Friday Favourites #1: Binge-Worthy TV, Escapist Video Games, & Cosy Tea

Yo, chums. Welcome to the first edition of Friday Favourites. I am starting this segment as a way of showcasing all the stuff that’s bringing me joy and peace in life, particularly during those unexpected tough times. Sometimes just being able to focus on the little things can help us to take a step back and take a breath, which then helps give us the strength we need to make it to another day. So, once or twice a month, I’ll gather up all the titbits that are making me smile and helping me to keep moving forward, whether they are books, games, songs, or something else entirely, and I’ll share them with y’all.

To kick this shindig off, I’m going to be chatting about a couple of TV shows and video games that have been an absolute lifesaver during December thus far, along with my favourite cosy teas that have done wonders for this mind-blowing concept called “relaxing.”

TV Shows

The Flight Attendant (2020): This black comedy mystery miniseries is an HBO Max Original series and follows an alcohol aficionada named Cassie Bowden who’s a flight attendant that’s also rather reckless in her partying shenanigans. One night while she’s out in Bangkok, she wakes up from a nice night of booze and sex to the body of her latest boy toy lying beside her, with no recollection of the night before, hence kicking off a mystery thriller situation.

This series was a complete surprise for me. I watched the first episode on a whim one night while being plagued with terrible insomnia and what I discovered in the process was an excellently written and marvellously suspenseful thriller that had wholeheartedly sucked me into its grasp. The dry humour and quirkiness of the main character are a great complement to the dark mirth of her going slowly insane due to the trauma of waking up next to a very bloody dead body. Kaley Cuoco’s (The Big Bang Theory) acting is damn good. To be honest, she was the reason I didn’t expect to like The Flight Attendant as I am not a fan of The Big Bang Theory (I have issues with its representation of neuroatypical and neurodivergent individuals). But she fucking nails it and superbly suspends the aura of disbelief. Colour me astonished.

Other things that are positively amazing include the cinematography. On a technical level, the presentation of the story and Cuoco’s character’s unreliability is breath-takingly brilliant, adding to the exciting and almost nail-biting suspense of Did She or Didn’t She. Adapted from a novel (I didn’t learn this until a few episodes in), the series seems to be written quite impeccably. Cassie Bowden is a multidimensional woman who is the walking epitome of a person running away from her gargantuan tower of emotional baggage (ironically) and the way its interwoven into the main mystery of the boy toy’s death is—for lack of a better word—delicious. The side characters are also quite entertaining and endearing in their own ways and that helps to give the whole show more meat and curiosity.

If you haven’t seen this and have access to HBO Max, I highly recommend you check it out, especially if you delight in wickedly awesome suspense thrillers.

Content warnings: Heavy alcohol consumption. Graphic depiction of dead body. Blood. Cursing. Sexual situations (no graphic nudity or on-screen sex). Depiction of psychological delusions and hallucinations.

Away (2020): This science-fiction Netflix Original series is about a woman who is tasked with leading an expedition to the moon and then from the moon to Mars. The whole gig is supposed to take three years and in the process she leaves behind her husband and daughter to go accomplish this mission.

At its core, the series is as much about the complexities and political agenda of space advancement as it is about this close-knit family, and that’s what makes it so damn good. This is one of those titles that really make the film buff within me squeal with huge amounts of joy because it has everything I want in a realistic sci-fi story. A compelling main character (played by Hilary Swank) who has some interesting emotional parcels that weigh her down as she focuses on the mission or journey at hand; people who constantly add to the tense pressure she faces that is genuine and believable; a familiar yet refreshing plotline; gorgeous cinematography and special effects including the use of computer graphics; and excellent pacing. When I started watching Away, I had a feeling I would become addicted to it, I just never expected to become so soul-suckingly invested in the family and their plight. That really gives the watcher a punch to the gut on occasion and the evocative element is absolutely superb. However, there is some bad news. I didn’t find out until after the fact, but unfortunately the series was cancelled (I literally cried, let me tell you), so there is only one season, which could be off-putting for some folx. My feelings of frustration are rather strong as my desire to see what happens next is practically unbearable. Even so, Away is worth the investment because it’s beautiful storytelling in almost every way.

Content warnings: Brief on-screen sex. Depiction of someone having a stroke. Some cursing.

Video Games

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020): Ah, I have finally joined the masses with this new obsession. Nintendo’s beloved game about moving to an island with a bunch of furry and scaly critters has a brand-new addition for the Switch console. Madame Gabs snagged me a copy for my birthday and also a means to celebrate my surviving my heart surgery (she thought it would keep me in bed during recovery, which it did…mostly).

I created an island and played it in small bits here and there, but it wasn’t until these last two weeks that I really dove into it and used it as a means to escape from reality. I upgraded my house four times, have three new residents, and have managed to catch an arowana, arapaima, and all four shark types multiple times, which has me completely mind-blown. Too bad my house is still too small for all these big fishies, but I did snag myself an angel fish, a guppy, and a beta as household pets, which I’m ecstatic for.

My next goal in AC:NH is to finish paying off the latest house loan (half a million, what is life) and to furnish my bedroom beyond a bunch of fish tanks.

Rogue Legacy 2 (2020): This rogue-lite platformer is the sequel to one of my favourite games ever and ever since the new biome (new area) update and the addition of extra character classes, it has been the perfect bit of distraction for when I’m limited on time. I can play for fifteen to twenty minutes and get a quick mental refresher.

My favourite class is the knight because it’s easy for me to use them and to survive the longest with them. My second favourite character class is the Chef (yes, you read that correctly) because they have a frying pan as a weapon that also deflects projectiles, and they can cook stews that heal life points. Third favourite class is the Valkyrie as they are the only class that can attack up and down, as well as to the left and right, which helps in a lot of ways.

As for the new biome, I hate it because it’s so challenging to make it all the way to the end. I’m supremely excited for the next biome release, however, as it takes place in a grand library! Anyhoo, even though it’s difficult, it’s still quite a lot of fun to try and conquer.

If you’re curious about this title, you can catch my Early Access First Impressions here.

Cosy Tea:

Green Dragon Oolong Tea: Oolong is one of my favourite varieties of tea. I love the caffeine content, the flavours, the warmth of it flowing through my body. It always rejuvenates my mind and spirit and helps me to keep on doing whatever it is that I’m working on. This particular blend is from Anxi, Fujian, China and is a bit greener than traditional oolong and has a lower oxidisation to it. The flavour is very smooth and light with a toasty and lightly floral profile.

Organic Genmaicha Brown Rice Tea: Another all-time favourite, this specific tea is from Shizuoka, Japan and is a more traditional tea that is popular in the country. The perfect time to drink this is during the winter due to how comforting it is and the earthy, toasted fragrance that permeates the air. The tea is a blend of green tea and toasted rice (mochi gome). The flavours for this specific tea are smooth, mild, and a bit savoury. The scent, as I mentioned earlier, is earthy and a tad bit nutty. I usually pair this with an egg sandwich during breakfast or I have it to cleanse my palette after eating curry. I definitely always have a cup post walk in the rain though.

That does it for all of my favourites this fine Friday morning. There’s still a couple weeks left in December, so I’m sure I’ll discover some more joy-inciting treats. Until next time, I wish you all a kind and gentle holiday season.

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