Best TV of 2017

Television keeps on getting better somehow. Or it seems to be getting better. Or, at the very least, we talk about it a lot more than we used to, which may very well be a sign of either true cultural ascension of HBO and Netflix or general increase in lazy soma-taking viewership. Or both. Or not. Who knows? Your friends probably have a list of shows that you must check out, and they’ll stuff your ears full with the genial selfless joyousness of stuffing a Christmas stocking till you either watch or suffer the fate of an unfriend. Nobody wants to be an unfriend.

That’s depressing. But there’re too many best television list out there and we had to try to switch the game up a bit. Here’s our list of what you must check out, because they were the absolute best this year, and we are sure you’ll love them. But unlike your friends, we’ll still be here for you even if you don’t watch them.

aka Wyatt Cenac

Wyatt Cenac is the Viceroy, Kings County’s sentry, in aka Wyatt Cenac, the comic’s very own web series on Topic, a “story telling studio”. The Viceroy battles daily crime, confronts bad parenting, stands up for city regulations, busts a mustard shop (Viceroy, aka Wyatt Cenac: “I honestly don’t understand why anyone would want this much mustard, no offense.”), among other things. Though it only has 6 episodes, aka Wyatt Cenac deals more honestly with race, gentrification, and mundane inequities of life in a big city than any other show out there (that I know of). Cenac’s is a welcome respite from the onslaught of mediocrity that’s risen to the top like congealed chicken fat in a sad bowl of ramen in Bushwick in December. That sentence is an example of the kinds of crime Viceroy/Cenac battles, not that it’s necessarily untrue. Watch it and spread the love. (Do web series count as television?) — Hoon, managing editor

Image source.

American Gods

Full disclosure: I watched the television series American Gods, but I’ve not read Neil Gaiman’s book. In the nature of complete disclosure, I half started watching the show based on the draw of Ricky Whittle alone. However, once I started watching, I was, as they say, hooked. The show is weird. It’s intense, it’s violent, it’s confusing, and it’s incredible. The premise makes it an interesting watch now, at a time when secularism runs rampant and the relevance and purposes religion are being constantly questioned. On the outside, it’s a flashy series full of action and sex, which is great on its own, but the themes presented and examined within the show make it so much more. — Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

Master of None

The second, and final, season of Master of None was released on Netflix this May and, already, I am mourning its absence. Aziz Ansari did something original here. He stepped away from the script — from scrupulously monitored plot developments and character arcs — to explore some serious issues (always with a comedic twist). Episode two, ‘Religion,’ follows Dev’s experience growing up in a Muslim family. Episode six, ‘New York Stories,’ is an artistic take on the intersecting lives of strangers; part of the episode is silent, taken from the perspective of a deaf character. Episode six, ‘Thanksgiving,’ follows Dev’s friend Denise as she comes out to her family. All of this relevant social commentary and a satisfying romantic arc, what more could you ask for? — Rachel Gerry, Intern

Big Little Lies

HBO’s miniseries Big Little Lies starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoe Kravitz is definitely one of my favourite tv shows of the year. Having never read the book by Liane Moriarty, I had no idea what to expect. The dark comedy is set in Monterey, California. Secrets, deception, rivalries, and eventually murder had me hooked each week and trying to figure out what was going to happen next. — Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief 

 

Novella’s December Art Guide 2017

From Deanna Pizzitelli’s Koža. Image Source.

When December rolls around, the art exhibition circuit changes: markets, fairs, and flash sales open up throughout the month, giving attendees ample opportunities to purchase original artworks and artisanal crafts for themselves and their loved ones. And this is fantastic. After all, we love a good artisan fair. However, with this month’s guide, we want to keep the focus on the exhibits, on art that you can’t necessarily buy or touch, but that you can see, experience, and remember.

UNCERTAIN LANDSCAPES (NOVEMBER 3RD — JANUARY 5TH)

A good place to start this month is Montreal-based artist JG’s solo exhibition at Xpace Cultural Centre. Uncertain Landscapes delves into queerness: its appearance, fluidity, and inability to conform. JG combines imagery from drag culture and science fiction into their illustrations, demonstrating how aesthetics can empower and validate those who are perceived to be outside of the social norm.

Find more information here.

KOŽA (NOVEMBER 25TH — JANUARY 13TH)

Deanna Pizzitelli’s solo exhibition at the Stephen Bulger Gallery is a series of photographs from the artist’s travels over a period of three years. The photographs are intimate, revealing, and represent a wide emotional landscape that defines the human experience: from lust, to loss, to longing. Despite the photographs being of different people in different places, they weave a narrative of loneliness and hopefulness, of our eternal searches for meaning and connection.

Find more information here.

CHRISTIAN DIOR (NOVEMBER 25TH — MARCH 18TH)

Usually, our focus is on smaller, more independent galleries. The ROM gets enough publicity as it is, but special circumstances rise from time to time. And Christian Dior is definitely a special circumstance. Until March next year, some of Dior’s finest creations will be on display. The exhibition mainly features fashions from the first ten years of Dior’s house, following the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the “new look.”

Find more information here.

MATERIAL MATTERS: INVESTIGATIONS INTO PLACE AND PLACEMENT (DECEMBER 1ST — JANUARY 27TH)

Jen Aitken and Margaret Priest are different artists: in their experiences, mediums, messages and theses. But in Georgia Scherman Projects’s joint exhibition, their combined works play off of one another in an examination of place and perspective. Priest’s drawings question and critique the physicality and ideology of modern architecture, while Aitken’s sculptures are a more abstract approach to the interaction of space and design.

Find more information here.

SMALL SCULPTURES BY GREAT ARTISTS & ANTLER, BONE, STONE (DECEMBER 2ND — JANUARY 27TH)

Feheley’s newest exhibition is proof that great things come in small sculptures. The detail, the craftsmanship, the amount of love present in every etch and divot; this is what can be found at the two exhibitions this month. As is usual for the gallery, works by Inuit artist will feature in the shows, with Antler, Bone, Stone showing works specific to Igloolik. Little information is available on the specific artists, but Feheley Fine Arts already has a reputation for putting on wonderful exhibits — this will be no different.

Find more information here.

Hot List: People of Toronto Arts Event at WeWork

When asked what makes Toronto different, people point out the city’s diversity and culturally rich neighbourhoods and industries. Hosted at 240 Richmond Street West, WeWork’s first Toronto location, the People of Toronto series highlights the industries, cultures and backgrounds of the city through its people. The event series began in October, where each month’s theme features one industry through 3 curated community events such as workshops, panels, and other peer-to-peer learning opportunities related to the theme with the People of Toronto event to closing out the month.

Sixth floor signage seen during the WeWork Toronto grand opening at 240 Richmond Street West on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Toronto. (Arthur Mola/AP Images for WeWork)

The November People of Toronto event focuses on the Arts industry, featuring artists such as Jibola Fagbamiye, Quinn Rockliff and Michael Vincent Veneracion. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP here.

 

Why This is the Moment to Talk About Sexual Assault

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. What we’ve been seeing has been dubbed by many as “The Weinstein effect”, where after the breaking of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment and abuse scandal, many other powerful men in other fields, including entertainment and politics, have had allegations released against them.

Now, in some cases, these were men who had been rumored to be predatory for a while (Kevin Spacey and Louis CK), while in others it seems to have come out of nowhere (George Takei and Al Franken). In any case, it’s clear that this is an important cultural moment of talking about sexual assault and harassment. But why now? This has been a problem for a very long time. Here’s why this is the moment:

Social Media:

In the past, there were very few ways for survivors of sexual assault to come forward, especially if the media wouldn’t take them seriously. Now, however, sharing stories of sexual assault is easier than ever. And while it’s sadly true that talking about it can bring in trolls and mean comments, it can also bring tons of support from friends and strangers right away.

Also, because of all these things coming out at once, survivors feel more empowered to talk about sexual assault because they see others doing it as well. And thanks to campaigns like #MeToo, social media has allowed survivors of sexual assault, even those who don’t want to come forward, to feel less alone.

Investigative Journalism:

Allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, and Roy Moore might have gone nowhere if not for the hard work of investigative journalists who meticulously researched and wrote about these claims, working for long periods of time to bring these allegations to light.

The Harvey Weinstein case came to light thanks to the work of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at The New York Times and Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker. Kantor, along with Melena Ryzik and Cara Buckley were responsible for bringing the allegations against Louis CK to light, though the now-defunct website Gawker did report on it back in 2015 .

And though Mr. Moore has deflected the allegations against him as some sort of leftist conspiracy, they are backed up with dozens of interviews and facts by three incredible reporters from The Washington Post: Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard, and Alice Crites.

People Believe Survivors:

This is pretty simple. We live in a culture that actually trusts those who come forward to talk about their experiences of sexual assault. The truth is, very few people lie about sexual assault. After all, coming forward about this type of thing can be extremely traumatizing, and come with very few benefits, and you have to hear people publicly calling you a liar and saying derogatory things about you while uplifting the person who has abused you. I think we are finally in a moment, however, where the bravery of survivors is finally rewarded by our willingness to believe people who do come forward.

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