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María Hergueta for BuzzFeed News

It’s been about two weeks into 2019 and I’ve already broken two of the resolutions I semi-seriously decided to commit to at the end of December. I’m not sweating it though, partly because 2018 was a year of unprecedented new healthy habits for me, so I’m still riding on that wave, and also because lol who cares? My coworkers joke about 2019 being the year of nihilistic indulgence — gout is a thing again, apparently — but there’s certainly something to be said for a “Fuck it and let’s just be legends” mentality. After all, we’re burned out and languishing in debt. Let us seek solace where we can! So as a counterbalance to the dreariness of life under late capitalism, we’ve got a bunch of great stuff this month, including cozy TV recs from deputy editor Rachel Sanders, a list of 66 books coming out this year that we’re excited about, and an interview with the novelist Chigozie Obioma on what he’s been reading lately.

 

—Tomi

Personal Essays

Agata Nowicka for BuzzFeed News

This Is What Black Burnout Looks Like  by Tiana Clarke 

If the American dream isn’t possible for upwardly mobile white people anymore, then what am I even striving for?

I’m Definitely In Debt, But I’d Rather Not Say How Much by Eva Hagberger Fisher If no one knows how much money I owe, or how much I have, then they don’t know me. And if they don’t know me, then I’m safe.

I'm In Five-Figure Debt Because Of My Dog by Elizabeth Ann Entemann

Tania Guerra for BuzzFeed News

 

When my dog was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer, I went into five-figure debt to pay for treatment. And I don’t regret it.

“I’m Doing Great”: A Black Millennial On His $100,000 Student Debt by Reniqua Allen

 

Michael has a lot of student debt — almost $100,000 at this point — and he’s trying to free himself from it the only way he knows how: getting another degree. An excerpt from journalist Reniqua Allen's It Was All a Dream.

Newsletter exclusive: Deputy Culture Editor Rachel Sanders tells us what she’s into

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Around this time last year (well, technically in March), I wrote about some of my favorite TV shows to curl up with on the couch in bleak midwinter. This month I’d like to do exactly the same thing, but with fresh new viewing recommendations to see you through the gloom.


Over the holiday break in December, I spent some time doing my TV homework — finishing seasons I had started weeks or months before, out of some (completely self-imposed) sense of obligation. Succession won me over eventually, despite its loathsome characters and too much hype; Marvelous Mrs. Maisel just made me wonder why I don’t love myself enough to stop watching a show I find profoundly irritating (the answer is because I still wanted to know what would happen; finding out did not make me feel better).


I wouldn’t necessarily recommend either one to you; instead, I suggest watching any or all of the three shows below, which have sparked only joy for me at a dark post-solstice time of year (I had more mixed feelings about Marie Kondo’s Netflix series). These range from sitcom to sobbing-on-my-couch melodrama, and none of them are new. But all have offered a specific kind of cozy comfort to me, whether I needed a way to unwind after work or something to keep me occupied while I was too sick to do anything but drink tea and hit the “next episode” button.


The oddball Canadian comedy Schitt’s Creek, about a formerly filthy rich family’s gradual moral awakening, is much stranger and funnier than the premise makes it sound; watch for Catherine O’Hara’s wardrobe (and wig collection) alone. I’d say it’s a slower burn early on, before the characters start to develop souls and narrative arcs, but the episodes are so quick (around 20 minutes) that once you get hooked it goes by in a blink. Schitt’s Creek has picked up enough word-of-mouth buzz that people like me are now writing about it, but it’s still niche enough to feel like Our Little Secret. (Season 5 premieres on Pop this month; Seasons 1–4 are on Netflix.)


You might not be in a procreational state of mind (I’m not), but still, doesn’t it sound nice to live in a time and place where having babies isn’t horribly fraught because of global warming, where a free nationalized health service takes tender, loving care of you and your family, where the religious establishment just wants the best for all children and everyone always looks stylish and there are tea and sweets served every afternoon? You can pretend to  inhabit such a world by watching Call the Midwife, a long-running, unreservedly sentimental (but medically unsqueamish) BBC drama about the good works of East London midwives in the 1950s. I would describe it as the nicest Big Government (and home birth) propaganda you can imagine. (Season 8 will air on PBS in March; Seasons 1–7 are on Netflix.)


I started watching Please Like Me on Emily Nussbaum’s recommendation, and I can’t remember another TV discovery in recent years that’s delighted me so much, or made me laugh out loud as often. Josh Thomas’s Australian series about a clever, complicated young man and his twentysomething misadventures is delicately balanced. The tone swings from silly to sad to sweet (if always with an edge); the characters — Josh, his friends, family, and the boys he dates — are as infuriating as they are charming. They felt so real to me that I could almost imagine running into one of them at a party, where we would exchange brilliant chitchat about the mess we’re making of our lives. (The complete series is streaming on Hulu.)

Features

Getty Images

 

How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen

 I couldn’t figure out why small, straightforward tasks on my to-do list felt so impossible. The answer is both more complex and far simpler than I expected.

Here’s What “Millennial Burnout” Is Like For 16 Different People by Anne Helen Petersen

 

“My grandmother was a teacher and her mother was a slave. I was born burned out.”

Conor Ralph for BuzzFeed News

 

Zines have long been a way for marginalized communities to record their stories and organize. Zine libraries are making sure those histories aren't forgotten.

These Latina Avon Sellers Have Dominated A Beauty Company Modeled On White Womanhood by Tonya Riley 

 

Spanish-speaking sellers have become Avon’s not-so-secret weapon as the beauty sales empire works to reinvent itself in the US. But is the company doing enough to support them?

Books

 

66 Books Coming In 2019 That You'll Want To Keep On Your Radar by Arianna Rebolini and Tomi Obaro 

 

We tried to keep it short. (Presented in no particular order.)

18 TV And Movie Adaptations That Are Hitting Screens In 2019 by Farrah Penn

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, IT: Chapter Two, To All The Boys sequel, and more.

Cultural Criticism 

Lixia Guo / BuzzFeed News; Getty Images

 

Ellen DeGeneres And The Limits Of Relatability by Shannon Keating

 

After decades trying to convince an anti-gay mainstream that she’s a relatable person — gay, but “just like you” — Ellen ended up in a prison of her own making.

The New Spider-Man Movie Makes Live-Action Superheroes Look Boring by Steven Scaife

 

Cartoon superheroes have made a big-screen comeback with Incredibles 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a film so vibrant it makes you wonder if all superheroes would be better off animated.

Denise Crew / Netflix 

 

Netflix's Tidying Up With Marie Kondo promises that you can organize your way to "your ideal life." But are messes really a cause of our problems, rather than a symptom?

Another newsletter exclusive: an interview with a writer we love! This month: Chigozie Obioma, whose new novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, is out now.

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Jason Keith 

  

“I’ve been rereading Jennifer Clement’s Gun Love, a very moving book about how a young girl’s life is changed in various ways by guns and a gun culture that is as pervasive as it is destructive. I love Clement’s pristine prose and her intimate portrait of violence and revenge in this deeply affecting novel. But so also is the character at the center, Pearl, a very memorable character in every way.


I have also been reading Oyinkan Braithwaite’s wonderful crime novel set in Lagos, Nigeria, My Sister, The Serial Killer. It is a dark, very deeply engaging novel that is as slick and clever as it is honest. The main character’s eccentricity drives the story and makes for a very delightful read.


And, I’ve been returning again and again to Ogonna Chibuzo Agu’s wonderful dissertation on the chi, the reincarnating guardian spirit at the heart of the Igbo cosmological belief system — a religious system that predates Christianity — and the narrator in my new novel, An Orchestra of Minorities. Agu’s exploration of this very complex deity is deep, sprawling and thorough.”

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