The structure and conversational tone of The New York Times’ What’s in Our Queue? weekly feature inspired students in Lori Johnston’s critical writing class to craft mini reviews about what they watched, listened to and read in the past week.
Here’s a selection of pieces by journalism students in the course.
Hover or click on each image to read the review.
I don’t consider myself somebody who enjoys true crime stories with lengthy timelines of connected murders, but this new Apple TV+ limited series hit the right spot. It was so addicting, unsettling and horrifying that I binged the six-episode show in only three days. Paul Walter Hauser plays the 1993 serial murderer Larry Hall, and his performance convinces us how a psychotic killer would act, deceive and lure young women. The predicted Emmy-nominated showcase by Taron Egerton takes on a protagonist role as the bad-guy-turned-hero, which differs from his previous film portrayal of Elton John. —Dania Kalaji
“A League of Their Own”
I’m a fan of the new Amazon Prime series “A League of Their Own,” based on the 1992 comedy film of the same name. The show focuses on the Rockford Peaches, a team in the newly formed All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”), who created the series with Will Graham (“Mozart in the Jungle”), stars as Carson Shaw, a pitcher who escapes small-town America to follow her dreams of playing pro ball. The diverse ensemble depicts middle America better than most of network television’s offerings, and the show’s representation of queer women (particularly queer Black women) in the 1940s through the professional sports lens is nuanced. —Andrea Gutierrez
“Love Island: UK”
The new season of “Love Island: UK” is lighthearted and entertaining at best, vapid and brain-rotting at worst. The editing and commentary from sardonic host Iain Stirling makes me think the show might be self-aware, but to call it so would give it too much credit. The disingenuity of the 36 contestants is the weakest point, but audiences flock to “Love Island” not for inspiring role models, but to watch aspiring Instagram models with $20,000 veneers pretend to have feelings for each other. Season 8 (on Hulu for U.S. viewers) is, like its predecessors, garbage. However, we expect it to be garbage and love it nonetheless. —Josie Lipton
The first part of the last episode of “The Sandman” crafts a narratively rich piece whose animated style differs from the rest of the season. The episode, “A Dream of a Thousand Cats,” follows the journey of the Siamese cat who proclaims the power that dreams have to any cat who will listen. She tells a story of the never-was time when cats ruled the world. The episode offers a unique view of the universe crafted in previous episodes. Though disturbing at two points, it was enjoyable to watch a well-crafted yet dark tale about how cats view their human owners. —Brooklyn Reese
“Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist”
I spent much of my teenage years enveloped in the world of sports, especially watching college football on every available Saturday. Manti Te’o was a star football player for Notre Dame and became a household name when he reached national news coverage, not for his play on the field, but for his controversy off the field relating to the death of his fake girlfriend. This Netflix documentary was eye-opening and shed light on a wild controversy that flipped my view of Te’o and gave me empathy toward him because I felt the weight he carried through those hate-filled years. —Bobby Andrews
“Never Have I Ever”
The Mindy Kaling-produced series released its third season on Aug. 12, and for the first time, I didn’t pull my hair out while watching the Netflix original series. The heart of the comedy’s improvement was the character development of the lead, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), who overcame many of her flaws from previous seasons, such as her selfishness and obsession with people’s opinions of her. Both of Devi’s main love interests, Paxton (Darren Barnet) and Ben (Jaren Lewison), become three-dimensional and complex. Their personalities were fleshed out, rather than falling into their assigned stereotypical archetypes. —Nimra Ahmad
The recent motion picture took a cinematic approach fitting with director Baz Luhrmann’s snappy style to portray such a key figure in American history. The film adequately depicted legendary moments, trials and triumphs in the life of Elvis Presley (played by Austin Butler) , however, it focused too much on his manager Col. Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks. With narration by Parker throughout, Presley’s perspective was oftentimes overlooked and even missing during crucial scenes. —Marion Kronauge
“The Last Slimeto”
Hip-hop artist and global phenomenon “NBA Youngboy,” born Kentrell Gaulden, released his fourth studio album Aug. 5 as a part of his deal structured with Atlantic Records. The album delivers on all fronts with blaring beats and unique sounds that create a satisfying experience for fans in the rap domain. Gaulden details the pain that he dealt with following his everlasting circuit of street life and most recent indictment made by the Baton Rouge Police Department. “Kamikaze” stands out as the premier track due to its lyrics aimed intentionally at an insidious nature of back bounce through violence. —LJ Jackson
"Saturday Night Wrist”
Deftones is a household name in the world of alternative metal, but I was never able to grasp why people found their music appealing — until this weekend. Like many people, I have succumbed to discovering music through TikTok, so when the song “Cherry Waves” flooded my For You page, I suddenly understood. This led me to a deep dive into their 2006 album, “Saturday Night Wrist,” which pairs echoing, clashing instruments with voices that do not scream with rage like their previous work, but replicate a release of emotions, quickly flowing out of them and coating your ears in nostalgia. —Julianne Akers