Gilmore Girls Season Seven: Mid-Season Update

I’m now about halfway through season 7 of Gilmore Girls, and… I’m actually kind of enjoying it?

The first couple of episodes were bleak, which, combined with people’s dislike of the season, always put me off before. But actually, Lane’s plotline aside, I think it’s totally worth watching.

Rory’s stuff is pretty great. I wish I’d seen this six years ago, when I was a senior grappling with impending graduation. I’ve always connected with Rory, and the conversations about how even the English majors are becoming investment bankers and maybe they should just apply to law school before it’s too late could genuinely have come from my life. I had so many panics about how the only acceptable jobs were in banking and everyone had their lives sorted out but me, and what would life for me even be after college?? I’d worked for this my whole life, and it was about to vanish. So A++ plotline, Gilmore Girls writers.

Also loooove the way the show is grappling with Rory’s own privilege — challenging her idea that she’s different, when she’s a prep school legacy with rich donor parents too. The past couple of episodes I’ve seen have had Rory seriously screwing up and being mean, and unlike in the ballerina review episode, her meanness is presented as a not-so-great thing. Also also, I love that Rory is friends with Jessica Jones/the B in Apartment 23.

I’m also really, really enjoying Luke’s plotline with April, now there’s not all that stupid drama with Lorelai lurking over it. And even the much-hated Lorelai plotline isn’t actually so bad. Sure, she married Christopher in Paris, and that probably pissed off the fans at the time, but she’s blatantly unsure about it all from the beginning.

What was that stupid Christopher and Luke fight, though? Was that something fans were rooting for? Cos it was so weirdly shot and unnecessary, like it had been taken from a different show.

And it does seem really, really weird to have Gilmore Girls without coffee in Luke’s multiple times a day.

Halfway through, and I’d probably give this a B so far. Maybe a B+. But I’m basically blind and spoiler free about where the story goes from “Lorelai writes Luke a character reference” onwards, so… we’ll see where it goes.


Today in things Rhiannon is too old for but is excited about anyway…

I’d mostly forgotten about the Tangled TV show until I came across this song from the show, and ahhh <3<3<3. I love it, I love it, I love it.

I know it’s clearly a children’s cartoon, but still. I love it.

Tangled is my absolutely favorite Disney movie. Which means, really, it’s my absolutely favorite movie. It means a lot to me, in part because I didn’t see it until one of my best friends sat me down on a very bad depression day and said, “We should watch this. I promise it’ll make you feel better.” And it was just exactly the story I needed to see at that moment.

I also grew up watching a lot of the Disney animated series. The main one for me was The Little Mermaid series (she had an orca friend!), but I loved the Aladdin one too. They were probably terrible, but who cares? I loved them.

And now there’s this Tangled show apparently starting this weekend, and I was pretty sure it was going to suck, but the music is written by Alan Menken and I’m a sucker for musical anything, and what can I say? I’m so looking forward to seeing it now. Even if it ends up being terrible, this one song has totally made it worth it.

Gilmore Girls Season Seven

Why. why, why??

I have a confession. I’ve never seen S7 of Gilmore Girls.

I’ve rewatched the early seasons a kajillion times. I’ve sat through the spiral of despair that is S6 at least thrice. But then Luke punches Christopher and Lane is pregnant and I just stop watching, every time. I’ve seen the first three episodes in full, as of today (I’d only seen the first two before), and watched, I think, the final three episodes once, from karaoke onwards, but the middle is a great big ball of nope. Darkness and question marks and possibly dragons.

Everything is just so miserable. I want to keep watching, because yay, Gilmore Girls! But everyone seems to be on the worst possible path, and it’s just not fun to watch. Maybe I’ll end my rewatch marathon here and never see it. Or maybe I’ll just angry!blog about it. That’s my usual go-to these days. 😛

Even rewatching S6 has really changed my feelings on the Netflix revival. It’s ten years later, and Luke and Lorelai still aren’t married, after all that drama and heartbreak about the wedding date in S6? Why isn’t Lane a rockstar?? Why is Logan still doing everything his dad tells him to do? I’ve heard the argument that the Netflix revival is actually what the showrunners planned to follow S6 with before they left the show, which I can totally see, but as it stands, it’s just more depressingness on top of all this existing depressingness. Bah.

Also, was there ever a love interest on Gilmore Girls who wasn’t awful at least some of the time? Max? Dave Rygalski, before the actor ran off to The OC? Logan is frequently a jerk. Luke acts horribly to Lorelai. And don’t even get me started on Zack.

I’m just very conflicted. I love Gilmore Girls, and there are almost 20 episodes that I haven’t seen. So I should want to watch them. Right? At least to find out more about what happens? But… what’s happening is so depressing and OOC. Maybe I’ll just skip back to S1 again. Back to Max Medina and Rory’s car being hit by a deer and Lorelai hounding Luke for coffee and Lane not being married to stupid Zack. Such cuter, simpler times.

On Serious Movies

For the first time in years and year (like, probably ‘since Return of the King‘ years), I’d actually seen one of the nominees for Best Picture before the Oscars. It was La La Land, and the only reason I’d seen it was because it didn’t really sound like an Oscar movie.

I don’t watch many movies, but I definitely don’t watch serious movies. Anything set in the real world, with people giving dramatic speeches about how painful life is in the trailers? I’m not going to see it. Generally, I only see movies if they’re Disney, a musical, or, occasionally, some other fantasy or sci-fi type adventure story. Think things like The Mummy, that are fun with good characters but that no one would ever exactly call “art”. And if a movie is a fantasy Disney musical? I am so there on the first day.

But in the run-up to the Oscars, people were debating La La Land versus Moonlight quite a lot, and it really got me thinking. La La Land, with its bright colors and catchy songs, is exactly the sort of movie I would see. Moonlight, with its deep emotional plotline and examination of social issues, isn’t. Moonlight certainly sounded like it was more deserving of a win. But is it weird, maybe, to think, “Oh, no, I won’t see that one. It sounds too good for me to watch”? Not “too good” as in “too entertaining,” but too good as in having too much serious value as art. Is it bad that I look at highly praised movies and think, “No, that looks like it’s going to be too upsetting, lemme watch Anastasia again instead”?

And it’s got me thinking back to one of the best movies I have ever seen, Pan’s Labyrinth, which is a mix of a “me movie” (fantasy, fairy tale) and a gritty and realistic story about the Spanish Civil War. I watched it maybe 10 years ago, and I adored it. I also know that I’ll never see it again. The fairy tale elements were beautiful and enchanting and unsettling, and the ending was absolutely heartbreaking… but it was the stuff in between, the violence, the oppression, the suffering, the torture, that mean I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sit through it again. I’ll remember it as an amazing movie experience, but if I’d known how dark the non-fantasy parts were, I might not have watched it.

I think the problem is that I don’t watch movies, or TV shows for that matter, to grapple directly with realistic, real-world horrors. Put these through the lens of a fantasy world, and they become more manageable, as long as they’re not too graphic, but I watch things in order to relax and be transported elsewhere. I don’t want to be transported to the worst parts of the real world.

And that doesn’t mean I don’t like movies that make me cry. All the best movies make you cry. But I feel as though there are two different kinds of sad moments in movies, although they’re hard to pin down in words. In one type of sad moment, you connect emotionally with the character, and you feel this clear, almost cathartic sadness along with them. In the other type, it’s painful sadness. It’s sadness about uncorrected, realistic injustice, of the movie being real and painful without also offering any note of comfort. La La Land made me sob, during Mia’s audition scene, but I didn’t walk out of the theatre with a lasting sense of unease, a prickling in my stomach that this was cruel and wrong. And when I do get that feeling, it certainly makes the movie memorable to me, but the bad feeling sticks with me, and I already feel bad about enough real things. I don’t need to be getting depressed and in pain about fictional people too.

Serious movies are really important. They explore important social issues and introduce them to people who are otherwise unfamiliar with them and allow viewers to see themselves and their struggles represented on screen. Buuuuut if there’s no magic, no singing, and no spaceships that defy the laws of physics, they’re not for me.

Hate? On the Internet???

Argh, I am so mad right now.

Like, incoherently, making random noises of frustration at my laptop screen, wondering why the world is so stupid angry.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the current situation with Pewdiepie on my other blog. Honestly, I thought I was hovering on the line of being too forgiving of offensiveness in an attempt to understand the mindset of the people supporting him. And even six months ago, I would have told you that I didn’t really like the Pewdiepie persona, but I liked the guy behind the channel, Felix, well enough. He seemed like a decent guy, and I liked seeing him and his girlfriend Marzia in her vlogs. Since he amped up the “shock” humor in his videos, I started to be really uncomfortable with him, because even if it’s just a persona, he’s still choosing to create that character and broadcast that to millions of people. All this backlash over his Nazi jokes seemed inevitable.

What didn’t seem inevitable — although perhaps it should have — was the entire Internet seeming to show up in support of him. I get that this must be a really tough time for him. He’s dealing with a lot of public backlash, a lot of guilt over the cancellation of his show, and a giant spotlight on him while he grapples with all this. But, you know, he also chose to say those things. Actions have consequences. And the number of people I’ve seen twisting this around so that it’s the mainstream media bullying him and taking his statements out of context is mindblowing.

Anyone who talks to me about Youtube for more than a minute will figure out that there are two (well, three) Youtubers that I really love: Jacksepticeye, and Dan & Phil. These are my “watch their stuff as soon as they put up a video, don’t miss their liveshows, genuinely think they’re awesome and would watch them painting a fence for an hour if they filmed it” Youtubers. And they’re all friends with Felix. Dan and Phil haven’t said anything, because they never comment on serious issues, unless it’s in a liveshow. But yesterday, Jack put up a video talking about the Felix drama, and while I didn’t agree with everything he said, I thought his response video was incredibly sensitive and measured, talking about how Felix is a good friend, but that he definitely messed up, and that he can’t blame companies for reacting the way they did. Basically, saying Felix is a decent person, but his jokes failed spectacularly and crossed the line into offensive territory, and now he’s seeing the consequences of that.

So, of course, the internet seems to have imploded with hate for Jack, saying he backstabbed Felix, calling him horrific names, and generally being so intense that he has now said that he regrets the video. It’s a mess on the level that only the Internet can provide, where over-intense strangers pile onto somebody because of some perceived infraction — this time, for being too “SJW-y,” despite the mildness of what Jack even said in his video.

And it’s just exhausting. It’s exhausting and depressing to see someone say something so middle of the road and be lambasted for it. It’s exhausting to see someone you respect then backtrack in response to the pile-on criticism. Gotta be nicer to the person who has been vocally supported by Neo-Nazis because of his “jokes,” after all! It’s exhausting to see how people are the worst, and will go to extreme lengths to insist that that popular white guy who said really offensive things did absolutely nothing wrong and should face no consequences for his actions.

hate internet pile-ons, no matter the cause. Liberal or conservative, 4chan memesters or “SJWs,” I find the entire culture of mass insulting and shaming abhorrent. This is apparently an unpopular view these days, where a lack of willingness to join the pile is taken as a lack of caring about an issue. I also hate how the culture of the internet seems to default to hurting others. It’s shock jokes, jumping to telling people to kill themselves when you disagree with them, enjoying the schadenfreude of someone else’s humiliation, swinging from idolising someone to despising them at the drop of a hat, just… everything is so big and so negative, where being offended is a far bigger crime than being offensive, and sympathy to the nuances of a situation is the ultimate betrayal. And it’s so depressing, and so infuriating, to see all of this falling down on someone for daring to say that hey, maybe a more considered and sensitive approach is in order here.

I’m stretching for a wise-sounding way to conclude this, but I got nothing. This is basically just a rant. I almost want to ask why any of us bother existing online at all. It’s just all so much, so stressful, so dark. And then, of course, I come back to the fact that one of the reasons I’m upset is because I must have spent hundreds of hours at this point watching Jack’s videos, having them cheer me up when I feel low. Without the internet, without the structures and content at the heart of this culture, that wouldn’t exist, and that would suck. But I don’t know, guys. Maybe we could try and take the good parts without all the violent words and hate as well? Maybe?

Is La La Land’s “The Fools Who Dream” about mental illness?

I saw La La Land yesterday, and my favorite moment, by far, was Emma Stone’s final audition scene, and the song The Fools Who Dream. I may have cried, and I’ve listened to it a million times since then.

But I realized something last night, on listen one million and one, and now I can’t un-hear it. Is The Fools Who Dream about a suicide attempt?

I was so convinced that it was obvious, and I’d been a fool to miss it, that I googled it. And nothing came up. No one seems to have written about this. But for all that The Fools Who Dream is moving and inspirational, it’s ultimately a song about a woman jumping into a river.

She smiled, leapt without looking, and tumbled into the Seine.

Maybe, as someone who lives in a European city on a river, I have a very different perspective on this than people living in LA. By far the most common thing that happens when people jump or fall into York’s river is that they die, even if they just intended to swim across for fun. There’s a memorial to someone who did just that not far from where I’m sitting and writing this now. You can’t read those local headlines multiple times a year and read all the “be careful around the river” warnings, and not struggle to find jumping barefoot into a river romantic.

But this revelation has really changed the song for me. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a different way. It becomes a story about a creative but troubled woman, who had a spark and big dreams, but also struggled with those things, and tried to kill herself in a “romantic” way.

Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem.

Here’s to the hearts that ache. Here’s to the mess we make.

There’s nothing romantic about mental illness, and there are big problems with the tradition of tying mental illness with creativity. But that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of creative people struggle with mental illness (as do, in fact, all sorts of people in all sorts of careers). And with attempted suicide in mind, the song becomes less about “here’s to the people who keep going and keep creating, even though it seems hopeless,” and more about “here’s to the people who struggle and suffer, and yet create something real and beautiful despite that.”

She captured a feeling, sky with no ceiling, a sunset inside a frame.

She lived in her liquor, and died with a flicker.

I’ll always remember the flame.

The aunt paints it all as something story-worthy and exciting, but she’s sad, and she eventually dies “with a flicker”, and honestly, this whole part just makes me think that the aunt did succeed in committing suicide another time. After all, “she said she’d do it again.”

She told me a bit of madness is key to give us new colors to see

Who knows where it will lead us?

And that’s why need us.

I’d like to read this not as a line saying “mental illness is key to creativity”, but the idea that it does provide someone with a unique perspective, and that that perspective creates stories that need telling too. It can create beauty in stories too. It’s validation, a feeling of great sadness and wistfulness but also of hope. Of taking what you have, and making it into something more, something of beauty.

Smiling through it, she said she’d do it again.

Honestly… I don’t know what to make of this line if the song is about suicide and not adventure. Obviously, saying that she’d do it again isn’t good or romantic if “it” is trying to kill herself. If we take the line as metaphorical, the sense that she leapt and suffered and survived, and the beauty she took from it was worth it, that’s one thing. But the line is innately heart-achingly sad to me, like the aunt is saying, “This is who I am. I don’t regret that experience, and I survived, but I know I could find myself there once more.”

Or is it that it’s about going through mental illness, that level of pain, again? Obviously, no one wants to suffer, but if it’s a choice between suffering and getting through it and ending up somewhere better, or not suffering but not experiencing anything at all, she’ll pick the first option every time. It’s hard, but she’s take what good she can from it.

I think I like that third option best. There’s still a lot of sadness there, but also acceptance and hope.

But I don’t know. I’m still not sure how to parse this song, which is why I’m writing about it here and not on Feminist Fiction. What do you all think? Am I overthinking the song, or is this super obvious and that‘s why no one seems to have written about it?

Maybe if I listen to it another million times, I’ll finally figure it out.

Blogmas #13: Double Speed Entertainment

I read the strangest article in the New York Times last night, about people speed-watching TV. The concept, basically, was that there are so many must-watch series these days that no one can possibly keep up with them all, so some people watch them at up to two times their normal speed.

My initial reaction was pretty much “… what??” I mean, to me, that doesn’t sound like actually watching whatever it is. It’s like trying to listen to a song at double speed. It’s not the same song any more. You’re going to get a super-extended summary of the story, but you’re not really experiencing it. Like, maybe, instead of watching at double speed to cram more TV into their free time, they could just watch less shows? Curate what they watch more precisely? Entertainment isn’t another life checklist item to get through as quickly as possible.

But I thought about this article a lot today, and I suddenly realised: this is my approach to books. Endless piles of books to read. Constant awareness of how many pages until the end of the chapter, how many pages until the end of the book, what percentage of the way through am I, how long does Kindle think the rest will take me? Read quickly, read more, check things off the list and jump onto the next, because there are so many books, and there’s so little time. If there was a button that allowed me to read at double speed, I would probably use it. I certainly don’t have the patience for most fiction audio books, because they go sooo slooowly.

I don’t think this is going to change my thoughts on double speed TV. That doesn’t sound even vaguely relaxing or entertaining to me. But maybe I should consider the benefits of reading slower. Taking my time. Enjoying the idea of all the books in the world I could possibly choose to read next, rather than panicking because I haven’t read them already.

I mean, I don’t know how to take that approach. This idea of always having one eye on the page count is pretty deeply engrained. But it’s something to consider. Turning off the timer at the bottom of the Kindle. Not flicking ahead to find the end of the chapter. And maybe, maybe, not worrying too much about all the books I haven’t read yet when there’s a book to enjoy reading right now.

Blogmas #10: Smaller Youtuber Recs

I’m having a lounging-on-the-couch-watching-Youtube kind of evening (kind of weekend, to be honest), and I thought, while I vegged out, I’d share some of my favourite Youtube channels that people might not have heard of.

I’ll be honest. By “smaller Youtubers”, I mean “under 250k subscribers,” because I don’t follow anywhere near enough actually small Youtubers to make a list. But still. These are not the Pewdiepies and Dans and Phils of the Youtube world. They’re mid-sized at most, and they are very deserving of your time and attention.

ASMR Rooms

This channel is amazing. It’s basically Harry Potter-themed ambient sounds, with animations to match. So you can choose any of the common rooms, the Hogwarts Library, the Great Hall, the Burrow… and if you’re not feeling the Harry Potter vibe, there are also Lord of the Rings themed ones and Game of Thrones ones (if you find that calming, for some reason?). It’s the perfect background noise when writing or studying, or just when you’re feeling stressed out.

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Blogmas #8: Moana


See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me.

And no one knows how far it goes.

I just got back from seeing Moana!

I’ve been looking forward to seeing this since I learned about it years ago, and oh my god, it is the most gorgeous movie. I feel like I spent most of the time gaping at how beautiful it all looked. The water! The stars! Moana’s hair.

And the music. I think this is probably my favorite Disney soundtrack ever. How Far I’ll Go? Omg. I am listening to it again right now, and I almost want to cry  over how good it is. And I am Moana. And the entire soundtrack.

I’ll be putting my actual review of it up on Feminist Fiction next Tuesday, but I am so in love with the movie’s art and sound and aesthetic and themes. The movie didn’t engage me as much as I’d hoped in the middle, but the beginning and the end were both fantastic and magical and wonderful.

And did I mention the music is good? Oh god, it’s so amazingly good.

Blogmas #3: On (Not) Being Rory Gilmore


OK, so over on my feminism blog, I wrote a review of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (in general, I really liked it) and of the final four words of the series (I hated them), but apparently I’m not done having endless, ever-evolving thoughts about this revival. And for the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about Rory.

I was really upset after watching the revival. It hurt to watch, and it left me with a bit of a life crisis. But it was only after starting to rewatch Season 2 that I fully realised why;

I’ve always identified with Rory Gilmore, or at least, with early Rory Gilmore. The Rory that has pro/con lists for everything and always carries a book with her and is an academic perfectionist who dreams of going to Harvard? I watched her as a teenager, and that was me. I felt a huge connection with her, even though 17-year-old me would have killed Jess for daring to write in one of my books. (28-year-old me would just be unable to stand teenage Jess full stop, but that’s a whole different thing).

So seeing Rory ten years after graduation, struggling to make it as a writer, all her dreams falling apart… I immediately jumped back into the whole “over identifying” thing. “Well!” I thought. “If Rory Gilmore is struggling like this, then what hope do I have for my future??” I took the whole plotline at face value, because I always identified with Rory in terms of interests and ambitions, and the story fed into some of my fears about career instability.

But the thing is, the Rory in A Year in the Life isn’t Rory. Or at least, she isn’t the Rory that I knew from those early seasons of Gilmore Girls, or a Rory that I can identify with or even like now. I mean, this is a Rory that never mentions reading. I don’t think we saw her reading a single book. Which boxes were her books in? How did she feel being separated from her precious tomes? Guess they’re not so precious any more.

This Rory is a failure of her own making. She’s super unprofessional. She goes to an interview without preparing at all. Not only that, but she doesn’t even have any random story ideas that she can throw out there. And that’s no surprise, because she doesn’t seem to have any interests. Surely she has something she likes to write about? Some topic she’s passionate about? Some current event or pop culture thing or something? We never get the sense that she wants to write about anything in the revival. We just know she wants to write.

When she does get a topic, it’s given to her by Jess, and then she clings to it, completely steamrolling over her mom’s right to not want an entire book written about some of her worse moments. You don’t write about other people if they don’t want that, Rory! I mean, maybe if you’re a tabloid gossip columnist, but otherwise, no. And her version of hustling, once things fall apart, is writing three chapters of a book (from the dramatic way it was shot, I assumed she was going to bust out a first draft or something) and otherwise not doing much of anything. She stops pitching, she doesn’t write anything on spec, she just stops.

I think it’s a huge disservice to her character, although one that probably fits in with the Rory we started to see from Season 4 onwards. Rather than a Rory that feels both familiar and inspirational, she’s a demonstration of entitlement and what not to do if you want to achieve your dreams. When I finished the revival, I felt sad because it seemed to be saying that even Rory Gilmore, dedicated goal pursuer, can’t make it in the writing world. But actually, it was saying that Rory Gilmore, entitled and uninspired, is letting everything collapse around her. That maybe Mitchum was right, all those years ago, when he said she didn’t have what it takes.

And that kind of sucks.

Blogmas #2: No, Seriously, Watch Critical Role


OK, so I talk about Critical Role all the damn time, but not enough people are basking in its amazingness yet, so I will continue to squee. Seriously. Seriously. Watch Critical Role. And as I spend yet another Friday with Vox Machina, misfit heroes of Tal’Dorei, I just want to think about why this show has so much of my heart.

Brief summary, for the uninitiated: Critical Role is a live weekly Twitch show where a group of nerdy-ass voice actors roll dice and play Dungeons and Dragons.

Critical Role took good care of me this year, and I mean that completely sincerely. I’ve talked a lot about how sick I’ve been this year, and in the long weeks where I couldn’t read, couldn’t focus on TV, couldn’t do pretty much anything, I could pile up some pillows, snuggle under some blankets on the couch, and sink into the next instalment of this show. When I struggled to get invested in or focus on anything, my whole heart fell in love with this.

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Romeo and Juliet Live


Last week, I was lucky enough to go and see the live broadcast of Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet, starring Cinderella and Robb Stark, aka Lily James and Richard Madden. The play was performed in London, and we watched a livestream of it in a cinema in Leeds, along with other cinemas all over the world. It was the first time I’ve ever done something like that, and it was fantastic.

This production was set in the 1950s, and to capture that feeling, the entire thing was streamed in black and white. It’s also notable for having Derek Jacobi as a much older than usual Mercutio, which was a really fun and interesting choice. It was a slightly confusing experience at times, because I really wanted to applaud at the end, even though I was actually in a movie theatre hundreds of miles away from the actors. But it combined the energy of a play with the camerawork of a movie, and it was magical to watch.

I realized, as I watched, that I’d never really seen Romeo and Juliet performed. I haven’t studied it since the equivalent of sophomore year, when I had the world’s worst English teacher and didn’t learn anything at all, except perhaps that I hated my English teacher.

It was so different experiencing it now. As a fifteen year old, I thought the play was stupidly melodramatic. I didn’t realize that it was meant to be melodramatic, because the main characters are teenagers. And this adaptation really emphasized that.

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Why are Let’s Plays so popular??

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time watching Let’s Play videos on Youtube. In my defense, I just discovered jacksepticeye, and he’s such a sweetheart, and he has so many videos, and it makes me happy to watch them while cleaning or knitting or lazing about… but still, I’ve had plenty of moments where I’ve thought, “Am I really spending hours watching a stranger play video games??”

Because it’s kind of weird, right? Let’s Plays — in which Youtubers record themselves playing video games — are the most popular type of videos on Youtube (the most popular Let’s Player, Pewdiepie, has over 45 million subscribers). But video games are meant to be played, not watched. Why would so many people bypass that key part of video games and enjoy watching a random person playing them instead??

In my opinion, it all comes down to that desire to share experiences. I think there are two types of people in the world: the people who want to soak in a movie in silence, and the people who want to comment on it as they watch. I’m very much in the second camp — movies are way more fun when you can keep up a running commentary with your friends. And Let’s Plays offer a similar experience of video games for those of us in that second group.

If the video is of a game you aren’t familiar with, then you want to see what happens next, and you want to share that first time experience with a Youtuber who is cracking jokes or laughing or getting emotional, enhancing the experience. And if you are familiar with the game, Let’s Plays are all about reliving it vicariously through another person’s first reactions. This is why I’m addicted to Let’s Plays of Undertale in particular — there are so many hilarious and shocking and heartbreaking moments that I can’t wait to see the player respond to.

Really, it’s like the appeal of compilations of Red Wedding reactions a couple of years ago. There’s fun in seeing someone else’s shock or delight at something that previously shocked or delighted us. We can’t experience it for the first time again, but we can relive that feeling through them.

Of course, Let’s Plays all come down to the Youtuber’s personality. I guess there must be people who watch 100% for the games, but if I only cared about the games, I’d just be playing them myself. It has to be a game that grips me and that I want to experience more of, but in the end, it’s mostly about who’s playing it. Let’s Plays create the illusion of hanging out with a friend and experiencing a video game story together. So the Youtuber has to seem like someone you would want to hang out with.

And why watch a video of a game you’ve never played, instead of playing it yourself? Well, because some games are inaccessible to some people — I can’t play Until Dawn or Uncharted 4, for example, because I don’t have a PS4. Sometimes people love video games but can’t afford every one they want to play. Sometimes people want to check it out a bit before they buy. And sometimes, it’s not about the game at all. Sometimes you’d never play the game yourself, but laughing with someone else over it is fun. It’s all about the commentary of the person playing.

Still, it’s an incredibly weird phenomenon, and I’ve no idea how anyone first thought to do it. But as I get cosy on my sofa and watch jacksepticeye get emotional over Asriel in Undertale while I’m too sick to do much of anything myself, I kinda love it nonetheless.