Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

Podcast: 2 Dope Queens

2 Dope Queens is a podcast hosted by Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams and comedian and Broad City consultant Phoebe Robinson. At the beginning of each episode, they tell conversational personal stories—like about the time they went to a Billy Joel concert, or experiences they’ve had with racist cab drivers. The rapport between Jessica and Phoebe makes it clear that they really are BFFs like the show’s About page claims, and it’s all the more fun to listen to the podcast knowing that they’d probably be having the same conversations if the microphones were off. Unlike other podcasts that I listen to, most of which take place in quiet studios, 2 Dope Queens features recordings of the live comedy shows Jessica and Phoebe put on in Brooklyn. Hearing the audience laughing in the background adds to the recordings’ energy, and each episode feels fresh because they invite different comedians to perform with them. (One of my favorite recent guests was Aparna Nancherla, who operates one of the funniest accounts on Twitter.) Jessica and Phoebe put the spotlight on comedians of color, LGBT comedians, and female comedians, and 2 Dope Queens is a hilarious, sweet escape from mainstream comedy’s overwhelmingly white male offerings. —Rachel Davies

TV Show: Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Jessica Jones has superpowers—she is so strong that she can flip over cars or kill with a punch. She was just beginning to think of herself as a superhero when she met a man named Kilgrave, who had his own kind of power; namely, mind control. Though Jessica can combat almost any kind of physical damage, she couldn’t withstand that. Now she’s an angry, heavy-drinking private investigator. When she discovers that Kilgrave is behind one of her cases—that he has many victims, not just her—she is determined to stop him, even if it means facing her past and her worst nightmares. Jessica Jones isn’t just your average Marvel Comics story (but even if it were, it would still be awesome). The series addresses post-traumatic stress, gaslighting, assault, and abuse head-on and unapologetically. Jessica is a mess. She fucks up. She lashes out. She hurts the people who are trying to help her, and she hurts herself. All while doing her damnedest not to break down, to survive. As an abuse survivor, this meant everything to me. Jessica’s story was the most validating thing I’d ever seen on TV. Her messy feelings made me feel OK about my messy feelings. Kilgrave is a supervillain, but his mindset and the way he operates is textbook of real-life abusers. To see his words and actions recognized as wrong, and to see them fought against, was incredibly powerful. I was afraid the show would be triggering, and sometimes it was. But overall, I found it to be cathartic. Whether or not you are an abuse survivor, this show starts an important conversation. Above all, it just exudes strength—the strength we can find in facing our fears. —Stephanie Kuehnert

Classic Movie: Kids (1995)

There are few movies that I have a profound and unsettling relationship with other than Kids. I first saw it when I was 12 or 13, rediscovered it at the beginning of high school, wrote about it last summer, and re-rediscovered it this year, starting my most intense link with it yet. I’ve gone from seeing Kids as related to my life by a litany of similar themes to an almost play-by-play of what it’s like to be a teenager on New York’s Lower East Side and spend hours in the Tompkins Square Park and have all of that leave its stain on you, be a part of you even when you aren’t there. Kids is about a girl named Jenny and her 24-hour search for a “virgin surgeon” named Telly, who, she’s found out, has given her HIV [there are also scenes depicting sexual assault]. It is the kind of movie that is important inside and outside the boundaries of its plot. I love it for its details but also because, in Jenny and Telly, I recognize myself and the few gross Tompkins boys I made the mistake of briefly liking. I recognize what feels like the unstoppable, encroaching force of teenage guys, how in-tune we all are with the primitive need to be thrilled, and how predatory and fun the city we love/hate so much can be at the same time. It is an experience that I feel completely a part of, and that scares me. But, undeniably, it makes me feel as if I truly belong to something, a world a lot of adults cannot see. —Britney Franco ♦