Years and Years – A Terrifying Look at a Not Too Distant Future

Years and Years is a six-part dystopian drama TV series created by Russell T. Davies, who resurrected Doctor Who and created Queer as Folk and A Very English Scandal.

I’ve only watched one episode but I was completely gripped and it left my head spinning. From what I’ve read though, the series has been well received so I’m willing to hail it early on as a Very Good Thing.

It centres around a Manchester family as they navigate rapid technological advances and the fallout of political instability, with each episode propelling them into the future.

Given the role technology plays in it, comparisons to Black Mirror are inevitable. Just watch this scene where ‘trans’ takes on a whole new meaning.

Years and Years stars Emma Thompson and is a joint HBO and BBC production.

Watch it now on SBS On Demand for free or on HBO and iTunes.

Watch the trailer.

The Hit Column and Podcast ‘Modern Love’ Has Come to Amazon Prime

First came the Modern Love column in The New York Times, then the podcast, so it was only a matter of time before it came to the screen.

Modern Love is now an Amazon Prime original with eight unique stories about the joys and tribulations of love, each inspired by a real-life personal essay.

The cast is a well-known one including Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, Catherine Keener, Andy Garcia, Dev Patel, and John Slattery, to name a few.

Make sure you watch them in order or the last one won’t make as much sense. And don’t put the tissues away because there will be a season 2.

View the trailer and watch Modern Love on Amazon Prime now.

Read my previous post about the podcast, which reveals one of my favourite episodes, and if you still haven’t seen Fleabag, this is another reason to sign up for Amazon Prime’s 30-day free trial.

I thought six episodes were excellent, two not so much. Did you have a favourite? 

Book Recommendations – Indistractable; This is Going to Hurt; Pachinko; and The Girls

Here are a few good books I’ve read recently:

Indistractable by Nir Eyal – the Stanford lecturer writes about how we can better control our attention in an ever-increasingly distracting world. While it seems like he is making amends to some degree for helping us get Hooked on our devices in the first place, there are some interesting insights around the root causes of distraction and some useful tips for managing it. Here’s an overview and a few tips he covers in the book.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay – diary entries of sleep-deprived, underpaid, and severely overworked junior doctor in an NHS hospital. Hilarious and shocking. A best-seller and winner of multiple awards.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – a saga about four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fighting to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew.

The Girls by Chloe Higgins – a memoir of family, grief and sexuality. A heartbreaking account of a family’s life after trauma.

Unbelievable on Netflix is an Outstanding Crime Drama Series

After a young woman is accused of lying about a rape, two female detectives investigate a spate of eerily similar attacks in the new eight-part series on Netflix, Unbelievable.

This exceptional crime drama is inspired by true events and stars Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever.

It’s a shocking and close up look at the difference it can make to a woman’s life when a reported sexual assault is treated with compassion and understanding rather than doubt.

Warning: there are some terrifying scenes that most women could identify as being the stuff of nightmares.

Watch the trailer.

Watch it on Netflix now.

Read a review.

The Memoir ‘Once More We Saw Stars’ by Jayson Greene

I listened to Jayson Greene on a podcast a while ago and noted to one day read his memoir, Once More We Saw Stars. With young children, it’s not the type of book I’d usually put on my reading list but there was something in the way he spoke about his experience that made me want to push past my discomfort and read it.

When the story begins, two-year-old Greta Greene is sitting with her grandmother on a park bench in Manhattan when a brick crumbled from a windowsill overhead, striking her. She’s rushed to hospital but dies shortly after, leading Greene and his wife Stacy into the unimaginable.

I found it unbearable at times but also felt a strange sense of commitment – if he could put such honesty and rawness out there, I had an obligation to read it. It’s a story about grief, loss, hope, healing, love, and the fragility of life.

As he tells The Guardian: “Trauma is a rip in your understanding of the universe… The idea that you can prepare for trauma is wrong. You can’t. Trauma is the unforeseen and the terrible. I think people are drawn to stories in which terrible things happen because in some ways they are one of the most proven mechanisms we have in making sense of the world and making sense of our emotions.”

Read a review of Once More We Saw Stars.

Buy it wherever you get good books.

Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein

Untouchable is the inside story of the spectacular rise and fall of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In the 90 minute documentary, former employees, friends, reporters, and a handful of his accusers detail how Weinstein rose to power and then exploited it over decades.

It’s a chilling account of a man who stopped at nothing to get what he wanted and how his grotesque ways were common knowledge to those in the industry.

Watch the trailer.

Read a review of Untouchable.

Watch it on Hulu or BBC Two.

‘Fleishman is in Trouble’ by Taffy Brodesser-Akner – A Book That Nails Modern Love and Marriage

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner‘s is the hilarious, powerful and brilliantly observed book I’m recommending to all my friends.

Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine and this is her first novel (she’s well-known for her celebrity profiles).

It’s a satirical novel about marriage, divorce, and modern love. Maria Semple describes it best: “From its opening pages, Fleishman is in Trouble is shrewdly observed, brimming with wisdom and utterly of this moment. Not until its explosive final pages are you fully aware of its cunning ferocity. Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut is that rare and delicious treat: a page-turner with heft.”

Try and avoid reading too much detail about it as there will no doubt be spoilers.

Read a review of Fleishman is in Trouble and buy it where you get good books.

Parents and Teens Will Find Common Viewing Interest with ‘The Hunting’

Looking for a way to connect with your moody teen? Sit down together for some rather confronting family time viewing with The Hunting, a compelling Australian drama that follows the lives of four teenagers and their teachers and families in the aftermath of a nude teen photo scandal.

Starring Asher Keddie and Richard Roxburgh, this four-part series expertly tackles themes of misogyny, online exploitation, sexuality, and sexualisation.

I hope there are more shows to help me navigate this kind of thing when my now (mostly) sweet and innocent young children hit their tween/teen years.

The Hunting is on SBS Thursdays at 8.30pm or you can watch on SBS On Demand.

The Sleepwalkers Podcast Forces Your Eyes Wide Open

I’m about halfway through the Sleepwalkers podcast and loving it, though it’s quite terrifying. It’s is about the effect of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology on all aspects of human life – from dating to health, creativity, deflecting potential terrorists, and more.

Hosted by Emmy and Peabody Award winner Oz Woloshyn and co-hosted by Karah Preiss, former host of The Huffington Post science show “Talk Nerdy To Me”, the podcast reveals the fundamental implications of AI and how we can leverage it without letting it take over completely.

Woloshyn interviews top tech executives, politicians and authors to unpack the advantages, challenges and surprises associated with today’s AI revolution.

Listen to the Sleepwalkers trailer and download all the episodes wherever you get your podcasts.

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