Surviving a Recession: Books, Music, Movies and More About Dealing with Disappointments Culture

Comedy

There is no shortage of standup that takes the raw material from the unhappy, disappointing life and turns it into laughter. That’s a significant part of what comedy does. But to get big, big laughs created by pretty serious cases of disappointment, look no further than James Acaster’s career-best 2018 show, Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999. It takes two low moments in the Kettering man’s life (to become dumped by his girlfriend in favor of, uh, Mr. Bean; and being dumped by his agent after a PR fork in the air) and – in two hours of gasp-inducing, stomach-churning fun standup – reformulate these disappointments as mere staging posts along the way to comedy glory. Brian Logan


TV

Get ready… Ugly Betty.
Get ready… Ugly Betty. Photo: Andrew Eccles / Disney / Getty

The disappointment hangs over Betty Suarez, the ugly Betty’s Latina title character, like a sword of Damocles waiting for the moment to finally tear her apart. The series begins with her being enchanted: her job as an assistant in the magazine Mode is unglamorous, and her colleagues are visibly unhappy to be forced to accommodate her poncho, braces and confidence – traits that are “creepy” in the middle of 2000s world highest fashion. It gives ironic view now: transplant Betty into the 2020s and you can imagine her with a viral Instagram account focused on thrift and sustainability; Fashion’s cruel receptionist Amanda, the apparent embodiment of the 00’s “it girl”, would be left in her wake. Jason Okundaye


music

No surprises… it's Radiohead.
No surprises… it’s Radiohead. Photo: Roger Sargent / Shutterstock

Very few bands convert sadness into elegance like Radiohead. Although Thom York’s writing often revolves around threatening, repressed criticism of consumer culture, the chorus in Kid A’s Optimistic makes use of an uplifting mantra: “You try the best you can / You try the best you can / The best you can is good enough”. In times of self-doubt, my partner often recites this chorus to me and temporarily accepts its meaning regardless of the song, it’s a simple phrase, but a welcome reminder nonetheless that in life and poetry we must learn from our mistakes. Jenessa Williams


Books

My brother is a superhero

11-year-old Luke Parker’s knowledge of comics is encyclopedic. Costumes, symbols, abilities, origins – he’s a superhero fan. This makes it even more cruel that while holding on for a little while, his math-obsessed big brother Zack gets superpowers from a visiting alien. Luke’s jealous disappointment, combined with his determination to mentor Zack (or at least get him wearing a cloak), shapes David Solomon’s hilarious novel My Brother Is a Superhero, full of frayed fraternal bonds and a mission to save not one but two worlds that will need all of Luke’s know-how – as well as Zack’s powers – to succeed. Imogen Russell Williams


Movie

Lady vengeance… Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift in The Heiress.
Lady vengeance… Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift in The Heiress. Photo: Paramount Pictures / Allstar

In the 1949 film The Heiress, Catherine (Olivia de Havilland), a wealthy but deep disappointment for her autocratic father, falls hard on Morris (Montgomery Clift), who in turn disappoints her. William Wyler’s gripping melodrama is a dazzling depiction of disillusionment that gives De Havilland an extraordinary, Oscar-winning role, in which she adjusts the wick on her natural brightness, as if it were a gas lamp that can bathe the room in brightness or cast shadows. jump big. across the wall. The grief of the underrated, unloved soul permeates the film, but Catherine’s last act of vengeful contempt also makes it the most cruel success story, as a withering wall flower comes to know its inherent self-esteem like never before. Jessica Kiang

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