Not everything was good in the media landscape during the last decade, so to balance out my previous top 10 lists I have to talk about the bad stuff. These are six games, movies, shows, or albums that greatly disappointed me. Disappointment involves having a previous liking, fondness, or hope in something, so I don’t necessarily hate the following but rather was severely let down by them.

6. Pokémon Sword/Shield

Pokémon Sword and Shield are fun games, I’ve already clocked more than 30 hours in my file. Despite this, they are very disappointing to me. These were the first mainline Pokémon games on a home console (Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee don’t count) and developer Game Freak’s laziness is apparent everywhere.

The most obvious example is the cutting of more than half of the Pokédex, “Gotta catch ’em all” no more. The 3D models are evidently recycled from previous games, but they couldn’t bother to port all the previous ones over. Graphics look like upscaled 3DS visuals and feature horrendous pop-up that’s inexcusable in 2019. The world design is exteremely linear and boring, except for the Wild Area (that’s a cool idea). Max Raids are not fun, but rather frustrating and uninsipired. And the list goes on.

Still, these games sold like crazy and they do have some good stuff in it. The new Pokémon designs are still pretty creative and inspired and the music is amazing. Pokémon, I love you, but you can do A LOT better.

5. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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I consider myself a moderate Harry Potter fan. I read all the books, even the fanfic-y script for Cursed Child (which I cannot judge as harshly without seeing the play) and watched all the movies. I respect and admire J.K. Rowling for her creativity and imagination that created a worldwide beloved franchise. I thought the first Fantastic Beasts movie was OK, I did enjoy it and hence thought that things could only improve in the sequel, right? Wrong!

The worst sin of The Crimes of Grindelwald is just how BORING it is. The plot is convoluted and suffers from too much characters doing nothing interesting. There are some very stupid story decisions, like the lame romantic misunderstanding between Newt and Tina, the shying away from Dumbledore’s sexuality, random, unnecessary baby murder (twice!), a surprise Dumbledore sibling (this might change in the following movies), Nagini is a human and serves nothing to the plot, and some more I’m probably forgetting.

J.K. writes good stories, but not good scripts. WB shouldn’t let her write the following movies, or at least bring in some help.

4. The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Show)

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The Handmaid’s Tale started out as a faithful adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, the first season covering the original book. It was shocking, gripping, tense, frightening, and very socially relevant. Without more source material to adapt, however, the show turned into a repetitive, glacially paced torture porn borefest.

When you set up the rules for a fictional world, disregarding or ignoring them constantly breaks the suspension of disbelief and makes the story fall apart. June should’ve been killed a thousand times by season three, but her plot armor is so thick that there is no suspense anymore. The fakeouts of her escaping Gilead are so tiresome now that I don’t care anymore. Those lingering close-up shots with a monologue from Elizabeth Moss were interesting the first times, but after seeing them for the hundreth time you feel exhausted.

Meh. At least Atwood released The Testaments and gave a (arguably) satisfying conclusion to Gilead.

3. Utopia by Björk

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I’m all for experimentation in music, but Björk is just fucking with us now. Utopia is avant-garde pop that is not pleasurable to listen to. There are almost no hooks or interesting melodies to latch on to, the Arca beats are cringe-worthy to put it mildly, and songs are just too long without creating an interesting progression to justify it, they just fall flat.

To give her credit, she creates some pretty unique fairy-tale-esque atmospheres that are enjoyable, but would probably serve better as background music for a movie or videogame. By trimming the excess fat, getting rid of those awful glitch drums, and adding some more interesting melodies, this album would actually be very nice. Those nice flutes and inventive music videos are wasted here.

2. Silent Hill

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Silent Hill was once a very respectable survival horror franchise (I love 2 and 3 to death). Although it never reached Resident Evil popularity, it steadily gained its good reputation with its unique setting, monsters and psychological horror. The last decade, however, saw this reputation being dragged through the mud by stupid choices made by Konami.

The games after the fourth were not developed in Japan anymore and thus lost their unique Japanese horror sensibility. The two Hollywood movies were a mess, the second one in particular is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in a theater. The Silent HD collection was a horrible glitch-ridden mess that performed worse despite being in newer generation hardware.

And when things started to look promising again with a new game developed by Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro and (almost) Junji Ito, Konami shut it down. How the hell do you fuck this up? Ugh. RIP Silent Hill.

1. Game of Thrones

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By now everyone knows Game of Thrones’ ending sucked. but this was a special kind of sucking because it retroactively made the series impossible to rewatch now, knowing it’s all for nothing. All the fascinating, complex characters and mysteries built during the previous years came crashing down violently. Nothing mattered in the end, the plot became nonsensical, characters turned into complete idiots, others were killed just to get rid of the clutter, and some others were kept alive because of fanservice.

The number one show in the last decade, the global phenomenon, the ratings (and piracy) king was killed in front of our eyes and we sat and watched and died inside. This show will go down in television history as a perfect example of how to turn gold into a turd. At least we have the books for a satisfying conclusion… Just kidding, George R.R. Martin will never finish them ☹️.

[Some book and TV series spoilers]

I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale after watching the first few episodes of the TV series. The book was a fascinating read because Gilead, unlike other fictional dystopias, felt like something that could actually happen or may be even going on right now, to some extent, in some parts of the world. Social anxieties from the 80’s like women’s reproductive rights and oppressive gender roles are, sadly, still very relevant today, making the book feel eerily current.

The original novel’s subject matter is no easy read as the acts of cruelty done to woman are deplorable and infuriating, and worse of all based on historical practices according to Atwood. Offred’s narration reads like a disorienting and claustrophobic nightmare, something the first season of the series captures perfectly (minus some questionable “badass” musical montages). The book is ambiguous about the protagonist’s fate (not even her real name is revealed) but the epilogue leaves a glimpse of hope when it confirms that Gilead would eventually fall.

The second season of the TV show continued directly after Offred’s book ending and stretched out her story to exhausting lengths, leading to a third and even more confirmed seasons to come. I must confess I stopped watching after the first couple of episode into the third season, since it started feeling like glacially paced misery porn not even Elisabeth Moss’s great performance could make bearable. After spoiling myself the latest season’s ending I don’t think I’ll give the show another chance, since the speculative fiction turning into almost fantasy isn’t sitting well on me.

Enter The Testaments, Atwood’s direct sequel to the original book, released 34 years after the original and set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale ending. Not following the TV series canon, the story follows three different women affected by Gilead’s regime, none of them handmaids. After being disappointed by the repetitive TV show, this is a very welcomed breath of fresh air. Horrific and tragic things do happen, but hope is more prevalent this time around, leading to a satisfying conclusion.

Aunt Lydia, one of the most captivating antagonists from the first book and the series, is now a point of view character and is fascinatingly fleshed out. Through Offred’s eyes, the aunt was a cruel and hateful woman, but The Testaments lets Lydia speak for herself. Her chapters are presented as her own written testimony and reveal her moral complexity and sometimes even evoke sympathy for her. Yes, she has committed atrocious acts but we get an understanding of her reasons. In fact she is one of the key figures to the downfall of Gilead, with the help of Agnes and Daisy, the other two main characters.

Agnes is a girl raised in Gilead by a Commander and a Wife, after being separated from her mother at a very early age. Her story is as compelling as Aunt Lydia’s because it showcases the way education works under the regime and the psychological impact it has on the children, particularly the “privileged” girls like her friend Becka. Learning to be a dutiful wife coupled with the suppression of her real desires creates unmanageable distress and a pessimistic view of life, not far away from considering suicide as a viable option to escape. Her only other choice to avoid her unwanted fate is becoming an aunt with the help of Aunt Lydia.

Daisy is a rebellious teenage girl living in Canada with her adoptive parents. Of the three protagonists, her journey is the weakest one in my opinion, playing out too much like a conventional YA chosen one journey without any subversion. After tragedy strikes, Daisy is taken by the Mayday organization, which had already been established in the first book as an underground rebellion group that helped handmaids and children escape from Gilead while also working to take down the government.

Not everything is wrong with Daisy’s part though. Her chapters are actually the most dynamic and add a real sense of urgency, compared to the more subdued psychological conflicts of the other two women. We also get more world building through the introduction of the Pearl Girls, missionaries who recruit girls from around the world to bring to Gilead. Additionally, we get a glimpse of how Canadians and other nations deal with Gilead, something only previously shown in the series.

As expected, the three stories eventually converge and everyone has a part to play in Gilead’s inevitable downfall. The final act comprises of the adventure Agnes and Daisy escaping from Gilead with key information while Aunt Lydia deals with the chaos that ensues and her enemies close to finding out her real agenda. 

I consider The Testaments a success at exploring more facets of Gilead ripe for dissection. Atwood’s decision to shift the focus away from the handmaids and the use of a time skip were very much needed, there is just so much handmaid suffering we can endure before exhaustion, as the show proves.

The exploration of Aunt Lydia’s psyche was a very welcome surprise. Feeling sympathy for her is complicated because we know she is capable of consciously abusing others, but nonetheless she is still a woman living under an oppressive, unjust system where women hold on to whatever power they can amass. And she is indeed playing a long term game by helping Mayday while risking her own life in the process. Aunts and wives are indeed complicit in perpetuating misogyny as means of self-preservation. What we do with that idea is up to the reader, but it is symbolic that Aunt Lydia’s statue is shown as a decaying relic of the past.

Atwood makes it clear that the theocratic, fascist Gilead is rotten at its very core and its injustices and power imbalance are the reasons for its eventual collapse. A society where women (and minorities) are not full persons cannot prosper, a lesson that the world unfortunately needs right now.

The original Handmaid’s Tale is a classic and The Testaments is a worthy follow-up. The novels create a wholesome experience that doesn’t actually need the TV show to be fully appreciated. It is a scaringly-close-to-reality tale that echoes current bigoted, misogynistic discourses in politics and religion. That is the real terror we should keep an eye on.