We’re back with a staff takeover of the 5×5! This week our community liaison Angie Rizzo shares her top five picks of things she’s been reading, listening to, and watching.
book / Madeline Miller
Madeline Miller’s second book is a retelling of Greek mythology from the perspective of the lesser goddess Circe, who prefers mortals to gods. The story breathes contemporary life into familiar stories like the Odyssey and questions the classic hero’s journey. In Miller’s rendition, Odysseus suffers from PTSD as a result of his endless and violent quest, and immortal Circe claims that the first five years of her son’s life were the longest she ever lived.
podcast / Serial and The New York Times
Nice White Parents is an investigation into the public school system and the overwhelming influence of affluent white parents. The five-part series uses a public school in New York as a case study and investigates the trajectory of the school since its inception. Spoiler alert, the podcast uncovers an undeniable link between inequality in schools and white parents.
Ryan Murphy, the producer of Glee and American Horror Story, has produced many great and not-so-great shows. Two of his recent projects, Pose and Halston, are worthy of discussion for their representation of queer stories, culture production, and the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s.
tv / FX
Pose takes place in the 1980s and ’90s and centers on Black queer and trans characters and the counter-culture “ball,” or drag scene. The main character is diagnosed with HIV and the show follows her story as she navigates life with the disease. The series yo-yo’s between the glamorous ballroom scene to dying youth in drab hospital rooms and the surrounding fear in the queer community. In all, Pose helps to fill in a mainstream blank about the reality of trans and queer BIPOC during the AIDS crisis.
tv / Netflix
Halston is a mini-series about the fashion designer Halston (Ewan McGregor) and his trajectory from a bespoke millinery operation to one of the most famous and ubiquitous names in fashion. The series is worth the watch for its rich visuals from 1960s fashion to the floor of Studio 54, but even more so for the underlying story of Halston, who is gay and eventually diagnosed with AIDS. In contrast with the characters in Pose, Halston does not advocate for gay rights or AIDS awareness but hides his illness and personal life from the public.
film / Dir. James Ivory
Featuring Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, and Daniel Day-Lewis, this 1985 film is great for anyone who is antsy to travel (in time and space) and wants a laugh. The film begins in Florence and follows young Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone as they see the sites with a group of British tourists. A romance blossoms between Lucy and eccentric George. The scenery and languid pace of the film carry the film—the perfect quench for a relaxing escape.