What To Watch: Netflix Originals

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of my “what to watch” series! How are we all holding up? Staying safe? Staying sane? Are we all going crazy while practicing social distancing, or are we enjoying the solitude? Have you ran out of things to watch and binge yet?!

netflixAssuming that most humans in the world have access to a Netflix account, your options are close to unlimited! There’s so many shows and movies to explore on Netflix, and they have really upped their game in terms of their original series! The amount of content can seem overwhelming, so here are my top 10 Netflix original shows that you should check out:

5 Netflix Original Reality Shows:

queer eyeQueer Eye
You may have been living under a rock if you haven’t at least heard of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reboot with the new Fab Five. Now is the time for some feel-good content, so head to watch/rewatch this revolutionary show! You will laugh, you will cry, and you will (attempt to) forget about the current insanity.

next in fashionNext In Fashion
Featuring Tan France from Queer Eye as a host, this reality competition focuses on fashion and design! A group of incredibly talented fashion designers are tasked with creating new looks and fresh concepts each week, with one winner in the end. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, and who doesn’t need more Tan in their life?!

the circleThe Circle
I want to be on this show so bad!! This is a reality competition similar to Big Brother, where contestants vote for who is in power and who goes home each week. The twist? They are all in separate rooms and can only communicate virtually. Some individuals chose to play as themselves, while others use false pictures and choose to play as a catfish. Someone PLEASE cast me for next season!

love is blindLove Is Blind 
This show is everywhere in the media right now, so there’s a good chance you’ve been bombarded with people telling you to watch this. I’m telling you, it’s worth it. The show has Bachelor vibes, but with the twist of dating through “pods”, where the men and women are to make connections and engagements without ever meeting face to face. They then go through a wild ride to their wedding day, where they have the option of saying “I do” or “I don’t”. Did I mention it was a wild ride? It’s a wild ride.

exBack With The Ex
Once you’re done with Love Is Blind, you may be feeling a void. It’s definitely not as good, but Back With The Ex can certainly fill that void for you. (Note: Netflix says this is an original series, Google disagrees, but I’m keeping it on this list anyway.) The title is self-explanatory: ex couples attempt to sort things out; some have not seen each other in 3, 6, or 28 years!! You may believe in love again.. or you may realize that ex’s should stay ex’s for a reason. Either way, please don’t call your ex to be your quarantine bae.

5 Netflix Original Scripted Shows:

oitnbOrange is the New Black
This isn’t a new show or anything, but it’s one of the absolute best ones out there. OITNB is loosely based on the story of Piper Kerman, who was sent to one year in a women’s prison for a 10 year old drug crime. The show then takes off to involve the stories of many other inmates that you will no doubt learn to love. The show gets real, brings up a lot of important conversations, and also will speak right to your heart. Seriously one of the most amazing shows that was ever made.

black mirrorBlack Mirror
OMG this is a CRAZY SHOW! Just like American Horror Story‘s seasons, each episode of Black Mirror is standalone, so you can watch the episodes in any order. Each episode explores an extreme scenario of technology in society. For example, what would happen if everyone’s credit score was based on social media likes? What if you could rewind your memories at will for all to see? What if Amazon’s Alexa was actually a clone of yourself? Safe to say, your mind will be blown more than once.

hill houseHaunting of Hill House
This is legit one of my favorite shows ever! I’m no expert in the genre of horror, but I love a show that can freak me out and stand my hair on end. This family of house flippers find themselves in quite a predicament when their haunted mansion starts to unleash its powers all around them. I’ve watched this more than once and probably will watch more times in the future. 

youYou
There is nothing like this show; the format is so unique and the plot twists are awesome. Penn Badgley does an amazing job of being creepy, alluring, frustrating, and interesting. Is this a love story? Is this a horror/thriller narrative? Take the ride to find out! Also, the actress who plays “Nellie” on Hill House can be seen as new love interest “Love” on season 2. Shit is about to get crazy!

grace and frankieGrace and Frankie
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are timeless treasures that I am obsessed with. In this hilarious series, their husbands leave the women to be gay together, and the two very different gal pals are forced into an unlikely but beautiful friendship. My whole family watches this show, including my Grams who recently was introduced to binge-watching. Also, June Diane Raphael is my spirit animal in this show. (I tweeted that once and June liked the tweet!!)

NMore Netflix content coming tomorrow! Stay safe and stay sane.

Thanks for reading.

The Complete Queer Eye Book Collection

I’ve done lots of reading this year, which led me into a deep dive into the works of my five favorite guys. You can catch them on Netflix’s Queer Eye: Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Bobby Berk.

My breakdown for the first three books can be found by clicking the links below:

img_79241. Over The Top by Jonathan Van Ness

IMG-66542. Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope by Karamo Brown

img_79733. Naturally Tan by Tan France

img_86264. Antoni has a cookbook rather than a novel, called Antoni In The Kitchen.

There’s an intro in the beginning where we get to learn more about Antoni and where he drew his inspirations for food. He grew up in Montreal with two Polish parents, and experienced a variety of culture growing up. He also mentions Queer Eye of course, which includes a forward from original “food and wine” expert, Ted Allen. I also love that Antoni mentions his sexuality, because he felt insecure about being on a show starring gay men when he is really more on the spectrum of sexuality.

img_8628Though Antoni comes from Polish decent, the book is not overloaded with Polish recipes. It’s actually a lovely cultural mix of Polish, Italian, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Aussie, American, and so much more. Every recipe is included with a paragraph of Antoni explaining the dish and why he loves it, as well as some anecdotes, tips, and detailed instructions. I also appreciate that every recipe comes with a picture, because I don’t understand recipe books that don’t show you what you’re supposed to be making. This is loaded of pictures of both food and Antoni for you to drool over. Once I make some of these dishes for myself, I’ll be sure to review.

img_8068

5. Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life  

Bobby is way too busy renovating the houses of America to have the downtime to write a book about himself – I mean seriously, do they let him sleep?? He is, however, credited in the book that brings the Fab Five all together: Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life. This book is a whole breakdown of everything Queer Eye (the new Fab Five). The producers of the show talk about their ideas for both the original and the reboot; The word “queer” used to have a negative connotation, and I think we can credit these shows in part for the taking back of that word completely. It’s now an empowering word that I love using to describe myself. Thanks, queens!

img_8651

I enjoyed reading about Bobby’s unique upbringing, since he was the one I knew the least about. A lot of the info on the other men I already knew from reading their individual books, so it was nice for me to see Bobby’s backgrounds included. I’ll also say that I’m just not sure about this mustache phase that Antoni was going through here – very Johnny Depp meets James Franco; it’s a whole look.

It’s a great coffee table book, but it’s also completely packed full of content. There’s so much to page through: bios of the guys, deep dives into each of their specialties, and a whole Queer Eye recipe section with dinner menu recommendations. If these guys have already found their way to your heart, this book will make you happy.

 

All books are available on Amazon or other places where books are sold!

Thanks for reading.

Naturally Tan by Tan France

img_7973

Since I already made my way through the books by Karamo and JVN, I figured I had to dive into Tanny’s book as well: Naturally Tan. Known as the style expert, Tan France has been changing the world via Queer Eye once French tuck and floral shirt at a time. His level of sass and pettiness is undeniable and also warranted and evident in the pages of this book.

img_7975

Tan has lived such an interesting life from day one. His family is from Pakistan, he grew up in the UK, but spent time in many different places. He’s an entrepreneur that works hard and makes things happen. He’s been thrown so much in life and yet has always maintained this essence of himself that shines so bright for everyone to see. I also feel that he really opened my eyes to a culture that I had not a lot of knowledge on prior, and I am thankful to know more as a result of Tan.

img_7974

First of all, it should not go unnoticed that there is an incredible amount of racism that people who look like Tan are forced to experience. His chapter about 9/11 is short but really powerful. I could never imagine what someone like Tan goes through, and I did not even understand the amount of airport privilege I have. It’s so cruel the way people can judge based on absolutely nothing but lack of knowledge. Americans are simply uneducated about so many cultures, which could be the cause of the racism.

img_7976

I absolutely love the relationship between Tan and his husband, Rob. The level of respect and love that exists between them is wonderful. I agree with so much that he says about relationships and marriage, that your normal state should not be “hard”. You should not feel like you need to “get away” from who should be your favorite person. Love should be easy, and sure there are obstacles, but it should enhance your life. My favorite parts of the book involved Tan talking about Rob, and the life they share together is amazing and inspiring. 

img_7972

Honestly, Tan is a sassy queen who can hold a grudge and lives for an “I told you so” moment. He really showed the unapologetic version of himself, which honestly kind of confused me. There’s so many kind things shown of him on the show that are gentle and compassionate, but he really sounded bitter in many moments of this book. I’m just surprised that he chose to showcase so much of this side of himself, because I know the softer side is in there.

tanReal quick: Tan, hunny. I really do love you. But your views on hair are wrong. Bangs look good on the right person, red dyed hair is bomb with the right skin tone, and it’s fine to play with the length and texture of your hair. I enjoyed going through your hair journey with you Tanny Bananny, but it’s even more of a reason not to trust your advice. Leave the female hair advice to the females, babe.

naturally tanI really did enjoy Tan’s book and the unique insights it provided. I loved that the book is written with short, anecdotal chapters that are super easy to flip through. Please watch Tan on Queer Eye for all your style needs, and you can also follow him on social media @tanfrance. Naturally Tan can be found wherever the finest of books are sold.

Thanks for reading!

Over The Top by Jonathan Van Ness

img_7924

There has been A LOT of buzz around JVN’s new book! Of course I’ve been a huge fan of Jonathan Van Ness for a very long time, but I love how much media attention he’s been getting in the past year. Jonathan originally was known for his recap show Gay of Thrones, and then earned mainstream attention after becoming a member of Netflix’s Queer Eye‘s Fab Five. The book has made headlines this year because of the secrets that JVN opens up about in the book, and his bravery is insanely admirable.

In one of the episodes of Queer Eye, the Fab Five talk about coming out img_7955of the closet. Jonathan says something along the lines of, “Hello! The sky is blue. The grass is green.” meaning that there really was no “in the closet” for him. He was clearly and obviously flamboyant from a young age, and that left for a good amount of teasing while growing up. The story of his friend from the swim team is one that I’m sure many queer people can relate to: a friend where the lines get blurry and complicated… and then in the end.. awkward. It’s sad that there was so much shame in being gay in these small towns, because it can do a lot of damage.

img_7954

I really enjoyed reading about his reflections on past relationships. Speaking in the abstract makes everything so poetic and tragically beautiful. I could feel that when JVN talked about Sergei. They clearly cared so much about each other as humans, even if their demons constantly came between them. Their story hurt my heart, but the love was clear and present the whole journey. Who gave them permission to be so hauntingly gorgeous?!

img_7958

It was super exciting to see Jonathan go to Tucson for college! However, his experiences at the U of A were not entirely positive. He was clearly in a dark place at this point in his life, and he was searching for answers in some of the worst places. I appreciate his willingness to be open about his escort experience, which left him vulnerable and broken. I’m sure it was not easy for him to be honest about his behavior during this time, but I appreciated that he shared this in his writing. There are a lot of experiences within the male gay community that is swept under the rug, and JVN was able to bring some to light. During this time of darkness, he was luckily able to reach out to his family for the help he needed, and headed home to “start over”.

JVN 5

Recovery, self-love, and mental health are things that JVN is always promoting, and it’s clearly as a result of his life experiences. His words on recovery are inspiring, and he is always reminding everyone to love themselves for where they are at. He says, “One thing I have come to notice in my life is that recovery for me has not been linear. It’s more two steps forward, three back, five forward, two back, so I’m always improving but there are setbacks within the improvement.”

I love Jonathan and every single itty bitty baby gorgeous thing he ever does, and I of course loved this book. But truthfully, I think he could have REALLY JVN 4dove into his dark places and gone even deeper. It definitely would take being EXTREMELY vulnerable to do this, as Jonathan as already revealed so so much in this book. Home girl has been through some shit! I just feel like there was so many stories and deep details that we didn’t get to hear, as he barely skimmed the surface of what he’s been through. He explains the the summary of the dark places, but I was so interested in his life of tricks and compulsivity, and so I definitely wanted a little more. Still, I totally know how hard that would be for JVN, who is very much connected to people worldwide with Queer Eye and his social media presence. I still absolutely applaud him for how much he did open up and reveal in the pages.

I love the way Jonathan combats the stigmas around HIV. This is such a significant conversation! Learning about being “undetectable” is so JVN 6incredibly important to educate people on the virus, and even I learned a lot from his writing. I’m so glad that JVN was recognized for this conversation in the media!! This really can help so many people to not only get the help they need, but also feel comfortable to live a full life while managing their diagnosis. It’s so wonderful that modern medicine can allow those who are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS to live a long lives. In the book, Jonathan mentions how his doctor said he would “go on to die of a heart attack or cancer just like everybody else.” – which is of course a morbid joke, but just shows where HIV is JVN 1in terms of a terminal diagnosis. 

 

 

Below are a list of resources provided by JVN in the book. Also, if you are a member of any community that may be high risk for HIV, please ask your doctor about PrEP, or visit the CDC website or What Is PrRP? or for more information.

Planned Parenthood
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Phoenix House
The Trevor Project
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Advocates for Youth
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
Peer Health Exchange
ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

JVN 3

He is fierce. He is real. He is raw. He gets into it, hunny! Jonathan gets sups vuln and you need to hear all the spilled tea. Grab your little baby copy wherever the finest of books are sold and come along for the gorgeous ride! Queer Eye is of course always available on Netflix – the Japan episodes were released not too long ago, and I know they were filming in Philly this summer!! JVN 2For all things JVN, you can visit jonathanvanness.com or follow him on social media @JVN.

“In general, if you can’t take me at my raw, heated moment, you don’t deserve me at my composed Emmys glam moment.” – Jonathan Van Ness, re-quoting Marilyn Monroe ♡

Thanks for reading!

Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope by Karamo Brown

IMG-6654Being a die-hard fan of both Dancing With The Stars and Queer Eye, I was so excited to hear that Karamo Brown would be a contestant on this upcoming season. You may know him as “Crazy Karamo” from MTV’s The Real World, “culture expert” in the Fab Five of Netflix’s Queer Eye, and now Jenna Johnson’s partner on DWTS. Because I’m somebody who takes a deep dive into everything that I love, I ordered Karamo’s book, and I actually read the entire thing in one sitting. 

karamoWithin the first 10 pages, I could feel Karamo’s charisma, positivity, and enlightenment radiating through the words. The way he writes is so light and refreshing, and his life has proven to be wildly interesting. He is concise, clear, and incredibly wise and reflective. It was empowering to read such amazing things from a member of the LGBTQ community and from someone whom I value and admire so much. 

Screen-Shot-2019-04-02-at-9.47.26-AMI’m inspired by Karamo’s ability to openly admit and own up to his mistakes. I’m wildly impressed by him, and I hope to be able to work on taking accountability for my own actions as a result. Karamo admittedly has a number of things to apologize for, but he does just that with eloquence and grace. I also loved Karamo’s thoughts on the term “letting people in” rather than “coming out” in the LGBTQ+ community. His ideas were something I related to IMMENSELY and appreciated completely:IMG-6655

IMG-6656

I basically cried while reading about his relationship with his fiancé, Ian. Not just because of how adorably in love they are, but also the dynamics and interactions between him and Karamo’s sons. Karamo proposed on Ian’s birthday, just after his son’s Jason and Chris announced that their gift was that they want to call him “Pops”. Family was a clear, present, and fascinating topic for Karamo throughout the book, and Ian completed this part of him. Their relationship is truly beautiful. 

queer-eye-public-domainThere was a lot of push back at first for Karamo on Queer Eye, because he wanted to be the “culture expert” that’s really more of a life coach. The previous culture expert from the original show focused more on arts, museums, plays, etc. in terms of “culture”, but Karamo had a clear goal and intention for what he wanted this role to be. It breaks my heart to hear the negative feedback he first got, as a result of the network not being unified on the vision for his expertise on the show. As a viewer and fan of the series, I feel as though I understood Karamo from the beginning. Even in the very first episode, from which he claims his interactions were largely cut, I could see that Karamo’s impact was present and important. I see you, Karamo! Work, girl!

dwts-karamo-brownI absolutely loved Karamo’s book. It was quick, full of wisdom, and provided me with a new insight into who he is. You can binge watch Queer Eye on Netflix over and over again anytime – and I highly recommend you do so. Of course I also HIGHLY highly recommend Karamo’s book, which can be found wherever books are sold. Also – please vote for him on Dancing With The Stars this season! (Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.)

Thanks for reading!

5 Reasons why JVN is #Goals

Jonathan Van Ness is one of the most amazing people on this planet. That’s not an opinion, it is a fact, honey.

JVN came to full celebrity status as a part of the “Fab Five” on Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye, where he is the groomer, hairstylist, and self-care advocate. His colorful commentary along with his wit and charm have quickly won over all the hearts of America, including mine. He also hosts a Game of Thrones recap web series titled Gay of Thrones, which was nominated for an Emmy, and hosts a podcast called Getting Curious.

He is amazing. He is incredible. He is fabulous. He is gorgeous. He is everything.

Here are the top 5 reasons why we should all follow, love, adore, cherish, admire, and aspire to be JVN:

jvn 51. His Style
I absolutely am obsessed with the boundaries that JVN pushes whenever he steps out to turn a look. His looks are often androgynous, pushing what could be considered “gender norms” by wearing skirts, dresses, and heels. When he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel wearing a sleek black romper and colorful, sparkly heels – I was living for it, honey! He is such a style icon and should be watched for head-turning looks in the future.

 

jvn 42. His Activism
JVN is an outspoken liberal who is extremely involved in activism and making the world a better place. He brings awareness to political issues and supports social issues such as trans rights, women’s rights, gun reform, and more. He was also the first male cheerleader at his high school and went on to cheer at the University of Arizona. JVN breaks ground, stands up for what he believes in, and makes change happen. Regardless of what you believe in, Jonathan is an amazing example of standing up for what you are passionate about.

 

jvn 23. His Podcast
I’ve written about Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness in my podcast favorite posts, but it’s one of the reasons I truly love him. First of all, because I can never get enough of the way he talks, honey. I could just listen to him say “cute” and “gorgeous” on repeat or as my alarm in the morning. JVN also has some really important guests that cover significant topics that dive deep into a variety of issues. From artificial intelligence, to peace in the Middle East, to climate change, to women in comedy, and everything in between! It’s extremely admirable that he takes the time to ensure we hear so many important messages from credible sources.

 

jvn 34. His Ice Skating
We should all learn a valuable lesson from JVN – it’s never too late to learn a new skill. Jonathan has always been obsessed with figure skating, or more specifically, Michelle Kwan, and decided in his adult life to take on the task of learning the art. He posts videos of this progress, showing both his falls and the landings. This is such an amazing message to teach anyone who is watching him. There is a struggle to learning something new; it takes time, patience and determination. JVN is working hard and I can’t wait til we see him land that gorgeous triple axle, honey. #JVNSkates

 

jvn 15. His Hair
Jonathan’s hair – including facial – is truly killer. He can rock a blow out like he is Beyoncé with his long luscious locks blowing beautifully across his shoulders. He is also no stranger to a gorgeous messy bun or top knot, paired with the right accessories of course. JVN’s mustache game is truly incredible as well and always on point. Gentlemen – take a note! Regardless of the length of your hair/beard/etc., know how to manage and take care of it.

 

For all things JVN, visit https://jonathanvanness.com/ or follow him on social media @jvn.

Thanks for reading!

2018 Emmy Award Winners (sat & sun)

Getting excited for the TV red carpet event of the year?! The 70th PrimeTime Emmy Awards broadcasts live tonight, September rs_1024x576-180710125059-1024.emmys.7131817th at 8PM on NBC, hosted by SNL’s Collin Jost and Michael Che. Over the weekend, many nominations received their award on nights one and two that took place on September 15th and 16th. In case you need a recap, here is a highlight of several 2018 Emmy winners so far:

Samira Wiley, Handmaid_s TaleOutstanding Guest Actress on a Drama Series – Samira Wiley, Handmaid’s Tale

This Is Us - Season 1Outstanding Guest Actor on Drama Series – Ron Cephas Jones, This is Us

Tiffany Haddish, SNLOutstanding Guest Actress on a Comedy Series – Tiffany Haddish, SNL

Katt Williams, AtlantaOutstanding Guest Actor on a Comedy Series – Katt Williams, Atlanta

Queer EyeOutstanding Structured Reality Program – Queer Eye

United Shades of AmericaOutstanding Unstructured Reality Program – United Shades of America

RuPaul, RuPaul's Drag RaceOutstanding Host for a Reality Program – RuPaul, RuPaul’s Drag Race

U.S.S. Callister Mutato Building EventOutstanding Television Movie – USS Callister

Mandy Moore, So You Think You Can DanceOutstanding Choreography – Mandy Moore, So You Think You Can Dance

Game of ThronesOutstanding Special Visual Effects – Game of Thrones

James Corden_s Next James CordenOutstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama – James Corden’s Next James Corden

one-direction-joins-james-corden-for-carpool-karaoke-720x720Outstanding Short Form Variety Series – Carpool Karaoke

Rick and MortyOutstanding Animated Program – Rick and Morty

Robot ChickenOutstanding Short Form Animated Program – Robot Chicken

Alex Borstein, Family GuyOutstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Alex Borstein, Family Guy

Dave Chappelle, EquanimityOutstanding Pre-Recorded Variety Special – Dave Chappelle, Equanimity

Tune in tonight at 8 PM to see the rest of the big winners! (For a list of nominations and some predictions from someone in the industry, click HERE!)

Thanks for reading.