Culture Music

Lil Polo Tee Is A Unique Artist Building Buzz

This week’s Monday to Monday episode hosted by Mike Boyd welcomes rapper Lil Polo Tee aka Polo Perks. A unique artist with a speciality for rapping over indie samples, Polo has been steadily building buzz over these past couple months as he continues to gain followers and build his fan base. On the heels of releasing the music video for his latest single ‘YeahYeahYeah,’ the artist is having a pretty good 2021 so far, and tapped in with Boyd to talk about Surf Gang (a group of New York based rappers and producers), his approach to music, and what he has been up to recently. 

Boyd and Polo started their interview discussing the New York music scene, and how Polo is carving a lane for himself in that space. “Everything is going pretty well right now! Places are opening back up in the city, and Surf Gang is taking over everyday. Most of us are based out of New York, but we are really all over the place when you think about it. We just got back from doing a sold out show in L.A., which was crazy. There were about 600 to 700 people, and it was my first show there, so that was dope to experience.”

Pivoting the conversation, Boyd asks Polo about his EP Punk Goes Drill, and what it took behind the scenes to craft the project. “You know it’s funny because I listened to Punk and Drill music growing up, and it’s cool to see people’s reactions,” he tells Boyd. “That type of music is easily forgotten about a lot of times, and not a lot of people appreciate it. I was really just trying to make a drip project that was in the sound of Drill, but still something to set me apart from the rest. I wasn’t influenced by any of the old school samples—these are all up-to-date 2000s samples. Everything is from the early 2000s, and it’s really for the people of my time.”

Ben Oleynik
Lil Polo Tee

As their convo continues, Boyd and Polo talk about Polo’s favorite tracks on the project, working with his go-to producer Goner, and his growing influence in the skating community, which in turn leads Boyd to ask what song Polo would recommend new fans listen to for an introduction to his music “I feel like there isn’t really a song—I’m one of the most organic people doing this,” he says before listeners a rundown of his artistry. “Before you tap in and listen—you can really listen to any song you want to, you just have to know that my sound is going to be my sound. My flow is going to be my flow. So you have to get comfortable with it!”

For more on Polo, be sure to check out the full interview above. You can also keep up with the artist and his future releases on both Instagram and Twitter.

Gaming NFT

Tee Grizzley’s “The Grizzley World NFT” Offers Fans Insane Access to the Rapper

NFT projects that provide ongoing utility to their buyers always rise above the rest. To celebrate the release of his upcoming album, Detroit rapper Tee Grizley is launching a special edition one of a kind effort called the “The Grizzley World NFT Launch.” As a part of the launch, Grizzley fans will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase three golden tickets, which in turn gives the winners lifetime access to the rapper’s GTA server, and a lifetime pass to any Tee Grizzley concert in your local area. The lucky prize winners of the golden tickets will also receive a physical copy of the passes that can be presented at Grizzley’s concerts mailed to them at a later date. 

In addition to the lifetime concert tickets and GTA access, Tee Grizzley die-hards will have an opportunity to bid for a 1/1 Tee Grizzley double sided chain decked out with platinum and rose gold if they are unable to snag a golden ticket. The winner of the auction will also receive lifetime access to Grizzley’s GTA server, and their own personalized avatar version of the chain that can be worn on their characters during gameplay. Talk about utility.
Grizzley World NFT

Ahead of his NFT debut, here is what Tee Grizzley had to say about his first launch:

“I’m excited to drop my first NFT with The Grizzley World Collection, especially because I get to combine my music and gaming. Not only will winners get access to my Grizzley World Server, but they will also get a lifetime pass to any of my shows, and an invite to a special album release party to celebrate my new album Built For Whatever.”

If you are looking to participate in Grizzley’s NFT drop, the auction is scheduled to begin on Saturday, May 1st at 12PM PST on

Culture Movies/TV

The 26 Best Shows on HBO Max to Stream Right Now

HBO Max’s same-day theatrical release plan dominates a lot of conversation about the young streaming platform, but that just obstructs the fact that HBO Max is full of fantastic TV shows waiting to be discovered. As the notorious streaming wars continue to heat up, the platform has been doing its best to bring new series and additional seasons of old favorites straight to their subscribers. If anyone ever gets tired of the streamer’s massive library of movies, they can hit a button and dive into everything from classic sitcoms like Friends to recent animated programs for kids like Adventure Time.

Whether you’re looking for an HBO original, something that falls under WarnerMedia’s massive umbrella, or a licensed show, HBO Max truly has you covered. The HBO brand may be transforming, but it’s important to remember that it started as a premium channel with higher quality shows- and that sentiment hasn’t changed all these years later. Next time you’re searching for a binge-able show or an intricate world to explore on TV, consider choosing from one of the 26 best shows on HBO Max!

26. ‘Harley Quinn’

Put it this way: Harley Quinn ain’t a normal superhero show.

Set in Gotham City, where Harley Quinn and her long-time boyfriend, The Joker, have recently broken up, the supervillain—and sometimes anti-hero—has set out on her own in order to become one of the city’s leading crime bosses.

Voiced by Kaley Cuoco, who also serves as executive producer, Harley teams up with her crew of misfits, including Poison Ivy, King Shark, Clayface, and Dr. Psycho, to cause chaos in Gotham. She frequently battles other supervillains like Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, and, of course, The Joker, as well as Batman, and the results are often hilarious and, at times, incredibly touching.

25. ‘Warrior’

If intense action and character-driven stories sound appealing, Warrior is definitely the show for you. Executive produced by Justin Lin and Shanon Lee, Warrior, is based on an old story idea by Bruce Lee himself. Starring Andrew Koji as the fresh-off-the-boat Ah Sahm, Warrior is set in San Francisco during the late 1870s and tells a complex story about an interesting ensemble of characters, belonging to rival tongs, the city’s police squad, and the city’s political elites, trying to carve out space for themselves in the chaotic city. What started as a two-season long Cinemax original was recently renewed for a third season directly on HBO Max.

24. ‘Doom Patrol’

Based on DC Comics’ version of the X-Men, Doom Patrol is a quirky, thoroughly entertaining series. While the show revels in its comic book charm, Doom Patrol isn’t the traditional superhero story as it follows a group of societal outlaws who all receive their powers under chaotic circumstances and are both physically and mentally scarred as a result. A show that isn’t afraid to delve deep into the mental states of its ensemble, Doom Patrol manages to maintain a silly quality throughout no matter how extreme or dark the situation may be.

23. ‘Flight of the Concords’

Flight of the Concords stars the musical comedy duo Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie as fictionalized versions of themselves as they attempt to make it as musicians in New York City. As the two struggle to get gigs or get women to notice them at parties, the show weaves in some of the duo’s hilarious songs as a way to give the audience more insight into how they are feeling at that moment. Even if you’ve never heard of the band before this, Flight of the Concords is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates low-key comedy and fantastic wordplay. 

22.’Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’

A weekly series that dives into various topics, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver has been airing on HBO since 2014. After cutting his teeth exploring political topics on The Daily Show under Jon Stewart, John Oliver has grown into the new gold standard of comedic news. The weekly format allows him to quickly go over certain events from the week, but the bulk of the episode is dedicated to relatively evergreen deep dives into various structural and cultural topics that allow Oliver to stretch his comedic chops and slowly get to the bottom of a complex subject. Whether you consider yourself a news buff or someone who is relatively unaware of what’s happening, Last Week Tonight is both extremely enjoyable and educational. 

21. ‘Rick and Morty’

What is essentially an outrageous, over-the-top spin on the dynamic between Marty McFly and Doc Brown in Back to the Future, Rick and Morty follows the titular grandpa-grandson duo as they go on chaotic missions in space and other dimensions. Created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, who voices both of the main characters, the show relishes in its childlike crudeness as Rick drinks and farts his way across the galaxy, but it is also capable of telling complex stories that leave the viewers with heavy hearts in addition to tears of laughter.

20. ‘Chernobyl’

A miniseries about the horrific events at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, Craig Mazin’s Chernobyl is difficult to watch in all the best ways. A five-part series that focuses on the brutal cleanup efforts and the bureaucratic mismanagement that defined that moment in Soviet society, Chernobyl features some incredible performances and terrifying makeup work as it tells a deeply researched but dramatized story about one of the most brutal moments in human history.

19. ‘Doctor Who’

Since Russel T Davies relaunched the classic British sci-fi series in 2005, Doctor Who has become a global cultural phenomenon. A series that stars a mysterious alien known as The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet of Gallifrey, Doctor Who follows the character as he travels around time and space to go on adventures and help those in need. This most recent iteration of the show, broken up into various eras with different showrunners and performers playing the self-regenerating genius that give each season a distinct feel, feels like the ultimate Saturday morning viewing experience and is cheesy in all the best ways as The Doctor and his companions do everything they can to always save the day against seemingly insurmountable odds.

18. ‘John Adams’

A star-studded miniseries set before, during, and after the American Revolution, John Adams is a thorough examination of the earliest days in American history as seen through the eyes of one of the men who helped shape the nation. Starring Paul Giamatti as the titular historical figure, the miniseries follows Adams and his wife Abigail (Laura Linney) as they navigate the tumultuous times and assume their now iconic roles in history. Based on historian David McCullough’s biography of the 2nd American President, the series is full of historical detail and doesn’t shy away from displaying some of the brutal realities of war and disease at that time. 

17. ‘Sex and the City’

Adapted from Candace Bushnell’s book of New York Observer essays with the same name, Sex and the City is a New York City-based romantic comedy that follows a group of female friends as they try to advance their careers and go about their love lives in different fashions. The show has a fantastic ensemble, led by Sarah Jessica Parker as a fictionalized version of Bushnell named Carrie Bradshaw, and excels whenever the four lead characters are all on stage interacting with one another. A steamy and silly show, Sex and the City feels oddly relevant as people prepare for “Hot Vax Summer.”

16. ‘Watchmen’

Rather than directly adapting Alan Moore and David Gibbon’s iconic comic series, David Lindeloff decided to tell a wholly original sequel that asks viewers what it means to be a hero. Starring Regina King as former-cop-turned-costumed-vigilante Sister Knight, a.k.a. Angela Abar, Watchmen recontextualizes the entire history of American superheroes in the battle against white supremacy as the supremacist Seventh Kavalry organization makes its presence felt in a new plot to destroy the world. Obviously reading the original graphic novel or even seeing the film adaptation will provide additional context for viewers, but the 11-Emmy winning Watchmen is a complex, unique series that can still be enjoyed by people who are not familiar with the source material.

15. ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

If the dry and observational humor of Seinfeld is up your alley, then Curb Your Enthusiasm, starring and created by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, is a must-watch. Following a fictionalized version of Larry’s own life as he goes about his business in Los Angeles and later New York City, Curb puts its curmudgeonly star in a lot of awkward or silly situations that allow his unique perspective to shine through. It’s hard to describe the unique humor and sharp dialogue of the series without simply saying it’s “pretty, pretty, pretty good.” 

14. ‘Succession’

Succession is essentially a darker, more dramatic Arrested Development. Ron Howard may not be narrating scenes, but this HBO original follows the dysfunctional Roy family as they vie for power over Waystar RoyCo, a powerful media conglomerate, once the patriarch of the family, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), starts having some health issues.  The satirical and comedic show has won two Emmys for outstanding writing in a drama series and has a fantastic, award-winning ensemble that knows how to bring all of the bickering and in-fighting to the silver screen perfectly.

13. ‘Insecure’

After the success of Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl web series, she took her storytelling skills to HBO with Insecure. Co-created by and starring Rae as Issa Dee, Insecure is a hilarious show that follows the late-20s protagonist as she tries to thrive in her work and personal lives. Both hilarious and personally heart-wrenching at moments, the show effectively explores societal and racial issues that define the experience of Black men and women in the United States. 

12. ‘Euphoria’

Skins for the (even more) modern age, Sam Levinson’s Euphoria is an ensemble story about a group of high school students as they experiment with sex and drugs and start learning about love and identity for the first time. An emotionally brutal show that examines trauma and doesn’t shy away from showing how dangerous drugs can be, Euphoria enabled Zendaya to become the youngest ever-winner for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the Emmys. 

11. ‘Barry’

A dark comedy series unlike anything I’ve ever seen, Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s Barry follows a former Marine turned hitman named Barry Berkman (Hader) as he tries to give up his old life and become an actor. Despite Barry’s best efforts, he keeps getting pulled back into the dangerous world and he is forced to balance his new ambitions and dangerous obligations. The show has a fantastic ensemble and Henry Winkler even won an Emmy award for his performance as the self-obsessed drama teacher Gene Cousineau.

10. ‘Game of Thrones’

Thanks to HBO, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series and the medieval world of Westeros is now just as popular as the iconic Lord of the Rings. Game of Thrones is a world-spanning adventure series that sees numerous families vie for power in a feudal, Medieval society as magical forces slowly gather in the dark. Don’t let the widespread (and fair) criticisms of the final season fool you from trying it for the first time, the show is the most awarded series in Emmy history for a reason, and I can’t recommend diving into this dark and complex world enough.

9. ‘I May Destroy You’

Created by, written, starring, and co-directed by Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You is an emotionally challenging and occasionally comedic show about the emotional traumas people experience after being sexually assaulted or raped. Arabella Essiedu (Coel) is a young writer who finds herself in the spotlight thanks to the success of her first book, but her life suddenly takes a turn after she struggles to remember a night out with friends and discovers that she was raped. A show that touches on everything from the impacts of social media influence to how society views male assault victims differently, I May Destroy You is one of the most unique originals to hit HBO Max. 

8. ‘True Detective’

Created by Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective is an anthology crime series that follows different investigative teams as they dive into complex and disturbing cases. With fantastic ensembles featuring everyone from Mathew McConaughey to Rachel McAdams and Mahershala Ali, each season of True Detective pushes all of its characters to their physical, emotional, and occasionally spiritual limits as they proceed with their case. Admittedly, the second season isn’t as entertaining as the other two, in my opinion, but even that middle season is better than most things on basic cable.

7. ‘Batman: The Animated Series’

Right after Tim Burton’s Batman captivated the general public, Warner Brothers let animators Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski develop their own take on the Caped Crusader and Gotham City. The result, Batman: The Animated Series, is one of the most lusciously illustrated shows of all time. Not only is the art fantastic, but its Emmy-winning writing gives viewers complex, emotional stories that challenge the central hero and his rogues. The voice cast, featuring Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker, is borderline iconic and defines these characters for a generation of fans.

6. ‘Gomorrah’

Based on the novel of the same name by Robert Saviano, Gomorrah is a violent and riveting look at organized crime and the ramifications that it has on people in Naples. The show focuses on Ciro Di Marzio (Marco D’Amore), a member of the Savastano gang, as he tries to move up in the ranks of his organization and survive a bubbling war between various crime families. While the show is fictional, it is often praised for its realistic representation of the crime families as Saviano spent much of his career as a journalist who investigated the iconic Camorra crime syndicate.

5. ‘Oz’

The show that first took full advantage of HBO’s position as a premium provider with fewer restrictions, Oz is a dark and dramatic look at life inside the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility for men. A creative and twisted show that details the harrowing experiences of various individuals behind bars, Oz follows each prisoner as they adapt to their new surroundings and struggle for power with rival gangs. The sometimes disturbing show is held together by its fantastic ensemble, featuring everyone from J.K. Simmons as an Aryan gang leader who terrorizes his new roommate to future Sopranos star Edie Falco as an officer at the facility. 

4. ‘Veep’

From the mind of political satirist Armando Iannucci, Veep is a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at Washington D.C. and the goons that run it. Following the political movements and career of Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her team, Veep is both crudely silly and deeply insightful into some of the motivations and personalities of people running our government. Some of the most ludicrous storylines and jokes of the show almost seem quaint now in light of the Trump years, but Veep is a must-watch series stacked with a fantastically funny ensemble.

3. ‘The Leftovers’

Forget Thanos’ infamous snap, in Damon Lindelof’s The Leftovers, based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name, everyone suddenly discovers that two percent of the world’s population has suddenly disappeared. Following the chaotic and sometimes dangerous years that follow the sudden departure, The Leftovers is set in a traumatized and emotionally scarred world that sees everyone struggle to move on from the unexplainable event. Starring Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey, a police officer with a unique connection to a larger spiritual conspiracy sweeping the world, The Leftovers manages to both touch and disturb its viewers as it slowly unwinds.

2. ‘The Wire’

Most police dramas focus on the officers as they jump from case to case, but David Simon’s The Wire takes a different approach to the cop show format altogether. Taking a larger, more structural view of the city of Baltimore, The Wire spends time with members of the police department, various gangs, and dock workers to paint a full picture of the corruption and pressures bearing down on the city. Each season focuses on a different institution in the city, like unions or schools, to help the ensemble show feel a bit different from year to year as the city’s corruption slowly compounds no matter how hard people like Detective James McNulty (Dominic West) or Detective Bunk Moreland (Wendell Pierce) work.

1. ‘The Sopranos’

Without a doubt, David Chase’s The Sopranos is one of the best television shows of all time. Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) is the leader of a New Jersey crime family, but the difficulties of balancing his work and family life have driven him to start seeing a therapist. The six-season show is amusingly violent and wonderfully paced as the mafia world slowly expands and the problems Tony and his crew face become more complex, but it’s really the wonderful ensemble, with the Emmy winning duo of Gandolfini and Edie Falco at the heart of everything as Tony and Carmela Soprano, that makes the show so gripping and addictive. Sit down with some gabagool and start watching!

Culture News

A 1990s Throwback and Billie Eilish Take Over This Week in TikTok

TikTok just keeps topping itself. Just when we think we may have seen it all on the platform, content creators come up with something else to keep us on our toes. Last week we got a throwback to the 2000s, and this week we are getting a blast from the past with a 1990s hip-hop classic, and a glimpse of the present with yet another Billie Eilish viral trend. We also have some current bops that you should listen to if you haven’t already. Let’s dive into what was happening on the TikTok this past week.

1. Poison- Bell Biv Devoe

Bell Biv Devoe’s ‘Poison’ will always be one of those classic 1990s hits that recycles its way back onto the current popular music scene. This time around, the legendary track finds itself on TikTok as content creators are using the song to show pictures of what their parents looked like in 1990 when the hit single came out. This challenge is super fun if you want to share old school pictures of what your parents looked like back in the day. If not, the trend is still worth scrolling through.

2. Bury A Friend- Billie Eilish

Are you really surprised to see Billie Eilish on this list? She’s the queen of viral challenges! Billie has done it yet again on TikTok with her ‘Bury A Friend’ single from 2019. This is a ‘glo up’ trend where users rotate the phone camera around their head to reveal a transformation ‘glammed up’ look. Not too complicated of a challenge, and still pretty cool if you ask us.

3. ‘Kiss Me More’ – Doja Cat & SZA

One thing has been made clear over the years—people love Doja Cat and SZA, and that is exactly what this challenge is all about. Now this isn’t a dance/choreography trend, all you have to do is make a video telling the world how much you love Doja Cat and SZA. That’s it!

4. ‘Tampa’ – Cico P

You can never go wrong with a good joke, and TikTokers are putting a new spin on Cico P’s 2020 single ‘Tampa.’ This is a pretty simple trend to participate in as well—all you have to do is make jokes on cue to the lyrics “I’m bad news, I’m a menace to society.” Whatever joke you decide to tell is completely up to you. From your corniest to your most creative, just make sure you deliver it confidently.

That is going to do it for this week! As usual we will be back next week with the latest updates on what is happening in the TikTok world.

Culture Trading Cards

The 15 Most Powerful ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ Characters

Yu-Gi-Oh! first appeared on our television screens in the late 90s and in the nearly two and a half decades since its first iteration, it has gone through nearly a dozen different forms and remains here to this day. Based on that alone, it deserves a hell of a lot of respect that it doesn’t always get amongst its peers in anime. Today, it remains one of the most well-known card game anime of all time.

Of course, you can’t have Duel Monsters without the monsters. Maybe you’re looking to get into Yu-Gi-Oh!, maybe you’re looking to spend some money to expand your deck, or maybe you’re just a fan and love reading about it. Whatever the reason, you’ve found yourself in the right place here today.

Below is our list of the 15 most powerful monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh! Of course, power is relative. We’ve gone with a variety of cards that have been overpowered in tournaments, had the biggest impact in the series, and have a high amount of attack points. Let us know what you think and who makes your list.

1. Apoqliphort Towers

This card is so powerful that it was actually banned from Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments. For it to be played, three Qliphort monsters must be sacrificed. It cannot be special summoned. Apoqliphort Towers is essentially immune to all spell and trap cards, as well as monsters that are a lower level than itself (10). Basically, it offers almost perfect protection.

2. Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy Of The End

The original overpowered monster in Duel Monsters, you knew this one had to make our list. Not only does Chaos Emperor Dragon allow you to summon one DARK and one LIGHT monster from your graveyard, but if you pay 1,000 life points, you can send all cards on the field and in yours and your opponent’s hand to the graveyard, then do 300 damage for each card that was sent to the graveyard with that effect. It isn’t quite a one-turn kill, but it’s damn close, especially when used with Sangan and Yata-Garasu. Well, before it was banned anyway.

3. Dark Armed Dragon

Requiring exactly three DARK monsters in your graveyard to be summoned, Dark Armed Dragon was so powerful that officially for tournaments, you were only allowed one in a deck. Once summoned, you could essentially destroy any three monsters on your opponent’s side. This was a meta for a while and was a main factor in a tier 0 deck. Only allowing players to have one at a time balanced it out a little.

4. Don Thousand / Monster B

Second only to Don Thousand / Monster C (which also appears on this list) when it comes to its attack points, Don Thousand / Monster B is a beast. It boasts a whopping 10,000 ATK points. When on the field, this card automatically destroys all monsters on the opposite end of the field. To make things worse (for your opponent anyway), if it’s at risk of being destroyed, it can turn around and destroy one of your own monsters to protect itself instead.

5. Don Thousand / Monster C

If you follow Yu-Gi-Oh! closely, then you know the name of this card and know exactly why it’s on this list. When it comes to attack points, anything in the 4,000 to 5,000 range was considered powerful for a while, and in the anime, 5,000 was pretty much the maximum any singular card could have without a special ability. Don Thousand / Monster C, however, boasts an unimaginable 10,000 attack and defense points, respectively.

6. Exodia, The Forbidden One

One of the most famous Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters of all time, managing to draw all five pieces of Exodia, The Forbidden One ends the game instantly, so how could it not have made this list? Individually, the pieces are not worth much, but they’re certainly greater than the sum of their parts. You’ll need the heart of the cards for sure because Yugi himself only summoned Exodia once in the entire anime himself.

7. Last Turn

When your life points at 1,000 or less and it’s your opponent’s turn is the only time you can play Last Turn. You pick one monster on your side of the field and send all other cards on the field and in yours and your opponent’s hands to the graveyard. Your opponent then gets to special summon a monster from their deck, but it must be face up in attack position and it must attack the monster you picked. The player whose monster remains wins the duel and any other result means the game is a draw. This type of bail out of course means the card is forbidden.

8. Master Peace, The True Dracoslaying King

What makes Master Peace, The True Dracoslaying King unique is that it becomes immune to the type of card it was tributed by. So if you tributed a spell card and a trap card for it, it became immune to spell cards and trap cards. If you tributed a trap card a monster card for it, it became immune to trap cards and monster cards. You get the point. This made for an incredibly overpowered card that could often only be beaten with a monster with 3,000 attack points or more if someone got lucky. This resulted in its ban.

9. Number 16: Shock Master

Don’t be fooled by the fact that this card is just a level 4 and has 2300 ATK points and 1600 DEF points. Number 16: Shock Master has the ability to nullify one monster, spell or trap card on the opponent’s side of the field per turn. But here’s what made it even more powerful. At one point, you could play multiple at a time and each one could take away a card on the opponent’s side, leaving them helpless, essentially not getting their turn.

10. Obelisk The Tormentor

Sure, in tournaments, the Egyptian God cards’ flaws start to show a little bit, and they’re hardly used. But their power and importance in the anime truly cannot be overstated. Obelisk is probably objectively the weakest of the three God cards, but it’s still more than deserving of a spot on this list. If the player tributes two other monsters on the field during their battle phase, Obelisk gains unlimited attack power. It can also attack a player directly and take away all of the opponent’s monsters.

11. Slifer The Sky Dragon

The second most powerful of the Egyptian God cards, Slifer The Sky Dragon is known well because it’s a card Yugi goes to a lot after he wins it. Slifer is powerful because it gains 1,000 attack and defense points for every card the player has in their hands. It also becomes the target of all opponents’ effects despite being immune, takes away 2,000 attack points from monsters in the attack position, and destroys them if they’re at 0 attack points.

12. Super Quantal Mech King Great Magnus

Depending on how many XYZ materials you have for it, this card can get insanely powerful. With 2 or more, you can detach one material to take a card on the field and shuffle it, with 4 or more it becomes unaffected by all card effects except Super Quant cards and with 6 or more, your opponent cannot add cards to their hand.

13. The Tyrant Neptune

Don’t be fooled by the 0 attack and 0 defense on The Tyrant Neptune. For a certain amount of time in tournaments, this card was almost broken because of how overpowered it could be. When you used Instant Fusion to bring out Lyrical Luscinia – Independent Nightingale and then tributed it for this card, its special effects mean it would be unaffected by anything with 6,000 attack points and would inflict 5,000 burn damage per turn. That’s what resulted in its ban a few years ago.

14. The Winged Dragon Of Ra

Considered to be the most powerful of all of the Egyptian God cards, The Winged Dragon Of Ra being summoned makes for some epic moments in the anime. The attack and defense points for it are made up of the total of the three cards you tribute for it. You also have the option of giving up all but one of your life points (so 7,999 out of your 8,000 starting points, for example) and making those all attack points for the monster.

If that were not enough, Ra’s God Phoenix ability allows for the player to pay 1,000 life points for it to attack and destroy all of the opponent’s monsters. Just like the other God cards, this one feels like an instant win.

15. Victory Dragon
Yu-Gi-Oh! Wiki

The clue is in the name here. This card was specifically overly powerful in tournaments and has since been banned. Matches are sets of three duels with the winner of course having to win two of the three. However, if you win a duel by attacking with Victory Dragon, you have won the entire match. It was banned not only for this insane rule, but because people forfeited before they were attacked by it, perhaps rightfully so, nullifying it.

Culture Trading Cards

Price Volatility: What It Means For The Sports Card Market

On January 30th, 2021, two Michael Jordan Fleer PSA 10s sold for a record $738,000 each on Goldin Auctions. 

The sales created a frenzy of national media attention on platforms like CNN and many began predicting that the card would reach $1 million in value. 

Values of the same card in a lower grade began skyrocketing (for example, the PSA 9 appreciated 340% from the end of December to the first week of February), and many people took on a “to the moon!” mentality with other established, retired veteran players and their rookie cards. 

However, as of April 18th, that same $738,000 Michael Jordan card has dropped in value by nearly $400,000 (this is a different copy, but same card in the same grade):


This represents a price drop of 49%. 

While you can argue not all PSA 10s are created equal (some have better centering than others) and that bidders may be scared to spend a large amount of money outside of an auction house, this card has generally trended downward since its record price set January 30th. 

This downtrend isn’t just limited to Jordan’s iconic rookie, we’ve seen similar trends with other cards and it might leave you thinking about what might happen next. 

Before we panic and start to think the card world is falling, we can look at some data to help us normalize these trends and create confidence in our collecting and investing endeavors.

(I am not a financial advisor and this is not intended to be financial advice. I own $3,390 in shares of the 1986 Fleer Complete Set in a PSA 10 grade via a fractional share platform and this writing is not intended to influence the value of any particular sports card.)

Am I Too Late?
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

You might read that $375,000 for a sports card as a worrisome decline means you missed the boat big time to participate in the hobby, but read on. 

When I first started buying sports cards, paying $75 for an ungraded Patrick Mahomes Prizm rookie or $5 for an ungraded Trae Young Base Prizm rookie was overpriced. I felt like I was reaching when I paid $450 for a 2008 Topps Chrome Refractor featuring Kobe Bryant and Lebron James (a card that sells for around $25,000 in a PSA 10 grade today). 

This was about 2 years ago, and at that point, you could have bought just about any sports card in existence and it’s likely worth much more today. 

When I tell people that, their first question is always whether or not it’s too late to get into sports cards. It always depends on your goals, whether it’s collecting, investing, or both, but there’s always an opportunity to find awesome cards at a great value. 

The reality today is that it’s harder (and more expensive) to get into sports cards, so your biggest opportunity to do well is to understand the market better. 

Understanding the market better starts with you thinking for yourself and not blindly following advice (mine included). You didn’t need to be savvy two years ago, you just needed to buy cards to ride the market-wide wave. Now, it’s the opposite, you need to be savvy and you need to get ahead of the wave before it forms. 

We’ll use a few different cards as our case study for developing savvy and understanding how and why those metaphorical waves (demand) form and crash. 

Is it Surprising That the Jordan Card Dropped in Value?

Over the last 2 years, I’ve watched various cards hit new highs, slowly retreat, plummet, and slowly increase again. It’s hard to be objective in the moment, especially when fear of missing out emotions hit, but doing so will make you a savvier buyer, and a savvier seller. 

In order to better understand those trends, I use Cardladder, but there are plenty of options available to you. Let’s look at a price history graph for a specific card below, which they’ve hilariously dubbed “the middle finger graph”.

The middle finger graph looks like a middle finger – a rapid ascent on the left side into a peak, and then a rapid decline, leaving those at the peak feeling a little bit like the card value has given them the middle finger. 


This chart represents the Kylian Mbappe 2018 World Cup Prizm Base PSA 10 card. It tripled in value in a matter of weeks, then continually and gradually retreated for a few months before making a resurgence near the end of February. 

If you want to be savvier in sports cards, what lessons can you take away from this? 

  • Rapid appreciation is a good time to sell, not a good time to buy 
  • Significant increases and decreases can happen fast – in this case, a matter of a month 
  • There are multiple peaks and valleys 
  • The card didn’t go to $0 – while it hasn’t reached its record high again, it’s selling for $1,250 
  • If you bought at the bottom in December at $500, you would have done well on your investment 

Let’s look at another, similar graph:


In this graph, we see a few mini “middle finger” spikes and more gradual price increases over time. You can see an initial price peak, followed by a decline, with a gradual run-up to a new price increase, followed by a decline. This particular card peaked at $2,000, but currently sells for $1,200 and is the 2018 Prizm Base PSA 10 Luka Doncic rookie card. 

While both of these graphs represent higher population cards of younger, less established players, it can help you understand that the market is cyclical, and there are much better times than others to buy and sell. 

As you think about timing, consider a few factors: 

  • Is the price rapidly appreciating? (I.e. doubles or triples in value in a matter of weeks) 
  • If there’s appreciation, why? Did they win a championship? Get inducted to the hall of fame? Start a reality TV show? Did another copy of that card or a similar card set a record price? 
  • Is the card rapidly declining? Has it seen a floor yet? 
  • Are there a lot of copies of the card available on eBay?
  • Are there a lot of copies coming in from grading and the population is growing?

When most people buy cards, they’re looking for clues from the market (other buyers like you). Consistent price increases signals that other people believe a card has value and sometimes logic can escape us when we enter a bid or hit the Buy It Now button. 

One way to combat this is to think about the opportunity cost. Before you spend $3,000 on a base prizm Kylian Mbappe, what could that instead have gotten you? At the time of its peak, $3,000 could have gotten you a Kevin Durant Topps Chrome Rookie Refractor BGS 9. A short print (limited copies produced), of a top 20 (maybe 15) basketball player of all time. 

But now, it’s time to turn our eyes back to the Michael Jordan card. 

After seeing two “middle finger charts” for other players, would you be totally surprised if the same thing happened to Jordan’s rookie card? 

While the cards themselves are not an apple-to-apple comparison (MJ is MJ and he only has one true rookie with a population significantly less than Mbappe and Doncic) the consumer behaviors are similar: 


There are far fewer sales of this card given its lower number of copies in the market, but we can still see some peaks and valleys, with record prices followed by some declines, and we can see the beginnings of a “middle finger graph” forming after the most recent high. 

As a savvy sports card collector and investor, this shouldn’t totally surprise you. Sports card values aren’t always linear and there are peaks and valleys that occur. 

On May 7th, for example, MJ’s rookie sold for $96,000, a 112% increase from its last sale on 3/26. The card’s next few sales dipped until a new high of $99,630 on May 20th. The card got as low as $62,000 one month later, a 37.7% drop

While it’s been nearly three months since the 2021 record sale of this card, we’re seeing a similar percentage drop of 49%

This teaches us that we can use data from other card sales, and historical trends from the same card sale to help us understand where a card may be going next (if a wave is forming or ending). 

Supply and Demand Should Always Be Your Guide
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

For those trying to find the competitive edge in sports card collecting and investing, the edge always goes back understanding supply and demand. Supply is measured in the number of copies of a particular card in a particular grade (it’s easier to understand for flagship rookie cards). 

It gets a little trickier with modern players, parallels, dual autos, sets, etc., but there are a lot of resources to understand supply. 

Demand is much harder to understand and people who are in-tune with it can see when new waves are forming. 

In the case of the Michael Jordan Fleer 1986 PSA 10 – it has a lot going for it. Relatively low population. The recognized single rookie card for Michael Jordan. One of the greatest and most popular basketball players of all time. That’s why even in a decline, it still commands a nearly $400,000 price tag. 

That price tag is one of the most overlooked influencers of supply and demand. 

From December 2019 – February 2020, there was only 1 sale in each month of the 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie. There were 2 sales in March, and 0 in April. 

In May 2020 there were a total of 7 copies of this card on public record. That represents 2% of the population of the card. 

Remember when I said that paying $75 for an ungraded Patrick Mahomes Prizm rookie felt expensive? Well, at that time, you could have purchased a Fleer Jordan rookie PSA 10 for $27,000. 

As prices increase to certain levels, it’s hard for people to hold onto a card, no matter how much they love it. 

The card sold 20 times from March of 2019 to March of 2020 publicly. That means that there are at least 20 people who could now make life-changing money by selling their copy (and many others who bought privately or before March 2019). 

The dozen or so copies of this card that have sold in 2021 are likely not going to be for sale for a very, very long time. 

As more copies sell in 2021, the lower the available supply becomes. Most collectors have a price, but as more and more of them sell for significant gains, it’s going into the hands of people who can be patient and won’t sell, even on a decline. 

It would take a new record for them to send their cards into the auction houses. 

We can see the same trend with the 2018 Kylian Mbappe Prizm Silver PSA 10: 

Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The card hit a new low of $3,800 back on December 12th, 2020. 4 more copies sold leading up to 12/30, about 2% of the total population. We can infer that a few people saw a downward trend and decided to sell their copies. 5 total copies of the card sold in December, but the next copy wouldn’t sell until January 21st. It jumped back to $5,000, and within 3 weeks and started to gain momentum. The card got as high as $8,500 on February 25th, before coming back down to $6,800 on March 5th. In January, this card sold just twice, but in February, it sold eight times. In March, it sold nine times, getting as high as $11,988. Eight copies of the card have been sold in April, with a week left in the month. 

The last value of the card was $9,100 on April 25th. 

12% of the population of this card have now sold at new highs, and those 25 copies probably won’t be sold until a new level is reached, thus diminishing the available supply. 

This is the likely explanation for the cycles of high prices followed by declines (sometimes in a very short period of time) – supply dries up and a buyer who really wants a card will overpay in the moment. After that overpay, other owners may decide it’s time to sell that particular card. Supply increases, and it’s usually followed by a price dip because you don’t have to overpay to secure the only copy of a card available.  

But as more and more people buy at higher prices, it raises the bar (price) for when they in turn will sell their copy if they chose to do so. At least 16 copies of the Jordan Fleer rookie have sold in 2021 and those buyers aren’t likely in a rush to sell. That leaves 300 copies across collectors and investors who still may choose to sell and take profits, but as more and more sell, available supply will decrease. 

To hit a little closer to home, think about your favorite cards that you aren’t eager to sell. Say you paid $1,000 for one card, but it’s not that easy to get and you love it. Would you sell at $2,000? Probably not. What about $4,000? Maybe, but still probably not. But if it hit $6,000, it might be enough to get you to part with it. 

Once someone buys your card for $6,000, it likely would take $9,000 for them to consider parting with it. If the supply is low enough, and there are enough new owners who have set a new “floor price”, supply will dry up and the cycle will continue. 

Tying It All Together
Getty Images

Studying the market and trying to learn the “why” behind price trends will serve you well in the sports card market. While most of us may never be able to afford a 1986 Michael Jordan Fleer PSA 10 rookie, it doesn’t mean we can’t use it as a case study to further our own buying and selling habits. 

Buyers and sellers exhibit similar patterns, whether it’s for a $70 card or a $700,000 card and your opportunity is how non-linear those trends are:

There are lots of strategies to get ahead of the market, but thinking for yourself and understanding the data goes a long way for finding opportunity. To me, this is why buying, selling and collecting sports cards is so fun – it moves so fast it creates inefficiencies and opportunities for everyone. The quicker you can recognize the patterns, the more likely you are to be in “early” on something else. 

Culture Music

Music Manager and Entrepreneur Dylan Leazier Talks Business

Memphis artist Fresco Trey is a rising trailblazer who’s name you’ll be hearing a lot more in the future. Behind every artist is an equally dedicated team of individuals who work extremely hard behind the scenes to make things happen. For Trey, one of the people behind the scenes is a young man by the name of Dylan Leazier. An entrepreneur, Leazier is also the CEO of UNKNXWN, a content creation and branding company, and handles all things creative for DJ Clue. The latest guest on this week’s Monday to Monday episode hosted by Mike Boyd, Leazier discussed his entrepreneurial rise in entertainment amongst many other topics in a nearly 20-minute conversation with Boyd that you definitely will want to check out.

Boyd kicks off the conversation asking Leazier about managing Trey, and how the two first met. “I heard about Trey about a year-and-a-half ago,” he tells Boyd recalling their meeting.”It was through my videographer Kenny who is a part of the movement as well. He went down to Memphis to shoot some content, and connected with Trey and his team. He came back and was low-key pitching Trey’s music, and that’s how I heard of him. At that point Trey was moving around for his tour, but when the pandemic hit that slowed everything down, and I got him to New York to meet with me.”

As the conversation continues, Boyd and Leazier go into just how special of a talent Trey is, and how he personally tries to add value when working with the artist. “I’m a person that comes in and tries to add value. I knew from our conversations that they (Fresco and his team) were looking for marketing and branding, so I started there and just kept building out. One of Trey’s visions is starting FTL, which is the label that he is pushing. So I try to come in and use my resources to help amplify their movement. It’s been a journey these past six months, but we are in a great place and excited for the future.”

As the two continue to talk, Boyd goes on to ask Leazier about specific tips he has for putting time and money into something you believe in career wise. “It’s a big thing,” he says before detailing how much of a process management can be. “You truly have to believe in it. Some people are in this because they only want to make quick money or for the fame. I feel like I’m a different breed because I love the grind. Yes it has been stressful and hectic these past four to six months, but some of these memories are the greatest memories I’ll have to carry on with me through life.

I’m able to have a great team around that is like family—you have to have a team that is passionate and believes in what you are doing because you can’t do it by yourself. If you have a strong enough team that believes in the movement too, that is when something truly special happens.

Asking Leazier to dive deeper on the importance of having a good team, the manager gives advice to newcomers looking to build their teams. “I think you have to identify in a sense what your weaknesses are, and what areas you could use help in. You have to see what you need, and then look first at your immediate network to see which people can add value. If you don’t have anyone around you—social media is so powerful. You can get on Instagram and stumble across somebody you can network with.”

Boyd and Leazier went deeper into their conversation and the ins and outs of management. You can listen to the full interview above, and follow Leazer on Instagram.

Culture News

This Week in Comic Collecting: Something Is Killing The Children

As I teased in last week’s column, the title we will focus on this week is one that has been dubbed “The Next Walking Dead” by the comic community almost since its arrival on the scene two years ago.  A lot of books draw you in off the rack with their awesome covers; this one does too, but it isn’t the art that first draws you in, it’s the sensational title: Something Is Killing The Children. Usually, when the stakes involve the death of children, the hero saves the day and after a while you become desensitized to the danger.  That is pretty common among Marvel or DC titles. But with this title, you know right off the bat there has already been loss. Whether you were intrigued by the title or offended by it, either way you didn’t forget it. 

Something is Killing the Children / Boom! Studios

From the moment I read an advance PDF of issue #1, I was hooked both as a reader and an investor. This title was a major pre order play for me. I was championing this title before its order cutoff window with Brian Wood, on his popular YouTube Channel Simplemans Comics. While many jumped on board, some were still skeptical.  That sentiment seemed to dissipate in the weeks and months after the release of Issue #1. It seemed like absolutely anyone who read it loved it and instantly became a buyer. Copies dried up and now we are on the 8th printing of #1. Every issue printed in the series thus far has seen secondary market demand with some variants hitting 4 figures due to scarcity and demand alone. 

While this series has truly been a phenomenon largely due to the efforts of writer James Tynion (whom I previously wrote about being an extremely investable writer) and the marketing efforts of publisher Boom! Studios, the secret sauce has been the likability of the main character Erica Slaughter. Erica is a badass, take no prisoners female lead. A woman on a mission.  As the story unfolds we get to see more of what drives her. This character seems like the type of role that would really propel an actress to new heights.  And this brings us to option talk.  While there haven’t been any concrete rumors swirling around, this series being optioned to Hollywood has felt like an inevitability since day one.  Netflix has a first look deal with Boom! Studios and I would find it hard to believe they would pass on this IP, but I am no Hollywood exec, so we will see.

Regardless of who produces the series into a TV show or movie, the popularity of the comic proves there is a market here. When I first reported on this book for this site, prices on 9.8 copies of Cover A were $650. Now we are seeing these trend upward hitting above $900 in just a matter of weeks. I have seen so many comic investors selling at these high prices, but I am holding. We haven’t gotten that Hollywood announcement yet that always drives price increases and I am willing to hold out for that at the very least.  This is one property I really believe in. 

The Walking Dead’s Clementine to Make Her Comic Debut

If you’re looking for the next The Walking Dead, check out what’s next up for the original! One of the most popular characters in The Walking Dead Universe is a character who hasn’t been on the big screen for the last decade, nor did she ever appear in the comic series. I am of course referring to the popular video game protagonist Clementine. Skybound Entertainment recently announced the launch of Skybound X, a new series celebrating Skybound’s 10th anniversary, with issue #1  featuring the 1st appearance of Clementine in a comic book as well as two variant covers with her front and center. 

This book launches in July and if you are a believer in The Walking Dead as a long term IP (I am!) then this is a great buying opportunity. This book is inside the pre order window so comic shops can order an unlimited amount until the final order cutoff date 23 days before the release of the book. Most shops give major discounts to pre order and some even offer 9.8 slab pre sales.  While there is a ton of money to be made in the back issue market, I love keeping an eye on the future and making a play in the pre order market as well.

Mad Cave Studios is Going Hollywood

A newer indie publisher I have long been a fan of is Miami, Florida’s Mad Cave Studios. This company really set itself apart upon entering the comic market by growing slowly and organically. They put an emphasis on quality of story and art as well as developing a community on social media. The company has been led by founder and writer of many Mad Caves hit series, Mark London. With titles like Knights of the Golden Sun, Stargazer, and Nottingham among others, Mad Cave has seen secondary market success largely due to their aforementioned quality of product as well as the short supply that comes with being a small press publisher fighting the uphill climb for market share. 

It is my belief that publishers like this provide investment opportunities as Hollywood’s craze over comic book IP helps to level the publishing playfield. If a Mad Cave title was to pop beyond the comic communities reader buzz, the 2-10k print runs could not possibly support the demand and prices would skyrocket.  The first step toward that occurrence may have just occurred as Mad Cave announced an agreement with Echo Lake Entertainment to represent their IP in negotiations for film and television. I would look to secure some of their #1 issues before Echo Lake can make any deals on Mad Cave’s budding roster of IP. 

CGC Follows the PSA Playbook

I have often made the comparison between the sports card market and the comic book market, stating that the card market is 2-5 years ahead of the comic market but operates largely the same. To this effect, I was not surprised to see CGC’s announcement that they were increasing grading costs across the board as well as eliminating a tier and discount options. This is largely due to their backlog of grading and their recent expansion bringing in dozens of new employees and moving into new facilities. This move seems like a logical first step in the progression of the comic book market. 

What I find truly interesting is the market sentiment on the news. While the sports card community took the PSA price increases largely in stride as part of the growth of the hobby, the comic community has really reignited the debate between the grading companies: CGC and the Beckett owned CBCS. I will be really interested to see if CGC has the type of market hold PSA does or if they are possibly more susceptible to losing market share as CBCS offers a cheaper, faster, and arguably better looking case as well as offering the added service of signature verification for your already signed and unwitnessed books. At the end of the day though, it will all come down to the reaction of the secondary market. Comic sellers will always prefer the slab that generates the most money.

Two Big Giant-Size X #1 Sales
Marvel / Giant-Size X-Men #1

My next observation this week and is about the difference in returns from sales of a graded book from two different companies as well as the difference an auction platform can make. This past week two different 9.8 copies of Giant Sized X Men #1 sold at two different auction sites from two different grading companies, and they brought two different prices. A CGC 9.8 from ComicConnect sold for $60,000 while a CBCS 9.8 sold just a few days later on eBay for $49,100. This has raised a lot of interesting questions in the community such as: With the market being up as a whole, why did these books underperform a previous high sale?  What accounted for the price difference between the auction house or the grading company? Did the fact that the eBay copy ended a few days after the ComicConnect copy negatively affect its final price?

The truth is we don’t have the answers to those questions, only hunches and assumptions. As this market continues to grow, it will be interesting to note these trends and see which way things lean.   At the end of the day, those are two staggering totals that have most comic collectors excited for where the market is heading.

So join me next week where we take a look at what is almost assuredly going to be yet another action packed week in the comic book market.  

Culture Movies/TV

The 20 Best Thrillers on Hulu To Watch

Few genres are as slippery as thrillers: what exactly differentiates thrillers from horror, or noir, or espionage? Boiled down to the most obvious motifs, thrillers are about crime, suspense, and psychological terror — but it’s more than that. Thrillers have a feel, a tone, and a mood that are distinct, but it’s hard to say where the genre begins and ends. 

Hulu’s selection of thrillers ranges vastly in quality and sub-genre: they’ve got original TV series based on beloved sci-fi — mingled in with brutal and avant-garde interpretations of true crime stories and campy erotic classics. We’ve gone through the whole thriller section and sorted out what’s actually worth watching. Check out our list of the best 20 thriller TV shows and movies currently available to stream.

20. ‘The Act’

True crime fanatics became obsessed with the case of Dee Dee Blanchard, a woman in Missouri who was murdered under mysterious circumstances. The real-life story that unraveled was deeply unsettling: it turns out Dee Dee had been keeping her daughter captive by convincing her she was debilitatingly ill and severely brain-damaged. Hulu’s original series, The Act, is a dramatization of this true-crime nightmare. Impressive acting from Patricia Arquette and Joey King helped garner the show a handful of Emmy nominees.

19. ‘Antebellum’

Janelle Monae stars in this Jordan Peele-esque social thriller, written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. Dealing with the legacy and brutality of slavery in the United States, the movie is a horror-inflected tale of a woman trapped in a plantation, desperate to escape. Critics were divided about the movie’s implicit morality and emotional impact, but it’s a politically complex film that takes Black identity and trauma as a subject of serious inquiry. 

18. ‘Die Hard’

Often considered the greatest action movie ever made, Die Hard is quite obviously Bruce Willis’s crowning cinematic achievement (other than Fifth Element). The plot is somehow totally irrelevant, as the movie is a series of high-octane chase sequences with quippy and memorable catchphrases in between. Even if the plot is incoherent, the suspense builds into a hypnotic crescendo. The movie wound up spawning numerous sequels, at least one of which is also available on Hulu, but it’s best to stick with the original.

17. ‘Fargo’

Based on the iconic dark comedy of the same name by the Coen brothers, Fargo is a bleak and morbidly humorous thriller about crime in the midwest. The show’s got an absurdly star-studded cast and features an anthology story structure, meaning that each season is a self-contained narrative. Although each episode claims to be based on true events, the plot is in reality totally fabricated. Despite its cynical tone, the show snagged an astounding amount of accolades: out of 226 nominations, it snatched a total of 51 awards. 

16. ‘Free Fall’

Free Fall is a German, erotic thriller with a broodingly serious tone. A meditation on repressed desire, the movie contemplates a gay affair between two police officers and the ramifications of their illicit love. With the protagonist’s fragile masculinity at stake, violence threatens to erupt at every moment. Don’t expect laughs: even the film’s most playful and sexy moments are filled with desperate angst.

15. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Based on the terrifying speculative sci-fi novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale considers America’s penchant for evangelical fascism by contemplating what a conservative revolt and subsequent coup would actually look like in action. In Atwood’s hideous future, women are enslaved and used as receptacles for breeding while being fed a brainwashing regiment of hyper-religious extremism. In the TV show Elisabeth Moss plays Offred, a woman captured and tortured by the Gilead regime. But can she organize an underground movement to overthrow her fanatical overseers? As American conservatism’s fervency reaches new insane heights in reality, the predictions of this show have seemed more accurate by the second.

The show deserves a bit of a content warning: while the first season sticks pretty close to the original novel, the second and subsequent seasons diverge significantly. Also, because forced breeding is a central plot point of the story, the whole series contains a nauseating amount of sexual violence that many people have found to be simply unwatchable. The second season in particular sometimes resembles torture-porn more than melodrama, but the third season tones down the violence just a bit.

14. ‘The Purge’

Based on the movie franchise of the same name, the concept of The Purge is simple: One day a year, all crime is legal. The backstory behind the strange concept is actually somewhat politically sophisticated: in this imagined near-future, the American government devised a way to reduce widespread violence by allowing Americans one day a year to release the anger and rage that boils inside them. What began as an extended contemplation on the USA’s obsession with violence has turned into a sanguine thriller about corruption and class resentment and the fanaticism of the Second Amendment. The first season focuses on a single Purge night in the year 2027 and follows several intersecting stories. In our current political climate, what seems like an absurd concept becomes more prescient by the second.

13. ‘Only God Forgives’

Nicholas Winding Refn’s film Drive made waves in 2011 for its hyper-stylized, neon-drenched aesthetic. His follow-up film, Only God Forgives, continues the auteur’s ultra-violent thesis in a gorgeously shot and moodily scored thriller about criminal organizations in Thailand. Also starring Ryan Gosling, Only God Forgives is both mesmerizingly dreamy and stunningly bloody. It’s probably one of the most visually pleasing thrillers ever made, but it’s not for the squeamish or sensitive. 

12. ‘Vanilla Sky’

Based on the deliriously strange Spanish film Abre Los Ojos, Vanilla Sky is a philosophical exploration of the limits of reality. What the movie has in smarts, it lacks in aesthetic (and Tom Cruise’s terrible acting certainly doesn’t help) — but the existential questions it raises about the nature of dreams and our understanding of consciousness makes it an interesting film nonetheless. Loosely inspired by the hallucinatory novels of Phillip K. Dick, there’s a lot in here for people who love mindfucks.  

11. ‘Angel’

It would be easy to dismiss Angel as a cheaply made spinoff of the more popular Buffy The Vampire Slayer — but the show is just as lovable and sophisticated as the series that introduced its protagonist. After the eponymous demonic hero departs from Sunnydale, a strange series of events leads him to found Angel Investigations, a supernatural detective agency that winds up accidentally averting the apocalypse several times. Angel struggles with his own vampiric bloodlust while saving humanity from destruction. The show’s Lovecraftian fifth season, in particular, is astoundingly emotionally complex and well written.

10. ‘Hannibal’

ShowrunnerBryan Fuller takes a lot of creative liberties with novelist Thomas Harris’s Hannibal tetralogy in this mind-bending crime thriller about a super-genius psychologist with a taste for human flesh. The cannibal doctor and a detective investigating a bizarre series of murders engage in a terribly erotic dance of death over the course of several psychedelic seasons which at some points seem more like short art films than traditional TV. Excellent acting from Mads Mikkelson and Gillian Anderson elevates the drama and suspense to unparalleled excess. 

9. ‘Parasite’

Bong Joon-Ho’s widely celebrated social thriller about the cruelty of capitalism is an undisputed masterpiece. A family of con artists attempts to infiltrate a wealthy household, but discover deep, dark secrets hidden in the basement. We won’t say much more than that — there’s a lot of twists that aren’t worth spoiling — but the movie is an effective excoriation of how brutal and unrelenting South Korea’s enormous wealth gap has become.

8. ‘Hounds of Love’

Comparable to deeply vicious horror-thrillers like Snowtown Murders or Martyrs, Hounds of Love is a terribly nihilistic story, loosely based on the crimes of David and Catherine Birnie, a serial-killing couple in Australia. Although the movie is visually impressive and emotionally complex — especially in its portrayal of the dysfunctional relationship between the two murderous protagonists — the sexual violence throughout the film is hard to stomach, even for the most callous of audiences. It’s astounding that given the movie’s bleakness and graphic depictions of torture, it still managed to receive largely positive reviews and score several international awards nominations.

7. ‘Body of Evidence’

Few thrillers are as reviled as Body of Evidence, a movie which Roger Ebert frequently described as one of his most hated films. It’s tawdry, cheaply made, and stupidly written. But there are pleasures to be found in absurdly bad movies — especially ones starring Madonna! Often described as a ripoff of both Basic Instinct, this movie is an oft-ignored camp classic. 

6. ‘Twilight Zone’

Originally running from 1959 to 1964, The Twilight Zone set the standard for serialized sci-fi. The show’s episodes range from paranoiac thrillers to space-age psychosis — all in bite-sized 30 minute short stories. Rod Sterling drew from several authors for inspiration, and each mysterious tale usually came with a totally unexpected twist or moral warning. Although they’ve been endlessly spoofed and reinterpreted, the original episodes still make a strong impact.

5. ‘X Files’

Scully and Mulder can’t stop getting abducted by aliens in this 11 season sci-fi thriller investigating every conspiracy theory imaginable. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny remain charismatic protagonists throughout the show’s expansive run, and their travels into the supernatural have had a lasting impact on almost every show that came after. The quality throughout is extremely inconsistent, so if you’re looking to skip a lot of filler, consider following a guide.

4. ‘Lords of Chaos’

Jonas Åkerlund, the drummer of the notorious metal band Bathory, directs this crime thriller based on the real-life murders associated with a shadowy cult of black metal enthusiasts. How accurate the movie is in its depictions of these killings has been hotly debated, but it’s an interesting insider look into the social isolation and extremism that compels such heinous actions. 

3. ‘Ingrid Goes West’

In a similar vein as this year’s Promising Young Woman, Ingrid Goes West is a feminist thriller commenting on expressions of womanhood in the digital age. After release from a psychiatric hospital, the eponymous protagonist becomes fixated on a social media influencer’s perfect life. Her courting of the young celebrity becomes dangerously close to stalking as her obsession takes a pathological turn. Although the movie is technically a black comedy, the humor throughout is notably dark.

2. ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’

A suburban mother (played by Tilda Swinton) had always suspected there was something wrong with her son, but she couldn’t ever figure out what. Then, one day, he commits mass murder at his high school. This heartbreaking movie is a descent into every parent’s worst nightmare, rendered with extreme emotional sensitivity and artistic complexity. Based on the novel of the same name by Lynne Ramsey, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a powerful and disturbing exploration of sociopathy and identity.

1. ‘Twin Peaks’

TV critics often cite Twin Peaks as the greatest show ever made, and with good reason. Romantic, surreal, emotional, erotic, melodramatic, and endlessly alluring, David Lynch’s deeply avant-garde series about the dark underbelly of an American lumber town spans several genres. What begins with an FBI investigation into the death of a homecoming queen winds up having apocalyptic ramifications: Special Agent Dale Cooper (played by the impossibly charming Kyle McLaughlin) slowly solves this unfathomable mystery through his dreams and travels to other dimensions. It sounds zany — and it is! — but the characters all have real hearts, and the visual styling throughout is devastatingly beautiful.

Culture News

This Week In TikTok: T.V. Show Theme Songs and Flashback Trends Takeover

New week, new TikToks! The creativity has reached an all-time high on the platform, and this week’s challenges are a reflection of just how far TikTok has come over the last few months. From t.v. show theme songs to glo-up trends, there is something for everyone to participate in this week. Let’s take a closer look at what’s been happening.

1. “Big Little Lies (TV Theme)” – Voidoid

A reference to the Big Little Lies television show, TikTokers are making videos parodying stereotypical upper-class behavior, and seem to be having a ball creating comical TikToks about ‘mean’ principals and boujee dating stories. TikTok has always been a way to vent about negative experiences, so might as well have fun with it!

2. “Praying” – Kesha

‘Praying’ is one of Kesha’s more poignant tracks, and while the song is about overcoming trials and tribulations, embarrassing moments could technically fall under those categories too right? The resurgence of this 2017 hit has seen TikTok users recalling their most embarrassing moments while singing along to the song’s crescendo. Like we said before, TikTok is the place to let it all out.

3. ‘Deja Vu’ – Olivia Rodrigo

We’ve all experienced deja vu at some point in our lives, and it’s truly one of the most otherworldly feelings in the world. Creating videos to the tune of Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Deja Vu,’ TikTokers are using a screen-mirror blinking filter to make a dual back and forth effect amongst themselves. This is one of those challenges that are easier to watch than explain, so take a look at the video above to get a better idea.

4. Body- Russ Millions & Tion Wayne

TikTok never strays too far from their dancing roots, and the ‘Body’ challenge is a celebration of Ramadan, as creators use transition effects to show off different Ramadan-themed outfits. This is a really unique trend that is definitely worth scrolling through. Check it out when you have the chance!

That’s gonna do it! As usual we’ll be back next week for some more trends!