Escape the holiday film clichés: Enjoy these must-watch video essays instead

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Featured image: Esther Howard

Can’t face the cheesy Christmas movies this December? Has the weather left you stranded in your room? Or maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas and you’re just looking for something else to do. If you need something new to watch this winter, video essays are a great way to learn about a variety of topics, often exploring cultural phenomena, media, or societal issues and providing interesting commentary and analysis. Here are some recommended video essays.

“Why is everyone dressing like a little girl?”

Mina Le is a staple YouTuber for fashion analysis, having produced numerous brilliant videos exploring various current topics. One of her more recent videos, “Why is everyone dressing like a little girl?” delves into the recent trend of women returning to their youth through hyper feminine fashion. She discusses the concept of self-infantilization and explores the discomfort associated with dressing like ‘little girls.’ Le also explores how this trend might serve as a positive way for women to relate to each other. In addition, she delves into the historical aspect of children’s clothing sizes and examines the pressures women face regarding the fear of ageing. Le touches on the internet’s obsession with preserving youthful looks and how it contributes to the broader conversation about femininity and fashion.

“I watched 151 celebrity house tours, and they’re full of lies.”

Kendra Gaylord breaks down the absurdity of celebrity house tours by watching 151 videos of Architectural Digest’s series ‘Open Doors,’ which follows celebrities showing us around their houses. This exceptionally thorough analysis reveals the borderline funny and bizarre world of celebrity lifestyles. She discusses where these places are, whether there is always a fruit bowl, and how many of these people sell their houses within two years of their ‘Open Doors’ video. With the data she collects, she comments on prevalent trends, from bowls of artichokes instead of lemons to how many celebrities will makeover a room just for the video.

“The one with the trans person”

Lily Simpson divides her video into six parts, with four of them dedicated to discussing the poorly aged treatment of queer characters in the show ‘Friends’. Simpson covers several characters on the show, including Carol and Susan, whose storyline serves as a catalyst for Ross and Rachel’s relationship, but also as the subject of jokes from straight characters mocking their orientation. The main focus, however, is on Chandler Bing’s father, Charles Bing, and how Chandler’s discomfort with both his father’s sexuality and his own gender identity is a recurring theme in the show. This discomfort is specifically highlighted in relation to his father, Charles Bing, being gay and dressing in drag. The video is a comprehensive discussion of both the positive and not-so-good moments in the show, as well as emphasising how the series sometimes confuses transgender identities with other queer identities and how this impacts the show’s audience.

“How the Internet Fell Out of Love With Lin Manuel Miranda”

While currently on tour in Manchester, Kayla Says created a video discussing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s career, which skyrocketed in 2015 with the opening of a hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. She discusses how ‘Hamilton’ rose to popularity at the right time politically, amidst the ‘Obama optimism,’ as she describes it. Miranda was consistently performing at political events in 2016. She goes on to discuss ‘Hamilton’s’ place in a society with Trump in power, how the show became a symbol of resistance while advocating for certain groups of people. Also discussed is Miranda’s work on Disney’s ‘Moana’ and ‘Encanto’ and how his musical style transcended into these films, the criticisms surrounding him and his signature rap-style music, and how making ‘Hamilton’ more widely accessible with Disney’s Proshot means more scrutiny. Miranda has faced criticism for a lack of diverse casting and for glorifying slave owner characters, leading Gen Z to create memes online and to poke fun at some of his reactions.

“Appropriately unhinged recap of Gossip Girl”

Lastly, Mike’s Mic YouTube channel series, ‘Appropriately Unhinged Recap’ videos, where he breaks down entire seasons and episodes of popular shows. After the success of hisPretty Little Liars’ recap in 2021, reaching over seven million views, he has since deep-dived into shows like ‘Glee,’ ‘Lost,’ and his most recent recap of ‘Gossip Girl’, seasons one to three. ‘Gossip Girl’ was a messy, drama-filled teen show running from 2007 to 2012, following the fictional lives of Manhattan’s elite. Mike’s videos are funny, unserious, and offer attention to certain details in the show that you may have missed. For example, in his appropriately unhinged recap of ‘Gossip Girl’ (season one), he discusses the types of phones that each character uses throughout the season and why they were important to the characters’ personalities.

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Lucy Vincent

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