Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Looking back at 2018

2018 has been a rocky year for, well, just about everyone and the world in general.

On Fangs, various commitments have caused us to reduce our postings and we’ve had a shift in format to some of our recaps and reviews

Another big shift has been in Urban Fantasy itself - while we had a boom of all things vampire and witchy a few years ago, we’ve definitely moved into a nadir at the moment with increasingly less shows that are what we might consider pure urban fantasy, more with dystopian edges and, of course, the utter overwhelming domination of the superhero genre which has pretty much consumed speculative fiction. We mentioned this in our 2017 year in review post - the decimation of many of our shows and that has either continued or simply not seen many step up to replace them

We see a similarity in the book world, fewer Urban Fantasy books along with a distinct movement away from the epic series that used to so dominate the genre. It seems more and more of the 6-13 book series that used to be the staple of the genre are coming to a close while new books are generally stand alone or trilogies. I miss them I do.

But let us look back on 2018 on Fangs and look at the Good, the Bad and, perhaps especially, they Conflicted - which we will start with


Conflicted covers a lot of issues with a lot of shows in 2018 - because for several of them there was a definite attempt for greater inclusion and awareness. And even an actual attempt, not a token appeasement while continuing business as usual… the problem is that so many of these fell flat or had major flaws: I think Adele definitely brought the theme of the year.

Doctor Who is perhaps the most iconic example of this - an excellent new female Doctor (who we love and adore), a racially diverse set of companions including one with a disability and… a lot of lacklustre writing, a lack of old school Doctor Who villains and plots. And then Yasmin was grossly and conspicuously underused. It could have been so much more

Star Trek Discovery definitely jumped in here as well - excellent diverse cast with completely unnecessary gaydeath and So Many Storylines that so badly needed culling. It could have been so much more

And Charmed? Oh new Charmed, you talk the talk, you know all the language, you have a racially diverse main cast, feminist issues front and centre, a lesbian main character… but the pacing was awful, the issues they covered were often shallow and contained problematic issues (like virginity being an inherent mystical characteristic), their lesbian character had her love interest unceremoniously put on the bus and… aaargh WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!


With less and less of our favourite genre out there, that means we’re going to need what’s left to step up…

Julie Plec: I’m on it!

So, The Originals finally round up its well-acted but awfull written, angst-ridden trainwreck of its last season; but Julie Plec is like OG Dracula. Until someone scatters her ashes over four different bodies of water, she’s going to keep this world going and flog that zombie horse for every last cent. The Legacies, the latest incarnation in this ongoing world’s longest trainwreck and it has all the problems of previous series: problematic racial and LGBTQ portrayals, a protagonist who insists on being the centre of attention and a concept and world setting which isn’t really well thought out. In other words, it is EXACTLY like The Vampire Diaries and The Originals

Despite this ongoing awful, Discovery of Witches is here to be just so much worse. A grossly under-developed world setting, minorities either problematic or sidelines, a plot line that is consumed by one of the most awful romances I’ve ever had to suffer through linked with a new Clary Award winner. The whole damn thing is Twilight but somehow worse.

The Good

There was some good! I especially have to give kudos to Magicians which has been a perennial trainwreck of awful I’ve dreaded watching but somehow this season managed to bury so much of what was truly terrible about this show and instead give us something shockingly good, informed and epic. Hey it wasn’t perfect but my gods it felt like it after what came before it.

Lucifer has a lot of ups and downs and issues - but it’s also immense fun and zany and compelling and sexy. And Wynonna Earp is just doing (almost) everything right... just so much awesome and they may be making the few weaker areas better

While Handmaid’s Tale bordered on torture porn more than a little, its power cannot be denied and Westworld was delightfully complex and brain breaking

I also think it’s worth noting that Fear the Walking Dead has finally managed to put together its own identity more separate from TheWalking Dead itself. It’s beginning to feel like something more than a cheap tie-in or money grab but as a product with its own identity unlike some *cough*Legacies*cough*. In some ways

Shows We Lost

The Originals will not be missed and, sadly, are still lurching forward in Legacies form. Nor will we be missing The Last Ship and its cringeworthy American propaganda.

But I admit to being rather sad by the end of Z Nation. Yes, it was often cheesy, often ridiculous and suffered from some severe tonal dissonance  but it was FUN and Warren was awesome and pretty rare as a Black female lead in a dystopian. Speaking of cheese, I’m also not over Librarians. Both of these have divided us - the right thinking and righteous Paul will miss their zany fun. The completely wrong and possibly soulless Renee is happy to see them both go.

And then there’s Sens8. Alas poor Sens8 you will be missed so much!

Once Upon a Time leaves me torn - on the one hand, looking at the last season, yeah… I can understand why it was cancelled. But oh if they’d just had the courage to run with the reboot

Good Things to Come

American Gods, Handmaids Tale, Magicians and Star Trek Discovery are all coming back in 2019! And Lucifer was saved, praise be to Netflix!

Honestly I don’t think we have anything new on the radar we’re actually looking forward to - this nadir is not lining up a lot of excitement - but I am hope

What I am looking forward to, perhaps somewhat naively, is for the shows that have Adele’d this season to pick it up next season. Siren, Charmed, Star Trek Discovery, Doctor Who still have that potential. Anyone can have a shaky first season - so time to step it up!


While our reading has been down, I am still clinging to a lot of treasures for as long as they last, including anything written by Ilona Andrews (always amazing and a favourite), the excellent and beloved Rivers of London series. I also have new favourite (and bonus Own Voices publication) Blue Unicorn series for some excellent cyberpunk. And while most long series are dying, I am glad I can still rely on Jennifer Estep and Nalini Singh to keep these epics rolling. Other gems include the amazing why-isn’t-this-a-series Black God’s Drums. I’m also very happy to see Shelley Adina has rebooted her main steampunk series

Unfortunately, despite international treaties protecting human rights, both P.C. Cast and Laurell K Hamilton are continuing their series.