVision

Directed by: Matt Shakman

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings and Randall Park

Run time: Season One contains 9 episodes

Date released: January 15, 2021

Where to watch: Disney+

30-second summary (which contains a few Marvel spoilers):

Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, WandaVision closely follows the events from the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame. It focuses on the characters Wanda (Elizbeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), the latter who actually died in Endgame (it's a bit of a confusing narrative web and part of the enjoyment of this show comes from just giving in to the wackiness). At this point in the bigger Marvel storyline, Wanda is deeply immersed in grief following the death of both her brother and her romantic partner, Vision and she creates an idyllic suburban life to enable them to have a future together. We watch this world evolve (and at times dissolve) through a series of sitcom-style episodes from past decades, like Bewitched, The Brady Brunch, Malcolm in the Middle and Modern Family.

Why I think you should watch it:

Elizabeth Olsen is truly a joy to watch in WandaVision. A lot of this show is about grieving and we watch Wanda work through a lot of personal trauma. Elizabeth Olsen carries so much emotion in her eyes and fully commits to this character. She is able to transition from decade to decade seamlessly portraying characters based on Lucille Ball's performance in I Love Lucy to Julie Bowen's in Modern Family with pure perfection. If you've been avoiding this show because you're not a fan of the superhero canon I would encourage that you give it a try. My fiancée Taylor is a big Marvel fan and we have watched all the movies. WandaVision is so different from anything Marvel has previously released; it's a beautiful character study and exploration of a woman's grief. There's a particular scene in the final episode that completely breaks my heart each time (comment below if you know the one I'm talking about). The show also includes incredible female performances by Kathryn Hahn (can she be in everything pls!?), Teyonah Parris, Debra Jo Rupp and Kat Dennings.

What you should watch next:

  • Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) - This is Elizabeth Olsen's first film and when I watched it I immediately fell head-over-heels in love. If you liked WandaVision because of Elizabeth Olsen's performance you need to check out this dark drama about a young woman who spent many years living in a cult. The film is largely told through flashbacks and explores the impact this traumatic experience has on Olsen's character.

  • Pleasantville (1998) - This film stars Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as two teenagers from the 1990s that are suddenly transplanted in the 1950s. These two are similar with aspects of reality bending and a critique of suburban life.

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - Want to learn more about Wanda and Vision's origin stories? Avengers: Age of Ultron is your go to but if you want to see their relationship develop you should watch Captain America: Civil War.


What I'm (also) Watching: Georgia and Ginny

Created by: Sarah Lampert

Starring: Brianne Howey, Antonia Gentry, Sarah Waisglass and Jennifer Robertson

Run time: Season One contains 10 episodes

Date released: February 24, 2021

Where to watch: Netflix

30-second summary:

Georgia Miller, a thirty-year-old single mom, moves with her two kids to a small New England town in hopes of a fresh start. The show follows the lives of Georgia and her fifteen-year-old daughter Ginny as they navigate complicated relationships and uncover secrets about each other. It's like a juicier, more mysterious Gilmore Girls.

Why I think you should watch it:

Ginny and Georgia is perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill (just to name a few of my personal favs). If you like shows that are soapy, filled with juicy secrets and incredible wardrobes, this show scratches that itch! I loved the complicated and flawed mother-daughter relationship at the heart of the show but learning about these two characters through their relationships with others, including Georgia's love interest the local Mayor played by Jason Street from Friday Night Lights, is where you really get hooked. I have to give a particular shoutout to Ginny's bestfriend Maxine, played by Sara Waisglass, who is absolutely delightful to watch. I binged this show in no time and would highly recommend it.

What you should watch next:

  • Moxie - This new show, now streaming on Netflix, is based on the book Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu and follows a 16-year-old girl that decides to create a zine calling out her school's sexist practices. The show is directed by Amy Poehler. Read the book or watch the show; both are delightful.

  • The Good Girls - This show features an incredible cast with Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman and Retta. The show centers on three moms who are forced to get involved in the crime world. The first two seasons are definitely worth a watch!

  • Pretty Little Liars - If you're looking for drool worthy clothing, juicy secrets and female friendships, you should definitely check out Pretty Little Liars. I will admit the twists eventually get a little eye roll-y in this one but I think it's worth the ride!


What I'm reading: Consent

Written by: Annabel Lyon

Date published: September 29, 2020

Published by: Penguin Random House

Book awards: Long listed for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Where you can find it: Anywhere that you buy books or check out your local library

30-second summary:

Consent follows two sets of sisters whose relationships are both difficult and complicated in their own ways. These story lines are set during different times but they mirror each other in a lot of ways. Caregiving is a big theme in this novel and Lyon explores the complexity of familial duty and resentment. The stories collide when two of the main characters suffer devastating tragedy and seek revenge from the same man.

Why I think you should read it:

Consent is darkly enjoyable and explores some incredibly interesting and flawed female characters. The four main characters, sisters Saskia & Jenny and Sara & Mattie, are rich and complex. I loved the writing, which is beautiful, sharp and biting. There are delicious passages describing high-end clothing and luxury perfume that I devoured but the novel also brings up complicated issues like addiction, morality, familial duty, and, as the title teases, consent. It's not a coincidence that one of the main characters is a professor of medical ethics because the novel constantly wanders into ethical grey areas. The novel bends genre and transitions from literary fiction into a mystery with a conclusion that is a great pay off.

What you should read next:

  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews - This is the second Miriam Toews recommendation I've given so that should say something about this incredible Canadian author! All My Puny Sorrows is a moving, gorgeously written novel about two sisters whose love for each other is tested in heartbreaking ways. The novel is in part a tribute to Miriam's real-life sister Marjorie who killed herself in 2010.


What I'm Playing: Kingdom Hearts

Epic Games recently released a remastered version of the 2002 video game Kingdom Hearts, which is a crossover game between Final Fantasy and Disney. This is a single player game but Taylor and I play it together by taking turns. The game is full of worlds to explore, puzzles to solve, bosses you have to beat and all of your favourite classic Disney characters. It's been a fun way to spend some time indoors together during this latest COVID lockdown.

Let me know in the comments below what you are currently watching, reading, playing, listening to or just generally obsessed with at the moment!? Seriously I want to know!


xox Sarah

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