Welcome to Pop Culture Free Time for November 2020. This is the inaugural one, but I hope to make this a regular feature wherein I (and maybe other folks here) share what I’m into when I’m off the clock. I consume a lot–A LOT–of pop culture for my job, so here’s what I’m reading, watching, and listening to just for fun.
Pop Culture Free Time November 2020: TV
Most of the time, when left to my own devices, I watch a lot of procedurals. Having reworked my way through Criminal Minds, for instance, I’m now doing the same with Cold Case. But I do watch new stuff, too. I’m excited that new network TV is coming back and I’m weeping through the end of Supernatural. I also recently tore through Netflix’s Dash & Lily.
It’s become a cliché at this point to say that New York City is almost a character itself in certain movies and shows. The 2014 film They Came Together, for example, even used it as the hook. But its being a cliché doesn’t make it untrue, and it’s truer than ever in Dash & Lily.
Although this series has plenty of charms, getting to see a non-COVID NYC, especially at Christmastime, was one of the biggest highlights for me. I miss that wild and beautiful city and I miss someone in it even more. Watching this show, I got to escape for a bit and remember what it’s like to be drunk and in love in New York City (to steal a phrase from Lauv.)
Podcasts: I’m Always Listening
The RedHanded gals, image via RedHanded Podcast
I’ve mentioned my love for Last Podcast on the Left before, and I’m still listening. My other mainstay is RedHanded, another true crime podcast. I like them for their lovely accents, their humor, and their choices–they pick a lot of stories that aren’t overdone on other true crime podcasts.
I’ve also started listening to True Crime Obsessed and its spinoff, Obsessed with Disappeared. In the former, hosts Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle watch true crime documentaries and talk about them with wit and passion. On the latter, which Hinds hosts with Ellyn Marsh, they cover episodes of the ID channel show Disappeared. If you watched that show, then you know how haunting and crazy some of them can be.
Basically, when it comes to podcasts, I listen to a lot of true crime. But I’m also about to start History of the 90s, which is what it says on the tin. It’s an in-depth look at various phenomena of my favorite decade. It includes everything from what the hell happened in Somalia to pop culture quirks like the time we all got really into Beanie Babies.
Books: I’m Also Always Reading
Honestly, I rip through books almost too quickly to even talk about them here. (And if you want to keep up with what I’m reading, you can be my friend at Goodreads.) However, I have read some really cracking ones lately. If you’ve seen my podcast recommendations, which you just have, then my book tastes should come as no surprise. In other words, I read a lot of mystery/thrillers.
image via Ballantine Books
Lately, I’ve enjoyed Paula McLain’s When the Stars Go Dark. It takes the bones of a typical mystery/thriller–a detective looking for a missing girl–and then uses McLain’s astonishing talent to tell that story in a moving way. (Note: This book won’t be out until April 2021.)
I also enjoyed When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. It’s kind of a nightmare of gentrification, in which a young woman notices that her neighborhood is changing, and not for the better. It is not your typical mystery/thriller, but Cole is adept at creating a tension and dread that persists throughout the book.
So that’s the pop culture I’m digging in my free time in November 2020. We always like to hear what you think, so tell us in the comments or on social media what you’re really into right now.
featured image from Dash & Lily via Netflix
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.