L: Hi, I'm Lami Zhang.
V: This is Victoria Benefield.
L: And welcome to Subtitled, a podcast where two fake film students take a look at popular TV shows and movies. Although I am no longer a film student, I have dropped my minor, and I am picking up art history.
V: Whoo! Exciting!
L: Yeah, which is a possibly even more pretentious minor than Film and Media Studies.
V: I don't know. I feel like based on the length of the title of it, Film and Media Studies is really obnoxious. Like I feel embarrassed when I introduce myself with a Film and Media studies minor. Sometimes I have to shorten it to film studies to sound slightly less ridiculous.
L: Alright, so today we're going to talk about our 2020 favorites and least favorites for TV shows and movies. Because we have a lot of opinions on things like this.
V: Oh yes. And all things. I think we have opinions on a lot of things.
L: That's true. That's true. So Victoria, give me your top three movies for 2020.
V: Okay, top three movies of 2020. Shirley directed by Josephine Decker, available on Hulu. Please watch it. It's excellent. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which is – I don't even need to explain this one – an excellent movie. And then Emma. Those are my top three. What about you Lami? What were your top three films of 2020?
L: Definitely Emma, ‘cause I’m a huge slut for Jane Austen. Obviously. The King of Staten Island because Pete Davidson is my man. And I have written down Portrait of a Lady on Fire, although I did not really enjoy that movie. I guess I just haven't seen a lot of movies in 2020.
V: Yeah, I feel that. I don't think there were a lot of good ones that came out, like I struggled to make this list. Or maybe I just didn't watch the good ones. That’s also a possibility.
L: I think you would really like The King of Staten Island because you also like Pete Davidson.
V: Oh, yeah. A huge fan of Pete Davidson, which, apparently, is controversial.
L: TV show wise, I really liked Bridgerton obviously. Simon's pullout game is strong. The Queen's Gambit, although I know nothing about chess. And Emily in Paris.
V: Did you really put that at number three?
L: That was not number three. OK. I'm not even going down a list right now. Um, number three, let's see. Possibly Sex Education, season two. Wait, no, no, no,
V: Wait, that was in 2020?
L: That was in 2020.
V: So good.
L: But maybe that didn't make my list. Big Mouth season three, two … three? The newest season. [Note: Lami is referring to Season 4.] Really, really good. Highly recommend.
V: My TV choices. I only have two, but I would put Bridgerton on here as well. Shamefully, but so good. I love Gossip Girl, and I love Jane Austen, and it really just felt like the best possible combination. So, top two TV shows for me were How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast). Season two came out this year. This is a German show. Everyone needs to watch it. It's about two really nerdy high school boys that end up starting a drug business online, somehow. It's so complicated, but it's so good, and there's a lot involved, 3D printed guns … there's a lot of drama. It's so good. And then my other favorite was Ramy season two. So good. It has to be in my top five TV shows of all time. I think it's incredible, like the portrayal of the conflict between religion and culture and like American culture versus his culture from home. It's incredible.
L: Remind me what Ramy is about again? I've heard you talk about this.
V: Way too many times. Yeah. So, it's basically about this Muslim … man. I almost called him a boy. He's definitely a man, a fully grown man. But a Muslim man growing up in the U.S. and about just his relationship with his culture and his heritage, him reckoning with his religion versus American culture. And as someone who is religious, I think it's really interesting, like the tug between those two sides of yourself. So yeah, I love it. And it's also funny somehow. Despite all that, it's somehow comedic. But, yeah. And then I have podcasts next here. What were your favorite podcasts of the year?
L: Definitely the one I listened to the most is probably Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain. Just because it's really light. I do listen to news podcasts, occasionally, but sometimes you just need some valley girl talk. You know.
V: I love her. She's so relatable.
L: And also Life Kit by NPR. They tell you how to do shit. I just need that in my life.
V: We all need to know how to do more shit.
L: How about you?
V: So, my favorites. I'm gonna say The Daily by the New York Times just because I listen to it every day, so I can't not include it.
V: I love Michael.
L: Remember when we saw him on Zoom during that Medill talk?
V: Truly changed my life.
L: The highlight of my Fall Quarter.
V: I think I cried a little bit, or a lot. He's a very important male figure in my life. It’s fine, anyways, moving on. My other top favorites were Canary by the Washington Post, I believe. Don't quote me on that. [Note: Canary is in fact published by the Washington Post.] But it was a limited series about just a couple of sexual assault cases from the past few years. Highly recommend. So good. Really interesting storytelling, and I think the reporter did a really good job balancing like the sensitive nature of the case. And then my next favorite is @lexie. I love her. I love her personality. She makes me happy listening to her. It's like Emma Chamberlain, it's light, she's funny.
L: She's not that relatable though. This girl highkey went like “I never get stressed.” And then I stopped listening to her.
V: It's attainable though. I'm trying to reach that level.
L: Is it attainable though? I think … I think she's lying. She's definitely been stressed before.
V: That's fair. I think it was a little bit of exaggeration on her part, but she's fun. She lives in New York City. She has a great life. She does YouTube for a living.
L: I love that our – the people we look up to are YouTubers.
V: Who are basically younger than me. Emma Chamberlain is younger than us. I think she's 19, still.
L: I just really like Emma's podcast because she literally will hop on the mic and be like, “I had a shit day and I cried for three hours.” I was like “same. “
V: My favorite part is when she doesn't talk for three minutes and it's just her cats meowing and she’s like “Can you hear that? Can you hear that?” Please, I just want a cat.
L: I think we need that in our podcast. I was gonna talk about stand up.
V: Yeah, definitely.
L: Because we definitely need some laughter in 2020 and 2021. I saw Taylor Tomlinson's Netflix special [Taylor Tomlinson:] Quarter-Life Crisis. The beginning of the year. I thought it was so good. Death to 2020 came out in 2020.
V: No, it didn't. Did it come out the last day of the year?
L: Probably. I don't know. I'm gonna count it as a 2020 film. [Note: Death to 2020 was released on Dec. 27th, 2020.] That one was funny. Very dark humor.
V: I couldn’t get through five minutes of it. Not gonna lie. I don't know … something about it. It's confusing.
L: It's not confusing. It's so funny.
V: Yeah, I think I thought it was real for like two seconds. And then after that I was disappointed. I wanted a real documentary.
L: We're living through it. We don't need a real fucking documentary.
V: That’s true. I think it was because they made fun of the New Yorker. Or was it the New York Times?
L: They did?
V: Yeah. They were like mocking one of them. I can't remember which one. [Note: She means The New Yorker]
L: That’s really funny.
V: It hurt me. Oh, we can talk about documentaries. Yours is Miss Americana?
L: This is so sad. Yes, mine is Miss Americana. Taylor Swift. Huge fan. Not the greatest documentary. But it has Taylor Swift in it, so I watched it.
V: My favorite documentary of this year has to be Dick Johnson Is Dead.
L: I loved that documentary. It’s so good.
V: I think I cried for all of it, maybe? Possibly all of it.
L: I think we need to rewatch it.
V: Yeah. Do I need to cry again, though? Should we explain what it is?
L: We should.
V: For the audience.
L: At least a little bit of it. Might be a little confusing.Who is Dick Johnson? Why is he dead?
V: Exactly. Okay. So Kirsten Johnson made this movie. Basically, it's coming to terms with the fact that her dad is going to die, which sounds really sad. And it was, but she did it with almost a humorous take in that she had these scenes where her still-living father would go through a reenactment of how he could potentially die. So it'd be anything from like, getting hit by a car to having an air conditioning unit fall on his head, all of this crazy stuff. And she would direct and film these scenes. But yeah, it's just like, a really beautiful film. And it will be I think, for her once – I can't spoil it – but I think it's a really good remembrance of her dad. And it's also a beautiful piece of art.
L: I think those are my favorite types of documentaries. Like when the documentarian kind of has a more self-reflective topic, rather than like trying to tackle a bigger issue. Yeah, I don't know. I just think those are really personal. And more pieces of art than journalism.
V: Yeah, I agree. I think especially because the audience is seeing something through the lens of the documentarian. And so, anytime they're trying to tackle a really big topic that's not through a personal viewpoint, it can be dangerous and they can end up saying things that aren't true. Or they can end up jumping to conclusions, but I think sticking to your own story not only makes it more authentic, but it's also a lot more powerful. This has to be one of the most powerful documentaries I've ever watched.
L: Ooh, what is the worst movie or TV show you've seen in 2020?
V: Okay, so originally, I had the second To All The Boys movie, which is horrible. We watched that on Valentine's Day, didn't we? Which is revealing our very single status.
L: That’s true.
V: It's fine, whatever. Moving on. But I think after some very, very deep reflection, I have decided that the worst movie I saw this year has to be Kissing Booth 2.
L: You saw that movie? Why did you see it?
V: I don’t want to talk about it. Did I watch the entire two-and-a-half hours? Yes.
L: That's like self destructive. Why would you see that?
V: I loved it though. Not gonna lie, I loved it.
L: What? I hated the first Kissing Booth movie.
V: Yes, me too. No, no, I didn't hate it.
L: It was so shit. I'm sorry.
V: They're not good movies. They're not good movies. I enjoy watching them. I do think they are objectively horrible films. Really, no one should watch them. But I did watch it. I will say it was the worst movie of this year.
L: I think mine rivals yours, maybe. 365 Days. It's basically – you know how some movies are basically porn with a plot?
L: This one's just flat out porn with 50% of a plot that doesn't fucking make sense.
V: Isn’t that just actual porn at that point?
L: Basically, it's an extended version of porn, basically, luxury porn. Do not search that up. Because I did, it does not mean what you think it means. Actually, it means exactly what you think it means. But 365 days, it's just about this mafia dude who kidnaps this lady. And then he's like, “I'll give you a year, 365 days, to fall in love with me. And if you don't, I'll set you free.” But then it was just a terrible representation of sex on screen. No consent, zero consent. And then halfway, she just falls in love with him. No fucking explanation why.
V: What the fuck.
L: They have more sex. That was it.
V: I'm so disturbed.
L: Do not watch it. Or watch it if that's what you're looking for, you know?
V: I really hope it's not what you're looking for.
L: Hey, no judgment here.
V: A little bit of judgment.
L: A little bit.
V: See I’m a real film student. I’m allowed to pass judgment.
L: 2020 was a hard year for everybody. So maybe luxury porn is what you need? Who knows?
V: And on that note, I'm Victoria Benefield.
L: And I'm Lami Zhang
V: And this has been Subtitled. Thanks for listening.