TV Shows & Starters
Jane the Virgin (2014-)
Jane the Virgin is a great show, full of over the top drama, comedy, romance, and even mystery. But really the show is much more than what it first appears to be. While it follows the tropes of the soap opera genre (fun fact: the show is actually based on a Venezuelan telenovela), it also overturns this – by placing these tropes within very real socio-economic contexts and offering comedy and farce where there should be drama.
Watch out for the ominiscient narrator and the innovative narrative devices which work well to bind some of the most ridiculous moments and also add nuance and depth to a story that would otherwise fall flat. With its colourful characters, there really is no dull moment. My favourite is still the first season, but the latter seasons are also very good. If you haven’t already, it’s worth a watch.
Podcasts & Main Courses
The Trust Engineers (Radiolab)
News sharing and public discussion on Facebook profoundly, perhaps insidiously, shapes our worldview. This is common knowledge, but it has evoked greater reflection. In the aftermath of the US presidential elections, we’ve witnessed great debate on two issues in this regard – firstly, on how information shared on Facebook can be verified and how “misinformation” can be prevented. Secondly, how do we step outside our social and algorithm – controlled online bubbles and be exposed to diverse thought, diverse political discussion?
A running thread here is how we navigate “trust” in our online spaces. What online conversations do we click spontaneously, which ones do we like, which ones do we dislike, which ones do we report? Can trust be “engineered” ? This podcast from Radiolab’s archives offers a sneak peek into Facebook’s “trust engineers” – a dedicated group of coders, psychologists, behavioral scientists, anthropologists sifting through mountains of data about users and their behaviours.
Films & Desserts
Memories of Murder (2003)
Korean films never get their due in world cinema. There is no finer exponent of cerebral, visually stunning filmmaking than this tiny country in East Asia. Once again, with this film, the Koreans create a sensational tapestry of crime, seediness & expose the underbelly of Korean society, which rumbles menacingly beneath the glitz and glamour of the technology-fuelled growth and prosperity of the country.
The story follows two policemen in the Korean heartland, who are trying to catch a serial killer (based on real-life crimes). However, the main focus is on the sheer ineptitude, corruption and desperation of the police force to catch this killer. Wrong suspects are hounded; punishment is meted to anyone who had even the remotest connection to the victim; the killer is agonisingly out of reach every single time they think they’ve caught him. Add mystery and a thriller-like pace for the film and you have a classic on your hands. The film will keep you the edge of your seats and will haunt you for a long time after you’ve finished watching it.