The Evil within: A review of Girl From Nowhere

‘Underneath it all we’re just savages, hidden behind shirts, ties and marriages’ – Savages by Marina and the Diamonds

Many theories have argued throughout time that without the laws, social conventions and norms society has created, humans would truly not function properly. The result? Think Lord of the Flies/ The Purge type anarchy. Of course, we’ve never been in the conditions to truly test the validity of this line of thought but if many true crime cases, past and present, have taught us anything is that in the right circumstances humans will naturally care about nothing but themselves.

Recently I’ve been watching the Thai drama on Netflix, Girl from Nowhere. The series centres around a seemingly innocent girl named Nanno who joins a school and starts causing havoc by bringing out the inner demons in those around her. In each episode she operates in a new school and deals with different characters who battle with different individual vices. For the most part she acts as their tempter, the snake to their Eve, honing in on their deepest desires and dangling in front of them something that will unlock them if only they take the bait.

What distinguishes this drama from many others is that not much is revealed about its mysterious protagonist at all – all we do know is that she is devious – borderline genius, borderline maniac. She also doesn’t appear to human meaning the lengths she goes to to teach people the error of their ways will undoubtedly shock you. A Thai audience may perhaps see Nanno has an executor of karmic justice, avenging those who have been wronged and punishing wrongdoers for acts that may have otherwise gone unpunished.

However – and bafflingly so – in some episodes she does seem to torment people that don’t necessarily seem to deserve it. (TK from season one (ep8) and Jenny X from season 2 (ep7)) come to mind.) Yes, they have their issues but then again who doesn’t? Does makes you wonder a bit about how exactly Nanno goes about choosing her targets…

Lots of questions are raised and I enjoy the subtle social commentary found in each episode. Ultimately at the heart of each episode is the question, can this person change? It seems like the assumption to this question in most of the dramas episodes is ‘no’, although we can never say for sure with certainty.

Season two was recently released (which I have now finished 😅) and definitely ups the ante whilst, interestingly, revealing a possible more ‘human’ side to Nanno.

Note that although I would recommend the drama, I would do so cautiously since it has very dark themes (it is rated an 18 on Netflix). A few twitter users have circulated guide with trigger warnings for each episode of season one, which may prove useful. For those who liked the popular drama Black Mirror (also on Netflix) then this drama is definitely for you.

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Have you watched Girl from Nowhere or do you perhaps have it on your Netflix list? Share below and we can discuss! 😊

Some films I’ve recently watched on Netflix include: The Woman in the Window, Run (Netflix film featuring Sarah Paulson), Love Squared, Rich in Love and Atlantics.

*Featured image belongs to Netlfix.

Image description: Protagonist Nanno stands leaning on a wall within a corridor, wearing a school uniform whilst looking into the distance.

How to save a life: My Grey’s Anatomy journey so far

First Impressions

There’s something I love about getting to dig into a show – falling in love with the characters, getting immersed in their drama and making their home town/ hangout spots your second home. Currently, I am watching (for the first time) Grey’s Anatomy on Amazon Prime – which is making for quite an experience. I’ve heard a lot here and there about the show over the years but it started when I was quite young so it’s never really been on my radar as something to watch. I was slightly worried when I first started the show since I found Meredith Grey slightly annoying; someone who seems to be in head a lot, quite indecisive and a wallower in self-pity. However, over time she does seem to mature quite amazingly and become more bearable. Nearly reaching the end of season seven (of 15 available on Prime) so, this is a mid-point review; I may have more or very different thoughts to share by season 15.

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‘Dark and twisty’ Meredith Grey with best friend, Cristina

For most people, this show is how is the main way they were introduced to the Shonda Rhimes (or ‘Shondaland’ as her body of work is often nicknamed) but my main introduction to her work was through the more recent shows, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder – both which I admittedly never completed but was definitely hooked on at one point or the other. They were refreshing watches at the time due to both shows having no-nonsense, gets-things-done Black female leads. With Grey’s the character turnover is quite significant but you do slowly grow to care for newbies to the drama such as Lexie Grey, Teddy, Arizona and some of the Mercy West lot – Avery and April.

Series Development

Often, I’ve wondered how people have remained with the show for so long – this is because I usually tell those I talk to about shows that my rule is that more than five seasons of a show are typically unnecessary. With most shows, after a while you see character development and story arcs get increasingly sloppy and more unbelievable. As mentioned, I’m only on season seven of Grey’s but so far, I would categorise it as one of the exceptions to my hypothesis. I like how the show occasionally has episodes that experiment with formatting – In season 7, they have a musical episode where characters mix songs previously used in the drama with their script. Another episode in the season is in documentary format, as documentary makers come to the hospital to see how staff are doing post-shooting incident in season six.

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One of the series most memorable – and tragic – relationships; Izzie Stevens and Denny Duquette

The Characters

It’s probably fair to say that compared to comedy shows, dramas create a deeper sense of connection with their characters because they can’t constantly hide behind the smoke screen of humour. They’re hit on all sides by life, put in difficult situations (professionally and personally) and are forced to make difficult choices. For example, In Grey’s Callie at one point has to make the difficult decision to split with her girlfriend since they couldn’t agree on whether they wanted children or not. Or Mark Sloan suddenly finding out he has had a grown daughter all these years – and that she’s pregnant. Or Miranda’s marriage breaking down because of the demanding nature of her job meaning she’s spending less time with her husband, which was leaving him dissatisfied…and angry. The list could go on with Grey’s – the only thing that is probably a stretch is that despite all the personal drama, the doctors are able to put their lives on pause and actually do their jobs.

The Secret Life of Doctors

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Hospital bad boy, Alex Karev takes an unexpected liking to paediatrics

Every time I get into a show, I usually tend to wonder what it would be like to be in the same profession as the main character(s). In this case that would mean removing appendixes, fixing dislocated bones or even delivering babies. I honestly, could not imagine myself doing any of it; it may not be entirely in line of the reality of doctors but it does give you a newfound appreciation for their skills and ability to endure gruelling 12-hour shifts. However, it does also make me worry slightly for medical professionals, especially for their physical and mental health. You see in Grey’s that the doctors because of the bonds they often form with patients, the doctors often struggle internally as they’re forced to watch those patients disintegrate – or even die. Additionally, hospitals and clinics are always stretched when it comes to resources and funding which can lead to very difficulty situations and choices that have to be made.

A prayer for frontline workers

I feel it’s only right to end with a small prayer for medical workers currently working on the frontline, in the UK and worldwide. This is undoubtedly a difficult time to be in the profession but they continue to press on and we’re thankful for that.

May God hold you in his loving arms

We know tide waves of hopelessness often threaten to make you stumble

And that calls for help seem to fall on deaf ears.

We pray that despite the overwhelming fear you feel each day

That he comforts you

building you up so you’re filled with strength

Ready to face the next challenge that comes through hospital doors.

Ambition and its many friends – a Netflix review of The Politician and Sky Castle

How far would you go to get what you want?

That seemed to be the main underlying theme in the two most recent shows I have been watching on Netflix. South Korean drama Sky Castle and the camp American drama The Politician, produced by the makers of Glee.

The cast of Sky Castle

Sky Castle revolves around a neighbourhood of rich families based in Seoul who are obsessed with their children’s academic success – often resorting to immoral means to ensure it. The drama’s main focus revolves around mother and housewife Han Seo-jin. She has an incredibly bright older daughter- Yeo-seo, who she is determined to get into medical school at all costs. The other mums are an extension of this cross generational desire to live their greed and ambitions through their children; often at the expense of the children’s own dreams and ambitions. For example, take lecturer of law, Professor Cha who puts his teenage sons through misery in order to make sure they climb the political ladder – a dream of his he himself never got to fulfil. His is the typical case of a parent living their unachieved ambitions through their children, and unapologetically so. But we also see, as with all the families, that their children’s good grades not only increase their personal fulfilment, its also a social currency; something they can brag about to friends and increase their social status with. And in a neighbourhood like Sky Castle, where appearances are important, this is everything.

Fancy celebration dinner at the start of the drama

The drama starts of with a suicide of one of the housewives in the neighboured which reveals to the other families that the pristine nature of her family was not all it appeared to be. However, it takes another tragedy and a case of injustice later on in the series for characters to properly re-evaluate their ways and change.

The stand out character for me by far was Kim Seo Hyung. A college tutor who works with students to get them into Korea’s top medical school. Seo Hyung sometimes resorts to questionable means, something foreshadowed in the scene when she is hired by Seo-jin and asks her if she’s willing for bad events to befall upon her family at the expense of her dream of her daughter getting into medical school being achieved. She proved to be a character I wasn’t initially sure how to place – was she good or bad? You originally only get your main information about her through hearsay but as more is revealed later, a more complex character is painted. Although the truth wasn’t pretty it definitely made her more of an intriguing character; I’m happy she was a fully fleshed character as opposed to a shallow supporting character as I first expected.

Overall, this drama is a straight 10/10 – I am often hesitant to give such a high rating but the outstanding acting, plot twists and complex characters easily make this one of the most striking K-dramas I have watched in a while.

Payton standing where he shines best – on stage

Ambition takes centre stage in season two of The Politician too. Cue Payton Hobart, a charismatic and driven individual who in the first season invests his all into trying to win the election for president of the student body in his high school. In season 2 that desire has now transferred to running a campaign for the New York state senate seat. He is running against current senator, 60 something year old Dede Standish who for her entire time in the seat has run unopposed. Lots of questions are raised during the course of the season; the genuinity of politicians for the causes they support is a massive one. Payton is running a campaign focused on climate change and making a difference. However, does he passionately care about it or is he just using the topic because he knows it will win him the audience of young voters?

There is evidence that he has matured in this season but when he faces a moral dilemma with legal consequences near the end of the season he wonders; should I listen to my ambition (which says win at all costs) or my principles (which say follow the rules and don’t play dirty.) For most people principles would eventually win but, and as you’ll find out if you watch the show, Payton is not most people so its interesting to watch the moral struggle. It’s also worth adding that Dede Standish and her political advisor, Hadassah Gold (Judith Light and Bette Midler) are refreshing portrayals of independent, ambition older women – something you rarely see in modern dramas (minus Grace and Frankie) since most women in this age category are sadly designated to be cast as mothers and grandmas.

Payton’s campaign team; James, Alice (also his girlfriend) and McAfee

I would give this season 8/10 it was juicy and satisfying – especially the ending. However, the show doesn’t offer anyone for you to love to root for – pretty much all the characters are various degrees of unlikable. Luckily, this doesn’t stop the show itself being likeable so I would still recommend it.

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My other recent watches:

Films – Booksmart, I am Not Your Negro, Room and Fruitvale Station

Shows – Medical Police (Netflix), Parks & Recreation (which I am falling in love with) and Married to Medicine (Prime).

Have you watched any of the shows mentioned or do you have any recommendations of your own? Comment below and let me know 🙂

Monthly Netflix Overview: May

Control Z

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Sofia in a favourite place to be alone – the school’s glass roof.

This Mexican eight-episode long drama was pure Netflix gold for me. It is set in a high school and follows quirky student Sofia as she tries to track down a mysterious hacker who is revealing student secrets. Sofia is in a perfect position to this since she is a loner – although comfortably so. Contributing to this loner status is the fact she had a stint in a psych ward after having a mental breakdown following the passing of her dad, but she has recovered by at the time the drama starts. One thing you notice about her is that she is very observant – in a Sherlock Holmes type way – able to make deductions from small clues often not noticed by the average person.

No person in this drama is as they seem – even Sofia is a complex character with a fair share of secrets, so it was really interesting to see these secrets explored and unpacked with each episode. The last episode was explosive, to say the least, and spared no punches. Control Z has some predictable moments but overall I finished it feeling satisfied and am now in deep anticipation for the next season.

Blood and Water

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I was excited to watch this since when it comes to Netflix originals the continent of Africa is noticeably underrepresented. Surprisingly, this South African drama is only six episodes long though so given the short amount of time in which to tell a story and develop characters, this drama did pretty well!

Puleng is a sibling of two; well technically two; although her second, older sibling and mother’s first child was kidnapped at birth from the hospital. Every year afterwards her family has celebrated her birthday in remembrance. Puleng moves schools and decides to launch an amateur investigation into someone – a fellow student- she thinks could be her sister.

Puleng was a here and there character; I’m not too sure I felt any type of attachment to her but I was intrigued about the growing conspiracy that was emerging towards the end of the drama.  I loved the interweaving of native languages such as Shona and Xhosa into the script. A 3.5/5 would be my final rating although I would say it’s worth watching and judging for yourself.

Trial by Media

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Trailer

This Netflix docuseries follows six unique crimes and how the court cases that followed were influenced by the media. In the first episode, for instance, we see how in the case of the ‘Jenny Jones killer’ in 1995 cameras were introduced into the courtroom for the first time.

Not all episodes interested me equally but I would highly recommend this overall if you’re into true crime and current affairs. One thing I would give props to this series for is that they involved the commentary of many people that were actually involved with these cases; from lawyers who worked the case to actual perpetrators and relatives of victims. This made is more raw and interesting; because of the time we’re in I would recommend in particular episode 3 – ’41 shots’ which chronicles the case of Amadou Diallo; a black man shot to death on his doorstep in New York by the NYPD. It’s a heartbreaking but necessary watch.

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If you would like to read more about what I’m reading currently or have done so far this year; you can read my previous post here .

You can also read my newly published review for the novel An American Marriage here; would love your comments, thoughts and feedback!

An Honest Review: American Son

Hey Guys,

I decided to mix it up a bit and write a film review today.

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Image source: https://uk.newonnetflix.info/info/81024100

Quick Synopsis: At the start of the film we meet a concerned mother (Kerry Washington, best known from the show Scandal) who is waiting at the police station to enquire about her child. Later on, the father (Steven Pasquale) joins the picture and together they wait to find out the mystery of where their child is. It’s worth noting before I start my review that race matters in this film. Kerry’s character is a black psychology lecturer married to a white FBI officer, and together they have a mixed-race child.

My Thoughts:

A lot of ground is covered- but beautifully so in this film. It’s easy at first to think of it as a 3D case study of police brutality. But more lurks beneath the surface; through the husband and wife interactions more is explored regarding the intricacies of interracial relationships, being mixed race/ black in America, discrimination and parenthood.

What makes this film quite unique is that it doesn’t have a big cast (only around 4 actors) and the location is the same throughout. So from a distance, it would be easy to assume not much is going on. However, we learn an awful lot about the characters as time goes on and it’s those revelations that shape the film and (fairly slow-moving) plotline. Ultimately, whilst distracting us from the hanging question ‘what happened to the son?!’.

I was in awe of the acting, you could feel Kerry’s character’s pain which helped to amplify the tension. It might sound dramatic but your heart does hurt several times throughout the film for her. Also, the push- and pull nature displayed between the spouses throughout the film, made an intriguing watch.

Overall, I would give this film an 8.5/10. A tense watch (not sure I would handle seeing it on the big screen) so perfect for Netflix, which it is available to watch on.

 

 

Memories come, memories go…

I was watching a K-drama recently and the male protagonist Jun-yeong said something interesting. Something along the lines of

‘Memories are scary because you can’t control them.’

The more I pondered on it the more I found it to be true. We create memories but over time they can become like muddy waters that were once clear. We see elements of what makes the original thing but can’t grasp or remember the bigger picture. On a more logical note, even things like dementia, Alzheimers and amnesia take away the human ability to rely on our brains to store our memories like living room cabinet’s store china. Untouched, in one piece and always there for reference. I’ve always thought this is what fuels our addiction to various forms of technology- we love those phones and cameras can capture moments with crystal clear clarity that will remain over time. In this way, they have an added advantage the mind does not.

I was thinking about this [the unreliability of memories] as I read Michelle Obama’s Becoming and the sceptical voice in my head kept asking ‘how on earth does someone remember their childhood with so much clarity?’ Even when I look back to when I was such an age I can’t remember everything- which saddens me slightly- as if my mind’s once-tight grasp has loosened on these precious jewels whilst life turned my attention away.

But I am encouraged by what I do remember. The shine of the sun recently for example, randomly reminded me of the Sunday evening rush to the street outside so we could be first in line when the ice-cream van arrived. (You could always hear it before you saw it.) My siblings and I would always order a flavour called ‘lemon ice’ which captured the two-sided sweet-tangy nature of lemon perfectly. And although we may obsess over the specifics, it’s the feeling of happiness such treasured memories give you which is even more priceless.

These are my obsessions: K-dramas

 

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My addiction/ love of K-dramas came after watching my first good one. I say this because the first actual one I watched (Jealousy Incarnate) didn’t really grab my interest so I thought nothing much of it. With each episode in that series being over an hour long and barely keeping up with the subtitle pace, it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. That changed when I sat down with my uni housemates one night to watch the drama ‘Cheese in The Trap’. Thinking back to then, it wasn’t the greatest drama I’ve watched but I was firstly, amused by the name and secondly, as I continued to watch the drama in love with the protagonist’s relatable awkwardness.

It escalated pretty fast after that. I mainly watch crime and romance shows and although I feel South Korea does them best I have watched a few from China and Taiwan. For me one thing I do love about K-drama’s is they are free from most of the Western clichés you see (particularly in American dramas). However, they still have clichés of their own. Basic things I have observed:

  • Fate, loyalty and friendship are big themes you will find in some shape or form in each drama. For instance, in a few romance dramas the main characters have unknowingly met in their past as if to imply they were destined to be together. Exhibit A: the show Cinderella and Four Knights.
  • K-dramas can be a bit more conservative when it comes to romance; this probably partly because TV is more closely censored than film (which is another ball game- you only need to watch one to realise.)
  • Female characters can be marmite. My likability for show does strongly depend on the depictions of females within it. Females that are always damsels in distress or highly emotional slowly annoy you; although I’ll make an exception for The K2.
  • No-one is ever as they seem in a good K-drama. Even the ones you come to hate/love have a backstory or change sides due to events within the drama. This adds a layer of realism to the dramas as they seek to portray the complexity of individuals; humans are complicated things after all.

 

A lot of K-pop singers dabble in acting also but this is something you’re unlikely to realise unless you research the dramas and actors like me. (I’m weird like that.) I also like watching behind the scenes footage and cast interviews since they can be pretty funny. For those that want to test run a series; I will be posting some of my recommendations up soon 😉 I also have another obsession I will be revealing in a part (2).

Have a good weekend.