Pop Culture Free Time: What I Enjoyed In December 2020
And we’re back with the second edition of Pop Culture Free Time (December 2020). If you missed the inaugural outing, then here’s what you need to know. Writing about pop culture means that we necessarily consume a lot of it. (In fact, stay tuned for our first podcast episode, in which my coworkers roast me for how much TV I watch.) But on some rare occasions, we get to see and listen to and read things just for fun. So that’s what this is.
Pop Culture Free Time December 2020: Let’s Start With TV Again
image via Spectrum Originals
I’m actually in kind of a TV slump, trying to find something new to watch. I’ve tried starting both Succession and The Queen’s Gambit, but I haven’t really been able to connect with either yet. One show I did burn through, though, is Manhunt: Deadly Games.
I lost interest in the first season, which focused on Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. However, the second season is closer to home for me, literally. It focuses on garbage monster Eric Robert Rudolph (Jack Huston), who, among other things, bombed Centennial Park during the ’96 Atlanta Olympics. He also bombed the New Woman All Women Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.
During the 60s civil rights turmoil, Birmingham became known as “Bombingham” for the frequency of explosions there. However, Rudolph miscalculated when he chose the city as a target in the 90s. It ain’t Bombingham anymore. Two witnesses followed him after the Birmingham bomb and got his license plate.
As the title indicates, the bulk of the season is devoted to the manhunt for Rudolph. Even though tips had led to his identification less than a month after the Birmingham bomb, it took 5 years to find and arrest him. During that time, he hid out in the North Carolina woods.
I inhaled the series over a few days. I liked it for the most part–the performances were great. However, I didn’t like its tendency to make up stuff. For example, in the series, Rudolph commits murders while he’s on the run (which didn’t happen). Like, he was a serial bomber who purposely constructed his bombs to hurt as many people as possible. You don’t have to embellish the story to make him look bad.
I also didn’t really like the characterization of Bobi Jewell (Judith Light) for the most part. For most of the episodes, they portray her as shrill and accusatory, which I thought was unfair. But hey, at least the series is kinder to Kathy Scruggs (Carla Gugino) than the film Richard Jewell was.
What I’m Listening To This Month
I’m still listening to my regular podcasts (listed in my Pop Culture Free Time: November 2020), but I have added some new ones. One new one I’m listening to is Something Was Wrong. I’ve listened to the first season so far. It follows Sara’s story, as she recounts how she gradually realized that her fiance was abusive.
That might sound strange–that she had to realize it. But as Tiffany Reese, the host, points out, a lot of true crime podcasts run on shock. There’s the stunning revelation or the twist. But not all crimes unfold like that. Sara’s ex wasn’t violent, except to HER DOG (which she didn’t know about), but he was still abusive. So the podcast is a valuable and important look at how insidious abuse can be and how emotional abusers can be just as manipulative as violent ones.
Besides podcasts, I’ve also been trying to work my way through the second album this year from Ms. Taylor Alison Swift. I’ve long been a fan of her work–I celebrate the gal’s entire catalog–and now I’m glad that more people are catching on to what a firecracker song writer she is. Have I bullied the rest of the Comic Years staff into stanning her? Maybe.
My current jam is “Gold Rush,” but that could change at any moment.
What I’ve Been Reading
I’m still tearing through books at a rapid pace, determined to meet my Goodreads reading challenge goal (175 books). Anyway, probably my favorite book since we talked last is A.R. Torre’s Every Last Secret. It’s not a high-brow book by any measure, but it’s delicious. It reminded me a lot of Liv Constantine’s The Last Mrs. Parrish, which I also loved. Both books are about strivers, women who see a rich husband as a stepping stone to a better life. That the husbands are already someone else’s husband is mere details.
And back to Kathy Scruggs: I found this article to be an illuminating look at her point of view. Movies and TV shows have demonized her–definitely don’t read the comments–and I don’t agree with how she worked. However, I appreciated the opportunity to get a greater understanding of what drove her.
Well, that’s what I’ve been into for my free time in December 2020. We’d love to hear what you’re into, so leave us a comment or tell us on our social media.
featured image via Beth Garrabrant
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. 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.