This year saw excellent additions to geek TV and movies. And since we had to spend the past nine months indoors, this was very much needed.
Whether it was tackling racism and Lovecraftian monsters or the misadventures on the U.S.S. Cerritos, here are Brown Geeks’ top picks in Television and movies.
And yes, they are all streaming.
Amisha’s Picks: The Haunting of Bly Manor and Lovecraft Country
Writer, Producer and Founder of Avaaz Media and Brown Geeks
The show did what the best horror does — touched on primal fear, in this case, of death. Of course in horror movies, people are afraid of dying but usually at the hands of a monster or monstrous villain. Here, death lives alongside the characters, they don’t have a minute’s respite. They can’t hideaway. The reason is also that someone once had a fear of death and sought to cheat it. The title is apt; the performances, the writing, the direction, all combined to elicit a haunting feeling that left you melancholy more than afraid by its end. Available on Netflix.
Talk about modernizing older works! Not only was inclusive casting put in the spotlight for stories that had no diversity but the author of those stories is turning in his grave. HP Lovecraft was a known racist and this was a welcome smackdown on that. The show went way beyond just being inclusive for its own sake. It had monsters and horror plenty with literal scares in dark basements and under the bed but what remained scariest of all was the face of racism in 1960s America. Among all the deliciously thrilling and fearful moments, one of the best is a sadistic racist sheriff slowly following you out of town hoping you won’t make it past the county’s border in a sunset county is one of the scariest scenes of the show. Available on HBO Max.
Ryan’s Picks: Star Trek: Lower Decks and Babylon 5
Co-Creator/Writer and Executive Producer, We Don’t Belong Here (Avaaz Media’s audio drama podcast)
While I’ve enjoyed Discovery and was greatly disappointed with Picard, I felt Lower Decks was a return to fun Star Trek. Finally, the universe wasn’t being swallowed by cataclysmic events and our group of intrepid space explorers could simply go adventuring. The other thing that sets this show apart is it focuses on the grunts who actually make the ship run and not the stuffy command crew who bark orders.
90s sci-fi is back. This year, Warner Bros. quietly released a remastered version of Babylon 5. While not a true HD remaster, this upgrade is an uprezzed and cleaned up version from the original broadcast masters. The show hasn’t looked this good since it originally aired. This was the show that started the long-term arc storytelling in American television and popularized using CGI effects. If you haven’t seen it, you can now catch the “improved” version on iTunes and Amazon. Next month, it’ll stream on HBO Max.
Lohanne’s Pick: The Mandalorian and The Umbrella Academy
Resident cosplayer, social and marketing manager for Avaaz Media and Brown Geeks, and pop culture connoisseur.
Why is Mando my pick? In a relatively disappointing year, besides joining the Brown Geeks, of course, I tuned into the latest adventure with the Bounty Hunter turned guardian and the child that absolutely delivered on fan-favorite characters including Ahsoka Tano, portrayed by Rosario Dawson, live-action debut. It was also badass to see female characters added to the rescue mission, not just one but predominantly so. Also, the theme and music by Ludwig Goranson is a vibe. Available on Disney +.
I picked Umbrella Academy because season 2 delivered. Not taking itself too seriously except for the fact that, yet again, the world is ending. The show does a fantastic job of balancing the fun, nonsensical situations like Klaus starting a cult and the seriousness of the overall plot of saving the world. At times the show gets away from itself – the price you pay with time travel storylines – but the overall pacing and characters keep the whole thing together. And you got to love the representation. Available on Netflix.
Kunal’s Pick: Primal
Kunal Choubey is a community manager of TheBrownGeeks Discord and a Graphic designer for art content. With a great interest in animation and animated content, Kunal’s free time includes creating content for his own portfolio and learning storyboarding for his own goal to one day become a professional storyboard artist.
Primal is, without a doubt, one of the best-animated pieces of fiction created. Following the adventures of a sole caveman and his dinosaur friend, Primal gives us a visionary experience of life in an ancient world. The entire show has no dialogue, only storytelling through action and visual movement. Animation wise, it is one of the best pieces of animated work on par with that of Disney or Dreamworks (if they still did 2D animation). Available on HBO Max.
Sim’s Pick: Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
Resident writer/content creator, ⅓ of the team behind Avaaz Media’s sci-fi/horror audio drama We Don’t Belong Here, lover of all things animation.
Mutant creatures that are simultaneously adorable yet terrifying, diversity and LGBTQ+ representation, charming characters and stunning visuals – what more could you ask for. I may be a little biased as season 1 of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts got me through a difficult breakup at the beginning of the year, but I knew this series wasn’t a fluke after viewing seasons 2 and 3 over the summer.
Beautiful, whimsical, sometimes a fever dream. These are just a few words I’d use to describe this heartfelt animated series. Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts follows Kipo and a few friends she picks up along the way as they search for her dad across a post-apocalyptic landscape full of mutant creatures and unknown mysteries. Bonus points: great music throughout, plus the show features one of my favorite coming out scenes.
All three seasons are out now on Netflix so if you’re looking for something to binge while you’re stuck indoors for the holidays, definitely don’t miss Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. Available on Netflix.
My runner up for 2020: I May Destroy You – Michaela Coel is a creative genius and deserves all the flowers. Available on HBO.
Eesha’s Pick: The Midnight Gospel
Social Media Content Creator, Illustrator, and Designer for Avaaz Media and Brown Geeks. An avid film, tv, people, and trend watcher, Eesha is always on the hunt for inspiration.
Being in the middle of a pandemic, Clancy’s multiple journeys to simulated worlds on the verge of their own apocalypses was a mind-bending intellectual and visual trip for me. It is an escapist fantasy that feels strangely confrontational. This colorful psychedelic world is definitely not for everyone, but for those who dare, it is unlike anything out there. While the animation may be reminiscent of Ward’s Adventure Time and the interviews are borrowed from Trussell’s podcast, put together it is a genre-bending series that expands the horizons of possibilities with animated content. Available on Netflix.
Tamara’s Pick: Evil Eye
Co-Creator/Producer/Writer/VO Actress in We Don’t Belong Here, Horror enthusiast, and resident host of Oh the Horror Youtube series.
A psychological thriller that explores generational trauma and reincarnation, Evil Eye shook up the horror genre this year. When the trailer dropped for this movie, I was ecstatic at seeing an all South Asian cast. Pallavi (Sunita Mani), a 29-year-old single woman living in New Orleans receives pressure from her mom, Usha (Sarita Choudhury) to get married. As Pallavi develops a relationship with the almost perfect Sandeep (Omar Maskati), Usha instinctively feels like something is horribly wrong with her new beau. Directed by Rajeev and Elan Dassani, the film is thrilling and captivating from the start. The story penned by Madhuri Shekar pulls you in as you travel from Delhi to New Orleans seamlessly. To see two women of color leading the film was incredibly empowering, to say the least. Available on Amazon Prime.
And you can watch our discussion with the creators behind Evil Eye here: