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Culture

Every TV Show, Book & Movie The Secret Media Team Was Obsessed With During 2020

By Laura Rogan

Every TV Show, Book & Movie The Secret Media Team Was Obsessed With During 2020

2020 was the year of hibernation.

And hibernate we did. Whether it was reading, baking banana bread or spending hours in the bath – we all found our vice this year. Ours here at Secret Media? Entertainment. From the shocking thrillers that graced the streaming platforms this year, to hidden gems and highly addictive books – here’s everything the Secret Media team was obsessed with this year.

TV Shows

1. Doctor Foster

Recommended by: Laura Rogan, Editor of Secret Manchester

Credit: BBC

What they had to say 📺: I was late to jump on the hype of Doctor Foster but I’m so glad I did it during lockdown. After loving Suranne Jones way back in her Corrie days, it was great to see her teaming up with Jodie Comer for a highly addictive drama. Oh my God, the drama.

2. The Mandalorian

Recommended by: Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd, Writer of Secret Birmingham/Bristol/Glasgow/Liverpool

Credit: Lucasfilm

What they had to say 📺: I don’t class myself as a massive Star Wars fan but this TV programme got me very invested in the storyline and characters. How can you not adore the baby Yoda character? Despite the episodes only being around 30 minutes long, you are fully thrown into the plot and are left wanting more and with unanswered questions after each episode. Friday night has been Mandalorian night as my family and I settle down to watch the Disney series, all humming/singing the theme tune once we hit play. I think out of the films and programmes from the Star Wars universe, this is the one to watch. You feel so many emotions in this series (maybe 2020 broke me) including frustration, excitement and a little bit of sadness.

3. Dark

Recommended by: Kat Notman, Writer for Secret Kobenhavn/Amsterdam/Stockholm

Credit: Netflix

What they had to say 📺: This German thriller is incredibly creepy and impossible to stop watching. A child’s disappearance uncovers a whole time travel conspiracy that leaves you feeling as though you’ve just gone back in time yourself.

4. Snowpiercer

Recommended by: Marco Ruiz, Writer for Secret Australia 

Credit: Netflix

What they had to say 📺The last surviving humans on Earth are travelling on a perpetually-moving train. They are divided into classes, but after seven years, the people at the back of the train are getting tired and revolt is bound to happen. But how?

5. This Is Us

Recommended by: Georgie Hoole, Executive Editor for Secret Media UK & Aus

Credit: NBC/Universal

What they had to say 📺I discovered This Is Us during the UK’s first lockdown back in the spring and it has been a great source of comfort for me. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried (so! many! tears!) and I genuinely miss the characters when they’re not on my screen. Season five was released this year and it so cleverly comments on the current situation, with social distancing and the Black Lives Matter movement incorporated into the storyline. I can’t recommend it enough.

6. Instant Hotel

Recommended by: Laura Rogan, Editor of Secret Manchester

Credit: Seven Network

What they had to say 📺If you haven’t got knee-deep in the drama that is Instant Hotel yet, you’re missing out. The Australian show combines everything I absolutely adore about reality TV: a bunch of total oddballs, gorgeous property, and drama, drama, drama. The show follows a number of contestants, all in competition to win a huge prize and the title of ‘Best Airbnb in Australia’ – and when I say it gets catty, it’s an understatement. I finished both seasons in one day after pulling an all-nighter because I was utterly and completely obsessed.

7. Modern Love

Recommended by: Georgie Hoole, Executive Editor for Secret Media UK & Aus

Credit: Amazon Prime

What they had to say 📺: Modern Love is a beautiful depiction of love in all forms. The Amazon series follows eight unique stories about sexual, romantic, platonic, familial and self-love, each inspired by real-life personal essays published in The New York Times column of the same name. It boasts a wonderful cast—including Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel and Andrew Scott—and it will stick with you for a very long time.

8. Homecoming

Recommended by: Marco Ruiz, Writer for Secret Australia 

Credit: Amazon Prime

What they had to say 📺Based on the Gimlet Media podcast, this series starring Julia Roberts (season 1) is a slow-burn as the memory of the protagonist comes back bit by bit four years after she finished working as a therapist at Homecoming, a live-in facility for returning Army personnel. After a U.S. Department of Defense auditor inquires as to why she left Homecoming, Roberts’ character comes to realise that she had been misled about the true purpose of the facility.

Books

1. Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

Recommended by: Laura Rogan, Editor of Secret Manchester

What they had to say 📚: This book left me absolutely hooked thanks to its intertwining timelines that uncovered both a murder mystery plot and a young love story. The characters are so loveable, and everything about Kya’s universe helped me escape my own COVID-riddled world.

2. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, Roddy Doyle

Recommended by: Kat Notman, Writer for Secret Kobenhavn/Amsterdam/Stockholm

What they had to say 📚: This Irish classic has been a favourite of mine since childhood (but it’s definitely not for kids)! it tells the story of a woman struggling to deal with a reckless and abusive husband with whom she was once infatuated. She struggles to cling to her sanity in a world that seems determined to rid her of it. It’s sad, but it’s beautiful.

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3. Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams

Recommended by: Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd, Writer of Secret Birmingham/Bristol/Glasgow/Liverpool

What they had to say 📚: The story of this book is highly entertaining and often very moving about one young woman’s life affected – in fact, almost destroyed – by her love life, as well as dealing with the politics of blackness. I absolutely loved the character of Queenie and felt like I went on a journey with her as she navigates life.

[See also: 10 Books To Invest In Now That Will Help Educate You On Systematic Racism]

4. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin

Recommended by: Marco Ruiz, Writer for Secret Australia 

Secret Media Team

What they had to say 📚: I never really got into the series, and if I were honest, I never really tried. However, I was pressured and convinced to watch season 8, which somehow hooked me — I think it was the amount of hate that it was (rightfully) getting. Like seriously, what terrible writing. So, when I found myself with time earlier this year and found a copy of the first book on my housemate’s bookshelf, I dove into the fantastical world of Game Of Thrones and within chapters I was hooked. A brilliant series to escape into and plenty of reading to keep you occupied should you find yourself in lockdown again.

5. Notes to Self, Emilie Pine

Recommended by: Georgie Hoole, Executive Editor for Secret Media UK & Aus

Secret Media Team

What they had to say 📚This is such a brave debut; an honest and heartbreaking collection of essays addressing various tragedies in the author’s life, including infertility and caring for her alcoholic father. Notes to Self doesn’t tell an entirely happy story, but it proves that joy can be found against all odds. It’s beautifully written and I read it faster than any other book I’ve ever touched.

6. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins-Reid

Secret Media Team

What they had to say 📚To say I loved this book is an understatement. I would read chapter after chapter at every opportunity. It’s gorgeous Hollywood vibes had me devouring page after page, and I was fascinated by the story of a Marilyn Monroe-type actress who had decided for the first time ever to tell her life story to an unknown journalist, seemingly selected at random. But what is it that Evelyn Hugo wanted to reveal? And why did she choose Monique Grant for the job? Oooft. So many twists and turns. 

Movies

1. Jojo Rabbit

Recommended by: Laura Rogan, Editor of Secret Manchester

Secret Media Team
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

What they had to say 🎥As a movie buff who’s been a fan of Taiki Waititi right back to his What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople days, I was pretty intrigued to see how Jojo Rabbit panned out. So much so, I even paid the ridiculous prices on Amazon Prime to watch the bloomin’ thing. Telling the story of a young, aspiring Nazi during the War, Jojo Rabbit is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking – and it really gave me all the feels I didn’t expect to feel for what could have been a poor-landing Hitler joke.

2. The Laundromat

Recommended by: Marco Ruiz, Writer for Secret Australia 

Secret Media Team
Credit: Netflix

What they had to say 🎥Meryl Streep’s character suffers a horrific accident at the beginning of the movie and unfortunately is not compensated by the insurance because the provider was a money-laundering front. From here, we’re thrown into the illicit world that the Panama Papers revealed and how it all continues to work.

3. Knives Out

Recommended by: Georgie Hoole, Executive Editor for Secret Media UK & Aus

Secret Media Team
Credit: FilmNation Entertainment

What they had to say 🎥Knives Out is a modern murder mystery that follows a private detective investigating the death of Harlan Thrombey—the patriarch of a wealthy and extremely dysfunctional family. It’s totally excellent and a little bit silly, and it definitely stands out as one of the best films I’ve watched this year.

4. Chef

Recommended by: Laura Rogan, Editor of Secret Manchester

Secret Media Team
Credit: Fairview Entertainment

What they had to say 🎥As a Grade ‘A’ Jon Favreau fan-girl (fairly niche, I know), Chef was my quarantine saviour this year for lighthearted, happy vibes. The movie follows a chef after an altercation with his boss and a terrible review from an influential critic, who packs in his job to start his own food truck. The journey is incredibly inspiring, and a must-watch for foodie lovers. For something a little more hands-on, check out The Chef Show on Netflix, which follows Favreau’s IRL love for cooking as a result of making the movie.

5. The Post

Recommended by: Marco Ruiz, Writer for Secret Australia 

Secret Media Team
Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

What they had to say 🎥: A historical political thriller, The Post tells the story of how journalists at The Washington Post attempted to publish the infamous “Pentagon Papers”, a set of classified documents regarding the 20-year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War.