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The Pop Culture That Got Lilith’s Staff Through 2020

We Were Witches by Ariel Gore

This beautiful memoir-esque novel about a struggling young mother’s metaphorical and physical journey was just the medicine I needed to distract myself from the quarantine blues. Gore writes with a satisfyingly snarky tone that more than passes as dark humor, well-balanced with plenty of tenderness. Genre-fluid and full of allusions to our favorite trailblazers, such as Adrienne Rich and Tillie Olsen, it’s deliciously witchy, poetic, queer, and feminist—what more could you want?

—Arielle Silver-Willner, Editorial Assistant

Normal People,” Hulu and BBC

I’m something of a Sally Rooney stan–I think the Irish literary phenom’s precise, dialogue-heavy writing style and tales of shifting social alliances and desires harkens back to my idol, Jane Austen, in the best possible way.

But as a somewhat less discerning TV watcher, I was particularly struck by how well her second novel, Normal People, translated onscreen during the pandemic, thanks to a stellar script and talented stars: its close-ups on awkward intimacy, on the way repression, love, shame and need follow one pair of young lovers-to-friends-to-lovers during their teens and early twenties in Ireland. The perfect antidote to the isolation of early quarantine, watching “Normal People” was like applying heat to a numb spot, after the coldness of March and April. It hurt. It brought me back to life.

—Sarah Seltzer, Digital Editor

“You’re Wrong About” Podcast with Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall 

The hosts of this engaging podcast reflect on history each week, as they dive into events and stories of individuals that have been misremembered, often due to poorly researched media coverage. Some topics are broken into many episodes, while some are single episodes, making it perfect for any amount of time you have! I became heavily invested in episodes I had been hesitant to listen to, such as those about the OJ Simpson trial. Marshall and Hobbes do not only look back at these events, but they look at the flawed systems that made them possible. I’m listening in chronological order, so I can’t speak for the entire show, but some highlights include The 2000 Election, Kitty Genovese and “Bystander Apathy”, D.A.R.E, Monica Lewinsky, and Tonya Harding. 

— Rachel Fadem, Lilith Intern

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

This gorgeous memoir combines prose with verse to tell the story of a woman in an abusive relationship with another woman. Equal parts magical realist and unflinchingly honest, it’s not exactly light reading, but worth the tears it will inevitably inspire. I read this book in one day. I could not put it down.

—Abigail Fisher, Lilith Intern 

The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix

I just finished the show so this might also be a byproduct of me still processing, but I haven’t been as fully entranced by a work of art in a really long time. It was some much-needed escapism with a stunning soundtrack and also made me quite upset that I’ve never learned how to play chess.

—Madison Hahamy, Lilith Intern