Recommended by Sarah Robinson
Based on a novel by Gillian Flynn, “Sharp Objects” follows Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), a journalist in Saint Louis. When a girl is found viciously murdered, Camille goes back to her hometown looking for the scoop but is reunited with old demons along the way.
The HBO limited series is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and tackles topics like trauma and violence while also exploring what home and family represent. While only eight episodes long, the series is jam packed with skillful writing and astonishing cinematography.
Recommended by Hunter McKenzie
“Dissect” — a music podcast available on Spotify, which centers each season around a single album by a different artist — shouldn’t be as good as it is.
Forty minute shows that take apart popular works of music should be boring but Cole Cushna, the podcast’s creator, brings fascinating analysis. The first season spotlights Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”, while the second digs into Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
Recommended by Jean MacBride
Meet transgender woman, ex-philosophy PHD student ContraPoints. She’s a fabulous social justice princess who mixes internet and classical culture into a fearsome postmodern smoothie. She’s witty, yet unafraid to try to tear apart what she sees as the problems of the social order (classical liberalism and the alt right get special disdain in her videos).
With an unapologetically pink aesthetic and plenty of raunchy jokes, she’s fun to watch too. I’d recommend starting with The West where she deconstructs the notion of a unified western culture.
Recommended by Allie O’Connor
Many comedy specials are a form of escapism, convincing viewers to forget about their discomforts and troubles and sink into a fun, lighthearted coma. Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” does quite the opposite.
Gadsby’s special is a radical, scorching take on modern day issues with humorous undertones. It is also a commentary on the humiliation that is comedy itself. With incredible storytelling and genuine emotion, Gadsby forces her audience to rationalize their idea of comedy with trauma, sexual orientation, gender identity, assault and different perspectives.
“The Female Persuasion”
Recommended by Bridget Higdon
When Greer Kadetsky is groped at a college fraternity party, she is angered by the system that lets the boy get away with it. Kadetsky is left feeling helpless until Faith Frank, a Gloria Steinem-like feminist icon, visits her school.
Upon graduation, Kadetsky applies for a job at Frank’s magazine “Bloomer,” and is then swept up into the chaos of being a young adult in New York City.
While Wolitzer has written a novel that’s about finding your own path after college, she also successfully conveys the complexity of being a feminist in the 21st century.