Staff Picks: Best of 2020

I wanted to include an editor’s pick so y’all, our beautiful viewers, can get to know us, the amazing staff behind Mixed Mag. I also wanted to showcase our TV/Film/Theater picks because although it may feel like all you see are white stories or stories of the oppressor, our stories have been here for a while and are extremely diverse and expand over all genres. There is not one specific way to tell our stories and we deserve to be seen and heard. So here is a list of TV/Film/Theater made by or featuring beautiful BIPOC/multicultural/multiethnic artists to expand your mind, start a conversation, or even spark something in your soul. Each month there will be a new theme for our Staff Picks. 

– Maya Renee Castro (TV/Film/Theater Editor)

Issue 5’s Theme: Best of…2020 (Horrible year, Great Content)

Maya Renee Castro (TV/Film/Theater Editor)

TV Show: Big Mouth Created by Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldbreg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett – Season 4, Ep. 2 (The Hugest Period) Ep. 5 (A Very Special 9/11 Episode) Ep. 9 (Horrority House) 

Where to watch: Netflix

I think Big Mouth appeals to the adults that watch it because it talks about issues we wished and should have talked about as kids. I don’t know about you, but my school thought they answered all the questions about puberty with two old afterschool special, one for the girls that talked about periods and one for the boys that talked about ejactulations, both held in separate rooms at the same time and left all the fifth graders feeling incredibly weird after. And then years later in high school one sex ed class. That’s it periods, ejactulations, putting condoms on and STDs. But there was so much more happening to our ever changing bodies. Big Mouth is everything we were thinking and going through, both physically and mentally, but too afraid to talk about in the raunchiest adult animation. 

This season of Big Mouth hit hard. It was the anxiety, depression, OCD, racial identity, fear of coming out, female pleasure vs male pleasure, being vulnerable that did it for me. However, the most important episodes this season were the ones that focused on Missy Foreman-Greenwald. Missy, the nerdy mixed girl, has hit home for me since season one. I feel like past seasons had slightly nudged at the fact that Missy is white and BLACK. But this season was the first time it was explicitly brought up. Everyone is questioning Missy if she is Black or Black enough. I mean being mixed is complex and if you’re not acting like how society sees BIPOC, then all of a sudden you are the “white” friend of the group. Missy’s storyline this season is important because it goes into all those complex feelings and thoughts of figuring out who you are, especially when it comes to your culture. In the end it doesn’t matter what you like or who you were raised by. There can be so many different parts that make you who you are and no one can determine your identity but you. This season is definitely worth a watch for Missy (who is FINALLY getting voiced by a Black voice actor. I mean she always should have been… but that’s another thing to discuss some other time…)

Joana Meurkens (Artistic Director) 

Movie: Sound of Metal Dir. Darius Marder

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Sound of Metal follows the story of Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a heavy metal drummer and former heroin addict who’s hearing rapidly deteriorates, forcing him to halt his career and learn new ways of communication and living. Riz Ahmed gives a heartbreaking and intimate performance, one that rightly deserves a Best Actor nomination. Ahmed is accompanied by Paul Raci, who plays a deaf alcohol counselor. The two share multiple scenes that will truly make your heart swell if you love good acting and I know for sure you do. The two are accompanied by an ensemble of deaf actors who elevate the film to a new level. The cast shows that Hollywood is fully capable of hiring deaf actors to portray their stories, a sentiment that unfortunately is still questioned in 2020. Not only is the acting brilliant in this, but this film’s use of sound is one for the books. Sound takes on a new meaning in this film, as it brings the audience into the mind of Ruben’s character. I love a film that uses sound as a character, and this just might be one of the best examples of that. 

Carolina Meurkens (Editor-in-Chief) 

TV Show: Insecure Created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore – Season 4 

Where to Watch: HBO/HBO Max

I’ve been a fan of Issa Rae’s Insecure since it debuted in 2016. One of the joys of early quarantine was binging Season 4, which I felt was perhaps the best season yet. If you’ve been following Issa and Molly’s journey, you’ve seen both women take two steps forward and sometimes three steps back when it comes to the evolution of their toxic habits of self-sabotage. Issues within Issa and Molly’s friendship and their own personal lives came to a head in Season 4. Both women found themselves distanced from each other as they navigated career moves, new relationships, as well as a shift from the precedent of being in agreement with each other’s life choices. As a mid 20 something, I related to the difficulties Molly and Issa faced as they questioned if their friendship was one worth saving or if they were going down different paths for good. Another aspect of the season that I loved was also Tiffany’s storyline, as she navigated new motherhood and Postpartum depression. It was refreshing to see light shed on the struggles that Tiffany faced, who for so much of the show has been portrayed as a perfect, put together married Black woman. It’s clear that none of these characters are perfect, no matter how it looks to an outsider, which is what makes this show so loved by its viewers who yearn to see themselves in TV characters. 

Citrine Ghraowi (Politics Editor) 

TV Show: High Fidelity Created by Sarah Kucserka and Veronica West

Where to Watch: Hulu

2020 was a shit year, but one of the few good things that came with it is High Fidelity. Being a huge fan of the movie that came out in 2000, I was feeling everything but disappointed. The show is a perfect mixture of art that can make you laugh, cry and relate to the main character’s “shitty yet somehow I’m jealous” lifestyle. The fact that Zoë Kravitz is in the remake of a film her mother was a part of makes it all the more better to watch and appreciate as you relate to all the everyday messes she somehow gets herself in. I’ve watched this show two times through and could do it a third if you asked me to. You don’t even have to ask me to really, I’ll probably do it in the next month or so. 

Tayo Omisore (Poetry Editor)

Movie: Canvas Dir. Frank E. Abney

Where to Watch: Netflix

I blame my love for short stories on my ADHD. I blame my love of animated shorts on how fucking good they are. I think as a musician I’m in love with the marriage between music and movement that animated shorts lean onto, the synergy of the audio and visual. Canvas is a netflix original by Frank E. Abney III about a Black painter and overcoming his creative block, with some help from his granddaughter and an amazing musical score. That’s all I will tell you. And to grab a tissue.

Stephanie Eyocko (Food Editor) 

TV Show: She’s Gotta Have it written, produced, edited and directed by Spike Lee

Where to Watch: Netflix

The opening. The hair. Brooklyn. The imagery. Nola Darling takes you through a journey of self-discovery, reminds us of the importance of having a space of your own, and drops beautiful jems–the music kind.

 Brooklyn, I have never lived in you but I love you. Oh shoot, did I mention that the protagonist is a beautiful darker-skinned woman? An anomaly in the industry. The men in “She’s Gotta Have It Are” are beautiful, sensual, and seemingly comfortable in their bodies—and she makes love to them, rightfully so. The show is not without its shares of comedic reliefs but what draws me is the sensuality, the chemistry (especially within platonic relationships), and sometimes sadness (she weeps, like most of us).  Give it a whirl, “She’s Gotta Have It” may present you with some cultural wisdom, like it did for me.

Warning: For some, it can be a bit raunchy. 

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