Autumn TV Recommendation: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

UGH. I’m completely obsessed with this woman – and now, this show. I woke up early (ish) this morning and have mainlined a handful of episodes in one sitting, while supping tea and being thankful for no work for another day.

This is my favourite month hands down and it’s because of little gems like this.

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Inside the cooking lab of Christine McConnell, who has attracted hundreds of thousands of social media followers with her creepy edible creations.

Christine McConnell is a very clever woman (model, actress, baker and photographer), making unbelievably detailed baked goods and dishes with a heavy Gothic edge. Spiders, monsters, Ouija boards and eyeballs all feature heavily but really there is no limit to her imagination or skill.

While I suppose this is technically a baking show, it doesn’t stop there. Produced by The Jim Henson Company, Christine is joined by a band of weird and wonderful creatures who terrorise the neighbourhood with their beastly goings on – so it’s part Sabrina the Teenage Witch (particularly Rankle the Sphynx cat who’s been to Salem Acting School), part sitcom, part cookery show.

And it’s all brilliant.

81580858-6612-49f3-a98f-b801aebaab71-ccocm101b
NBD, just an exact replica of her own house made out of biscuit…

Dita Von Teese even joins Christine as Vivian the enchanted mirror – and it’s so camp I just love every minute. So far (in the handful of episodes I’ve wolfed down as I type this), Christine has built a biscuit replica of her own creepy mansion, made chocolate chip eyeball cookies, peanut butter and white chocolate bones, constructed an entire tea set out of dark chocolate – and even made a chicken-shaped chicken pot pie.

All this while looking like a Queen and she still has time to romance Norman, the man she met at her grandmother’s graveside (is there more to Norman that meets the eye, I wonder? Of course there is!). While Christine’s creations are definitely inspiring, the show seems to be aware that not very many people would have the time or inclination to whip up their own so it doesn’t spend too much time going in on the recipes – it’s directive but doesn’t pretend that the whole process is easy or quick.

At one point Christine puts the biscuit mansion in the ‘chiller’ and I had to lament my lack of fridge space at home. A couple of jars of pickled onions and ours is packed. No room for a giant cake/and or an octopus called Millie, sadly.

CCCM_1
Dog days are over

I would say, even if you’re not into cookery shows (and I’m not really), there might be something here for you. Christine also makes candles and decorative pieces for the home and in one episode, even gives us a brief sewing lesson.

She rocks a lovely vintage look and is one of those women I absolutely admire, the ones who never seem to succumb to a jogging bottom or bedhead (there’s one of them in my office). It’s a total and utter dedication to her brand that I could never achieve but wish I could. She’s very cool and even though it’s all so tongue in cheek, the Tim Burton-lover in me adores the dark tones.

At one point, Christine’s live-in companions Rose (raccoon), Rankle (cat) and Edgar (beast) kidnap and plot to murder their busy body neighbour, until Christine opts to kill him with kindness (and cocoa) instead.

curious-creations-of-christine-mcconnell

I just want to watch this for the rest of the day (and my life) and eat candy-hued goods while I do it. Cancel all my meetings. Check it out for yourself on UK Netflix now.

You can follow Christine on Instagram here.

What are you watching?

American Horror Story Rewatch: Part 2

Just like that, I am done. I can now dip into Apocalypse with a well-rounded understanding of all the characters, and where they cross-over/feature in each season. It’s so Stephen King!

I have absolutely loved my AHS marathon (which didn’t include Cult because that one is still so recent). Here are my thoughts:

780e138d-4489-43f8-a87a-8c6fffcf3510

Freak Show

Freak Show starts strong but seems to drag in the last few episodes. Honestly, it could be cut by a couple of those, and the same could be said for the next two seasons as well. Like, we get it – let us live. As with the first two seasons, there’s a lot going on. The addition of Edward Mordrake is fun and it takes away one of the main villains early on (Twisty), leaving the coast clear for Dandy to step in as main psycho. But there’s so much to keep up with that it made my head spin a bit. I have also started to notice a trend for happier endings (for most of the characters) and it’s nice but also not really what I want. I sometimes want the wicked characters to get their comeuppance.

I also don’t really like Sarah Paulson‘s characters (Bette and Dot) in this (really bad FX) and find the addition of Neil Patrick Harris‘ Chester Creb a bit annoying (although it does bring back in the amazing Jamie Brewer). So it’s fun but could be condensed and therefore stronger as a result.

Evan Peters and Jessica Lange are spectacular as per and I really enjoy my attraction to Paul the Illustrated Seal. Frances Conroy and Emma Roberts are a bit wasted though – I prefer Emma when she’s being bitchy.

I did appreciate the tie in to Asylum as we meet Pepper again and then follow her journey to Briarcliffe. It’s sweet and sad but it’s nice to get a little bit of background on this character, who is played wonderfully by Naomi Grossman. We also enjoy a flash of Asylum’s Nazi doctor (James Cromwell) who is directly involved in a very macabre story line featuring Elsa Mars. This says a lot about me but I love the snuff stuff, it’s so horrible and that after all, is why we are here.

5c9ce2e4-d613-41e3-8a2e-759bd2992593

Hotel

Hotel is majestic tbh and maybe my second fave. It is the first AHS without Queen Lange however, but Gaga does a mighty job as The Countess. Highlights here are Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Kathy Bates’ downtrodden Iris, especially when they team up against The Countess for some messy, bloody revenge. Again, this could be cut down a bit but when the setting is as wonderful and The Shining-esque as the Hotel Cortez, who’s really complaining? Evan Peters’ James Marsh is a little OTT but the Devil’s Night episode is magnificent. Lily Rabe is perfect as Aileen Wuornos.

Things that don’t work for me so well are Chloë Sevigny as Alex (she’s so amazing, why can’t AHS use her appropriately?) and I don’t give a damn about the Children of the Corn kids or frankly, serial killer (surprise!) John Lowe. What a dull family! See also: Rudolph Valentino and wife. Zzzzzz.

It is awesome to have Sarah Paulson back as Murder House‘s underused Billie Dean Howard though.

ahs1-news

Roanoke

This one is good because it really plays with structure and tries something new with the reenactment concept. It is also over long and very messy in places. For a time, in the second part when the real life characters and the actors who played them are trapped in the house, I lost the will to live for a while. There are good elements, don’t get me wrong but I didn’t really understand a lot of it – like Gaga’s character Scáthach – who never really comes to fruition and then just sort of peters out.

I still like it though and I particularly love the horrible Polk Family. Adina Porter enters the AHS franchise as the real Lee Harris and I bloody love her. She was amazing in Cult and she’s in the new one too, so yey for that! Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates both deserve to be strung up for their accents though, there’s no excuse.

Until Apocalypse, bitches.

American Horror Story Rewatch

The last three/four months of the year are always my favourite. From late September to January I love reading ghost stories and watching horror from the comfort of my warm flat. These dark stories, they light up the long nights and I love them even more then. So my treat to myself this year is to revisit American Horror Story from the start (thank you Netflix).

Well, call me committed because I started two weeks ago (early, sue me) and I’m just about to finish Freak Show. My relationship with this show has been complicated in the past – when it first burst forth with its demented artistry – I loved it.

I gobbled up Murder House, Asylum and Coven without a second thought. But I ran out of steam when if came to Season 4 (Freak Show). I experienced the same with Hotel and Roanoke, and I’m not even sure why. I was enjoying myself and then, I must have got distracted.

I finished Cult though and I’m gagging to get into the new season, Apocalypse but not before I’ve re-watched everything from the beginning. And I am loving it so far!

Here are my thoughts on the first three seasons. *Minor spoilers*

9890fa06-598e-44ac-9543-ed152c58a13e-041-american-horror-story-theredlist

Murder House

The original but not the best in my eyes. Thoroughly enjoyable though – not least because it reintroduced us to the old school magic of Jessica Lange – who is the undoubted Queen of AHS. MH is a bit of a mess in the sense that it crams a hell of a lot into it – so many murders occur in that house it’s hard to keep up – but I really appreciate the set up.

The cast is great – Evan Peters, Lange, Frances Conroy, Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga – and I really love some of the story threads. Including; Violet and Tate (love’s fucked-up dream), Moira O’Hara the maid trapped in perpetual purgatory, Dr. Charles Montgomery (illegal home abortionist and part-time Frankenstein), The Black Dahlia (#obsessed) and neighbour Constance Langdon’s own horrible arc.

I’m especially fond of Interior Designer Chad (Zachary Quinto) and his lover Patrick, cut down in the middle of a blazing row – and trapped together in the Murder House for all eternity.

american-horror-story-asylum-jessica-lange

Asylum

Same criticism as above but more so with Asylum. So much going on and a lot of it doesn’t quite come to fruition – Nazi doctor story line, I am looking at you. But it is horrible and darker somehow (yes, even darker than gimp rape).

Lange’s Sister Jude grapples with her own personal guilt as she runs the show at Briarcliff, a home for the mentally incapacitated. She’s not a good woman and she’s delicious. Working alongside lovely Sister Mary Eunice (AHS regular Lily Rabe) and staff doctor (with an iffy past) Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell), she tends to her patients with an iron first. Her wards include wrongly accused lady murderer Kit Walker (Peters) and lesbian journalist being kept against her will, Lana Winters (Paulson).

On staff also is kind Dr. Oliver Thredson (Quinto) who may or may not harbor a dark secret of his own – but don’t we all?

Asylum features some one-off story lines that kind of muddy the water for me. For instance Arthur Arden, like Charles Montgomery before him, is something of an experimental surgeon but I don’t feel as though they see that through. It fades out in favour of giving more minor characters their screen time. Plus, when he’s accused of being a Nazi doctor by Anne Frank (just go with it), I wanted that to come to something (although there is a passing reference to him in Freak Show).

Plus, there’s the UFO story running through the heart of Asylum that doesn’t really float my boat – though it works better than I thought it did the first time round. Maybe I’m just more tolerant in my old(er) age.

o-AMERICAN-HORROR-STORY-COVEN-facebook (2)

Coven

Definitely my favourite to date and you could argue that the format has tightened up for the third story. It definitely flows better – and for me, the witches of Salem make the very best subject matter. Plus, Stevie Nicks!

Emma Roberts, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and Gabourey Sidibe join the cast and add another bitchy layer to proceedings. They’re all magnificent and the young witches, including Taissa Farmiga and Jamie Brewer as Nan are dreamy. Especially when Stevie Nicks loving necromancer Misty Day (Lily Rabe) joins them from the swamp.

Set in New Orleans and focused around Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, run by headmistress Cordelia Foxx (Paulson) we enjoy the company of witch hunters, axe-murderers, voodoo queens and ancient (racist) aristocracy.

As for Lange, I think this is her best work. She nails The Supreme Fiona Goode to the floor. As she goes against the long time truce made way back when with Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Bassett), she struggles with her own mortality and will stop at nothing to hold onto her crown. As for her life-long rival, Myrtle Snow (France Conroy), I know whose style I’m going to channel in 30 years time.

On Wednesdays we wear black, bitches.

~

Thoughts on Freak Show, Hotel and Roanoke to follow.

What are you watching?

Bojack Weekends

I’ve had one of those perfect weekends when all the best new TV has made itself available and I’ve been able to go about my business of blogging and putting away clothes while watching it.

Relax haters, I also put on a dress and lipstick and went to see not one but two friends today, I’ve not been 100% hermit. Unfortunately.

Life has got increasingly busy over the summer with no sign of slowing down so these days seem few and far between at the moment. I cannot wait for it to get colder so I have a legit excuse to nest again.

Anyway, new Bojack is here and we’re already on Season 5. Let me tell you that when it first arrived on Netflix I didn’t know what to make of it. It was just an adult cartoon about a washed up horse and various other human and animal characters.

BoJack_Horseman_S05E02_23m27s33736f

But then… it started to shine and I realised it as one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever seen. It handles difficult subject matter in the most extraordinary way and has moved me to tears on more than one occasion. I would go so far as to say at least two episodes from previous seasons, one from last season (Ruthie, S04 E09) and one from the third (Fish Out of Water, S03 E04) broke me for a moment.

It’s been said that it’s handling of mental health and depression is some of the best and I’m inclined to agree. Despite it’s candy coloured appearance and wry observational humour, it doesn’t shy away from the uglier side of life. Not to spoiler but we’ve spent time examining feelings of failure and rejection, drug addiction, miscarriages, divorce, chronic depression and sexism.

It’s so relatable and though I’m not that far into the fifth season we’re already looking at the topic of asexuality. Meanwhile, *spoilers* Diane has travelled to Vietnam not only to get away but to get in touch with her roots, something her all-American family have always denied her. AND Bojack has become the accidental voice of feminism because who better to listen to on this topic than a man?

vwjzAMrZUXoLZfRbS1zRvW2t4bJ

It’s just so clever and spot on and I can’t wait to binge the rest of it. If you haven’t yet I would really recommend it – it’s definitely special and definitely some of the best TV around.

What are you watching?

Zac’s Appeal

Don’t ask me why (The Greatest Showman) but I’m currently enjoying a Zac Efron renaissance. Not that I ever went off him but I’m Stanning my boy big time at the moment and I’m not sorry at all. Over the last couple of days I’ve watched a handful of Efron-heavy flicks which I will share below:

MV5BMjIzOTk2MTIxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTE0MzE0Nw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1507,1000_AL_
17 Again (2009)

I’d never seen this one before this week and it’s cute. Cute in a Big/Vice Versa body swap comedy way but also, it has A MESSAGE. Appreciate what you have… and try not to fuck it up.

Matthew Perry is Mike O’Donnell, a former high school basketball star who gave it all up when his first love Scarlet got pregnant when they were 17. Fast forward 18 years and their marriage is on the ropes, both Mike’s children hate him and he’s a miserable man, full of regret and lament for the life he could of had.

One night everything changes (creepy school janitor, bridge, river and a swirling vortex) and Mike gets the chance to do it all again for he wakes up in his 17 year old, nubile Zac Efron body. With the help of life-long friend Ned, Mike goes back to school but instead of grabbing his second life by the balls he winds up looking out for his kids, who go to the same school that he and Scarlet attended.

In terms of perving, this is not a good one. Zac is too young and goofy (with terrible hair) but like I say if you like those old school feel good movies then you could do worse. Also, Leslie Mann is an absolute darling as the grown up Scarlet.

We-Are-Your-Friends-2015

We Are Your Friends (2015)

This movie makes me feel a bit funny because Zac is very much not too young to perv on. As films go it’s pretty standard but he is so pretty I really don’t care. Add into the mix the woman on Instagram than makes me feel worst about myself, Emily Ratajkowski and you’ve got a super fly cast.

Zac is Cole, an aspiring DJ who falls in with James (Wes Bentley), a wekl-known music producer. James sees something in Cole and promises to take him places but when Cole falls in lust (or is it more?) with James’ girlfriend Sophie, things start to fall apart. Ultimately this is a tale about dreams and friendship, as Cole is forced to reassess his life in the valley and his relationship with his best friends while reaching for the stars.

There’s a weird sex face he does at one point that makes this a stand out in my book but that’s just a personal observation and I’m very easily pleased.

entertainment-2014-01-imogen-zac-main

That Awkward Moment (2014)

As with the sex face above, in one scene our boy goes for a wee having taken Viagra and the image is (bizarrely) a keeper. The film again is sweet enough but also mostly forgettable, even if it does boast Michael B. Jordan in a towel and the mighty Mackenzie Davis.

Jason (ZE) is a playa and so is his friend Daniel (Miles Teller). When their other friend Mikey (MBJ) gets dumped by his wife, the trio make a pact to stay single together for as long as possible. There’s lots of talk about sexual rosters and humping like there’s no tomorrow but our boys aren’t as shameless as they’d have us believe, and each of them proves this arrangement isn’t as easy as they first thought.

Basically, that ol’ devil called love is always on hand to screw things up. Again, not a game changer but my boy is an angel.

baywatch

Baywatch (2017)

ZE’s overdeveloped body in this is not my cup of tea at all but I still enjoyed the movie, which doesn’t take itself too seriously and also features the lovely Dwayne Johnson.

ZE is Matt Brody, a shamed Olympic swimmer drafted in as a new recruit on the ‘watch. The Rock is Mitch Buchannon (obviously), lifeguard hero and reluctant mentor to the arrogant man-child Brody. It is what it is but there’s lots of half-naked flesh and girl, that’s what I’m here for. It’s also equal opportunity perving, don’t worry – nobody leaves disappointed.

Hopefully.

~

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve no regrets.

How are you?

Weekly Digest – TV Special

Yes, I watch a lot of television, what of it? There’s so much good stuff at the moment, how can I not be regularly getting my fix, it would be rude. Plus, I hate to miss out.

Here’s what I’ve been watching…

The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 1

I know, I know – I am criminally behind on this fantastic show but better late then never, right? My friend Helen has been vocal about her love for the show ever since I met her and thankfully, I have finally been able to set aside some time to rinse the first series. (And then text her at every available opportunity to report my thoughts).

Hello June Osborne! For the uninitiated, the IMDB synopsis:

Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.

Elisabeth Moss plays our titular handmaid, currently living with Fred and Serena Joy Waterford, otherwise known as The Commander and wife (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski). There’s a revolution going on behind closed doors but on the surface, women no longer have any power, whatever their social standing – and it’s an incredibly difficult and though-provoking watch.

I’m not going into it too much because I’m only on episode 6 as we speak, and so much has happened. So many shocking and tragic things, and I need to sit with my thoughts for a while. But it is excellent, truly powerful and wonderfully crafted. The cinematography is mind blowing, with such subtle symbolism in even the smallest detail.

And the performances, well they’re all top notch but with stand-outs from Moss, Strahovski, Hereditary’s Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel and beautiful Samira Wiley. No one character is truly good, nor truly bad – just human and trying to survive. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

HMT_101_GK_0912_0159rtcopy

Sharp Objects

A reporter confronts the psychological demons from her past when she returns to her hometown to cover a violent murder.

The HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s INCREDIBLE novel. I’ve been waiting for this for so long and it is fantastic of course, with really quite brilliant casting, in the form of Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson – and it’s made me revisit the book again, which I’m reading in tandem.

Exploring the topics of grief, motherly love, self-harm and mental illness, it’s a brutal but compelling tale of small-town mystery and I am loving every minute, frankly.

Sharp Objects’ central voice, Camille Preaker is a flawed heroine with many mental (and yes, physical) scars and even when she’s not pleasant (which is a lot), you’re on her side. Something Flynn does is write great flawed female characters and she does it damn well (maybe better than anyone).

a347cb0390e89dd145f4a27f41da5f17288724e31934b7042f99ee815bf2b2bd.0

Castle Rock

Based on the stories of Stephen King, the series will intertwine characters and themes from the fictional town of Castle Rock.

This is another show I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was announced but I have to say, although the first two episodes opened well (if a little slow), I’m starting to struggle.

I will try to see it through though because there are elements I’m enjoying, not least all the references to some of my favourite Stephen King novels (SK also holds writer credits on the show).

PLUS, it boasts not one but two of my favourite actresses, I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore alumni, Melanie Lynskey and Jane Levy. Also It’s Bill Skarsgård and Moonlight’s André Holland. With a cast like that it can’t be rubbish, can it?

I guess only time with tell…

jane-levy-castle-rock

And a special mention to this next one, which I’ve been going through the motions with for the last few seasons (the last one of which I can barely recall that much about) – but JUST GOT GOOD AGAIN!

*Spoilers for past seasons*

Orange is the New Black – Season 6

I genuinely feel sometimes that I will never forgive the OITNB makers for the way they played Poussey (who I’m currently watching as Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale, above). And although the last, mostly forgettable series used her death as the catalyst for the prison riot and a larger conversation about the treatment of prisoners within the system, it wasn’t quite as impactful as I’d have liked. I’m not even sure why because looking back there was a lot of action.

Certain characters are always great – looking at you Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) and Red (Kate Mulgrew) but then there are others that are criminally underused. Looking at you Dyanara (Dascha Polanco) and Sophia (Laverne Cox) (IMHO) and I guess it must be hard to give all characters the airtime they deserve but my god can we move away from boring Piper Chapman (admittedly always going to be central since the series is based on her memoirs). But still.

This season, however introduces two great new characters, sisters from Hell Carol and Barb who each run their own wing. While their story is dark as shit, there is joy to be had in two such deliciously bad and bitter rivals as they dominate their environments and promote bloody, petty violence.

*Spoilers*

Stand out strands for me are Taystee’s trial (with devastating results) and the kick ball head to head – while I’ve still got nothing but love for Gloria, Blanca and Suzanne (Uzo Aduba). Can we also give Laura Prepon‘s Vause more to do – because she could be GREAT.

Oh, and Daddy (Vicci Martinez) is very cute indeed.

Orange Is the New Black

What are you watching?

Weekly Digest – TV Special

While avoiding the World Cup and not watching Love Island, I’ve been doing far more intellectually significant things, obviously, such as watching these naked, lying under a fan and eating Wispas.

GLOW – Season 2

Liberty Bell and friends are back in the ring though things are far from plain sailing for any of them. Ruth (Alison Brie) becomes a problem for Sam (Marc Maron) when she gets ideas above her station and directs a really quite good promo video for the GLOWs. She also flirts with a cameraman and tries to rebuild her friendship with Debbie/Liberty (Betty Gilpin), which is easier said than done.

Deb, meanwhile fights for her Producer role (and to be heard as a woman) and is forced to examine the message the GLOWs are sending out to America when it is accused of being too sexy. Meanwhile, Sam struggles with newfound fatherhood and the girls are required to compete with one another to get in the show week on week, which causes friction, who knew.

GLOW is wonderful Technicolor goodness all round – bright, female popcorn viewing and it’s an easy watch, which means a lot on a Sunday afternoon.

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Good Girls

I’m already fully addicted to Good Girls, the Mae Whitman/Retta/Christina Hendricks starring comedy/drama about three mothers struggling to make ends meet. When they knock off a grocery store they could never dream they’d end up on such a roller-coaster ride, inadvertently involved with gangsters and trying to get straight despite every single obstacle that keeps popping up.

Or are they about to go a different way? If Beth’s head for lady boss business has anything to do with I think we have our answer.

The women are amazing, not only dealing with the drama but also their own lives. Beth is working through the aftermath of her husband of 20 years’ affair plus four children; Ruby has a sick daughter and needs to find a way to pay for experimental treatment, while Annie and her daughter Sadie have to face bullying as Sadie works out who she is.

It’s fantasy stuff I suppose but it’s fun and I like fun.

Preacher – Season 3/Luke Cage – Season 2

I’m only one episode in on each other these but so far so good.

Luke (Mike Colter) is a celebrity right now in his neighbourhood and Harlem is abuzz with his heroics. How long will this last and what are Mariah (Alfre Woodard) and her reluctant man toy Shades (Theo Rossi) up to? Meanwhile, Misty Knight (Simone Missick) comes to terms with the loss of her arm (pretty well if the above image is anything to go by) – and something terrible is surely about to happen for Claire (Rosario Dawson) and Luke because they’re so blissfully happy together. I can’t handle it!

While I am quite done with the Marvel Netflix shows, I really enjoyed the last Luke Cage and some of the episodes are directed by some great female directors, including Lucy Liu and Kasi Lemmons. Can’t say cooler than that.

As for Preacher, Jesse (Dominic Cooper) and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) rush to save the life of Tulip (Ruth Negga) as is hangs in the balance. Sadly this requires the assistance of Jesse’s heinous family and some supernatural ju-ju. What could possibly go wrong? I’m delighted we’ve finally got to this point in Preacher, in the graphic novel my favourite parts revolve around the swamp lands and Jesse’s evil grandmother (played by Split‘s Betty Buckley). So consider me sitting here with high hopes.

What are you watching?