As the last few Northwestern students with Winter Quarter finals complete them remotely, an important decision looms over them and their peers: what to do during Spring Break. And if you're social distancing by staying the heck home (which you should if you are able), then your options are somewhat limited. Though we know that you will fill your breaks in all sorts of unique ways, if you’re anything like us, you’ll probably listen to at least one song or watch at least one movie. (For long-distance movie nights with friends, use Google Chrome extension Netflix Party to hold a watch party remotely!) Therefore, to aid you in your quest, we have compiled a list of diverse, top notch entertainment, from movies and comedy specials to *gasp* literature!
By Jayna Kurlender
Derry Girls is a show you have to watch with captions on. The thick Irish accents are at times unintelligible, but they only add to the comedy. The show centers around a group of friends living in Londonderry, Northern Ireland during the peak of the Irish-British conflict called the Troubles. The friends—Erin, Clare, Orla, Michelle and honorary Derry girl James—attend a Catholic school, but are always looking for trouble. More often than not, they find it. High jinks include, but are not limited to: setting an apartment on fire; hosting a Russian exchange student; accidentally distributing pot brownies at a funeral. The characters all fit into archetypes, but somehow, showrunner Lisa McGee breathes new life into what would be an otherwise stale sitcom. The show is laugh out loud funny. The supporting cast’s jokes are all timed perfectly, especially headmistress Sister Michael. And it’s only twelve episodes; easy to binge!
By Christopher Li
Odds are, you’ve seen Baby Yoda memes floating around the internet. Why not check out the show where he originated? The Mandalorian is the first live action Star Wars show, and while longtime fans will find plenty of references to geek out over, the show is admirable in its efforts to be accessible if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie (although, of course, you definitely should).
Over the course of the show, the titular Mandalorian— basically a Wild West gunslinger in space— and Baby Yoda travel from planet to planet, meeting plenty of colorful characters along the way. The Mandalorian tells a simple story, but does it well, and at only eight 40-minute episodes (with a second season coming out later this year), it’s not too much of a commitment. I highly recommend it if you want some good, old-fashioned popcorn entertainment.
Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
By Jordan Hickey
This one’s for all you theatre people!
Just kidding, everyone should read this book because it’s utterly FANTASTIC (I really mean that, but it was kind of written for theater people).
Megan Harper is no Juliet: she’s Rosaline, the girl every guy dates right before he finds his happily ever after with someone else. Megan’s never really been concerned with romance, but she wouldn’t complain if her next fling came along. At the moment, she’d like to find a way to fulfill her dream college’s acting requirement (she wants to be a director) by acquiring the smallest role possible in her school’s play. Somehow, Megan ends up in the role of Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo and Juliet, throwing her plans into turmoil and putting her in a role she’s definitely not comfortable playing. Her Romeo may just be around the corner, though — and it may be someone she doesn’t expect.
No synopsis could ever truly do this book justice — it’s funny, cute and heartwarming with unparalleled character depth in even the most minor characters. It’s a book about romance, yes, but it’s also about friendship and self love. This book, along with Austin and Emily’s other books, is absolutely wonderful and a perfect read to kick off the season of fresh starts.
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed
By Jordan Hickey
There’s no better time than election season to pick up this adorable new contemporary by the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (also known as Love, Simon) Becky Albertalli and New York Times bestselling author Aisha Saeed!
Jamie and Maya both had different visions for how they’d be spending their summers, and they definitely didn’t involve knocking on people’s doors and canvassing for a local state senate candidate. As the election nears, though, Jamie and Maya become more invested in their candidate, and in each other. Will they be able to navigate not only local activism but also a potential cross-cultural relationship?
Yes No Maybe So is fun and light but also emphasizes the importance of civic engagement. It showcases how even young people can get involved in politics and — get this — actually enjoy the process. This book will make you smile endlessly and will have you cheering and rooting for the characters in everything they do. It’s the perfect read if you’re looking for something to race through and make your heart happy.
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
By Jordan Hickey
Penny had a very mediocre high school experience, so she couldn’t be more excited about moving far away from home for college to start anew and learn to be a writer in Texas.
Sam works at a coffee shop near Penny’s school and feels completely stuck in his life. He dreams of becoming a movie director, but doesn’t feel like he can go after his goals — he can’t afford college or any of the equipment it would take to direct a movie.
When Sam and Penny meet, their connection isn’t initially a romantic one, but things take a turn when they start to text each other constantly and decide to become each other’s emergency contacts after an awkward and somewhat alarming encounter on the street. They start to share more and more about each other through text and may just be falling for each other — but will their connection maintain its ease and depth once they start meeting face-to-face?This book is an adorable romance, but it’s also incredibly serious and emotional. Choi paints a very full picture of what each character is going through, creating an intricate and complex plot that feels entirely realistic and three-dimensional. I felt like I really knew Penny and Sam after reading this in a way I don’t often feel about fictional characters. They, and their story, felt like it could have been non-fiction, but Emergency Contact was nevertheless captivating and an absolute joy to read.
Sam Morril: I Got This
By Beck Dengler
Last month, New York comedian Sam Morril released his stand-up special I Got This ad-free on YouTube. It’s since blown up. Morril didn’t receive any offers to buy his set before production, but it’s better than most specials on Netflix. Its 47 minute run is full of laugh out loud moments front-to-back. Morril is a fantastic joke writer, at one point in his special saying, “Some of these jokes you're not gonna like the content, but structurally they're gonna be really solid." If you don’t like laughing, I Got This probably isn’t for you.
By Christopher Li
Released in 2018 on a budget of less than $1 million, Searching received very little marketing and publicity, which is a real shame, because it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. John Cho stars as David Kim, a regular dad whose life is turned upside down when his daughter Margot goes missing, and he’s determined to find her at all costs. That might sound reminiscent of movies like Taken, but Searching is refreshingly light on action and violence. The gimmick here is that the entire movie is told through the screens of David’s smartphone and laptop as he tries to follow Margot’s digital trail on the internet. As David scrolls through strange Venmo transactions, texts Margot’s friends for help, and scours her livestreams for clues - seemingly to no avail - his desperation grows, and so does yours, because you’re there with him every grueling step of the way. And because David is doing all of his detective work through apps and websites you’re probably familiar with, it’s hard not to wonder what you’d do in his situation. If you’re looking for a hidden gem, give Searching a watch.
By Christopher Li
It seems like most movies featuring aliens involve some kind of an alien invasion and an epic battle to push the invaders back. While I enjoy a good action movie as much as the next person, the way that Arrival mixes things up a bit is a breath of fresh air. This film isn’t about fighting the visitors from outer space, but rather communicating with them and crossing the gap between two languages. That might sound boring, but rest assured that this film is anything but. The film explains all of its language-related concepts simply and understandably, and I quickly found myself curious as to what the aliens’ mysterious message was. And it all comes together in the end — the story hinges on a gut punch of a twist that’ll leave your jaw on the floor. If you’re craving some sci-fi-flavored food for thought, Arrival is the movie for you.
All the Bright Places
By Sammi Boas
Based on the 2015 book by Jennifer Niven, Netflix’s movie All the Bright Places has the recipe for another cliche young adult love story: popular girl, boy called “the freak,” boy and girl meet, they enter each other’s worlds and eventually fall in love. But, All the Bright Places tells the story a bit differently. The movie (and the book, for that matter) paint a complicated portrait of mental health and healing. Violet Markey (Elle Fanning) and Theo Finch (Justice Smith) struggle with mental health in different ways, but through their relationship, they teach each other about grief and moving on. The lead actors do a phenomenal job, and are charismatic, genuine, and most importantly, raw. Mental health is complicated and Violet and Finch are complicated too. You will fall in love with these characters because they feel real. In addition, the cinematography and the various nature settings of the movie are beautiful and the costumes are perfect.
By Bailey Richards
Alright y’all, I’ve got something important to Tik Tok about. Though the app definitely has its issues, as does any content sharing platform, I encourage you to incorporate it into your social media rotation. Rather than giving you a list of funny creators to check out, I encourage you to download the app and explore. By simply browsing Tik Tok’s “For You” page and hearting posts you chuckle at or otherwise enjoy, you allow the page to tailor itself to you. It will dispense content it knows you will like and continues to introduce you to new creators of varying degrees of Tik Tok clout. When it comes to my own Tik Tok taste, I often find myself less drawn to particular creators, especially those of the Hype House genre, and more drawn to weird trends that would not gain traction on any other app. Examples of this include variations of the infamous dancing 6ix9ine rat and, more recently, different iterations of a frog that sits on a log cooling as the chorus of “Drift Away” plays in the background.
If you’re scared to download the app, I would advise you to dip your toes in by simply watching curated Tik Tok compilations on YouTube before making the full leap and hitting the app store. If you’ve dabbled with the platform and are scared to redownload the app because it wasted too much time during the quarter ... It's Spring Break baby, who cares?!!?! Regardless of what kind of content tickles your funny bone, I guarantee that this app will become your new favorite source of entertainment. Take a chance on Tik Tok!
Paige Bueckers Highlights on YouTube
by Beck Dengler
Paige Bueckers is a senior at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota where she is a basketball star. She is the number one women’s basketball recruit in the country, class of 2020, and is set to play for the historic UConn program starting next year. She BALLS. According to her high school coach, in her second game of her varsity career (when she was only in eighth grade) she shot 8/9 on three-point shots and won her team the game. Bueckers plays with a calm swag that can only be displayed by someone that knows they’re always the best player on the court. With Northwestern’s women's team set up to be competitive in the future, why not scout some potential March Madness competition? Watching videos of her dominate is a great way to kill an hour over break.
Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby! A Greek & Roman mythology podcast
By Linda Shi
Podcasts available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn or Spotify.
Whether you’re foaming at the mouth from boredom or feeling nostalgic about Percy Jackson (the books, never the movies), Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby! is the perfect mini podcast to fill your days with more messed up fantasies and romances than all eight seasons of Game of Thrones could muster. Liv, the host (along with soundbite cameos from her adorable cat), breaks down the shenanigans of mighty gods and courageous heroes with a sarcastic, modern tone that isn’t afraid to call out the rampant misogyny and male-dominated narrative within these ancient tales. Even if you know nothing about Greek and Roman myths, her passion for storytelling and well-rounded research immerse you within this deeply human world of revenge, adventure and tragedies. Above all, you’ll be looking forward to her healthy dose of tongue lashing against Zeus’ concerning potency and the Greeks’ stubborn reliance on The Oracle to put in stone their terrible fates.
Note: The podcast is largely meant to educate, and there’s warnings for potentially triggering material during some episodes (assault/violence/bestiality).
By Jayna Kurlender
Chaos. That’s the one word to sum up Episode One. The premise of the show is that there isn’t a premise. Every episode acts as the first episode of a different failed podcast, likely set in Terre Haute, Indiana. Comedians Alex Branson, Charles Austin and Andrew Hudson (with occasional guests) take on new characters for every podcast. Greatest hits include wine moms, the staff at a haunted amusement park and tween makeup artists. The funniest part of the podcast is, well, all of it. Branson and Hudson have nearly perfected satire. They’ve managed to capture so many different genres in acute mockery. Episode 108, “Forever Young Adults: An Exploration of YA Literature and Culture,” encapsulates the haughty, self-aggrandizing tone of so many young adult authors (Branson’s character is a white woman that went to Morehouse College). Listen to it in the airport if you don’t mind stifling your audible laughter. I recommend starting with episode 114, “The Magical School Limo,” a Magic School Bus parody that goes horribly wrong.
UNLOCKED by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats
By David Deloso
South Florida rapper Denzel Curry has been on a tear for a long time now— his 2018 three act masterpiece TA1300 and its fantastic 2019 follow up ZUU were both among the best hip-hop albums released in their respective years. Now, Curry has teamed up with producer Kenny Beats for UNLOCKED, his third project in as many years. Mr. Beats, who produced collaborative tapes with Rico Nasty and 03 Greedo and debuted his popular YouTube series “The Cave” in 2019, provides a selection of fun, futuristic beats with goofy, vintage samples. The project is short, clocking in at just under 18 minutes, but Kenny’s catchy, infectious beats and Denzel’s rapid fire bars will keep this tape in your Spotify rotation for a long time.
Denzel rides each instrumental flawlessly with his signature fast, hard-hitting flows. However, unlike much of his previous work, he isn’t tackling any complex themes here— each song is thematically straightforward and fairly shallow (at least by Curry’s standards). UNLOCKED shows what happens when one of the most lyrically talented rappers in the game lets loose and has some fun— it’s the perfect metaphor for high-achieving Northwestern students going crazy over Spring Break.
We Cool? by Jeff Rosenstock
By Jayna Kurlender
It’s Spring Break, and you’re stuck in the suburbs again. All your friends have headed back to college. Your parents pester you about your future job prospects to no end. Enter Jeff Rosenstock. A musician well acquainted with suburban boredom and the angst of getting older, his 2015 album We Cool? seems to be a natural evolution of early 2000s pop punk and emo music. Laid over intense electric guitar and fast paced drums are deeply emotional lyrics that can resonate with almost everyone. “The shortsightedness of childhood dreams where we're all young astronauts / The truth is it sucks being young and in love,” he sings on “Polar Bear or Africa.” Instead of being depressing, though, We Cool? comes off as cathartic. Blast this album flying down the Long Island Expressway or your own regional highway with the windows wide open, screaming along.
Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert
By David Deloso
In 2018, Lil Uzi Vert announced his second studio album Eternal Atake in a now deleted Instagram post featuring imagery that referenced the Heaven’s Gate cult. It’s been a wild ride since then – Uzi disappeared for a while, dropped singles out of the blue and announced his retirement from music. Yet through it all, the status of Uzi’s album remained unclear. Toward the end of 2019, Eternal Atake resurfaced for real with the single “Futsal Shuffle 2020.” A few months later on March 6, nearly two years after the album was announced (yet still somehow a week ahead of schedule), I put on my headphones and listened to the album’s first lyrics, which proclaimed, “Welcome to Eternal Atake.” The wait was over.
This project had two years of hype to live up to, yet it did not disappoint. Uzi’s energy doesn’t wane for a second throughout the hour-long album – the explosive opening tracks “Baby Pluto” and “Lo Mein” remind me why Lil Uzi named himself after a machine gun. Uzi’s signature melodic delivery makes its return as well in tracks such as “Celebration Station” and “Venetia.” While the cult imagery has been replaced by album art that almost looks like an EDM compilation from 2012, the themes of space that the original art seemed to imply remain. Short clips placed sporadically throughout the album tell the story of Uzi’s alien abduction, and are complemented by a slew of instrumentals (including one that samples the iconic Windows XP game “3D Pinball: Space Cadet”) that transport listeners to another world.
Uzi sticks to his typical, shallow subject matter on this album, and while he didn’t transform into a lyrical genius during his extended hiatus, this project captures his entire ethos: extremely fun and energetic, but emotional beneath it all. It helps that aside from an appearance by Syd (of The Internet and Odd Future fame), this album does not have any credited features. The final track (aside from the album’s two singles, which are listed as bonus tracks) serves as a sequel to “XO Tour Llif3,” the 2017 hit that skyrocketed Uzi into the mainstream. It’s a fitting conclusion to an album that, despite only having come out this month, has defined Lil Uzi Vert’s career for so long.