I assume those of you horrified by 2017 headlines have been fighting back with the help of political action sites. But sometimes what you need is to reset your equilibrium just so that you can get through the day, and if that’s what you’re looking for, here are my current (admittedly often silly) survival routines. (Note: I don’t expect my suggestions to be yours, but maybe your disagreement about mine will lead to suggestions of your own, which I’d love to hear.) Here are mine:
Enjoy a Little Snark
Tom and Lorenzo are this fashion police duo who are hilariously harsh. As someone who hasn’t been knowledgeable about fashion since middle school, and never any good at it, I’m not sure why I find fashion critiques so funny. My shoes alone would give them years of fodder. But I love them anyway, and their TV reviews, which originally brought me to their site (Mad Men and Downton Abbey tributes/slams in particular), are always on point.
When I can’t find the sarcasm I need, I head over to someecards or bad reviews on Metacritic. Go to the most negative reviews, and try not to laugh, such as those giving 0% ratings for Collateral Beauty. How about this from the usually affable Peter Travers?: “The unholy mess that director David Frankel and screenwriter Allan Loeb have unleashed for the holidays strands an all-star cast…on a sinking ship that churns the waters from absurd to zombified with frequent stops at pretentious.”
Ask Friends/Family for a Cute Photo of the Day—Over Email
On terrible news days, I now demand, “Cute photos needed!” of my sister with young toddlers, and presto! They arrive. Seriously, what parents will say no to sharing how adorable their children are? On Facebook or Instagram, you need to wade through other things you should avoid, so stick with Old School, my friends: Email. If you’re not a fan of children, you will find friends and family equally willing to share cute pet snapshots. Get to it.
Celebrate a Pal for No Reason
My friend Kerry once stopped by my door with a package and a smile, and announced, “It’s Leah Appreciation Day!” I burst out laughing, as she knew I would. I can remember few times I was so amused and touched, and I made a mental note at the time: This is a fabulous idea. I can’t say I do it enough, or with the aplomb Kerry—a master of silly joy—has mastered, but it’s surprisingly recuperative on a day you’ve watched too much news to buy a dumb card or film for a pal, and announce how much you appreciate him/her with over-the-top fanfare. Birthdays you may feel pressure to get it right. Random days? It’s just fun.
Break Out Some Silly TV
I thought the Psych movie was a remarkably timely gift, but now Amazon has put all the episodes on Prime! Score!
Other light favorites (given Netflix’s recent trends of show ditching, these are only true as of Jan 2018):
- Arrested Development
- Schitt’s Creek
- The Good Place
- Master of None
- The IT Crowd
- The Office (British & American)
- 30 Rock
- Parks and Recreation
- Party Down
- Leverage (Prime, Season 1)
- Head Case (with Alexandra Wentworth; pay only)
- Psych, of course! (Prime)
Invest in Some Cinematic Feminism
It’s easy to just cry at the #MeToo movement; instead, seek inspiration. Check out some awesome blogathons to discover feminist icons of film. Check out the The Anti-Damsel Blogathon from 2015, as just one example. Commit to discovering the work of female filmmakers, as did Girls Do Film two years ago for her New Year’s resolution.
And if you haven’t yet encountered some of the fantastic feminist TV series out there, do so now. Here are a few from Netflix (The Handmaid’s Tale is obviously next for me):
- Jessica Jones (a superhero who survived rape and combats her rapist and those he’s harming)
- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (a woman in her 40s in 1920s Australia who is portrayed as both sexy and empowered)
- Alias Grace (an intriguing fictionalization of a true-life 1840s murder, and the male treatment that may have contributed to it)
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (a musical comedy that breaks boundaries in its portrayal of romance, feminism, and mental illness)
Tune out Everything But Your Pets
Guess who doesn’t know what’s going on out there? Guess who isn’t too blame? Too often I am watching TV or my computer while petting my cat, but when I give my high-spirited feline my full attention, there’s no low-grade stress accompanying my actions, and he’s more likely to cuddle and comfort. Also, he’s less angry.
View Silly YouTube Clips
My favorite clips are Key and Peele’s, and if you’ve experienced the brilliance of Get Out! or found yourself falling for Obama’s Anger Translator, Luther, during that White House Correspondents Dinner, you’ll know why I love this amazing comic duo. My personal favorite is the substitute teacher episode, but there are so many.
If you’re a fan of Issa Rae and her HBO hit, Insecure, you’ll love her earlier webisodes, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. “The Hallway” (fewer than 6 minutes) may be my favorite illustration of social awkwardness ever. If all else fails, you’ve got cat videos.
Dust off Those Stamps
Lately, I’ve been getting cards and books in the mail, with thoughtful notes from friends and family. Maybe we’re just so Internet and texting crazy that we forget how wonderful it is to see something that’s NOT a bill or junk in that mailbox. For a while, I’ll forget this need, and stop sending anything, and when I do again, I remember, I love mail. So does everyone else. I believe this need is one of the unspoken reasons for the rise of Amazon. Too lazy for cards? Grumpy Cat postcards. 5 minutes.
Reread Favorite Books and Discover New Comic Ones
Jane Austen is restorative for me; in fact, she knows I’m stressed before I do. Usually, she’s my canary in a coal mine; when I have a strong desire to read her, I know I need to consider some serious downtime or therapy or re-examination of my existence. Lately, she’s just a news recovery mechanism, as have been my favorite mysteries. Walter Mosley’s insightful detective, Easy Rawlins, is on my bedside table now, right next to some new (not depressing) memoirs I can’t wait to read: Lindy West’s, Adrian Shirk’s, and Amy Tan’s.
Put that Phone Down at Night
You know you shouldn’t read news before you go to sleep. Put that phone far enough from your hands that you can’t access it if you’re sleepless. You can read the headlines and delve into those depressing articles in the morning, when work will soon take you away. Not at night, when you’ll dwell and toss and turn. There are even studies on how that glare keeps you up. Move the phone.
Go to a Ridiculous Festival/Museum/Parade
There’s a museum down the street from me that is just full of things hoarders have offloaded. Last time I visited, there was a room full of dolls. It was vaguely horrifying, with old Troll dolls and Cabbage Patches. Yeah, I was freaked out, but it was also magic. See a poutine or bacon festival in your area? Sure, it’s about as healthy as mainlining Crisco, but it’s one day: Go.
Set a New Friend/Family Ritual—and Keep to It
A weekly karaoke night? A Stranger Things viewing party? A regular football watching ritual at the bar? It doesn’t matter. We need company right now. Make sure you have it.
Listen to Awesome Podcasts
If you’re a classic movie fan and haven’t been listening to Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This (Podcast), what are you waiting for? Her series on the blacklist alone is enough to enthrall, and there’s so much more. The Atlantic includes a long list of awesome podcasts for those with any and all interests.
Watch Depression-Era Comedies
This is a movie blog after all, and I’ve found both eerily prescient warnings and relief from stress in classic favorites. I know some of you classic movie doubters think we’ve evolved so much that there’s no way those almost a 100 years ago were like you. But during the Depression, people were watching some decadently clothed folks doing silly things, just like you are now. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were wowing with their fancy footwork and quick barbs, and then easing their fans into a little romance. Mae West, pioneering screenwriter and star, was sashaying her way across the stage and then the screen, seducing men almost half her age with lines so funny we’re quoting them now. I highly recommend these two options as regular fare, and you can search through this site for much more, but if you’re smart, you’ll find the work of my peers at the Classic Movie Blog Association and discover new favorite film recs from those much more knowledgeable than I. It’s no accident that film comedies from the 30s are among the best ever made: They were needed.
What strategies are helping you get through the news? Post here, or share with others. Let’s get by, as the Beatles have told us in my least favorite of their songs (but a wise one nonetheless), with a little help from one another.