Tag Archives: pop culture

10 Shows You Should Be Streaming Right Now

Like most people my age and older, I grew up with cable. Flipping through a physical TV guide, or waiting patiently on the TV guide channel as it scrolls through to see what is up next (most of the time missing our favorite channel because we looked away for a second).

One thing I remember from those days were most adults complaining about the price of cable and how expensive it was.Which, I think, is why the majority of people my age only have an internet bill sans the cable option. 

I remember being thrilled when Netflix first came out – how exciting we can get movies and TV shows for a quarter of the price of cable! Then followed other services like Hulu & Amazon Prime- now there are almost too many to name (although I will admit I’m subscribed to a good portion of them).

Ultimately, we end up paying the same price as cable if we add up all of these subscriptions – so really, what is better? I don’t know, and I’m not here to give the answer…but it is interesting to ponder the question.

What I will do is provide you with 10 must watch shows on a various number of streaming services because there are few better things in life than television (you could argue with  me on that, but that would require thinking you could change my mind…which you can’t, I was raised on Nick at Nite in the 90s):

Netflix

Elite

This show required me to re-watch the first episode a few times to fully dive into the series – but wow oh wow I have no regrets getting sucked in. It is originally a spanish show dubbed in english – so if you can get past that or rather watch it with captions, the characters and storyline will not disappoint.

Why: The mystery/thriller aspect of every season, the queerness, and the characters…did I mention the characters?!? I love a television show that has characters you are able to love, even if you secretly hate them. 

The Upshaws

The Upshaws feels like a sitcom that would have played on CBS and people may have missed it – so I’m glad it was released on Netflix. The actors in this goldmine of a show (Wanda Sykes, Kim Fields, Mike Epps…just to name a few) really hyped up the possibilities AND they delivered..they MORE than delivered. My partner made fun of me with how much I loved watching this show (because I am usually watching thrillers or mysteries on Netflix.. Never sitcoms). 

Why: I’ll say it again: Wanda Sykes, Kim Fields, and Mike Epps. It’s like getting transported back to when sitcoms were good AND the jokes are timely.


HBO Max

Hacks

Everyone recommends this show everywhere I turn – whether it’s on social media or a podcast I am listening to. I LOVE Jean Smart, but Hacks took me a little bit to get into. I didn’t fall in love with the characters right away, and I truthfully haven’t finished this series yet – so I’m sort of recommending this one in advance because…when has Jean Smart ever let us down?

Why: Jean Smart … that’s it. 

Legendary

I love this show and I don’t really love competition shows – but if you’ve watched Paris is Burning, Pose, or love to read about the history of ball culture from the past or present..check this show out. There are now two seasons available on HBO Max.

Why: The representation of a part of Queer culture being on a streaming service – that is why. Also the host, Deshaun Wesley. 


Mare of Easttown

By now you have heard of that show that made Kate Winslet talk about Wawa and try out a Delco accent. As mentioned previously- I love a good thriller, and this show delivered until the very last episode with keeping the audience guessing on what the truth was.

Why: There are a lot of reasons to watch this show, it is a solid show. The bonus reasons are to see Jean Smart perform as Kate Winslet’s Mom in a Delaware County, PA setting.

Flight Attendant

In my opinion, no one talked about this show enough – so I’m here to tell you to dig in the HBO Max library and go binge it this week. There is a plethora of actors in this and the storyline is filled with twists and turns throughout. Yes, this is another mystery/thriller (but also dramedy) and it is ABSOLUTELY worth watching.

Why: The lineup of talent in this show (Kaley Cuoco, Rosie Perez, Zosia Mamet, TR Knight) and the edge-of-your-seat feeling you get every episode. 

Hulu

Cruel Summer

As a 90’s kid, I love that the decade I grew up in is making its way back around again. This TV show was giving me all of the 90s nostalgia and Pretty Little Liars vibes I didn’t know I was missing in my life. Originally aired on Freeform, this show is available on Hulu.

Why: For the mystery and 90s nostalgia

Amazon Prime

Tell Me Your Secrets

This show came out a bit back, so many may have already watched. However, if you haven’t …what are you doing? A thriller show that is probably my favorite off of this entire list of shows. I love the cast and the characters and the storyline.

Why: Lily Rabe, Amy Brenneman, Elliot Fletcher, Hamish Linklater…just to name a few. Really though, this was brilliantly written – and unpredictable..which is what makes it my favorite off of this list. 

Paramount Plus

The Good Fight

If you didn’t see the show this is based off of (The Good Wife) the good news, you didn’t need to (but also, why didn’t you?). For obvious reasons I love this show, *cough* Christine Baranski *cough*. Ultimately though, the entire cast is magnificent AND Audra McDonald is brought in around season 2. This is a drama series  with a few laughs mixed within.

Why: This is a hidden gem of a spin-off series that deserves more spotlight than it ultimately gets. Also, why wouldn’t you watch a show that has both Christine Baranski AND Audra McDonald in it?


The Challenge All Stars

I grew up watching Real World/Road Rules and my partner is a big fan of the Challenge (past and present-ish). For a year or so I had NO idea what she was watching was the Real World/Road Rules Challenge transformed into just…The Challenge. Anyway, once I realized this was the same show I grew up with I ended up binging the series, only to my disappointment realizing the show now casts people from many other reality shows (minus the THANKFUL recurrence of CT & Aneesa amongst a few others). MY POINT BEING – Paramount Plus released The Challenge All Stars recently which brought back all of the past favorites from the show and it’s worth watching.


Why: Who doesn’t want to relive the good ol’ days by watching your favorites as they are now compete like they used to in the good ol’ days

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make a List

Sometimes life gets in the way. 

I found myself deeply involved in trying to plan the four day extravangzAaa (the obnoxious way I titled our Google Doc of trip ideas) last week that I realized I forgot to write. 

When I travel by myself or with my partner, one of the things I enjoy doing is to research the location. I’m not the kind of person that NEEDS to stick to the itinerary, I’m too much of a “type B” person for that. I am the kind of person that NEEDS and WANTS to do research beforehand for maximum fun. For me it is part of the excitement- like the pregame to the vacation. 

The funny thing is I have a few of these Google Docs created from trips we were supposed to take in 2020 which sadly sit there because well…you know, the pandemic that happened and is still going on.

So, this four day extravangzAaa was actually a last minute change to a road trip to Louisville we were going to take because everything else is ridiculously expensive right now because EVERYONE is trying to travel at the moment. We decided for safety and excitement reasons to switch it up to day trips that would excite us instead. 

Aside from feeling distracted lately, there are a list of things that I have compiled to share with you all about the things that have been bringing me intentional happiness:  

  • Grouplove on vinyl
    As pretentious as it sounds to some… I enjoy listening to certain artists on vinyl more than any other format.

  • Reality TV is BACK: Big Brother and Live Feeds
    I have a deep love for this show. When I was introduced to it back in season 18 I went back and binge watched previous seasons (well the ones worth watching) and jumped on the Live Feed bandwagon. The cast this season is the best that the show has had in a long time and I’ve been loving every second of it.

  • Reality TV is BACK: Real Housewives of Potomac
    I never thought I would watch any season of the Real Housewives franchise, but there is just something about Potomac. The new season just started and although I was sad not to see Monique – I am so ready for the new cast member Mia. My favorite part of this show will forever and always be Ashley Darby’s facial expressions though.

  • Signed up for Masterclass
    This has been a fantastic investment. I’ve only completed Shonda Rhimes’ so far, but it has been informative and the Shonda Rhimes fan in me was geeking out the whole time. I look forward to taking some other classes as well. One thing of the few things I gained was the importance of character development. So, if you are curious about TV writing, a writer filled with curiosity, or a fan of Shonda – go sign up for Masterclass.

  • Tweet, tweet
    I had a twitter way back in my twenties that I got rid of because no one ever needs to hear the thoughts of early twenty year old me (much like my tumblr). Anyway, I realized that a solid way to try to build an audience was to introduce my writer self to twitter. Follow me if you’re on the bird app – tracitaywrites.

  • Food 4 Thot:
    I love this podcast, like a lot..and since I’m not walking to work right now. I find myself listening to this when I am cleaning my apartment because it gets me to actually clean. They are like my sprinkle of Queerness ear candy in the pile of true crime podcasts I listen to.

  • Little Free Library 
    One of my favorite new things to do is walk around my neighborhood and drop off some of my old beloved books in the Little Free Libraries. It de-clutters my apartment, makes room on my bookshelf (for MORE books of course), and spreads some great literature to folks looking to read more!

  • Iced Coffee Walks 
    I am loving my relaxed summer mornings going out and walking to get an iced coffee. Some days they spark inspiration, most days they just spike my energy level.

That’s all for now, as I go back to distracting myself to everyday life and daydreaming of wishing I still lived by the ocean while I bare this DC humidity for another summer.

Queer TV Characters That I Love and You Need to Know

Pop culture is everything to me. 

To me, pop culture is: everything relating to television, movies, celebrities, music, and the history of it all…rather broad, but you get the picture, right?

There are few things I love more than television. 

credit: wifflegif

Too many underrated television characters, particularly Queer, that don’t get enough recognition for how memorable they are. So often the same LGBTQ shows get highlighted along with the same characters over and over again. 

I have taken it upon myself to share with you all the gems of the Queer TV character icons that I adore.

Elektra (Pose) 

At first Elektra was not my favorite character on this show, not even close. Then I re watched season one and recognized her for the true icon of a character she is. The latest and final season really gave us a glimpse into the depths of Elektra (which was also probably my favorite episode of this latest season). Let me be honest though, Elektra wouldn’t be Elektra if it wasn’t the fabulous Dominique Jackson playing her. 

Jake Rodriguez
(Tales of the City 2019) 

Image from metro.co.uk

I love the majority of the characters in the most recent adaptation of Tales of the City (based off of the series of books by Armistead Maupin) and the actors who play them. For me though, it is the depth of Jake’s character and his journey throughout the miniseries that made him stand out for me. The actor who plays Jake in Tales of the City, Garcia, really has a way of making you fall in love with their character…or maybe that was just me. 

Alice (The L Word) 

Everyone may think of Shane or Bette or Tina or Bette and Tina when they think of the L Word…but without Alice, would there even be an L word? There is so much to love about Alice with her humor and quirks. She loves hard, really hard and there is something relatable about that. Leisha Hailey is a gem, and she continues to portray Alice in the L Word Generation Q where she is still just as lovable as ever. 

Noah (Noah’s Arc) 

Image from towleroad

Noah’s Arc was actually a quarantine binge last year from my partner and I. Neither of us had ever seen the show before, but got instantly hooked and then instantly sad because there are only two seasons (and you can no longer get the movie that follows it up). All of the characters within the show are likeable, but Noah is a stand out in my eyes. Darryl Stephens portrays Noah in a way that you are always hoping things work out for him in the end. 

Marco (Degrassi) 

Too often the Canadian show about ALL the teen issues to ever happen and I mean ALL of them goes forgotten. Unless of course you remember where Drake really started from or you watched his latest “I’m Upset” video where fans of Degrassi got the brief reunion we all desperately, secretly, yearn for. I don’t think it would be possible for me to write a list of TV Queer icons without mentioning Marco. He was my introduction to a younger gay person learning to discover, accept themselves, and be proud of who they are. 

Alice (Good Trouble)

Yes, another Alice. This may be just because I love Sherry Cola (the actor who portrays Alice), but ultimately she is one of the greatest current Queer characters on TV right now. Alice is charming, funny, and quirky (there must be something in the character name). For me, when a character feels like you wish they were your best friend in real life – you know the writing & actor portraying the character have done their jobs. 

Kay
(Banana ep 6 ..also featured in
Cucumber eps 7 & 8) 

This is really just because I love T’Nia and everything she ever acts in (Also see her in two of my personal favorites – Years & Years and Bly Manor). There’s this Queer butterfly flutter that happens when you watch an actor in a Queer role and then also discover they themselves are Queer…that definitely happened for me after watching the episodes with Kay in them. 

Emmett (Queer as Folk US) 

Queer as Folk may be outdated in many many things, but there is no denying how lovable Emmett is. After I finally sat down to watch the series a couple of years back, each episode always left me wishing Emmett was my best friend. Once again, when this happens in a show you know the job was done right. Plus, the actor who portrays Emmett also created one of my favorite shows The Fosters which also brought us Good Trouble (remember Alice from earlier in the list?)…see everything comes full circle. 

Micah (L Word Generation Q) 

One of my graduation gifts from grad school last year was a cameo from Leo Sheng who potrays Micah in the L Word Generation Q…because my partner knows how he is my favorite new character in the reboot series. I geeked out to say the least. The character of Micah brings so much joy to the new series – between his friendship relations and his romantic relations …he really is the most likeable, relatable new character in Generation Q. 

Titus
(Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) 

Last but certainly not least..because there was no order to this list. The comedy, the broadway-esque spontaneity, the radiance…he really is a stand out character throughout the entire series. Not to mention a loyal friend to Kimmy through and through. Without Tituss Burgess the character of Titus Andromedon would not be as flawlessly spectacular as he is.

Who are some of your favorite Queer TV Characters? I would love to hear, let me know below in the comments!

TV History & then some: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

*Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…*
the theme song that most people know, even if they’ve never seen the iconic television series it belongs to. 

Just last week I had the privilege of receiving the vaccine, and let me just say that the second vaccine shot knocked me out for four days. In those days that I was stuck in bed – for the most part I was in and out of sleep. So, I needed to find something to watch that didn’t require too much of my attention.

By the title it isn’t hard to guess what I decided to watch – an old favorite of mine, Cheers…and yes when I watched it for the first time as a kid it was re-runs on Nick-at-Nite. 

Anyway, for years (before instant access to Google and wondering these things solely in our minds) I had always wondered why they switched out Shelley Long for Kirstie Alley. Never thinking too much into it because at the young age I adored both actresses (Shelley for her appearances in Troop Beverly Hills, Brady Bunch remakes amongst others..and Kirstie mostly for It Takes Two which I had on repeat) 

Re-watching the series and now having access to the internet with the energy I did muster to Google what had happened all of those years ago I had uncovered all of the controversy that was entangled within the show. 

Knowing what I know now and the experiences I have had thus far in this lifetime, I watched the show this time in a different lens. Here are my thoughts broken up into bullet points: 

  • The amount of misogyny in that show is just…gross. But it was expected for/a product of the time period…I’d like to point out what I believe to be the underrated funny characters of Diane Chambers and Carla Tortelli. Seriously, close your eyes. Now try to imagine Cheers without those two characters. Is it even worth watching? 
  • I loved Fraiser as a kid – mostly because I adored the female characters in the show and his Dad who always sat on the couch. Rewatching Kelsey Grammer’s character in Cheers and reading articles of how he would bash Shelley Long..on top of some absurd excerpts from his memoir? The character of Fraiser was not comically better than Diane Chambers, so I don’t understand the comparison between the two- or why his character was seemingly more beloved over her at the time (enough to get one of the most successful spin-offs in TV history…like…what?). Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) was the best thing about Fraiser.
  • One thing that is certain: there is a difference between the first five seasons of Cheers when Shelley Long is there and all of the seasons after. The chemistry between Ted Danson and Shelley Long is there and it is in our faces- the two play so well off of eachother (the characters relationship itself is toxic, but the natural chemistry of the actors is undeniable). I never noticed the obvious difference between the replacement of the two actresses when I was younger – in fact I think I adored Kirstie Alley seasons more so. But noticing how well the character of Diane bounced off the characters that surrounded her with such effortless comedic timing was undoubtedly missing from season six on. 

In all of my pondering about revisiting shows I used to love and recognizing the cringe worthy parts – I am aware that it doesn’t take away what the show once meant to me. However, it is important that we recognize the problematic things that were once considered “okay”.

The history of television shows is proof that change, evolution, and learning from our past is necessary. 

One docu series that had me especially hype recently was Visible: Out on Television on Apple TV. There were five episodes total in the series, and it was validating for me as a Queer person who loved television growing up because it looked back upon television and the Queer history within it. Television was my comfort zone and where I often saw a reflection of myself or pieces of who I wanted to become. 

Another show that made a comeback on Paramount Pictures new streaming service was the original Real World Homecoming. After having just watched the original series over quarantine last year and recognizing the importance of the conversations that were had on that show way back when (okay okay it was just the 90s..). Bringing the show back now for a reunion, felt vital to revisit those conversations on race and privilege  for the world to witness in current time. These conversations are important to have, and television has the power to bring that dialogue into our homes. 

With all of this, I didn’t think I could write this piece without acknowledging the devastating hate crime (calling it what it is) shootings last week. The attacks in Atlanta are heartbreaking and add to the truth of racism that has been in existence in this country since it was stolen from Native Americans. However, more recently it has been highlighted in the media due to the deaths that happened last year that had people finally waking up to protest for Black Lives Matter.

I have not always been a great ally or advocate, but the important thing that I have gained over the years is that we learn, we listen, and we do our part in stopping the continuance of the racist happenings around us.

Personally, I am on my own journey of learning and listening to be a better advocate and ally to Black, Indigenious, People of Color. The attacks last week that I mentioned earlier were intentionally hate filled and as a result eight people lost their life – specifically six Asian women. History is repeating itself, and we are living history – the time to do something is/was yesterday, today, & infinitely. 

I have been voicing to Stop Asian Hate, and that doesn’t feel like enough – because it is not. Donating is ONE of many things allies can do – so here are a few organizations just to name a few: APIENC, CAAAV, AALEAD, NQAPIA

To circle back to the start of this piece….television is where we learn many things, especially windows into other cultures and peoples lives. My brain wanders..like A LOT at all times…. and all of the above has had me thinking, because in a way all of this feels like it intersects (because it does). 

What we once knew is not always truth, and sometimes actually harmful- we just don’t always recognize it at the time. Or like I once learned: I don’t know what I don’t know. 

So, when we do know or learn – it is our responsibility to ourselves and the world we live in to acknowledge that things change.

Change is good.

We can appreciate something for what we once loved and knew it to be – with also acknowledging it is problematic. 

Do we really want to be caterpillars our whole lives, or wouldn’t we rather all evolve into butterflies?

The Soundtrack of My Week

“Give yourself a break”
by Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

What a week.

As I type that I can hear Jack Donaghy in my head reminding Liz Lemon it’s only Wednesday. The show has been off for years, and I still find 30 Rock references to be relevant in my everyday life. *cue the BLERGH sound effect*

For the sake of my own sanity, I have been forcing myself to find pockets of joy in every possible way. Lately, music has been what is bringing me that flash of glittering happiness. Whether it is listening to the music on my laptop, headphones, or vinyl on my record player.

The songs are never the same genre and never within the same decade. My music taste is vast and it ranges over a plethora of time periods. I owe that to my “old soul” personality and to my Dad who raised me to appreciate a wide array of music. So, if you ever need a partner on “Name that Tune” just send me an e-mail and I am game.

I am going to share the songs that have been getting me through this week within this post. Maybe they will inspire you to make a playlist. (Just a note, I have a playlist for every season and every moment or mood. I take making playlists very, very seriously.) Maybe my song suggestions will help you to discover a new artist or song. I just know what the power of music has done for me when I use it intentionally. And maybe, with intention, you will be able to find a tune to get lost into – if even for a moment. Those tiny moments are vital right now.

So what are my songs of the week you might be wondering?

  1. Hot Stuff – Donna Summer & Kygo

Overall, this week I have been listening to (on repeat) a “disco diva” playlist on Spotify. This is a prime example of what I mean when I say the music I am listening to depends on my mood. Then, Kygo dropped this remix last Friday and it has been on repeat daily in my apartment

2. Loose Lucy – Grateful Dead

I grew up a fan of classic rock and more so grew into liking jam bands when I was a teenager thru my early twenties. If you have been to my apartment or “you knew me when” you would know that I am a bit of a Dead Head. This week I was revisiting my roots and this song had me up and dancing along as if I was at a Dead concert all over again.

3. A No No – Mariah Carey

The only person that can get away with using “irregardless” (because that is not a word) in a song and make it a bop is Ms. Mariah. I have been on a “I have a watch, but I do not have the time” kick lately with a lot of things – so this song has felt like my theme song for the past two weeks.

4. I Am Woman – Helen Reddy

This song has two meanings for me. I played it on repeat Friday after I heard the news of RBG’s passing while on the phone with a good friend. The other meaning this song has me for me was a few years ago, during my first year of coaching – the head coach had the athletes make up a dance to this song at the end of the season as a traditional team bonding activity. Lately, I have been missing that community a lot and how that place & those people really felt like a second home.

5. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – The Postal Service

Truthfully, I have been listening to this whole album on repeat as I go for walks. This is a throwback to younger times for me, but has always been a favorite. Listening to it now has a different meaning to me than what it meant to me years ago. I love how music can grow with us, and teach us different things as we get older – even though it is the same old song.

See, I told you my taste was random. If you aren’t a fan of the music I shared this week, that’s okay- maybe the next time I share a few songs you will enjoy a couple of them.

Now, I challenge you- is there any song this week that has been giving you that glitter of happiness? Share it with me in the comments, there is nothing I enjoy more than discovering new music. Especially music that gives others a sense of joy.

Remember to keep in mind – sometimes we just need a reset, and sometimes we just need to dance it out. *See what I did there? Begin with a TV reference and end with a TV reference. Thank you Yang, Grey, and Shonda Rhimes*