Writer reviews, gives recommendations of media watched over summer


Tyler Medeiros

In a digitally constructed image by sophomore Tyler Medeiros, the posters from the Netflix show ‘Heartstopper’, the movie ‘Spider-Man’ and an image of Doja Cat from her song ‘Vegas’ stand side by side. In the article, senior Rusty Joe Gonzales reviews some of the entertainment media that they consumed over summer.

Rusty Joe Gonzales, Executive Entertainment Editor

As we get back to school from summer break, some people may find that they have less time to enjoy and consume all of the shows, movies, music and maybe even podcasts that they are either regular and avid fans of, or that they may be trying to get into for the first time. However, as we return I would like to briefly recommend and review some of the media I either consumed for the first time, or have re-consumed, over the summer.

TV Shows


Copyright: Netflix

I originally watched this show when it came out in April of this year, and like many people in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies corner of the internet, I immediately jumped onto binging the show on Netflix. The show is based off of the Webtoon comic of the same name, originally created by writer and artist Alice Oseman in the spring of 2019. The comic and show is about two boys, Nick Nelson, played by Kit Connor, and Charlie Spring, played by Joe Locke, who go to an all boys school in England along with their friends. It follows Nick and Charlie as they meet in study hall and slowly build a platonic, and eventually romantic, relationship, all while Nick begins to explore his sexuality.

After the first time I watched the show in April, I read the web comic that it was based off of. Now that I have rewatched the show after reading the web comic, along with people on the internet putting the two side-by-side, I have noticed a lot of parallels or recreations of comic panels in the show, which only added to my enjoyment of the story. Select critics online have called this show “cheesy” or “stereotypical”, but in my opinion, that only adds to the show’s appealing nature. For many years now, people in the LGBTQ+ community have been asking for a show like this, one that replicates the same romantic cheesiness that heterosexual characters have gotten in their shows and movies for decades leading up to now. Overall I really enjoy this show and give it a solid 10/10.

Stranger Things Season 4

Copyright: Netflix

Like many other fans this summer, as soon as Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1 came out on May 27  of this year, I watched it as soon as I woke up on the day that it premiered and binged it all that day. When the second part of the season, came out on July 1., I also went ahead and binged it all on the day that it was released. I don’t really know how to summarize the two parts of this season aside from the fact that it was absolutely epic.

To me, the directors, the Duffer brothers, kept up the same quality of work that we have come to expect from them due to Stranger Things seasons 1-3. A lot of what truly stood out to me this season was the use of visual and practical effects that were used on Vecna, played by Jamie Campbell Bower . Another thing that was absolutely stunning this season was the cinematography, for example when Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, was at the roller rink with Will and Mike and got surrounded by bullies while skating, one of which had a video camera that we saw the point of view from. Another amazing example of cinematography this season was during Max’s, played by Sadie Sink, escape from Vecna in the Upside Down, which is also an amazing example of how well the soundtrack is integrated into the show, seeing as how Max’s favorite song is revealed early on to be Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” which is later remixed with an orchestral accompaniment during her epic escape from Vecna. The only thing I did not really like about this season was the time skip and cliffhanger that we were left on at the end of the season, which did bring my rating down to 8/10.

The Umbrella Academy Season 3

Another thing that was absolutely stunning this season was the cinematography, for example when Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, was at the roller rink with Will and Mike and got surrounded by bullies while skating, one of which had a video camera that we saw the point of view from.

— Rusty Joe Gonzales

Overall I really liked this season. It fit perfectly into the storyline that the other two seasons have already established, even though it was a somewhat original storyline from the comics that the show is based off of. In my opinion the differences only add to the storyline rather than take away from it, especially since the changes make the show follow good continuity from season to season. Another thing that made me really like this season, is how they handled Viktor, played by Elliot Page, coming out as transgender within the context of the show. While this season does repeat the same storyline as the other two seasons, it adds some tension with the Umbrellas and Sparrows fighting it out during the first episode and adds even more constant tension throughout the season due to people and places disappearing because of the “Kugelblitz,” a ball of electricity or fire that forms because of the paradox of both the Umbrellas and the Sparrows existing in the same timeline and that slowly sucks things in and erases them as an attempt to fix the paradox. Another thing I really liked was the classic dance scene that has become a staple of happening at least once per season in this show. This time, the song featured for this season’s dance scene was “Footloose.” Overall, I give this season an 11/10, the extra point being because of how they handled Viktor’s transition and subsequent coming out.


Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy

As soon as I saw that this classic trilogy was on Netflix, I knew I had to try my best to binge all of them in one to two days, which I did successfully. For those who may not know about this trilogy, it’s a series of movies titled Spider-Man 1-3 initially released in 2002-2007 directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire as the titular Spider-Man aka Peter Parker. For many, this was their first exposure to the character of Spider-Man and it was his first appearance in a movie, though several cartoons starring the character were released before the movies. The three movies follow Parker as he discovers his spider-based powers and becomes a hero, all the way through his eventual relationship with Mary Jane Watson, played by Kirsten Durst, and the struggles that come with being a superhero and trying to balance a personal life. 

While I may be slightly blinded by nostalgia on this one, as I remember watching these movies, or at least the third one on DVD while at my older sister’s trailer house with my nieces. In my opinion these movies never get old, they’re pretty much classics to me at this point. Two things I absolutely love about this trilogy: first of all, they try to highlight an even balance of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man and Peter’s best attempt at balancing the two. Some of the Spider-Man movies that we have gotten in the past several years with Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland, while good in their own right, have leaned too far to either side of focusing on Peter Parker or focusing on Spider-Man when the whole point of the comics and other media that features the hero, is showing a relatable teenage hero, which is hard to do if you focus too much on either side, but this trilogy finds that fine balance and walks it perfectly. Another reason I love this trilogy, and more specifically the third movie, is because of the symbiote suit and that whole story arc. I absolutely love the look of the black and white suit and I’m sad that it has only been featured in two modern Spider-Man media. Overall, I give this trilogy a solid 9/10.


‘Vegas’ by Doja Cat (Warning: Explicit)

This is a song that I initially listened to towards the beginning of the summer, and while I am not usually much of a die-hard fan of Doja Cat’s stuff, this song is absolutely amazing. I love that it features some samples from the song “Hound Dog” not by Elvis Presley, but by an artist known as Big Mama Thornton, who Presley stole it from. As this song was used in the biopic “Elvis” it does have a double meaning when you look at the lyrics. For example, “There’s more sides to the story, I’ma tell everybody.” To me, she isn’t just talking about some possible ex-partner who may have cheated on her and lied about it, she may also be talking about how the movie is also exposing Elvis for some of the bad or wrong things he did. Along with good lyrics that fit with or without the context of the movie, the song also has a really catchy instrumental that makes it really easy to vibe along with, overall I give it about a 7/10. This may have been higher if I had watched the movie, but since I didn’t, that is the score it has landed at for me.

‘Dreamland’ by Glass Animals (Warning for some explicit songs)

Copyright: Republic Records

While the album originally came out in 2020, I gave it a solid re-listen during this summer as a lead up to the release of a remastered version of it that the band did. For me, this album is one that is super easy to just lay back and vibe to, as well as an absolute lyrical and instrumental masterpiece, especially once you get into analyzing the album and its songs. The titular and first track on the album “Dreamland” serves as a table of contents for the entire album, with each lyric referencing another song on the album while framing the song, and the album as a whole, as a trip into the lead singer Dave Bayley’s mind and his memories.

While I love the entire album, and it’s one that I could listen to front to back time and time again, I will only list some of my favorite tracks and why I love them. To start off, “Tangerine” is a track with more of an upbeat and poppy instrumental and a chorus that could easily get stuck in your head, but the lyrics describe a person who has changed from being someone with an upbeat, happy, and sweet personality to being someone with a more outwardly sour or otherwise negative personality, just like the contrast in the outside skin of the fruit the song is named after, and the inward sweet flavor the fruit has once you bite into it.

Another song I love off of this album is “Heat Waves,” a track that describes someone going through a breakup, one that is either still fresh or just one that they can’t get over. In the song, the singer compares memories of the relationship to a mirage one might see during intense heat, something that is there that the person desires but cannot actually get or even touch due to the fact that in reality, what they see isn’t actually there. The instrumental behind the lyrics really fits with them, being somewhat somber while still remaining rather fast, which to me really conveys the feelings of sadness and longing expressed in the lyrics. 

With those two songs only being a small snippet of the tracks on this album, I give this album an overall 12/10. It feels deeply personal to the lead singer’s life and memories that may have been tough for him to write about and relive, but at the same time it conveys such an overall feeling of nostalgia that you really only get when reliving memories like the ones sung about, and when the songs are mixed with audio clips from home videos of the singer’s life, it truly adds even more to the nostalgic and sometimes even relaxing feel of the album.

‘CHEATCODE’ by lil poodle (Warning: Explicit)

This song is about a guy trying to get into a relationship with a girl he likes but feels like is out of his league, which is something some people may be able to relate to. In the song, the singer talks about how he is trying to come up with a plan to get this girl back. As the singer wishes for a simpler way to get to the girl’s heart, he sings “Up, Down, Left, Control and start,” a reference to the Konami Code, a cheat code used in many video games to get some sort of buff or perk, so he is basically wishing for a cheat code that would instantly make the girl like him back. The song has a really catchy beat backing the lyrics and overall making the song really flowy and at least to me, almost makes the listener want to instantly stop what they’re doing and vibe toit, if even for a few seconds. Overall this song is a solid 8/10 to me.

‘Kilby Girl’ by The Backseat Lovers

Copyright: The Backseat Lovers

This song is about a girl that the listener can assume the singer met at some sort of bar, concert venue, or otherwise age-restricted place due to the lyrics “I overheard that she was nineteen, she’s got a fake ID and a nose ring.” With an instrumental that starts as just medium-paced guitar strumming but eventually builds up into a full mix of guitar, drums, and some other instruments that I can’t quite place, it really only adds to the overall vibe of excitement and adrenaline that may come with getting to know someone like the girl described in the song, the type of person that regardless of what you’re doing with them, you’re having a heck of a time doing it and just being with them. I give this song a solid 10/10, if anything purely for the epic as all heck instrumental that closes out the song.

‘Alice’ by Vista Kicks

This song is about a girl that the singer is in a relationship with, and in the song he compares the relationship to the fictional world of Wonderland from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” because he feels like the relationship is too good to be true. This is further emphasized with lyrics like “Look we got the world in our hands,” showing that the relationship has a ton of, assumedly positive, potential. The song has an overall very groovy, upbeat, and peaceful vibe with only drums, guitar, and bass as the instrumental, which also gives off somewhat of a retro vibe to me. My rating for this song is an 8/10, it’s kind of your basic love song with a retro indie rock vibe provided by the instruments.

‘Late Night Talking’ by Harry Styles

Copyright: Columbia Records

This song is about Styles singing to a partner he is with while he is assumedly away, whether it be on tour or for some other reason, he hasn’t been gone for long yet misses his partner like crazy, and will overall do anything to make them happier or just feel good in general, including being up late on the phone talking to them about anything and everything just to feel closer to them while the two are physically apart. The song fits well with the rest of the “Harry’s House” album with its poppy backing track, firmly putting this song in the Pop genre, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. The song, and specifically the chorus, is really catchy and really easy to start vibing to as soon as it pops up on your playlist or radio, and is definitely one of my favorites off of the album and probably one of favorite Harry Styles songs off his discography, definitely a solid 9/10.

‘Teenage Dream’ (cover) by Stephen Dawes

Okay so right off the bat, I am of the firm opinion that this cover is 100 times better than the original by Katy Perry, with the main instrument in this cover being an acoustic guitar, it immediately gives the song a more intimate vibe, but the way the instruments slowly build and get faster after the strumming pauses for a few seconds also adds some excitement and momentum to the song. To me, the instruments mixed with the lyrics truly encapsulates my ideal “teenage dream” romance. The way that Dawes spaces out certain words later in the song to time them with the guitar strumming and a boosted bass to emphasize those words really adds a feeling of excitement that fits what he is singing about and fits the overall feeling of a teenage romance. I rate this song a solid 11/10 due to the absolutely artistic composition.

I anticipate that through my opinions, analysis, and ratings of the above media that I consumed this summer, readers will walk away with either new shows and movies they want to watch, or a new song or two that they want to listen to. Maybe you’ll even rewatch or relisten to the items that I talked about and look at them from a new light, and hopefully appreciate some of the media that they consume on a regular basis, especially if it’s from a smaller creator.