Selina Claus here, lugging a sack full of pop-culture treats you can read, watch, or binge this holiday season. While I dearly believe in the spirit of giving, once the hustle and bustle of parties and presents is done, I hope each and every one of you takes some time for yourself. It’s been a tough year for so many of us, so indulge. Steal a moment to snuggle in with a good book. Shove the kids at your significant other and sneak off to the movies with a friend. Or spend a night in with a couple of overlooked series. I can’t say this list has something for everyone, but you won’t be disappointed if you give yourself these gifts of entertainment.
This amazing series is a true hybrid: a comedy with mystery and suspenseful elements that’s also a slice of life drama. If your life is that of a restless millennial still in the job you fell into after college and a life that lacks definition. Dory and her hilarious group of friends investigate the disappearance of a college acquaintance through a series of increasingly weird and wonderfully bizarro adventures. But are they really searching for Chantal, or for themselves? The writing is as sharp as the satire, and every character is lovable despite their epic flaws. By the end you, like Dory, will be searching for more.
La La Land
A love letter to Old Hollywood musicals and a vibrant, enrapturing addition to that canon, Damian Chazelle’s movie bursts with color, life, and emotion. A visionary filmmaker who is also an accomplished musician, Chazelle imbues every scene with a rhythm and tempo all his own. I dare you not to be singing the songs for the rest of the week. The love story is the perfect antidote to the winter blahs. It will make your heart soar, and might even break it a little. Here’s to the fools who dream.
Seven Summer Nights
There’s something about Harper Fox’s lush prose style that’s perfect for the holiday season, like the literary equivalent of a cozy blanket. In this post-WWII historical romance, an archaeologist with PTSD and the country vicar who helps him through find a special place for each other on those eponymous summer nights. Fox’s characters always suffer so beautifully, which makes their eventual healing that much more well-earned. Fall under her spell.
Come for the budding romance between two high school hotties–soulful Phillip and skittish Lukas–and stay for the twisty mystery that sees the brilliant Julianne Nicholson on the hunt for a killer-in-plain-sight while overcoming the ghosts of her past. This series has it all, compelling LGBTQ protagonists, a complicated female lead, not one but two heart-rending romances, a pair of frenemy sisters, and a Machiavellian but sympathetic villain. Don’t miss it!
Manchester by the Sea
This movie takes its time revealing its tragedy. A study of grief, but also resilience, it’s ostensibly about a man who gains custody of his nephew after his brother’s sudden death. But there are layers to this onion, and the deeper you go, the more you ache for all involved. Writer/director Kenneth Lonnergan’s takes a story that cuts to the bone and seasons it with a wicked sense of humor, characters you root for, and an extra sprinkle of human foibles. You will recognize your family; you will recognize yourself. A masterpiece.
The happiest of holidays to you and yours!