Getting through the Autumn term with familiar faces

Andrew Kendall and Malou van Rooij recommend some films and TV shows to get us through the Autumn term

‘Welcome to Hellmouth’.

Title of Buffy’s first episode or a metaphor for the return to university? You decide.

buffy image

But in your television and film journey throughout the term it’s important to remember your classics and few shows marry teen hysteria, adult wit, sci-fi blood and gore and inappropriate humour as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Rewatch the 100+ episodes to see just how excellent and subversive Josh Whedon was before he became (partially) responsible for the onslaught of superhero movies. You may not be navigating through vampires and demons with your trusty stake, but Buffy offers an essential capsule to the not so distant past and a great reminder that teen drama can be art. Moreover, if you feel jaded by the difficulty of the autumn term and you foolishly, nostalgically, begin to yearn for younger days at high school, Buffy will quickly remind you that high school is the one true horror of human life. You’ll probably conclude that university is not so bad, after all.

And why  not celebrate coming back to school with Back to School?Rodney Dangerfield heads back to university as a 65-year-old freshman to help his son get on to the diving team. Back to School’s plot is nothing if not ridiculous. Beneath the unbelievable plot, though, is great hilarity, and an undervalued comedic classic of the 80s. In that way its ridiculous, bathetic charms make it perfect for the return to school. I admit, I have seen this mega-hit at least 30 times so I’m never certain if my penchant for it is borne out of nostalgia or actual critical insight. Still, the most important thing we can pack in our arsenal to get through the dark and dank autumn term is a sense of humour in the face of the ridiculous. For example, do  not ask yourself why a first year Politics student is doing an advanced English course on Ulysses on his first day; instead, forget logic and just enjoy the zany meanderings on show and hope, like Thornton Wilder, that you can pass your end of term exams by lustily reciting Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’.


Brooklyn emerges as one of the finest British films of the current decade and will forever be remembered for its lead performance.

Of the films listed here, it’s the most likely to resonate with the international students, who make up roughly a third of students at University of York. But you do not have to be a stranger in a strange land to understand the charm of Saoirse Ronan and this lovely 2015 film. Eilis Lacey moves to New York from Ireland and deals with the difficulty of living away from home. The sweetness of Brooklyn is almost too good to be true but this little film manages to avoid being saccharine or twee and instead offers a mature perspective on coming of age.  Don’t let the DVD cover misrepresent the film as simply a romantic foray in New York. Brooklyn offers a layered perspective on the joy, sadness and inevitability of growing up and away from the place you were born, with the reminder that you will never be the first nor the last to experience those changes.

Chances are your new term will be an acclimating period where you’re confronted with Stranger Things , the title of Netflix’s new drama.  Binge-watching Netflix’s new Stranger Things, a science fiction/horror series about the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a 12-year-old boy, will not only get you through a long day, it will also teach you some valuable and sacred uni wisdom. The dedication with which the boy’s three high-school friends are trying to find him should not only serve as a source of inspiration for you to locate and safely bring home that one drunk (course)mate in fresher’s week, but also as a metaphor for sticking together through dark times, or dark uni terms. They have walkie-talkies, we have phones; they have telekinetic powers, we have text-messaging; they ride together on their eighties bikes, we ride together on the 44 and 66. All with the very same motto: we’re all in this together (a dash of High School Musical seemed appropriate). On a more reassuring note, no matter how crazy campus will get in essay-, exam- or duck-breeding times, just remember it will never be as frightening as living in Hawkins, Indiana (unless you greatly enjoy long dark hallways, flickering lights and the company of slimy supernatural creatures). Yay for York!

Scott Pilgrim must journey through his beloved’s torrid past before he can win the prize of her affection. And on the way he must wage battle with her seven terrible exes, each one more dastardly then the last. If that’s not the ideal metaphor for university dating then what is? If you are wary about approaching Scott Pilgrim vs the World in general, your trepidation would be understandable – a fear of Michael Cera? Scepticism at its overly busy visual palette? The ostensibly too smarmy humour? But fear not. The unusual melange of oddity works to Scott Pilgrim’s benefit – most of it emanating from Edgar Wright’s pitch perfect direction and the ensemble’s inarguable charm. Ultimately, the sheer irrepressible joy  of the entire film makes it a necessary autumn term staple. Bring it out in week six when you realise you’ve made a mess of the first term. If Michael Cera can find love and success, so can you.

We leave you with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This is currently the best original show on Netflix.
unbreakable kimmy schmidt season 2 Sure, House of Cards has the sleekness, Orange is the New Black has the zeitgeist and Get Down has the hipness. But this Tina Fey comedy is consistently excellent with its charm, warmth, wit and effectiveness. And those qualities coupled with a continuous comedic flair make it the best choice for a new term at university. We all should aspire to be as happy-go-lucky and brashly positive as the eponymous heroine, Kimmy Schmidt. With 26 episodes of 23-30 minutes the show won’t last very long if you’re prone to binge watching. But they’re so good, that rewatching doesn’t make it lose its flavour. So as you prepare for Freshers’ Week, there’s nothing wrong with starting on Kimmy Schmidt to put you in a positive mood. If Kimmy can be a ray of sunshine after years of being kidnapped and trapped in a bunker, you can get through the stress of Freshers’ Week and the rest of this term.

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