Review of the Week (3): Little Women, The Hate U Give, Spinning Out, Buffy/Angel, The Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast

We’re three weeks into 2020 already! It sort of feels like the year is hitting its stride but also we’re still eating the Christmas cake.

It’s frosty but sunny here. Is it too small-talk-y of me to let you know what the weather’s like? I find myself writing about the weather in my diary a lot; my study has a lovely view over our garden so about 50% of my ‘writing time’ is actually ‘staring out of the window time’. Frosty but sunny is one of my favourite kinds of weather, I think. I hope that, wherever you are this afternoon, the weather is your favourite kind of weather too.

Here’s what I’ve been watching, reading, and listening to this week.

Little Women
What?: 
Greta Gerwig’s gorgeous adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel

I was completely over-hyped for this film, and I think it’s one that I’ll need to re-watch to appreciate it properly because it just flew by me in a glorious haze. I also feel like there were some things I took for granted rather than savouring them – of course Saoirse Ronan is a pitch-perfect Jo, duh – because I was so taken aback that I was watching a version of this story where what I wanted most was More Amy.

‘I’m making a mould of my foot for Laurie, to remind him that I have nice feet.’

Anyway, the March sisters are the original Hogwarts houses and I am somewhere between a Jo and a Meg (but would choose Jo, of course).

The Hate U Give
What?: Angie Thomas’ novel about a teenage girl whose childhood friend is shot dead by a police officer

On the surface of it, this is a heartbreaking but straightforward story, bleak in its realism when it comes to police brutality, particularly against young black men. But it’s not just Thomas’ protagonist who’s torn between two worlds and two versions of herself; there’s a huge ensemble of friends, family members, and neighbours who all have so much more to them than first appearances. It’s written in first-person, but Starr’s voice is empathetic enough to allow for a lot of nuance. Basically, it’s as great and vital as everyone said it was two years ago, and I definitely should’ve read it sooner.

Spinning Out
What?: Netflix series about a competitive skater with PTSD and a hot new partner

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could be more skating tbh

Look, Netflix auto-plays trailers, and I really like January Jones, and I’ve finished Anne with an E, so this is where I’m at. I’m at Spinning Out.

If I was paying more attention, I’d probably be more frustrated at how often this show looks like it’s going for greatness but pops it at the last second (yes lol I picked up some skating lingo). It’s one of those Netflix series that could probably have done with being two episodes shorter to tighten everything up. The skating is done very well but there’s not enough of it, and the portrayals of bipolar disorder are pretty nuanced but get drowned in amongst all the soap-y filler. Good to put on while you’re waiting for your partner to finish washing up so you can watch something more interesting, like…

Buffy/Angel/Bangel
What?: The Angel theme tune is better than the Buffy theme tune and I will fight you

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this is the greatest photoshoot i’ve ever seen look at his velvet jacket and her eyebrows and that animal print cushion oh my god

We started a re-watch of Buffy and Angel at the end of last year, resolving that we’d have a go at watching them simultaneously (which I’ve never tried before despite watching both series many, many times). It’s not quite the same experience as you would’ve had if you watched both shows as they were coming out – we’re following this guide which has adjusted the episode order to make the most sense out of the overlapping plotlines. We’re currently mid-way through season 4 of Buffy and season 1 of Angel, and it’s an absolute fucking revelation. Seeing Cordelia’s path carry through from spoilt to selfless is a particular delight, and Spike’s Badass Decay gets properly hammered home when you see him boomeranging between Sunnydale and LA, swearing revenge one minute and getting pummelled and neutered the next.

I’m writing about it this week because of a throwaway line in the Buffy episode Something Blue where Buffy says that visiting Angel was difficult for her, even if she only saw him ‘for five minutes’. She’s referencing the Angel episode I Will Remember You: Angel is accidentally turned human, and he and Buffy spend a whole perfect day together – except, of course, the day gets rewritten, Angel ends up staying a vampire, and he’s the only one who gets to keep the memory of what could have been. So Buffy only saw Angel ‘for five minutes’. Knife in the heart. I am dead.

The Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast
What?: Podcast hosted by playwriting daddy Simon Stephens

Long-form interviews with playwrights. Nom nom nom. Points to you if you can sit through an episode and not glaze over as you plan out what your response would be to Stephens’ usual opening question: when was the first time you went to the theatre?

Well, Simon, I guess the first time I went to the theatre would’ve been to seen one of my grandad’s pantomimes at Holcombe Village Hall, haha yes, I guess I’m carrying on the writing legacy in a way, oh well actually we’re more of a musical family than a theatrical family, yes, it’s interesting how those things overl-