Editor's Picks

Our 21 favorite articles of 2021 from The Tempest fam

In recognition of the hard work our writers and editors have done this year, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite articles. These are the stories that resonated with our audience, fellows, and more importantly with each other. 2021 has been a rough year, but we can still find a silver lining within these cloudy skies.

1. Naomi Osaka makes a case for athlete activism

Naomi Osaka wearing a 'Breonna Taylor' mask while playing
[Naomi Osaka wearing a ‘Breonna Taylor’ mask while playing], via ABC Frank Franklin
This article proves that people are more than the basic stereotypes society expects them to live up to. Being an athlete is more than playing a sport. It can also mean utilizing your platform to speak about injustices that affect you to a wider audience. 

2. White supremacy is on display in the US Capitol

[Image Description: Rioters entering the US Capitol with Trump flags. The buildings is surrounded by a fog of tear gas.] Via Reuters.
[Image Description: Rioters entering the US Capitol with Trump flags. The buildings are surrounded by a fog of tear gas.] Via Reuters.
This admittedly embarrassing time for the United States, also reveals an ugly truth hiding in plain sight. White supremacists, in a state of insecurity of losing their privilege, are fighting for their voice to be heard in a society that is already made in their favor.

3. Bridgerton’s new leading lady Kate Sharma is here – and she’s South Asian

[Image description: Simone Ashley playing Olivia in 'Sex Education' looking to the side and wearing a red jacket. ] Via Netflix
[Image description: Simone Ashley playing Olivia in ‘Sex Education’ looking to the side and wearing a red jacket. ] Via Netflix
One of the most-viewed Netflix shows of all time, featuring a dark-skinned Woman of Color in the main character role? And it looks like it isn’t a pandering move for performative representation? Yeah, you know we have to talk about this.

4. Monique Coleman’s HSM story reveals a larger pattern of hair discrimination in the workplace

[Image description: A collage of Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Highschool Musical and Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz from Riverdale.] Via and
[Image description: A collage of Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Highschool Musical and Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz from Riverdale.] Via and
In a white-dominated society, it is easy to overlook something like hair. However, in the black community, hair has so much meaning and reveals a deeper story about identity. Having that not be taken seriously or being looked down on is something that needs to be corrected.

5. All the words I wish I could have told you

An image of a man and woman lying down in a field, her head is in his lap.
[Image Description: An image of a man and woman lying down in a field, her head is in his lap.] Via Unsplash
A very raw self-reflection of a failed relationship. It’ll pull on your heartstrings and will make you realize the impact people do have on our lives. No one is ever really gone even after they left.

6. Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah reminds us not to romanticize the British Monarch

[Image description: photo captured from Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle.] Via
[Image description: photo captured from Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle.] Via
This is a commentary from our editors on the ground-breaking Oprah interview on what happened behind closed doors. Meghan proves how much mainstream media puts the British Monarchy in a lighthearted way, they are still a reminder of a colonial past living on present-day in a new outlook.

7. Corsets are finally back in style – here’s what you need to know

[Image description: a long-haired woman wearing a white corset]
[Image description: a long-haired woman wearing a white corset] Via Unsplash
One of the biggest fashion trends in 2021. Would you think twice about a garment that is a symbol of societal expectations of what a woman’s body should naturally look like just because you saw a celebrity you like wear it?

8. The jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murdering George Floyd

[Image Description: A protestor holding a sign that says I Can't Breathe] Via Unsplash
[Image Description: A protestor holding a sign that says I Can’t Breathe] Via Unsplash
A landmark decision that made everyone hold their breath. An event that sparked #BlackLivesMatter marches worldwide. This is only the beginning.

9. Celebrities are not activists, but they play a role in the public perception of Palestine

Group of persons gathered for a protest in a city with Palestinian flags
Group of persons gathered for a protest in a city with Palestinian flags

You should not take a celebrity’s opinion as law, but they sure as hell have the influence to turn their followers on to a certain issue. Society gives a lot of spotlight to A-listers so when they start talking, it will bring a lot of attention to an issue. However, their silence can speak volumes as well.

10. Let me tell you about Wu Zetian, China’s only empress and most hated woman

An image of Wu Zetian from "An 18th century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes".
[Image description: An image of Wu Zetian from “An 18th-century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes”.] Via Encyclopædia Britannica
Wu Zetian may appear controversial in some circles, but her placement in history should be recognized. She made great advancements despite the drama that riddled throughout her reign. But in the end, she is still human and a damn great ruler.

11. The problem with ‘nude’ in the fashion and beauty industries

Seven body luminizing tint tubes in various shades
[Image Description: Seven body luminizing tint tubes in various shades] Via Fenty Beauty on Instagram
The fashion and beauty industries still have a long way to go to become inclusive to their audience. “Nude” was always catered toward white people, not POCs. Here we call out this problem and suggest some great business to look at who reclaims what nude means.

12. Compulsory heterosexuality is yet another thing I had to unlearn from my youth

[Image description: Happy couple relaxing on bed together.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Happy couple relaxing on a bed together.] Via Pexels
Breaking free of what you have been taught is not an easy task. It takes a lot of questioning and recognizing those ideas you grew up with can be wrong and in turn hurting your development. This article will leave you questioning influence other things that were considered normal, and that’s a good thing.

13. Here’s everything you need to know about the controversy around NFTs and artists

A still from the Nyan Cat YouTube video
[Image description: A still from the Nyan Cat YouTube video] Via YouTube
One of the biggest things to come out in 2021 was the rise of NFTs. We lay down what they are and their place in the artist community in an easy-to-understand read.

14. My female friends are the reason why I know true love

[Image description: Photo of women laughing.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Photo of women laughing.] Via Pexels
Platonic love gets overlooked, but it is truly one of the best relationships a person can have. Remember, you can find love in other people – and it doesn’t need to be romantic.

15. Canada continues to violate the rights of Indigenous people

[ Image description: A white teepee.] via Erikawittlieb on Pixabay
A heartbreaking revelation of Indigenous people being wrongfully treated and a worthwhile read. Talking about these atrocities is important and we can no longer allow Indigenous people to have their rights be ignored.

16. Fashion can thank feminism for its leading magazine

[Image description: Hélène Gordon-Lazareff, an early cover of Elle, and a contemporary issue of Elle with bottles of nail polish.] Via,, and Unsplash
[Image description: Hélène Gordon-Lazareff, an early cover of Elle, and a contemporary issue of Elle with bottles of nail polish.] Via,, and Unsplash
The core progressive principles of Gordon-Lazareff live on in Elle Magazine. It’s more than a fashion magazine, it is a symbol of women’s empowerment.

17. How I video-gamed my lockdown away 

A screenshot from Animal Crossing New Horizons, with the main character smiling in front of her house.
A screenshot from Animal Crossing New Horizons, with the main character smiling in front of her house.

If you weren’t the group of people who decided to take up a side hustle during the lockdown, did you end up playing video games instead? Sometimes you don’t need to make money to feel like you need to accomplish something. Sometimes you just need to go fishing on your animated island with all of your animal villagers and smile.

18. Is freelancing a risky or necessary career move?

[Image description: Person sitting at a computer.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Person sitting at a computer.] Via Pexels
This isn’t a simple yes or no question and it wasn’t designed to be. Capitalism robs us of feeling like our artistic passions are only meant for a paycheck and not as the form of expression it was meant to be.

19. Chloé Zhao admitting she still writes fanfiction made my 2021

Chloe Zhao sits in front of a yellow background
[Image description: Chloe Zhao sits in front of a yellow background] Via Oscars
Doesn’t get as relatable as this. All those nights reading amazing fanfiction to only realize one of them was made by an Oscar-winning director? Isn’t it great to imagine you got a glimpse of success so early before their breakout moment?

20. The good fortune of being a nobody

A woman stands in front of a camera. Via Unsplash
[Image Description: A woman stands in front of a camera. Via Unsplash]
Life leads us to the path we were meant to be on. This is a scary moment of how a brush of success can be a major turning point as to where your life can lead.

21. When you need a break from the news, it’s okay

A group of people protesting.
[Image Description: A group of people protesting.] Via Unsplash
It is important to stay informed at to be on top of news as it happens, but it is equally important to check in with yourself. When the news gets too much, you need to know when to step back. This article is a great way to remind yourself to do so.

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Did you like what we picked? Which was the article that spoke to you the most?

We want to thank you all for a wonderous 2021. It’s been a wild year, to say the least. Thanks for making us part of your corner of the internet. Here’s to another year of great content to consume. Much love from The Tempest Fam!

Pop Culture Gaming

How I video-gamed my lockdown away

When someone asks me what I did during those three long months at home, I can honestly reply I worked and played video games. Many of my gamer friends did the same, and as many of us rushed to buy the Nintendo Switch console, I realized that although our specific interests varied, every one of my friends at some point in time has played with either Animal Crossing New Horizons and/or Hades.

After working from home for a month I was furloughed in late April 2020. In March I had already experienced a sudden increase in my free time, but April left me listless. As spring blossomed outside of my windows, I was forced to stay home with nothing much to do.

2020 was a great year for the video game industry. According to IDC data the global revenue for the industry is expected to increase by 20% next year. As more and more people across the world were forced to stay at home, their behavior changed accordingly. Online games saw a surge in players connecting with each other, and as early as March 2020 there were already reports on live video game streaming views increasing dramatically.

One of the most purchased video games in 2020, with the record 5 million digital copies downloaded in the first month alone, was Animal Crossing New Horizons. In the latest instalment of the 20-year-old series, the player lands on an abandoned island to seek refuge from the modern world. With assistance from Tom Nook, the player becomes responsible for decorating the island and inviting more villagers to move there. The game by itself does not have a finish line: ending credits roll once you invited the maximum amount of villagers and contributed to all the main buildings. However, the adventure on Animal Crossing continues.

Meeting a friend through Animal Crossing in 2020.
Meeting a friend through Animal Crossing in 2020. [via Animal Crossing New Horizons]
This kind of concept in games has always been quite popular – think of the indie game Stardew Valley, or the less recent Harvest Moon. This type of chill and relaxing adventures into farming, or gathering resources, has been known as a “cozy gaming” trend, which has been a rising trend in the industry in the latest years.

Other than decorating the island with flowers and cute paths, the player can donate to the museum’s collection of fish, insects and fossils (among others), and gather special pieces of furniture or clothes. In other words, there is no real conclusion to the game, and this was perfect for a lockdown period with no known ending. Many of my friends have gone on playing for hundreds of hours, and deciding to then restart the game from scratch. The possibilities are truly endless, and it’s up to each player to decorate their island as they please.

When I bought my Switch, I was coming from a stressful month of working from home. Animal Crossing gave me a welcome reprieve from my own reality. In a sense, it was almost as if I could regain some sort of control over my own reality too. In a world that was so quickly spiraling into chaos and confusion and unrest, Animal Crossing gave me a peaceful corner where I could create order as I saw fit. Not only that.

A winter scenery in Animal Crossing.
A winter scenery in Animal Crossing, with two of the island animal residents chatting to each other in the background. [Credits: Nintendo]
Since its beginnings the series’ focus was about making friends with your local townsfolk, gifting them small objects and receiving in return nice presents and funny conversations. Another very important reason why Animal Crossing New Horizons was so popular was that it allowed for players interactions: some players organized parties and dates on their own islands, hosting others coming from all around the world. It gave me the chance to meet virtually with my friends and have fun with them. The game relies heavily on interaction between players, and in May I even joined a Discord channel to exchange receipts and objects with people from all over the world.

At the height of pandemic restrictions, when human interaction was so far from my everyday life, Animal Crossing was a perfect virtual place to meet others, and maintain social relationships.

Then summer came and, with it, a sense of relaxation. Restrictions were finally being eased, and everyone expected to slowly come back to what was life pre-Covid. Instead, as the second wave hit in autumn, we had to face the reality that the current situation was not going to be resolved so quickly. I decided to leave my job in summer, and after enjoying a relatively happy summer, having to return to restrictions almost as hard as the ones in spring was frustrating to say the least.

In September 2020, as I was scrambling to find a new workplace amidst the pandemic restrictions, a new game was released. Hades, an indie video game produced by Supergiant, hit 700,000 views in the first month since its release. Nominated for Game of the Year 2020, it actually won the Dice Game of the Year 2021 award.

Hades is a very particular game on its own. The story sees Zagreus, the son of Hades, attempt to escape the underworld. The player, acting as Zagreus, guides him again and again through his exploration of the different areas of the netherworld.

Pictured is Zagreus, the son of Hades. [Credits: Supergiant Games]
Pictured is Zagreus, the son of Hades, with the Hydra boss in the background. [Credits: Supergiant Games]
The mechanics of the game see the player attempt to beat four dungeons in a roguelike style of play. When inevitably the player ends the run via game over, Zagreus is transported back at home and loses almost all temporary boons and power-ups. The plot actually foresees the game over, and takes it into consideration for unlocking future events. You are expected to fail a number of times. As long as you keep making attempt after attempt, you will eventually get the gist of the game and escape successfully.

This indie roguelike game where Death plays such a main role really hit the nail on its head with its release date coinciding with pent-up frustration about the state of the world getting out of control. As small and big businesses were being affected by the long-standing restrictions with no close end in sight and riots erupted almost everywhere, the pent-up frustration and desire to escape this loop were perfectly echoed in Hades.

Hades gave me a completely different kind of support. While Animal Crossing was a peaceful corner of a virtual reality over which I still had some control, Hades was unpredictable and threw different obstacles in my way each time. If in March I was somehow trying to escape the reality I found myself in, by September I had had a long time to accept what was happening. I was no longer looking for another haven. Instead, I spent my weekends playing into the night as Zagreus.

The comfort of knowing that a game over was not the end, mixed with the stress release that fighting games have always brought me was the perfect mix in a video game. I related to Zagreus in that we both wanted to flee from a world that was a bit too narrow for us, and attempt after attempt I was able to follow him in his escape.

A screenshot from Hades
A screenshot from Hades, depicting Zagreus delivering a sassy one-liner to his father, Hades. [Credits: Supergiant Games.]
2020 was such a complicated year for many of us. Personally, playing with Animal Crossing New Horizons and Hades gave me a special perspective into my current situation. As I saw many of my friends around me go through the same coping process, and switching from one game to the other, I started thinking how these two games could sum perfectly what I went through emotionally during this year.

A year later, as we face the third wave of Covid, I realise now how much have things changed around me in such a short span of time. I have since moved on to different games, all entertaining in their own way. And, as much as I like them, none will quite compare with the way Animal Crossing and Hades helped me cope in these hard times, and I’ll always be thankful for that.

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TV Shows Mental Health Pop Culture

These TV shows prove that positivity can be toxic too

“It could be worse!”

How many times have you heard a sentence like this? Especially during the trying pandemic times, it is so common to receive this kind of dismissive response when sharing details about your life.

“Oh, you are stuck working from home with your kids? Well, at least you have a job!”

Reactions like this are termed as toxic positivity, which is “imposing positive thinking as the only solution to problems, demanding that a person avoid negative thinking or expressing negative emotions.”It can come in many quiet but hurtful forms. From a dismissal or avoidance of discussing a problem at hand to comparing fortune (or lack thereof) to adopting the blanketed “good vibes only” mindset. All of which reject the reality and variety of human emotions.

Toxic positivity is so deeply ingrained in our everyday lives we might miss it if we blink too fast. Finding specific examples of it in the media actually took some time, which I think speaks volumes about how normalized this behavior is in society. 

Firstly, let’s look at Naruto. An orphaned young boy, Naruto grows up in a village where everyone shuns and hates on him. Sasuke Uchiha, his teammate, is his parallel in many regards, as he did not have an easy life either. His whole family was massacred when he was around 7 years old by his older brother. The difference between the two characters is stark. While Sasuke is focused on his vengeance, and trains to become stronger and beat his brother, Naruto is apparently the positive example to look up to. However, Naruto does not face the villagers’ hate towards him for a long time. His eagerness to please others and be loved encourages him to conveniently “sweep under the rug” many of the ugliest feelings for most of the story. 

Another example of toxic positivity in media is Vanya Hargreeves, from the acclaimed Netflix series The Umbrella Academy. As a child, she was kept apart from her siblings, and as they had their shared experiences, she was left alone with her robot mother. Throughout most of season 1, she passively accepts that she is at least somehow part of the family, even with no powers of her own. And even if she has no powers, she still is good at playing the violin. Most of the first season has Vanya avoiding a direct confrontation with her siblings, and pretend that everything is fine until she is exposed to some facts she could not sweep under the rug anymore.

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Sometimes people don’t want to look at the bright side! And the unfortunate integration of toxic positivity into everyday life and media means there is more harm than good being done. It ultimately negates the reality of human emotions, which exist in a wide, valid, and sometimes not-so-bright range.  Studies have shown that this unhealthy mindset has the ability to make a person feel like their problems are invalid, or not being heard—causing them to bottle up, dismiss, or feel guilty for their emotions. In the face of positive bias, people were seen to be less likely to seek support if they feel that they aren’t being understood, or they are failing to overcome adversity. 

In most real-life scenarios, the words of optimism are fueled with good intentions, but offered ignorantly. Compared to everyday life, it’s a projection on a screen can be even more detrimental to a person’s mental wellbeing. Viewers may feel that the toxic positive behavior is normal because of the ease and frequency with which it is delivered– therefore making it difficult to recognize. Not to mention the sheer wideness of the audience that media can reach, increasing the number of people that can fall into the positivity trap. 

This dangerous mindset has the ability to affect anyone and everyone. Its rampant presence in all of society and media means that no one is shielded. It can affect younger people and teenagers more severely as they are developing their emotional intelligence and forming opinions at that vulnerable age. Similarly, it has the capacity to target people with emotional control struggles, such as those already suffering from preexisting mental health conditions, or people in generally vulnerable states such as recovering substance addicts.

The media we consume has a tendency to glorify or romanticize those dramatic break-up moments, or showcase a person overcoming adversity with great ease. Many of our favorite characters are those who can smile through the pain and never seem to have a bad day. But it’s human to feel something other than happiness– so remind yourself that It’s also okay to not be okay. Cut yourself some slack and space if you are feeling overwhelmed, upset, or bothered by any other emotion. Experiencing a challenging and wide range of emotions makes you human!

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Book Reviews Books Pop Culture

How The Nature of Witches pulled at my heartstrings in the best way

When I first started reading The Nature of Witches I made sure to avoid any summaries or blurbs. I wanted to fall in eyes wide open, and fall in love with its magical world. I have to admit, Rachel Griffin did not disappoint. If you are looking for a modern tale of witches and climate change, that makes you laugh out loud and cry along with the protagonist, then this is the right book for you.

Clara Densmore is an Everwitch. She is the first Everwitch in over a hundred years to be born. While most witches have their powers tied to one specific season, Everwitches change along with them, maintaining their powers throughout the year. In other words, Clara does not have to wait for the sun to shine on her during her season. But changing along with the seasons has an effect on Clara and her depth of feeling as well. When a new professor with his apprentice, Sang, moves to her Eastern magic school, Clara will have to face her deepest fears and her magic in a desperate attempt to fight against unnatural weather phenomena.

The Nature of Witches deals with climate change in a way that is very straightforward. The Shaders, or people born without magic, know that there is a balance with the earth that they should respect. However, even with the Witches all around the world cautioning against challenging the limits of what nature can do, Shaders keep on building. Everything has a limit. And in this world, as well as in ours, that limit has been reached. Very similar to what happens on our planet, strange heatwaves appear in the middle of winter in The Nature of Witches. Sudden spring tornadoes occur in the fall.

To say that this reminded me of the abnormal heatwave in late October last year is not a stretch. Even after a year of restrictions on traveling and movement of people, pollution levels remain high. The balance that is understood by witches in The Nature of Witches finds its broken echoes in the reality checks our planet keeps giving us. How many of us wish we could have a magical solution to climate change and melting polar caps. And certainly, this is one of the main themes in Griffin’s book, and the heartbreaking description of how nature is just out of balance rings true beyond the written pages.

The Nature of Witches tugs at your heartstrings in another, more personal way as well. Clara, as an Everwitch, is very powerful. But as Spider-Man would say, “with great powers come great responsibilities.” This is certainly true for the young protagonist of the book. Clara’s personal story is about facing herself and her deepest fears, learning from the past to look towards her future.

Clara changes with her seasons. Her powers shift something in her, and as she accesses a new type of seasonal magic, her feelings too, follow her change. As the novel begins in summer, we see Clara describe it as the season where she feels the most, in the most passionate way. She knows what is coming with the beginning of the fall season, and even as she wants to cling to the summer version of herself, time does not excuse her. Time waits for no one, and so Clara has to go on.

This coming-of-age part of the novel I think speaks directly to all of us who are afraid of change. And yet, life teaches us that change is inescapable. You cannot delay the passage of seasons, and what change they bring with them. Growing up, moving out of your parents’ house, going to college in another town. All of these experiences and more make you into a different version of yourself. When I first moved abroad for work, I thought I too wouldn’t change as much. Maybe I would learn to save some money or try new life hacks. Instead, as the warmth of summer transformed into the chill of autumn first, and the poignant stabbing of winter second, I knew I was wrong. Change is scary at times, but it is something we should all learn to embrace.

The author’s website describes the book as “about heartbreaking power, the terror of our collapsing atmosphere, and the ways we unknowingly change our fate.” I loved The Nature of Witches because it pulls and tugs at your heartstrings in just the right way.

The worrying about climate change and the future mixes well with Clara’s personal story, into a perfect cocktail of heartbreak and self-realization. A magical insight into the idea of change, and what it brings us, in the good and in the bad. That’s The Nature of Witches in a nutshell. And to anyone who has been struggling with changing, or seeing themselves as different from yesterday’s you, I cannot recommend this book more.

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Up and Coming Best of Netflix Movies Pop Culture

Every new movie coming to Netflix this summer

After this long and stressful winter that has seemingly lasted a lifetime, summer is finally approaching, and we can’t wait! Warm sun on our skin as we lay on a grass field or on the beach, earphones in our ears and no pressing thoughts or emails to answer to.

Whether you plan on spending your holidays at home, or in a remote place, you should always have some movies and snacks ready for your trip! We put together a list for you to follow to stay up-to-date on ALL Netflix’s new releases this summer.

1. Carnaval 

The Carnaval protagonists together, smiling.
The Carnaval protagonists together, smiling.

Carnaval is a Brazilian musical comedy starring Giovana Cordeiro who plays Nina, an influencer. After breaking up with her boyfriend when a video of him cheating on her goes viral, Nina uses her digital influencer connections to get an all-paid-for, all-access, all-you-can-do trip to Salvador during Carnaval, bringing along her three best friends. On the trip, she learns life is not all about social media.

Available on: June 2nd, 2021
Watch the trailer here.


2. Awake

Awake: Lucius Hoyos as Noah, Gina Rodriguez as Jill Adams, Ariana Greenblatt as Matilda of Awake. Cr. Peter H. Stranks/Netflix © 2021
Peter H. Stranks/Netflix © 2021

Do you think you get cranky after pulling an all-nighter? Imagine the world losing the ability to fall asleep. This sci-fi thriller follows a mysterious global catastrophe that wiped out electronics and rendered humans insomniacs. The film focuses particularly on Jill (Gina Rodriguez), a former soldier, through the journey of deciding between the fate of the human race and the need to protect her child. Sweet sweet motherhood.

Available on: June 9th, 2021
Watch the trailer here.


3. Wish Dragon

WISH DRAGON - (L-R) Jimmy Wong as Din and John Cho as Long. Cr: ©2021 SPAI. All Rights Reserved.
©2021 SPAI. All Rights Reserved.

Join Din and the all-powerful dragon Long as they embark on the search for Lina, Din’s former childhood friend. This American-Chinese animated movie is directed by Chris Applehans, who will take you through a rocambolesque adventure set in modern Shanghai. 

Available on: June 11, 2021
Watch the trailer here.

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SKATER GIRL - (Center) RACHEL SAANCHITA GUPTA as PRERNA BHIL. Cr: Kerry Monteen / Netflix © 2021
 Kerry Monteen / Netflix © 2021

A coming-of-age story set within the world of sports? That’s already Hollywood gold right there! Except, you have never heard the story told like this, and in a world not often represented in films. In director Manjari Makijany’s Skater Girl, teenage Prerna discovers and then falls in love with skateboarding in rural India, and strives to win the national championship against all odds.

Available on: June 11th, 2021
Watch the trailer here.


5. Jagame Thandhiram

Aishwarya Lekshmi laughing in Jagame Thandhiram

When a British crime lord is in need of help to take down his rival, Suruli (Dhanush) is hired to take care of the job. Surili is a Tamil gangster who moves to London for the job. However, upon reaching there, taking down a rival is not the only issue he faces.

Available on: June 18th, 2021
Watch the trailer here.

6. Fatherhood


From the filmmakers of About A Boy, Fatherhood is a heartwarming, funny, and emotional story based on the book Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by Matthew Logelin. The movie stars Kevin Hart as a father who has to raise his baby daughter as a single dad after the unexpected death of his wife. Hart’s character navigates the doubts, fears, and dirty diapers of being a widowed single dad. It shows Hart in a different, more dramatic role than we’re used to from a Kevin Hart movie.

Available on: June 18, 2021
Watch the trailer here.


7. Good on Paper

Good On Paper (2021), L to R: Iliza Shlesinger as Andrea Margaret Cho as Margot, and Ryan Hansen as Dennis
Alex Lombardi / NETFLIX

Good On Paper starring and written by Iliza Shlesinger (we loved her Elder Millennial), is what happens when comedian Andrea Singer who after years of putting her career over love meets a perfect guy who might just be the love of her life. At the suggestion of her best friend Margot, Andrea goes off in search of who Dennis really is. On paper, he checks all the boxes, but is he everything he appears to be?

Available on: June 23, 2021
Watch the trailer here.


8. THE ICE ROAD (June 25)


Since you’re looking for an action-thriller to host for a fun movie night, Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne have got you covered! The Ice Road stars the two icons in a race against time to save trapped miners after a remote diamond mine collapses in northern Canada. The film also stars Benjamin Walker and Amber Midthunder, and is written and directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, the writer of the original Jumanji film and Armageddon.

The film will be released on June 25th.



AMERICA: THE MOTION PICTURE - (L-R) Killer Mike as "Blacksmith", Oliva Munn as "Thomas Edison", Jason Mantzoukas as "Samuel Adams", Channing Tatum as "George Washington", Bobby Moynihan as "Paul Revere" and Raoul Max Trujillo as "Geronimo". Cr: America, The Motion Picture, LLC. © 2021
AMERICA: THE MOTION PICTURE – (L-R) Killer Mike as “Blacksmith”, Oliva Munn as “Thomas Edison”, Jason Mantzoukas as “Samuel Adams”, Channing Tatum as “George Washington”, Bobby Moynihan as “Paul Revere” and Raoul Max Trujillo as “Geronimo”. Cr: America, The Motion Picture, LLC. © 2021

In this wildly tongue-in-cheek animated revisionist history, a chainsaw-wielding George Washington (voiced by Channing Tatum) assembles a team of rabble-rousers — including beer-loving bro Sam Adams, famed scientist Thomas Edison, acclaimed horseman Paul Revere, and a very pissed off Geronimo — to defeat Benedict Arnold and King James in the American Revolution. Who will win? No one knows, but you can be sure of one thing: these are not your father’s Founding… uh, Fathers. The voice cast includes Simon Pegg as King James, Judy Greer as Martha Dandridge, Bobby Moynihan as Paul Revere and Raoul Trujillo as Geronimo. The ensemble additionally features Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, and many more. With Archer executive producer Matt Thompson at the direction.

America: The Motion Picture comes to Netflix, June 30th.



De la Mora family picture.
De la Mora family picture.

What happened after Paulina and Marìa-Jose’s wedding? Manolo Caro returns with this latest installment in the House of Flowers series that sees Paulina (Cecilia Suarez) investigating newfound evidence that would confirm Agustín Corcuera killed Pato. The search for vengeance in the present is parallel to a younger Virginia and Ernesto’s journey in the 80’s to obtain Augustín’s confession, in a style similar to the third season of the series.

The House of Flowers: The Movie will come to Netflix this June.


Trollhunters: Rise Of The Titans - (L-R) Claire (voiced by Lexi Medrano) and Douxie (voiced by Colin O'Donoghue). Cr: DreamWorks Animation © 2021
Trollhunters: Rise Of The Titans – (L-R) Claire (voiced by Lexi Medrano) and Douxie (voiced by Colin O’Donoghue). Cr: DreamWorks Animation © 2021

From producer Guillermo del Toro, the Netflix series crossover event has finally arrived! The characters and stories you know and love from the popular shows Trollhunters, 3Below, and Wizards will intertwine and come together in the new Netflix Original Film Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans. The animated feature boasts a stellar voice cast including talents like Steven Yeun, Cheryl Hines, Tatiana Maslany, Diego Luna, and a lot more!

The whole family will be able to experience the finale of the Arcadia saga on July 21st.



Felicity Jones as Ellie Haworth and Nabhaan Rizwan as Rory McCallan.
Cr: Parisa Taghizadeh/NETFLIX

A beautiful romantic story that has a Letter from Julliet vibe to it where a journalist named Ellie (Felicity Jones) in London, comes across a series of letters. They follow the love affair of Jennifer (Shailene Woodley) and Anthony (Callum Turner) from the 1960s. Each letter captures Ellie’s interest so much she goes on a mission to investigate the true ending and what became of their affair

The Last Letter from your Lover comes out on July 23rd.


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13. RESORT TO LOVE (July 29)

RESORT TO LOVE. Christina Milian as Erica Wilson in Untitled Alicia Keys Project. Cr. David Bloomer/ NETFLIX © 2020
RESORT TO LOVE. Christina Milian as Erica Wilson in Untitled Alicia Keys Project. Cr. David Bloomer/ NETFLIX © 2020

An upbeat rom-com with a twisty and interesting storyline. There’s a wedding, someone’s in love, but it’s not just the bride and groom (Jay Pharoah). Family, friends, affection and secrets. All the makings for a swoon-worthy but hilarious movie. 

Resort to Love is out on July 29th.



THE LAST MERCENARY - Group of mercenaries walking in front of an explosion proudly.
THE LAST MERCENARY – Group of mercenaries walking in front of an explosion proudly.

With Summer comes your daily prescription of action movies, and The Last Mercenary is just what the doctor ordered. Hollywood icon and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to your homes, and stars in this action-comedy that sees his character try to reconnect with and save his son from both the government and the mafia.

It hits (or spin-kicks) onto the streaming service on July 30th.



Blood Red Sky - A mother hugs her son, with both sitting in airplane seat.
Blood Red Sky – A mother hugs her son, with both sitting in an airplane seat.

If you are looking for a movie that keeps you on your toes, check out this English-German production. Directed by Peter Thorwarth, Blood Red Sky or Transatlantic 473 as it is also known, sees the protagonist (Peri Baumeister) fight off against a group of terrorists hijacking a transatlantic overnight flight, while also keeping her son safe.

Blood Red Sky will premiere in July.

16. THE KISSING BOOTH 3 (August 11)

The Kissing Booth 3 - Main cast sitting on some chairs by the pool, smiling.
The Kissing Booth 3 – Main cast sitting on some chairs by the pool, smiling.

As part of the trilogy, The Kissing Booth continues but with yet another dilemma. With Elle leaving for school soon, the only pressing problem is that she needs to make a choice. Will she go with her best friend as promised or have a change of heart and follow her boyfriend?

Available on: August 11th.
Watch the trailer here.


17. SWEET GIRL (August 20)


Follow a husband (Jason Momoa) as he navigates avenging his wife’s death while protecting his only daughter (Isabel Merced). Brian Mendoza’s feature directorial debut, Sweet Girl sees the amazing thriller-horror focused trio of Philip Eisner, Gregg Hurwitz and Will Staples in the writing room. 

Sweet Girl debuts August 20th.
Watch the trailer here.


18. HE’S ALL THAT (August 27)


An exciting modern twist on the 1999 classic She’s All That. This contemporary, gender-swapped version will cover the story of a teenager (Tik Tok sensation Addison Rae) on the mission to convert a  seemingly non-popular high school senior (Tanner Buchanan) into the Prom king. It’ll feature makeovers, makeouts, and of course: drama. What more do you need for a summer flick?

He’s all that comes out August 27th.


BECKETT - Beckett (John David Washington) looks behind him suspiciously.
BECKETT – Beckett (John David Washington) looks behind him suspiciously.

Set with a gorgeous backdrop of Greece, this danger-centric movie directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino (Call Me By Your Name). will have you at the edge of your seat. John David Washington (Tenet, Malcolm & Marie), is caught up in a mysterious but deadly political conspiracy. Follow along his journey of escape in this dramatic thriller, and grab some popcorn cause we know it’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

Beckett will come out in August.


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Music Pop Culture

Why Italy’s win at Eurovision 2021 is crucial for its music future

It’s almost 1 am, and my friends and I are anxiously gathered in front of the TV, waiting for the official number of the audience votes. When the presenter finally announced that Switzerland did not get enough votes to get above Italy, we just looked at each other in disbelief. “Italy is the Eurovision 2021 winner!”

On the screen, screen Damiano – the lead singer and lyricist of the rock quartet that shook Eurovision‘s stages in Rotterdam – looked as incredulous as we felt. After a couple of seconds, realization hit, and the joy and enthusiasm that followed could only be compared to the widespread feeling after Italy winning the 2006 World Football Cup. If you know anything about Italy, is that few things unite us Italians and let us forget our regional differences like football does, so to say that the atmosphere is similar to that of 15 years ago is certainly quite something.

[Image description: Måneskin holding the Eurovision trophy.] ViaNBC
[Image description: Måneskin holding the Eurovision trophy.] Via NBC
Italy has a long and complicated history with the Eurovision Song Contest. After the Second World War, Italian journalist Sergio Pugliese suggested adapting the already in use singing competition format from the Italian national contest Sanremo for a European show, which would help promote stronger ties among the different countries. The idea was well-received by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and thus in 1956 the Eurovision Song Contest was born. At the time, the countries participating were Belgium, France, West Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy. In the following decades, many others joined the competition.

Given that Italy inspired Eurovision, you would think the country would have a vested interest in participating actively in the competition. And for a while, it was what happened. Nel blu dipinto di blu by Domenico Modugno, which still is a masterpiece known internationally, only scored third place in 1958. Italy’s first win happened finally in 1964 with Gigliola Cinquetti’s Non ho l’età (per amarti). In the following years, Italy kept seeing ups and downs. In 1981 the national broadcasting station RAI decided not to participate anymore in the contest, citing a “lack of general interest from the Italian audience.” In the 80’s Italy would go on participating only from 1983 to 1985, and then coming back to the competition in 1987. In 1990 came Italy’s second win with Insieme: 1992, sung and composed by Totò Cutugno.

Because of the politically tense situation in 1991, with the first Gulf War in its most dramatic moments, the competition was held in Rome, in a way that was seen as “poorly improvised” by the other European countries. Italy went on to participate in the contest only until 1994, when they decided once again to abandon Eurovision because of “lack of interested audience in Italy.” After EBU’s pressuring Italy to return to the competition, in 1997 Jalisse went on stage to represent Italy, arriving in fourth place. Both the editions of 1993 and 1997 however are to this day clouded in controversy. It appears, from rumors and commentary by the then-presenters, that RAI had no interest in hosting the Eurovision, as they were afraid of the financial weight of Italy’s potential victory. Jalisse declared that they were victims of a “witch hunt” after returning from the European competition. and not allowed to reclaim their space on the Italian scene afterward.

For 14 years since 1997, Italy did not participate in Eurovision. In 2008 Raffaella Carrà lit up again the debate about Eurovision, hosting and presenting a tv segment with guests the past Eurovision participants from different countries. In 2011 finally RAI announced the decision to finally come back to the competition, and Italy came back as one of the Big Five, the five countries that had the most influence over Eurovision and would proceed directly to the finals. In 2015 came the decision of selecting Sanremo’s winner as the participant in the Eurovision Song Contest. Il Volo, a pop opera trio, performed Grande Amore, arriving in third place even after a record high number of audience votes. The fact that the special jury had such control over whoever won Eurovision was at the center of controversy, and the voting system was altered already the following year to reflect a 50% weight coming from the special jury votes and the other 50% assigned by the general audience.

From 2016 the general Italian interest in the competition grew, also thanks to RAI broadcasting it on its main channel Rai 1. In recent years, although many great acts performed on the Eurovision stage – among which are Gabbani, Ermal Meta e Fabrizio Moro, Francesca Michielin, and Mahmood – none snatched a victory. 2019’s artist Mahmood came the closest, only 27 points below Duncan Laurent’s Arcade. With the increasingly popular right-wing parties on the rise in Italy, having Mahmood represent Italy at an international competition was seen had certainly a strong impact. The raw social anger in Soldi and its line in Arabic which won Sanremo nudged the Italian music scene towards a more open-minded future.

And it’s exactly this open-minded future we are seeing represented in Italy’s win with Måneskin: the eldest member of the band, Damiano was born in 1999, with the youngest, Thomas, being born in 2001. The unapologetic track Zitti e Buoni that stole Europe’s hearts is really the polished angry voice of the younger generations in the country, tired of a society that tells them to “shut up” and just put up with it. Coming right at the end of such a troubled time for Europe, this heavy rock song conquered Eurovision, winning by 26 points over second-place France. 31 years after Italy’s last win, Måneskin brought home the third win to their country, standing out for their authenticity and raw energy.

Right after the official announcement, it is custom for the Eurovision winner to perform an encore of their track. As we listen to the uncensored, full version of Zitti e Buoni, with Damiano challenging Italian homophobes by kissing both of his male group members and Mäneskin just thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage, I cannot help but be thankful to them.

Later, we will worry and debate over which city in Italy will be able to host the European competition, and which political party will use Eurovision as a propaganda tool for this or that campaign. Many Italians even took to Twitter wishing the current PM Mario Draghi, famous for his austerity measures, good luck in finding the necessary funding.

At 3 am, as the enthusiastic feeling of victory finally sinks in and I prepare to go to bed, one last thought goes to Damiano, Victoria, Ethan, and Thomas. As a fellow Roman, I know the streets they used to busk in at the beginning of their careers. What Roman has never been to Via del Corso, the main shopping street where they held this famous street performance? I am beyond proud of Måneskin and what they have achieved throughout these years. They challenged Italy’s most popular singing competition and brought a rock track to a contest that had always favored mainstream light pop music.

Mäneskin gave a voice to the Italian youth, creating their own space on stage.

Rock and Roll will never die!” shouted Damiano right after receiving the trophy. Through all the hardships we had to face, Måneskin proved that in football or music, Italy comes together as a country. And that Italy’s pride too, will never die.

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Aww Nostalgia Pop Culture

Let magic and love prevail this International Harry Potter Day

Every year, Potterheads celebrate Harry Potter Day on May 2 to commemorate the Battle of Hogwarts. Are you partying with an online meetup with your fellow friends and presenting them with magical gifts? Me, I will celebrate the 24th anniversary of Voldemort’s defeat by re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – and with a cake, as it is my birthday as well!

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

I read this chapter so many times I could recite it to you at this point. It feels like it was only yesterday that I opened the first pages of the first chapter in the Harry Potter series. Somehow time flew us by instead, and next year is going to be the 25th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Wicked, right?

From the completion of the book series, to the writing of the controversial sequel theater screenplay The Cursed Child and finally the Fantastic Beasts movie series, J.K.Rowling has kept expanding and adding to the universe in various shapes. Much to the dismay of many fans, I might add.

Whether you grew up as the books from the main series came out (as I did), or whether you were born after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released on the big screen, Harry Potter certainly has had a huge impact on our collective imaginary. Thinking of magic and wizards without at least drawing inspiration from the Harry Potter universe is nearly impossible. Just scrolling on TikTok you will encounter thousands of videos with the #hogwarts tag – which has videos tagged with it for around 18.5B total views!

It’s safe to say that by this point we all know our Hogwarts House and made it a part of our persona online. From Harry Potter themed parties to proper sorting ceremonies, all Potterheads have their own cherished memories tied to the books series. Mine are of happening upon an English copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a random supermarket and convincing my father to buy it for me when I was 15.

Harry, Hermione and Ron all grew up in the span of the 7 books, and so did we. And although the universe still enjoys strong popularity, the same cannot be said for its author JK Rowling.

In the past few years, the writer has been heavily criticized for her seemingly off-hand comments on the book or characters. Somehow under the assumption that anything coming from her would always be welcomed with open arms by readers, J.K. Rowling kept on shamelessly adding to her characters long after the story was done.

“The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”

If these comments stopped at her characters perhaps there would be a way to look past. However, the intolerance and hate that she kept hidden away surfaced in 2019, where the researcher Maya Forstater was fired after making several transphobic tweets. Among others, Rowling announced on her Twitter her support for the researcher. Under the false guise of “feminism” the author kept pushing for transgender exclusionary ideology again and again, going as far as writing a lenghty letter on her website to address the topic. She acts “concerned” about the new waves of what she calls “trans activism” – constantly diminishing the experience of transgender women.

Her public meltdown on Twitter was followed then by her book Troubled Blood published under a pseudonym, in which the main antagonist is “a serial killer who lures his victims into a false sense of security by dressing as a woman.” There is honestly no way of looking at her work, or her words, as anything else other than deeply transphobic.

“Pity the living, and above all pity those who live without love,” Dumbledore says to Harry in Deathly Hallows. And although there is little to pity Rowling for, we can definitely feel sorry for the way these waves of hate wrapped around our memories of childhood and magic. As Fantastic Beasts is still an ongoing movie series and there are even rumors over various potential TV spinoffs, Harry Potter will surely keep inspiring new generations of fans.

On the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, I believe it’s more important than ever to remember the saga as a triumph of love over hate. Lily’s sacrifice for Harry out of her love for him is one of the pivotal moments in the story, and the main reason that he was finally able to defeat Voldemort.

As Roland Barthes says, “The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.” In other words, a text does not end with the writer putting down their pen. You, the reader, can give the story your own meaning.

On this May 2nd, let’s pick up our own wands and celebrate magic and love.

If you want to get your friends a special Harry Potter-inspired gift, make sure to support the amazing fan creators. You can find our picks here and here.

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Mental Health Health

Poetry will always be my healing force

I was eight years old when I tried to write a poem for the very first time. We were just learning how read and write in school, and my teacher asked us to write a short composition. I remember how I reluctantly put pen to paper and drafted some verses that looked more like doodles than text. The topic was about spring, and I wrote about the little things that help you realize that the warmer season has arrived: the chirping of the birds early in the morning and the first bloom of the spring flowers.

Back then perhaps I did not realize it fully, but it was my way of noticing and reveling in my own happiness at the beginning of spring. Those simple rhymes were my smiles and laughter whenever I saw new life coming out of the winter cold.

I can connect every poem I have ever written to a memory and a feeling. When I had my first crush, I was too embarrassed to talk to him directly, so I would turn to my notebook and write. Reading these poems a decade later might be a bit embarrassing, in the way you feel when you’re forced to watch childhood videos. But at that moment, they captured my feelings and helped me process them.

I remember a summer sunset in Seoul, years later. Walking slowly beside the river, until the sun fell under the waves. The nostalgia for my town, and the love for that big metropolis that had welcomed me so warmly. And the realization that came with finally being a “grown-up.” The image is so vivid and colorful in my mind, with the hues of red and orange and the specks of cobalt at the edges.

After coming back home, I sat down on my bed, and tried to think about the reason why it was so clear in my mind. I mulled over it and I could not figure it out. I finally drew my pen and painted that summer sunset the one way I knew would help me. As I stopped to choose the right words, the ones that would build the right rhythm for the main picture, the feeling became clearer to me.

It is a bit like painting. You have to mix the colors on your palette until you get just the right hue for the sky. In the same way, you mix and pick different words and sentences until they form the exact rhythm of the feeling you want to convey. Having to choose them carefully, you are made to evaluate them and think of why one word better suits a context than another. That precise nitpicking is the one that I always found useful, especially when in doubt about what exactly I was feeling. Whether they were negative or positive, poetry has always made my feelings easier to understand.

I remember a cold winter night in Harbin, the snow flurrying around me in a deadly storm, the wind trying to scratch over any exposed patches of skin. I remember feeling lost and powerless, in a world that was too big for an 18-years-old me.

When I put down the pen, the page in front of me was full of doodles and words scratched off. The finished poem lay in front of me. And instantly, I felt very light.

To me, writing poetry is a cathartic process that starts with a picture, and helps me let go of feelings. A bit like when you do yoga and the instructor tells you to relax and let all the worries leave your body.

This what writing poetry feels like.

Letting the words wash away anything that was being kept inside me, and releasing them in another shape, ink on paper.

I have been writing poems since I was eight, and I’ve never stopped.

As long as I am living, breathing and feeling, I don’t think I’ll ever stop arranging words in short compositions.

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