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Hoot recommends: quarantine edition


Okay, so hear me out. Paru Itagaki’s comedy manga “Beastars” about a bunch of anthropomorphic animals going to high school might look like furry fluff fodder—and it kind of is—but the series is a deeply emotional and gloriously insane masterpiece. I went into “Beastars” expecting a timewaster Zootopia race allegory about a city of carnivores and herbivores; instead I fell into an engrossing and fantastically realistic narrative about how a world—in all its social and political components—can impress upon and eventually grind to a fine powder a person’s identity and soul. Trust me when I say that the characters in “Beastars” “live in a society,” one that imposes itself in fascinating, unique and dreadfully believable ways on every person in their world. Speaking of the characters, they are all staggeringly well-realized, compelling and infectiously loveable. For the first time in a while, I have found myself becoming enraged at fictional characters, not because of bad writing, but because they were making understandable choices I didn’t agree with. I just wanted what’s best for them and I choose to see that as a sign of great character writing rather than of my isolation. The anime, which covers the first few volumes, is on Netflix, so I would suggest easing yourself into the universe with that. Just don’t drink anything while you’re watching given how hilarious and sporadically crazy “Beastars” is on a constant basis. —Sam Finbury

“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”

Usually I don’t describe something as “the best”—it would be too arguable of a claim—but not this time. Code Geass is simply the best anime ever made. Everything that it has sets a gold standard of quality for the medium: art style, soundtrack, character design, character development, dialogue, pacing and especially the story. It distills the essence of Hamlet—themes of revenge, politics and moral philosophy—and fuses it with the fantastical elements of mechas and super powers, resulting in a grand elixir that is the most engrossing and sublime piece of dramatic literature I’ve ever experienced. That is to say, the only bad thing about the show is the fact that almost every other anime now seems infinitely inferior by comparison, and I can never watch it for the first time ever again. But you… you can still have that experience. —Stewart Huang


Certainly, there is no dearth of recommendable television shows from the slew of streaming services, but there is one show that remains timeless and compelling. “Community,” Dan Harmon’s show about a study group at a community college has gained some renewed interest through its recent release on Netflix. Born from the same mind behind “Rick and Morty,” Harmon’s writing is conceptual, hilarious and thought provoking. Initially released between 2009 and 2015, it remains one of the greatest television shows of all time. Admittedly, I’ve been rewatching it for the third time during quarantine, as the nostalgia brings comfort in these trying times. Nostalgia isn’t the only thing the show offers. “Community” is filled with awesome paintball wars, “Dungeons and Dragons” games, homages to other shows and movies and is as meta as “Rick and Morty.” The self-referential show offers glimpse into other timelines, television within television and a diverse, lovable bunch of characters. And if you’ve finished binging “Community,” head over to Youtube to listen to “The Darkest Timeline” podcast. Cast members Ken Jeong (actor and medical doctor) and Joel McHale host this podcast answering questions about “Community” and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Also, don’t forget to catch their latest table read on Youtube. Promised #sixseasonsandamovie, maybe with all this renewed interest, podcasts and table reads, long-awaiting fans will finally get their “Community” movie. —Uma Jagwani 

“Money Heist” 

“La Casa de Papel” is the thriller heist show that I never knew I needed. Available on Netflix in English as “Money Heist” (with both English subtitles and a dub), there’s no excuse not to watch it. I haven’t finished the entire show, but I am blown away with what I have seen so far. Season one follows a group of criminals brought together by an outsider: El Profesor. El Profesor has a master plan; he devised an airtight way to rob the Royal Mint of Spain. The show gives insights into the heist itself but also does a deep dive into the feelings of all sorts of characters, from the robbers to the hostages to the police. You start to love, or at the very least respect, each of the characters as the season plays out (though Nairobi is the coolest by far). By the time I was halfway through the season, I didn’t know if I was rooting for the robbers to walk away scoff free, for the negotiator to find a way to free the hostages or for the hostages to fight back. It’s not a show for mindless binging but rather thoughtful watching; it’s a show to lose yourself in, lost in theories, anticipation for the next episode and a sense of appreciation for some truly phenomenal masterminds. —Emma Lichtenstein

“Three. Two. One.” 

I’ll ask the most pressing question on everyone’s minds right now: Where is the new Lorde album? The “Royals” singer has not released new music in three years, but I’m here with a remedy: Lennon’s Stella’s debut album, “Three. Two. One.” If you’re looking for a cookiecutter Lorde imitation, look elsewhere, but if you’re craving a dose of authentic and vulnerable pop music written by a 20-year-old, “Three. Two. One.” is a must-listen. This album has the clean and direct sonics of “Pure Heroine” with the range and complexity of “Melodrama.”

Do you need a “Green Light” banger to dance to alone in your room? May I offer Track 2: “Kissing Other People?” Stella’s “Older Than I Am” might pluck the same heartstrings you felt vibrate the first time “Liability” played. If you’re plagued by a “400 Lux” craving, you just might find solace in “Fear Of Being Alone” and “Since I Was A Kid.” Personally, I used to wake up in a cold sweat because I hadn’t gotten my dose of brooding baselines under intimate yet anthemic melodies (“The Louvre,” “Supercut,” most of “Pure Heroine”), but “Golf On TV,” the standout of the album, helps me sleep at night. 

Between her EP and her early collaborations with Liam Payne and The Chainsmokers, Stella has already shown she could be a derivative pop star if she wanted to. “Three. Two. One.” proves she has the maturity and ambition to create something more artistically interesting. —Isaac Ruben

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