The Art That Made Me

Hi everyone, long time no talk! I’m taking a break from job applications and midterm studying to offer some more thoughts from a (now) second-semester senior. Inspired by the Oscars last month, I’m here to offer some awards of my own. I don’t know about you, but the thing that has sustained me through college is art; I’m talking music, movies, books, podcasts, etc. Any and all forms of entertainment are my favorite thing to consume in my albeit rare free time. And while this has always been the case, college has taught me how to be a better consumer of art. I have made a conscious effort to be more cognizant of the media I’m consuming; I no longer have time for music that objectifies women or movies that feature not a single person of color in the entire cast, and I think we should all be smarter about what art we applaud and consume (@Academy, I’m looking at you). But still, art is what has helped to shape me, and I think it’s time I share some of my favorites. So without further ado, I bring you the best, most life-changing, and most important art for the feminist college girl to see/read/listen to before graduating.

Category: TV Show

In my opinion, The Bold Type is the most slept-on TV show of the past decade. It’s a millennial Sex and the City following best friends Kat, Sutton, and Jane who work at Scarlett Magazine in NYC (the show is actually inspired by former Cosmopolitan CEO Joanna Cole’s experience). And while the show is classically entertaining in how it has amazing fashion, gorgeous apartments, and steamy romances, it also is unabashedly honest about extremely timely topics. With episodes that cover white privilege, sexual assault, gun policy, and more, the girls always explore these topics with tact and nuance, exemplifying how it’s never too late to learn about things you might be ignorant about. The show is currently on Season 4, so there’s plenty to binge! Get going!

Runners Up: If glamorous comedy-dramas aren’t your thing, maybe try Sex Education on Netflix, a charming British show that very honestly explores sex and sexuality.

Category: Limited Series

You guys, I’m gonna be honest, do not watch this show if you are triggered by sexual assault at all. BUT if you can power through a couple very distressing scenes in the first couple episodes, Unbelievable on Netflix is ~unbelievably~ stunning. Based on a 2015 Pulitzer prize winning article detailing a series of rapes in Washington State and Colorado, this series follows Marie, a girl charged with lying about her rape, and the two female detectives who work tirelessly to uncover the truth. Kaitlyn Dever as Marie is heartbreaking and Merritt Weaver and Toni Colette as the detectives are incredibly inspiring. If you’re passionate about survivor justice, true crime, or both, watch this series immediately (it’s only 8 episodes!).

Runner Up: Another heavy one, but Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us is equally important and stunning. Following the 1989 Central Park Five case, it highlights the racial injustice of the boys who were accused of a crime they didn’t commit. But again, a PSA that it is extremely hard to watch (I know I had to pause and take long breaks several times while watching the series).

Category: Movie

Let’s be honest, if you’re into A24 movies at all, chances are you’ve seen Lady Bird. BUT, if you haven’t, you absolutely must. This 2017 coming-of-age film by Greta Gerwig follows Saiorse Ronan as Lady Bird, a girl who longs to escape her suffocating hometown/family and be the hyper-interesting and cool teen girl we all aspired to be at some point in our lives. If you were the high school girl who always said “I can’t WAIT to get out of this town” (aka me), the very real teen angst in this movie will strike a chord deep within you. Bonus: watch this movie to see Timothee Chalamet as the quintessential pretentious liberal arts boy we’ve all had a crush on at some point in our college career.

Runner Up: In case it’s not obvious that I’m really into fun yet realistic stories about female friendship, another stellar movie to watch is Someone Great on Netflix. This comedy-drama follows Jenny in the wake of her break-up from her boyfriend of nine years, and her friends who take her out for one last night of fun before Jenny moves across the country for her dream job. Watch this if you’ve ever had the long-distance relationship debate.

Category: Documentary

Similar to Unbelievable, this documentary follows sexual assault, but this time on college campuses. The Hunting Ground follows this very prominent issue on campuses across the country and the failure of college administrations to address this epidemic properly. I watched this documentary right before college in order to educate myself, and while I hoped this information would never be pertinent to me, by the end of my freshman year I personally knew someone who was sexually assaulted and whose case was mishandled by administration. It happens everywhere and is relevant to everyone, so watch this documentary to learn more. If you’d rather read about it than watch it, the two main subjects of the documentary wrote a book about their experiences called We Believe You.

Runner Up: If you’re looking for something shorter, 4.1 Miles is a stunning 20 minute documentary about the refugee crisis and its effect on the Greek island of Lesbos. Specifically, it follows one Hellenic Coast Guard captain and his personal effort in saving thousands of migrants. A beautiful yet painful story of humanity.

Category: Book

Author Marina Keegan died 5 days after her graduation from Yale undergrad in 2012, but her work lives on in this book of non-fiction and fiction stories published posthumously. Named after Keegan’s college graduation speech, this collection speaks to people of all ages, but it especially resonates with college students. Her essays and stories try to articulate what it’s like for our generation to figure out what we want to be in life and how we can use our opportunities to make a difference in the world. It’s a daunting thought we all struggle with throughout college, but this book makes readers feel a little less alone in having these doubts and existential dreads.

Runner Up: If you consider yourself an introvert, I couldn’t recommend Quiet by Susan Cain more. College is all about learning more about yourself, and this book delves into the realities of being an introvert in a world that accommodates extroverts and how introverts are subtly changing the world. If you want the TL;DR version, watch her Ted Talk on this topic.

Category: Podcast

If you’re a person even mildly up-to-date with pop culture, you know who Jonathan Van Ness is. But while you might know him from Netflix’s Queer Eye, what you might not know is that he has a very thoughtful and intelligent podcast where he explores one topic every week that he wants to know more about and invites an expert to teach him (and listeners) about it. Topics range from climate change to vaccination to artificial intelligence and everything in-between. Van Ness’ open-mindedness and passion for learning is inspiring, and it’s an entertaining way to learn about things that we probably should all be more educated about. There are 151 episodes as of right now, so there are lots of topics to pick from!

Runner Up: If you’re passionate about equal representation in movies, The Bechdel Cast is the podcast for you. Hosts Caitlin Durante and Jamie Loftus invite guests to talk about their favorite movie and whether or not it passes the Bechdel test (a measure of how women are represented in a film).


Alexandra Niforos

Blog Editor, What The F Magazine

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