A series I completed on my blog in February 2021 where I watched a romcom on Netflix every day leading up to Valentine's Day and wrote mini reviews.
You can view them all here.
How to break into the "Buddy Boy" business industry
Written for Disgraceful Magazine, December 2020 issue
Modern Feminism needs an update

Modern feminism is supposed to be about equality and inclusivity. However, what we have ended up with is White Feminism - a battle that only benefits white women and no one else.

What we need is to make modern feminism mean intersectionality. This is defined as:
"the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. ~ Oxford Dictionary"
Instead of putting people into umbrella groups, intersectionality assesses the individual and their personal struggles, taking into account each person's unique experience and using that to acknowledge and uplift people. By taking into account both the social and political struggles of each person, we can better find a way to improve society as a whole.

A lot of people aren't aware that this is a change that needs to be made. Intersectionality can be hard to understand at first, but there is always time to learn, and so many resources out there to help people use intersectionality in their lives. Most of all, we all need to be talking about it. Now more than ever.

Because of this, I am starting a new series! I will be talking to all kinds of women from all kinds of backgrounds and industries about their experiences with intersectionality and how they apply it to their daily lives and practices.

For episode one of Let's Talk Intersectionality, I spoke to Erin Papworth, founder of Nav.it. She has created a financial app that works to build an inclusive narrative around money and finances, teaching those from all walks of life how money works and how it fits into health and wellbeing. They preach empowerment, independence and equality. Erin spoke to me about her upbringing and how it made her realise why intersectionality is so necessary and how she incorporates it into her business model.

You can head to Spotify or SoundCloud and listen to the podcast now!
Good News 17/05/2020

Today is the 17th May 2020, hope everyone is doing well. Every few days, especially at the moment, I will be doing a good news update for the podcast and for my blog, where the stories will be written out in more detail, with links for you all to read into them more yourselves. I hope that this brings a little light to lockdown.

On this Day

First of all, a quick little bit of On This Day In History, supplied by Good News Network. In 1992, the World Health Organisation officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. And finally, in 1954, Brown v Board of Education passes in the United States, meaning that schools could no longer be racially specific.

Care home in France has zero covid-19 cases

Staff at a nursing home in Vilanova, France have received some incredible news after deciding to quarantine with their patients at the beginning of lockdown on March 17th. 29 workers joined Valerie Martin, who runs the home, bringing pillows, sleeping bags and mattresses to the care home, volunteering to sleep on the floor so they could carry on working during lockdown. Martin was determined that none of her 106 elderly residents would become part of a statistic. By May 4th, 12 of the staff were left when they learnt the news that covid-19 tests for all staff and residents had come back negative. The total 47 days of lockdown were filled with laughter, fun and communal games and meals, with Martin describing it as ‘a holiday camp with moments of total joy’. So for all of you out there doubting the impact of lockdown, this is solid proof that it is the most beneficial thing we can currently do. Don’t be selfish, stay at home, stop the spread of the virus.

India's carbon emissions have fallen for first time in 40 years

The latest in positive climate change news, India’s Annual Carbon Emissions have fallen for the first time in four decades. Not only did CO2 emissions fall by 15% in March and 30% in April, the last 12 months have seen Indians demand for power slow dramatically. March shutdowns capped the growth of power generation from coal, oil and gas at below zero for the first time in 30 years. March also saw a 6.7% increase in use of renewable energy and a fall in total coal deliveries from home and abroad, which is absolutely fantastic. Imagine what we could do worldwide if other countries started taking the same initiative! we contributed to climate change and we can absolutely help slow it down and let the planet recover, even if it’s just a little bit.

Project Seagrass is replanting sea meadows

A little more environmental news for you. Project Seagrass (made up of Sky Ocean Rescue, WWF and Swansea University) has currently planted over 1 million seagrass seeds around the British Isles to help restore sea meadows. This is incredible news as sea meadows are believed to be able to capture carbon 35 times faster than tropic rainforests, such as the Amazon. Seagrass filters nutrients that comes from industrial discharge and stormwater runoff and prevents these harmful nutrients from being washed out into the sea, therefore preserving marine wildlife and habitats. Seagrass also stabilises the sea bottom, provides food and habitat for marine life, maintains water quality and supports local economies. The UK has lost 92% of its seagrass over the last 100 years. Teams believe that once these meadows mature, 160,000 fish and 200 million invertebrates could return to these habitats.

If you see any stories you want me to talk about, please send them over to me on my Instagram (@niamhs_randomthoughts) or my twitter (@niamhblogs), or comment them down below!
Living plastic-free for a week on a student budget
We’ve all seen the photos circulating social media and appearing in nature documentaries that show wildlife tied up in plastic bags, drinks holders, straws and netting. Plastic is a major problem in the modern world and it is slowly destroying the planet and the creatures that live in it.
Looking at all of the products I use on a daily basis, I realised everything was packaged in plastic. I wanted to see whether I could keep up my regular routine but with no plastic involved and whether it was possible to do that on a student budget. So I decided to do a week plastic-free challenge.
Watch this video below to see how I got on during my week.
Throughout the week, I found that most of the things that I thought would be difficult to adjust to (such as switching to the new hair products, remembering my coffee cup and water bottle, all the things that weren’t in my regular routine) were really easy after the first couple of days and I was able to adjust quickly.
However, the easy things like buying lunch at university or food shopping turned out to be a lot more difficult.
In the supermarket I found that almost everything is wrapped in plastic. Yes, you can buy fresh loose fruit and vegetables, but you can’t buy meat not wrapped in plastic – I even tried taking in a box for the meat counter but was told they weren’t allowed to sell it that way.
In the student shops and kiosks at university I found that plastic free options were limited to drinks cans and that was about it. You couldn’t even use a reusable coffee cup at the machine because they don’t fit.
I suspect that this is due to plastic being a quick and easy product for companies to use. It’s cheap to produce and buy, quick to make, and there is an endless supply. Unfortunately, that makes it very hard for us to help our planet by living plastic free.
The big take away that I got from this experiment was yes, it is possible to live plastic-free on a student budget, but you have to be a lot more meticulous about how you live. It isn’t as easy as it should be!
But I strongly believe that if enough people start living plastic free, then the demand for reusable and environmentally friendly products will go up, forcing companies to follow that course.
General Election 2019 round-up
The General Election 2019 took place on the 12th December. Millions of people took to their local polling stations to cast their vote as to who should lead the country.
The night started controversially with the announcement of the exit polls which gave the Conservatives a promising lead, predicting them 368 seats. This was above the 326 seats they would need to win to get majority.
As the results started to come in just before 11:30pm, Labour had a strong lead. To viewers, it suggested that the exit polls may not be close to the actual results. But by 3am it was very clear Conservatives were winning – they had an almost 100 seat lead on Labour.
The Conservative Party passed majority at 5am, meaning they had officially won the election (even though some constituencies were yet to be announced!).
Below is a breakdown of the results:
Statistics taken from The Guardian and BBC
The ‘Other’ category refers to the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Féin, Plaid Cymru, Social Democratic and Labour Party, Alliance, Brexit Party, Independents, Change and other smaller parties.
‘Change’ refers to the difference of votes between the 2017 and 2019 elections.
Laura Kuenssberg causes controversy over electoral policy
The Electoral Commission has responded today to a report that BBC reporter Laura Kuenssberg has broken electoral policy.
On the BBC’s Political Live programme, Kuenssberg said: “The forecast is that it’s going to be wet and cold tomorrow. The postal votes, of course, have already arrived. The parties – they’re not meant to look at it, but they do kind of get a hint.”
She then suggested that some parties were doing better than others due to the votes.
This caused outrage on social media with people wondering how she would have access to figures which should be kept secret until votes are counted later tonight.
According to the Electoral Commission’s website: “Anyone attending a postal vote opening session has a duty to maintain secrecy. Ballot papers will be kept face down throughout a postal vote opening session. Anyone attending an opening session must not attempt to see how individual ballot papers have been marked and must not keep a tally of how ballot papers have been marked.”

Anyone attending an opening session must not attempt to see how individual ballot papers have been marked and must not keep a tally of how ballot papers have been marked.

It may be an offence to communicate any information obtained at postal vote opening sessions, including about votes cast, before a poll has closed. Anyone with information to suggest this has happened should report it immediately to the police.
Media outlets are also not allowed to report on how people have voted until after polls close at 10pm tonight.
The BBC have denied that Kuenssberg has done anything wrong and do not believe she has broken electoral policy.
Students against climate change – reducing plastic waste at our university

Five Digital Media and Communication students have teamed up with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) to launch their new campaign, 21 Days to Change.

The project aims to spread awareness around plastic pollution and plastic waste in universities across London.

You may have seen them around your campus this week doing workshops to promote the challenges launching next week.

For three weeks there will be three challenges to help you cut down on your plastic use:
9th-15th March – bring your own water bottle with you and refill instead of buying single-use plastic bottles.
16th-22nd March – bring your own bag with you when shopping. A tote is better than plastic bags, plus it will save you that 10p!
23rd-29th March – bring your own lunch in a reusable container. It will save you money and you won’t be using lots of plastic packaging.

These small adjustments will not only help students live a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle but will also have a massive positive effect on the environment.

According to the EIA, eight million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the ocean every year. Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have found that 100,000 marine mammals are killed by plastic pollution annually.

So why not take part in the challenges and create a more sustainable lifestyle for yourself and the planet?

You can find out more on their website and by following them on social media (@21daystochangeuk on Instagram and @21daystochange_ on Twitter).
SELL: It seems that if you haven’t read one of the classics you’re not a real reader, so we’re asking: “are the classics still relevant in modern day society?”

Classics are something everyone should read. Books like Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, 1984 and Pride and Prejudice are all considered classics and it’s no wonder why. They usually become so as, at the time they were written, they called out social issues and went against the norm. Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice commented on the class system and women’s roles in society. The Great Gatsby and 1984 outwardly criticised capitalism. But these books were written around 100 years ago, so do they still matter?

A big factor in classics is usually the reflection of the political and social situation of the time. Most of these books were written in and around the World Wars, during a time where capitalism was growing and communism was a threat. Themes such as the Industrial Revolution and women’s suffrage are also explored. The class system during this time was also very clear-cut - there was an obvious upper class and working class, and the middle class was only just starting to emerge as factory and land owners. People were fighting for civil rights and women’s rights, whilst dealing with the Great Depression. Religion was adapting to a new society with new technology. At the same time, people were scared of these changes and fought them at every turn.

That’s when the writers came in and spoke out about these issues through their characters. There was a revolution in fiction writing - female writers were emerging with highly successful writers, everyone was commenting on and criticising the state of society and writers were inserting themselves into the storyline to make sure their voices were heard.

The reason these books became popular is because people were able to relate to the struggles of the characters trying to break out of the class system or expectations set on them. But we don’t necessarily pay attention to these systems anymore in the way we used to, and women are (almost) equal to men. We can’t relate to the characters as much as other people could when they were written.. They are wonderfully written and have great storylines, but we often can’t relate to the character in the same way as the book’s original audience. Characters like Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) had to struggle with the pressures of marriage and family for women in their social class, something we do not have to be concerned about in this day and age.

Nick and Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby) and Winston Smith (1984) all struggle with how capitalism affects them and their lives. Yes, we still live in a capitalist society, however we don’t necessarily have the same pressures as these characters did. Nick, who envelopes himself within Gatsby’s world despite being a poor man, and Gatsby struggled with the pressures that his status brought him and how money ran their livelihoods. Winston tackled being controlled and watched to make sure he lived in a uniform fashion. Today, we have social media which dictates what we should look like, what we should wear and what we should eat. Books like 1984 are probably the most flexible over time periods - we can relate to Winston’s struggles and his society he lives in is very easy to understand. So maybe books that deal with capitalism can still be considered relevant to a modern audience?

Part of the question is why do we only consider older books classics? Of the biggest books considered classics, the latest written one, To Kill a Mockingbird, was 1954. We live in a very rapidly changing society, so why do we only consider books from 60 years ago and more the greatest representations of literature. Millions of books have been written since then, but none of them are classics. They may be in the future, but will they be held to the same standard?

The Guardian recently released a report which stated that crime books are the most popular this year, with the genres sales rising 19 percent since 2015. Previous years have seen fantasy, science fiction, horror and romance as the most popular genres of the year. What does this mean for the classics? Most of them follow a theme of romance and a few are crime novels, so it’s a good thing that these genres are still so popular, however we are seeing a big move towards people buying more fantasy and sci-fi books, which are genres not really reflected in the classics. As a society we seemed to have moved towards escapism rather than current events - maybe this is due to the widespread nature of news in the media. Whatever the reason, we enjoy reading about far-off galaxies, dystopias and utopias in the distant future, dream-lands and fairytales. The only classic that comes to mind considering this is 1984 - George Orwell shows the reader a fast-approaching dystopia controlled by new technologies.

Writers in modern literature have moved away from current events to focussing more on the excitement of an adventure novel. Even though crime and romance are prominent in classics, modern books have adapted them both to create life and death situations for the characters. Modern audiences need more adrenaline-inducing storylines to keep their attention. In the last fifty years, novels have adapted to create a form of escapism for the audience. There is an element of current events included - The Kite Runner, for example, takes place during the Afghan wars and the occupation of the Taliban, but Khaled Hosseini makes an action storyline when Amir goes to rescue his nephew; in The Hunger Games we are shown a capitalist society that favours the rich and uses the poor for entertainment, but in a televised event that shows them killing each other over the chance to eat. The authors have taken modern issues of war, terrorism and poverty and adapted them to fit a high-stakes, nail-biting situation.

The classics would create an exact representation of the current social climate and reflected it on personal experience for a particular set of characters. Modern books adapt the issues to create a thrilling adventure for their characters.

So what does this mean for classics in the future? When audiences want adventure, mystery and epic romances, how can literature about life in the the 19th to early 20th century still be popular? These books may die out as more dystopian and extreme crime novels are written and brought to the foreground, especially in a time where these are adapted into films. If writers want the kind of popularity where adaptations are made, there needs to be a thriller element to it - movies like Divergent show this. Hollywood even adapted Pride and Prejudice to fit this narrative by writing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, where the Bennett sisters led the revolt in the zombie apocalypse.

The classics will always be loved by many people, but there is a clear trend of them being slowly pushed aside for more exciting storylines. But just because they aren’t relevant to our social and political atmosphere, doesn’t mean they can’t be relatable for many readers. It will be a case where more modern books are starting to become known as ‘classics’, but the originals will always be around and loved.

SELL: From script to screen and paperback to play, we look at the best film and stage adaptations of your favourite books

Book released: 1998
Film released: 2003
Summary: An unlucky boy called Stanley Yelnats is sent to a juvenile detention camp after being wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of celebrity shoes being auctioned for charity. The history of the area and how it relates to Stanley’s ancestors is explored, along with the personal relationships between him and the other characters.
Why is it a good adaptation: Due to the simplicity of the storyline, the film was able to easily include every minor detail and stay very true to the book and its characters.

Book released: 2002
Film released: 2009
Summary: A young girl, Coraline, finds a door in her new home, goes through it and finds an alternate universe where everyone’s eyes are replaced with buttons. Ungrateful with her life back home, she falls in love with her Other parents. She is given the option to stay in the Other World, but only if she sews on the buttons.
Why is it a good adaptation: It stays true to the book, keeping all the details as written. Only one character is changed, but it adds to the mystical feel of the story.

Book released: 1986
Film released: 1990/2017
Summary: Pennywise the Clown terrorises a group of children, who come home 27 years later to try to defeat the evil in their hometown whilst struggling with their own demons.
Why is it a good adaptation: The cast for both versions were extremely talented and were brilliant representations of their characters. They were able to create a terrifying atmosphere that makes it a true horror.

The Great Gatsby
Book released: 1925
Fil released: 1974
Summary: Nick Carraway moves to West Egg, next door to eligible bachelor Jay Gatsby who is still pining over his lost love, Daisy Buchanan. Nick gets brought into the whirlwind of extravagant 1920s parties and Gatsby and Daisy’s tumultuous affair.
Why is it a good adaptation: The simplicity of the film reflects the simplicity of the book, but still gives off the air of mystery surrounding Gatsby and his extravagant lifestyle effectively. The 2013 version, however, was overdone and a terrible adaptation.

Fight Club
Book released: 1996
Film released: 1999
Summary: An unnamed protagonist suffering with insomnia meets mysterious Tyler Durden whom he starts an underground fight-club with.
Why is it a good adaptation: It brings the confusion and mystery that surround the book to life in a way that confuses the audience even more, making the confusion of the ending even greater.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
Book released: 2003
Play debuted: 2012
Summary: A young boy with autism, Christopher, finds his neighbour’s dog dead in their garden with a garden fork in its side. Whilst investigating the dog’s death he finds out secrets from his past that lead him on a great adventure.
Why is it a good adaptation: It stays very true to Christopher and brings to life the struggles of someone with severe autism, making it more understandable to those of us not on the spectrum.

Book released: 1988
Play debuted: 2010
Summary: An extremely intelligent girl, Matilda, whose parents don’t care about her, is taken in by her teacher, Miss Honey, against the wish of her horrible headteacher, Miss Trunchbull.
Why is it a good adaptation: Matilda is a book about childhood wonder from a girl who is treated poorly. The music by Tim Minchin is the embodiment of childhood wonder and gives an air of nostalgia for the audience.

War Horse
Book released: 1982
Play debuted: 2007
Summary: A young boy’s horse is enlisted into the war effort in World War One. He joins the army, so he can find his horse and they can go home together.
Why is it a good adaptation: The puppetry is what makes the show. Each animal is made from nylon, foam rubber and plywood and puppeteers make them move and breath realistically, to the point where you forget the puppeteers are there.

War of the Worlds
Book released: 1897
Play debuted: 2014
Summary: Martians invade Earth for resources. The book follows one family, the patriarch being the narrator, as they fight for survival during the invasion.
Why is it a good adaptation: The stage effects, that also involve the audience, and the powerful music is what makes this such a popular stage tour to see.

Book released: 1838
Play debuted: 1960
Summary: Oliver Twist is an orphan in a workhouse who is sold to a funeral directors’ before running away to London. There he meets Dodger, a member of Fagin’s child pickpocket ring.
Why is it a good adaptation: This is probably one of the most popular musicals ever because of the unique perspective of the story from a homeless child and the amazing things that happen to him. The cheery music written adds to the atmosphere if a busy Victorian London town in a child’s eyes.

SELL: I challenged myself to reread the four Twilight saga books and review them in under two weeks as part of an investigation into whether the books really did have the mediocre writing that critics reported. Are they any good?

I first read (and watched) the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer when I was about thirteen to fourteen years old. At the time, I was very into fantasy and the supernatural and would read anything that involved it. I also, as a hopeless romantic, loved romantic novels. So when I was given a series that had both involved, I was hooked. I remember reading the entire series in about three weeks and watching them very shortly after and I loved it. The soundtrack was amazing, too, and I remember being intrigued into how it was made. I was, personally, Team Jacob - I thought he was nicer to Bella than Edward and felt the series didn’t explore them enough. So, when I was given this challenge, I jumped at it. Over the last two weeks I re-read the entire series and I have some thoughts.

FIrst of all: Bella. I loved her when I was younger. I didn’t look up to her - honestly I thought she was a bit pathetic - but I loved how much she was willing to give up for Edward and I wanted her life. She was living an exciting adventure despite feeling she was losing everything when she moved to her dad’s in Forks, Washington. She was loving, kind and adventurous and I was in love with her life. However, now I read about her and I am just confused. She had aspirations in her life and she wanted to do something incredible, and she gave that up to hang out with sparkling vampires for the rest of her life? I don’t know what could be worse than her life of constantly fearing she will die. But she is also always ready to die? The one thing younger me and current me have in common is that we both think she is pathetic. The way she just sits there in New Moon longing after a guy that abandoned her with no warning for an entire year infuriates me. Yet, there was Jacob the whole time willing to take care of her and love her but she barely gave him the time of day. Bella is such a strong character throughout Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, but it is so hard to like her early on because she bases her entire life on a guy that almost got her killed.

Then there are the vampires themselves. Sparkling in the sun. Really? I mean, you have to admit, it’s an interesting take on vampires, but sparkling? The quote itself is a beautiful piece of imagery: “His skin literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface”. I understand why Meyer wrote them this way, she describes their skin as “marble”, but I struggle wrapping my head around the concept. I have a read a lot of vampire books in my time and the Cullens are the only ones that sparkle.

Edward is as interesting character. After reading the first book, I struggled with understanding why Bella fell for him. Yes, he’s extremely attractive, but he used to gag when he saw her and then would sit in her room all night watching her sleep for months without her knowing. I thought the whole watching her situation was cute when I was younger - he was watching over her because he loved her so much - but now it’s just extremely creepy. When did stalkers that break into your home become a romantic concept?

No matter how many problems I have with the Twilight series, I will probably read it again though. Despite its problems, I still enjoyed it. The books are a light read that I don’t have to think about too much and the storyline is decent. Maybe it’s just nostalgia.
Free European Rail Pass offered to 1900 British teenagers by the European Union
The newest initiative led by the European Commission to encourage teenagers to travel is offering a select 1900 18-year-olds in Britain the chance to travel on the InterRail for free this summer.
The “enthusiastic young people” chosen will be able to use railways, buses and ferries for free travel around Europe over between July and September.
“Travelling is a chance for young people to take advantage of freedom of movement, to discover the diversity of Europe, enjoy its cultural richness, and make new friends from all over the continent,” the European Union tweeted this week.
Tickets are being handed out to each EU member state in proportion to population, meaning that only one in 372 18-year-old Britons will be eligible. The application will be made available on the European Youth Portal Facebook and Twitter pages.
The application process will include an online quiz about Europe, though many details are still unclear.
There are limitations. Citizens from states on the fringe of the EU – such as the UK and Ireland – will not be able to reach countries which include Slovenia, Slovakia, Greece or Cyprus.
This will be the only chance for British citizens to benefit from this opportunity due to the official Brexit leaving date scheduled for March 29, 2019.
The 7 Best Apps to Use Whilst Travelling in Europe

App in the Air – this app gives you real-time flight updates, gate changes, airport navigation maps and tips, making your air travel easier and calmer. You can also use this app offline, so data roaming charges are a thing of the past! Free on iOS and Android
XE Currency – the most renowned currency exchange app on the market right now! It gives you precise conversion rates and is updated every minute. The information is also stored offline, so you don’t have to rely on a connection. Free on iOS and Android
Citymapper – supporting all major cities around the world, citymapper helps you navigate abroad. It provides a map of the city and includes information on train times, buses, trams, etc. – whatever transport the city uses, it has! Free on iOS and Android
iTranslate – with the push of a button, you can speak into your phone and it automatically translates into your chosen language! When having conversations with locals, they can also speak into the app to make communication even clearer. For your most frequently used, there is also the option to have a downloadable pack, so you can use them offline. Free on iOS and Android, requires subscription for offline services
Guides by Lonely Planet – this company is the best at making in-depth travel guides, and now you can reach them on your phone! Simply download the guide for the city you are visiting and select the category you’re looking for (food, bars, hotels, shopping, etc.) and let the app do the rest! Crucial information such as maps and phrasebooks are offline. Free on iOS and Android
PackPoint – tell the app where you’re going, when you’re going and what you’re planning on doing and PackPoint puts together a list of crucial items to pack. Add or remove what you want on the list and check them off as you pack to make sure you have everything you need. Free on iOS and Android
Duolingo – what is a travel app list without this app? There’s a reason it’s so popular – Duolingo provides simple phrases to teach you the basics of a language and gradually builds you up into an expert. Simply sign up for a language of your choice and practice ten minutes a day to work through the levels. The app’s content is in a simple style and gaming format – making learning languages fun – instead of taking you back to the horrors of GCSE French class! Free on iOS and Android

Romantic Comedies are my favourite genre of movie. There is nothing I love more on a rainy day than curling up in bed with a cup of tea, a bowl of popcorn, and the cheesiest rom-com I can find. The cheesier the better. Bonus points if it makes me cry.

If you have a Netflix account, you will be aware that the streaming company have released several original movies and tv shows in 2018 so far. Most notably, and most popular, have been their three rom-coms: Set It Up, The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys I've Loved Before. All of which I have loved and watched many, many times.

Set It Up revolves around two assistants, Harper and Charlie, to two workaholics,Kirsten and Rick, who, in wanting more free time away from their bosses' busy schedules, decide to set them up. And it works - as soon as they are in a relationship, the Harper and Charlie are free to live their lives in their respective social circles. They control the relationship to keep both parties happy, slowly growing closer themselves. I loved this movie of unexpected romance and comic situations revolving around to extremely unreasonable people. Plus the cast includes two of my favourite actresses, Zoey Deutch and Lucy Lui. At one point I probably watched this movie four times one day. But it was my second favourite to The Kissing Booth, which had been released at a similar time.

The Kissing Booth is the classic, cheesy, teen movie - my favourite kind. A forbidden, secret romance, matched with a coming-of-age story surrounding first relationships and how to navigate long-lasting friendships whilst growing up and adding more people to the situation. And it all revolves around a classic carnival theme of a kissing booth - a scene which becomes the vital turning point of the story. Elle has been in love with her best friend Lee's older brother, bad-boy Noah, for her entire life. At a charity carnival, her and Lee run a kissing booth, where she kisses Noah and they begin a relationship. There's just one problem - Lee's biggest rule in their friendship is that neither he or Elle are allowed to date each others family members. It's quite a predictable (and unrealistic) story, but it is the perfect escape from reality into this fantasy romance. I am a sucker for these kind of movies, and in the space if two weeks had probably watched it sixty times. I thought this was my favourite movie Netflix had ever put out, until To All The Boys I've Loved Before was released just last week.

To All The Boys surrounds a socially-awkward Korean-American teenage girl, Lara Jean, who whenever she has a crush that she doesn't know what to do with, she writes them a love letter. One day the letters get out, one of the recipients being her older sister's newly ex-boyfriend, Josh. Thinking she may still have these feelings for Josh, she enlists the help of Peter Kavinsky, who also got a letter, who suggests pretending to be in a relationship - this will make Josh think Lara Jean has moved on from him, whilst making Peter's ex jealous and want to get back together with him. Along the way, the relationship seems to become real, scaring Lara Jean who is afraid of becoming too close to people after her mum's death when she was younger. Peter helps her to give in to her emotions and bring her out of her fantasy romance world that she only finds in novels. To me, this movie is a perfect mix of cheesy teenage movie, forbidden romance, first love, and coming-of-age.

These movies are all progressively cheesier than the last. But the best thing is that they all made me cry the first few times I watched them.

Netflix originals have only gotten better as the streaming site has developed, and the fact that this year has become the teen drama/rom-com year is the best thing that I could've hoped for. I hope the age of the Netflix Rom-Com carries on for a long time, because I am all here for it.

I realise a lot of people have been complaining about this movie, but it frustrated me so much. The latest rom-com installation from Netflix has killed their streak of amazingly popular movies. Sierra Burgess is a Loser killed the Netflix rom-com era and I'm pissed.


There are many issues with Sierra Burgess is a Loser. Too many. I'm probably being over dramatic but this movie brought the summer of 2018 to a grinding halt, so no wonder people hated it. You'd think this movie would be amazing with actors like Shannon Purser (Barb from Stranger Things) and Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky from To All The Boys I've Loved Before) and a great message of 'Just Be You', and this movie created a lot of hype. Who doesn't love a story about a loser girl beating the high school cliques and falling in love? But this movie was not like this at all.

The title character, Sierra (Purser), is extremely unlikeable, especially by the end of the movie. At first she seems alright - the movie begins with her character looking in the mirror and saying "You are a magnificent beast" - but from the minute she begins talking to Jamey (Centineo) she begins a downhill spiral that ended with me feeling disgust towards her. The main premise of this movie is that Jamey meets Veronica, a bitchy cheerleader, who gives him Sierra's number pretending it's her own to get him to back off. He starts texting Sierra and she reciprocates, however she realises very quickly that he thinks he is talking to someone else. But she decides to keep texting him. She then finds out that he thinks she is Veronica so enlists her to help trick Jamey, afraid that he won't like her because she isn't a blonde, skinny cheerleader. When it is revealed that she was catfishing him, he breaks it off and then later forgives her for seemingly no reason (but we'll get onto that later). The reason Sierra is so unlikeable is that she carries on this charade, hurting Jamey, ditching her best friend, screwing over Veronica and when it all blows up in her face she receives no consequences for her problems. Plus she justifies that she did this stuff because she's slightly overweight and her mum isn't.

It is clear what the character was trying to show - body insecurities leading to social anxiety and going to extreme lengths - but it was portrayed in a way that almost made a mockery of people that deal with these insecurities. They aren't an excuse for catfishing, sabotage and revenge porn, which is what this movie suggests. What should be a story that makes us feel sorry for the main character who is an underdog, left me cheering for the stereotypical pretty cheerleader (not that this isn't a good thing) and hating the underdog. And the fact that Sierra seems to have to deal with no consequences and is forgiven easily leaves no room for the character to learn from her mistakes.

Apart from the unlikeable character, the movie seems to promote some things that are morally questionable. Catfishing being the main one. Now, as Nev and Max have shown us on MTV, catfishing never ends well. Someone always gets hurt, either the catfish or the one being catfished or both. Yet Netflix releases a movie that shows catfishing as a bonding exercise for people of different social circles. Veronica goes from being Sierra's bully to being her best friend, but in the process just helps and encourages her to bully Jamey and screw with his feelings. It's a poor foundation for a friendship. As part of the catfishing, Veronica pretends to be Sierra on facetime and later goes on a date with Jamey as Sierra watches. Near the end of the movie, Jamey, who plays football for the opposing high school, comes to Sierra and Veronica's high school for a game and sees Veronica, so goes up to her and kisses her, leaving Sierra very angry and she calls off her friendship with Veronica.

The catfishing is the catalyst for the other three main problematic things that happen in this movie. The first is the date. Sierra doesn't want Veronica and Jamey to kiss. at the end of the date, Jamey goes to kiss Veronica so she tells him to close his eyes and brings out Sierra and she kisses him instead. She then quickly hides before he opens his eyes again. This is a form of sexual assault. Jamey consented to kissing Veronica, not Sierra who he doesn't know exists. It may be minor, but it's assault. And Sierra walks away from it feeling great and Jamey is left none the wiser. Netflix portrays it as dreamy and magical, but it's wrong.

One big thing in the movie is that Jamey says he could pick Sierra's voice "out of a line up" as they talk on the phone so often. So when she first comes face to face with him, she doesn't want to speak because it will blow her cover. So she pretends to be deaf, however Jamey is with his little brother who is also deaf so they start speaking ASL to each other, with Sierra doesn't know. This scene is uncomfortable to watch because it uses its only minority character, a deaf boy, as a punchline for a poorly set up and distasteful joke. And this boy is never seen again.

The last thing is when Sierra sees Jamey kiss Veronica (as he would because he thinks he's dating her) and decides her friendship with Veronica is over. But she doesn't just stop talking to her as most people would - instead she hacks into her Instagram account and posts a screenshot of Veronica's boyfriend dumping her by text paired with a photo of them both in which Veronica is half naked. This photo quickly spreads round the school and is then broadcast on the jumbo screen at the football game. And her only justification for this when Dan asks her if it was her is "I thought you didn't like Veronica" which is unacceptable and wrong. It's a disgusting situation.

Sierra then ends up going home from this game crying. Veronica won't talk to her, Jamey is avoiding her and Dan is feeling abandoned and is done with her. When her parents ask her what's wrong she says it's because she's fat and ugly and that it's her mum's fault because her mum was the blonde, skinny, popular prom queen in high school, because that makes sense obviously.

The part of this that frustrates me the most is the lack of backlash Sierra gets from this. A project she has at school whilst this is going on is to write a poem and read it to the class. Instead of doing this she writes a song instead and hands it in late, and still gets an amazing grade (no consequences still!). This isn't what frustrates me though, it's what she does with this song. She decides to send it to Veronica who for some reason forgives her and plays it for Jamey who then decides to take her to homecoming. She then gives Dan a half-assed apology which he also accepts. The song isn't even an apology! The basic gist of the song is that she doesn't feel pretty like a rose, she feels like a sunflower, which aren't considered to be the prettiest flowers by most. And that apparently serves as a good enough apology for her to get all her friends back and get a boyfriend and the situation is forgotten. It's bullshit.

The worst thing about this movie is probably that even if you changed it so that she was left with no one at the end of the movie and reaped the consequences and learned from her mistakes, it would still be a bad, slow moving, pretty boring movie to watch. Netflix made a bad choice with this one.

After watching Bo Burnham's Happy, some questions have been brought to my attention in how our lives conduct themselves. Everyone strives for happiness - surely that is the ultimate goal - but what does it mean?

A definition in a dictionary would describe happiness as -
                        "A state of being happy - feeling or showing pleasure or contentment"
- however, a dictionary seems too formal and wooden for something that is seemingly spiritual in nature.

There is also the case of the societal norms that everyone is supposed to want and go after and they are supposed to make you happy - you're supposed to get a good education, grow up and have the job of your dreams (that pays well), buy a house, meet someone and get married, have a family, grow old. Is that what being happy is? This is what we are told frmm a young age.

Let's look at this from a different perspective - think about what makes you happy right now at this point in your life. I can almost guarantee that it is completely different to the person sitting next to you, or the person walking past you. The fact is that everyone is looking for  different things that would make them personally happy.

Right now, what makes me happy are my family and friends. They are all extremely supportive and fun to be around and I'm happy when I'm around them. And I am very happy.

I suppose, in a way, it would make me happy to get the job I want, to have a family, etc. But I also quite fancy myself as an explorer! I've wanted to travel the world since I was very young because it's the adventure of a lifetime and, in my mind, who wouldn't want to trek around the continents, experiencing different cultures, seeing different landmarks and living in a way that really matters, making a difference. But I don't necesarily know if that will make me happy, even though I think it would. You never know, I could be miserable. But I don't know unless I try, and, if I never try, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

The truth is, we don't know what happiness is and we don't know what will make us happy. Really, we only know that something makes us happy after experiencing it. We hope it will, but sometimes we are wrong. The only thing we can do in this life is jump out of our comfort zone and discover different things because that is the only way you can be happy. No one can predict their own happiness or what causes it - you just have to make it happen and find out along the way for yourself what happiness is to you.

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