Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

TV Show: Easy (Netflix Originals)

Neatly packaged as a series of eight half-hour episodes, Netflix original Easy is a portrait of sex, love, and romance in 2016. Each installment focuses on different characters, ultimately creating a spectrum of the joys and struggles we navigate in everyday relationships. The show whirlwinds through all-too-relatable stories: an impressionable girl negotiates with the fluidity of identity within relationships, a long-term couple gets FOMO about Tinder, and an artist pushes the boundaries of privacy surrounding sex. Episodes sometimes begin slowly and can meander, but by the time each half-hour wraps up, a message emerges—sometimes leaving me with something quite heavy to ponder long after. The series does a great job with representation of LGBTQ+ folks and people of color; however, it does feel middle class–centric at times. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to hear words like “heteronormative,” “selfie,” and “vegan” in a TV show without it seeming too try-hard. While brutally honest and not always uplifting, Easy made me reflect on how beautiful, complex, and moving love stories are all around us, every day. —Micha Frazer-Carroll

Podcast: Mystery Show (Gimlet Media)

Mystery Show is a podcast that is so refreshing and so original that I consumed every episode in its first season within 24 hours. Listeners call in about small and strange questions that can’t be solved through a Google search, and host Starlee Kine attempts to unravel the mystery. They are often complex, odd queries that aren’t quite worthy of major attention (for example: How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal really?) but have significance to the people bringing them forward. In one episode, a writer whose work doesn’t sell well discovers a paparazzi picture of Britney Spears holding her second book and wonders, “HOW?” In another, a woman rents a movie from a video store only to discover the store is no longer there when she goes back the next day to return the movie. Listening, I find myself trying to grapple with all the tiny bits and pieces of fate and probability that lead to things ending up exactly as they are. Season Two is reportedly “in the works.” I hope we know more about it soon, too! —Emily Wood

TV Show: Atlanta (FX)

Atlanta is the brainchild of actor Donald Glover. Set in Glover’s hometown, the show follows a motley crew of friends. Earn, played by Glover, is a Princeton dropout living with his on-again/off-again girlfriend and their daughter. At the beginning of the series, Earn talks himself into a job managing his rapper cousin, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles. Rounding out their entourage is Paper Boi’s eccentric righthand man, Darius. The series is just five episodes in and thus far has received praise for its soundtrack and witty, incisive writing. Its latest episodes features a black Justin Bieber and makes important points about perception and race. What I enjoy most about Atlanta is that the show is overwhelmingly black, with characters unconcerned with outside gazes. It’s a show that has black characters just living their lives, which seems so simple, but has not been the norm. Atlanta is funny, smart, and refreshing. —Diamond Sharp ♦