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Genre Equality’s Apr 2021 round-up: Shadow and Bone, Yasuke, The Handmaid’s Tale & more

Posted 5 months ago Written by SINGAPORE COMMUNITY RADIO
Photo credit Netflix

The duo behind Genre Equality puts out a monthly review of the best and worst each month — whether if it’s a new series on Netflix to binge, a film to catch in cinemas (if you use TraceTogether, that is), or a book to simply plug out from the outside noise.

While you can listen in to their latest episode for a full breakdown of their verdicts, scroll down to dig into what they’ve loved (and disliked) from the first month of 2021.

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

TV/Marvel
Where to watch: Disney+

Both a fun buddy cop adventure and a complex exploration of the geopolitical realities of a post-Blip world, this series strikes a perfect balance between thoughtful and thrilling.

Whether dealing with radicalization stemming from a global refugee crisis, or interrogating whether a Black man could (or should) reconcile historical racial injustice with hope for the future to honour a symbol of America — TFATWS’ greatest strength is the potent commentary it weaves alongside superheroics.


Invincible

Season 1

TV/Skybound
Where to watch: Prime Video

Based on Robert Kirkman’s (other) acclaimed comic book, Invincible is a smart and subversive satire of the superhero coming-of-age genre. Combining the realism and violence of The Boys with the brightly-coloured optimism of Saturday morning cartoons, Invincible sucks you in with plenty of twists that you won’t see coming.


Infinity Train

Season 4

TV/Cartoon Network Studios
Where to watch: HBO Max (VPN required)

The fourth and final season of Owen Dennis’ imaginative and emotionally complex cartoon continues to be a wonderful treat. Set on an endless locomotive where each carriage contains a different universe, Infinity Train takes its passengers (and us) on a ride to help us deal with a variety of traumas and insecurities.


Shadow and Bone

Season 1

TV/21 Laps Entertainment
Where to watch: Netflix

Based on the Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone is a dense and immersive series that improves upon the source material in many ways — especially when it comes to adding depth and nuance to the book’s “chosen one” story. However, it does fall into a myriad of Netflix YA fantasy cliches at times.


For All Mankind

Season 2

TV/Sony Pictures Entertainment
Where to watch: Apple TV+

For All Mankind is a meticulously crafted alt-history that imagines what would happen if the Soviets landed the first man on the moon instead of America. While its first season was wildly ambitious, it was also uneven. This astonishing second season corrects nearly flaw to deliver an engrossing and enthralling vision of a very different Cold War in space.


Mortal Kombat

Film/New Line Cinema
Where to watch: Local cinemas

Mortal Kombat does justice to the game’s violent and gory legacy. But were the good fights enough to compensate for an utter dumpster fire of a movie? Only partly.


Yasuke

Season 1

TV/MAPPA
Where to watch: Netflix

Netflix’s anime about a Black samurai fighting mechs and magic in alt-reality feudal Japan is buoyed by sublime visuals and an incredible score from Flying Lotus. Unfortunately, it’s also dragged down by a highly derivative story.


Them

Season 1

TV/Sony Pictures Television
Where to watch: Amazon Prime

This 1950s tale of a Black family moving into a white suburban neighbourhood is harrowing. From the horrors of racists next door to supernatural entities indoors, Them does a good job of depicting the exhaustion of a Black family living in America.

However, its similarities to Lovecraft Country, alongside its exploitative violence that borders on degradation porn, hampered our enjoyment of this series.


Made For Love

Season 1

TV/Paramount Television Studios
Where to watch: HBO GO

A woman tries to escape her controlling tech mogul husband. Unfortunately, he’s implanted a tracking chip in her brain. This dramedy is sometimes a smart sci-fi nightmare deconstructing the intersection of romance and technology.

But most times, Made For Love is a narrative mess that frustrates viewers with its unnecessary non-chronological structure.


Thunder Force

Film/On the Day Productions
Where to watch: Netflix

Melissa McCarthy’s superhero comedy is undoubtedly the worst movie made in 2021. It’s unfunny, tedious, and feckless. Avoid at all costs.


The Handmaid’s Tale

Season 4

TV/MGM Television
Where to watch: Hulu (VPN required)

This dystopian series has reached the point of diminishing returns. With nothing new left to say and Margaret Atwood’s cautionary allegory milked dry, The Handmaid’s Tale has become a repetitive slog of female torture and terrible decisions in its fourth season.


The Way of the Househusband

Season 1

TV/Nippon TV
Where to watch: Netflix

This adaptation of the popular manga about a yakuza boss who retires to become a domestic spouse is faithful to a fault. While it retains the charming humour, this is less of an anime and more of a cheap-looking PowerPoint motion comic.


The Nevers

Season 1

TV/Mutant Enemy Productions
Where to watch: HBO GO

Following the myriad of allegations made against Joss Whedon’s toxic behaviour, Hidzir is forced to reevaluate his fandom as he reviews Whedon’s tonally-awkward new show about superpowered women in Victorian England. Listen to the full episode to hear more.