Pany Anny Show Recs
It's March, which means it's been a full year since cities and counties across the US began shutting down for the pandemic. By this first anniversary, maybe you, like me, aren't quite getting that same hit of joy while re-binging the same three comfort shows that first got you through isolation, so here are a few great alternatives:
I Told Sunset About You - Thai, 5 episodes
Okay so maybe the joy won't hit as hard as the tears for this one, but I Told Sunset About You is hands down one of the best shows I've ever watched. All five episodes are movie quality, and movie length, running at over an hour each. The score is even more lush than the scenery, and the acting is impeccable.
This show goes beyond friends-turned-enemies-turned-lovers to really explore the intersections of shame and possibility. What are we denied because the world says it's impossible, and what do we deny ourselves? I Told Sunset About You is about two teenage boys trying to get into acting school, but more than that, it's about the dreams we allow ourselves to imagine.
Space Sweepers - Korean, Movie
In which space junk scavengers fight environmental apartheid and injustices alongside a trans robot and mysterious little girl with magic (techy) plant powers. Do I really need to say more?
Love Alarm - Korean, 8 episodes
Imagine an app that "syncs with your heart" and alerts you each time someone who finds you attractive enters a ten meter radius. That's the premise of Love Alarm. This show could be carried solely by the concept and its consequences (heightened discrimination, pretty privilege, and miscommunication), but it manages to stay intensely character focused throughout. It causes you to wonder, what are the boundaries and limitations that divide love(s) and attraction?
HIStory 2: Right or Wrong, Boundary Crossing - Taiwanese, 8 episodes
The Taiwanese HIStory series is a project that interrogates acceptable relationships between male leads. HIStory 2 is comprised of two storylines, each four episodes long. The first story, Right or Wrong, is about a divorced archeology professor, his daughter, and the student he hires as a nanny. The second, Boundary Crossing (aka Crossing the Line) is about a high school volleyball team, their new players, and the injured manager. As someone who likes clear rules and moral boundaries, these two stories messed with me, which is exactly what they mean to do.
HIStory 3: Trapped - Taiwanese, 10 episodes
Get ready for more acceptable love drama, except this time the dilemma is flirty encounters between cops and gangsters. As one detective hounds a mob boss to uncover the truth behind a shooting that took place four years ago, his obsession begins to transform. I can't even begin to describe how much I love this show, and what an enormous relief it is for me as a queer person to watch a "forbidden romance" wherein two men fall for each other, but the forbiddenness has nothing to do with their gender/sexuality. Instead friends proclaim: "you can't like him! He's a gangster and you're a cop!" And I eagerly cheer them on.
Trapped has it all: crime solving, crime syndicates, lunchboxes and sleepovers. The cops aren't glorified, the gangsters aren't demonized; no one is made one dimensional, but everyone is hot.
Sleep Dealer - Mexican, Movie
Set in the near-future, Sleep Dealer invites viewers into a world where migrant labor is exploited without the migration: where people flock to factories along the US-Mexico border to migrate over the net, remotely operating machines used in construction and service jobs. A world where corporations steal water, and those who fight back are targeted as eco-terrorists. It's a moody, fascinating piece that maps our current trajectory---and potential agency to deviate---through the lives of three characters and their digital-physical connections.
Revolutionary Love - Korean, 16 episodes
What does your standard k-drama lack? Maybe a deep dive into worker protections and labor regulations, with some strikes and solidarity sprinkles? Cause Revolutionary Love, in that area, does not lack, not at all. Brief plot overview: rich boy meets part-timer who takes no shit, follows her through her jobs, and multiple protests and upsets ensue. It's a show about how love can inspire you to be a better person, and to make a better world.
Run On - Korean, 16 episodes
Synopsis: Badass translator meets national runner, I fall in love. I mean, they also date, but the immense appreciation I feel for the supporting characters in this show feels like it matters more. I mean, male characters openly emotional and vulnerable and crying on screen? A pan dude, a gay guy, an asexual roommate, and a genderqueer colleague? A very attractive and successful lead character who reads as autistic? This show has it all!
Everything about this show just feels real, from the depictions of insecurities within relationships, to forced apologies when you know you're in the right, to awkward moments at the grocery store. After the last episode, I missed the characters like I'd miss my own friends.
Dear Ex - Taiwanese, Movie
After his father's death, a young boy meets his dad's former lover, to whom all the insurance money was left. The story falls into place through flashbacks, and it's the perfect heartbreaking balance of comedy and drama. Plus I'm a sucker for the play-within-a-play trope. If you're into that, too, or are craving a movie wherein characters learn acceptance through lost and regained love, this is the movie for you.
Strong Woman Do Bong Soon - Korean, 16 episodes
At the beginning of this show, the main character, Do Bong Soon, dreams of developing a video game modeled after her own secret: maternally inherited super strength, so when a big-shot game developer needs a body guard, she can't pass up the opportunity.
This show is the strangest mix of crime (and true horror) and goofy relationship drama. I absolutely adore it. First of all, the main character is a super-powered woman who can't get a job and beats the shit out of bullies, just like her grandma would. AND!! the show embraces the idea that dreams can change over time, all the while rejecting toxic masculinity by having a male lead who squeals and cries over his crush and takes on a supporting role for her. If that hasn't already sold you, just listen to the soundtrack: every track's a bop.
Hope you enjoy! And let me know when you watch any of these shows how you like them; I'm dying to have some people with whom to talk about these...