Watchable content by UCI Humanities alumni to get you through #QuarantineLife
By Audrey Fong
From tales of future worlds to imagined universes, UCI School of Humanities alumni have created and inspired innovative watchable content—from movies and TV shows to YouTube and documentary series. To incorporate some UCI spirit into your #StayAtHome life, here’s our list of some seriously bingeworthy content that will make you laugh, cry and reminisce.
Where do we draw the line between human beings and highly intelligent human-like computers? Alumna Tiffany Chu (B.A. film and media studies ’15) stars in the boundary-pushing live show “Artificial,” which centers on this question. The first scripted series on Twitch.tv, the popular live-streaming platform for gamers, the show engages its viewers by allowing them to connect with the characters and alter the narrative through polls, Q&A and comments. This Emmy and Peabody-winning show has one more UCI Humanities connection: alumnus Allen E. Ho (B.A. film and media studies ’07) served as the show’s director of photography for over a year.
Available through Hulu, “Comedy InvAsian” is a six-part series featuring Asian American standup comedians including alumna Robin Tran (B.A. English ’08) in the fifth episode. Before “Comedy InvAsian,” Tran appeared on Comedy Central’s “Roast Battle” and was the show’s first transgender comic to compete. In a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Tran explained that she uses comedy to fight stereotypes about trans people: “I like that I can show off that side of me that I don’t think is really shown on television or movies, this side of trans people that we can be very funny, we can roast back and forth, and we can take it as well as we can give it.”
How can the world unite to provide answers to mysterious ailments? In Netflix’s documentary series “Diagnosis,” based off The New York Times Magazine’s column of the same name, professionals and lay people from around the world come together through the power of crowdsourcing to help patients with difficult-to-diagnose health issues. As the senior social strategy and user generated content editor for The New York Times, alumna Sona Patel (B.A.s literary journalism and Spanish ’06) was responsible for leading the development of the crowdsourcing strategy for the series and has a cameo in the first episode.
Follow Sona Patel on Twitter here. Read our Q&A with Patel here.
For eight years, “Game of Thrones” dominated not only our imaginations but also the television awards circuit, setting the record for most Primetime Emmy Awards won at 58 and for the most nominated at 161. But did you know that “Game of Thrones” has a UCI connection? It’s true; alumnus David Benioff (M.F.A. fiction ’99) is the show’s co-creator. An adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin's series of novels, this epic fantasy tells the story of a fictional country’s civil war as people vie to claim the "Iron Throne."
What does a show about a first-generation Egyptian-American have in common with a teen megahit drama? The answer is writer and alumna Sahar Jahani (B.A.s film & media studies and literary journalism ’13). Jahani worked in the writers’ room for Hulu’s “Ramy,” which follows the life of its titular character as he navigates life as a first-generation Muslim. Currently, she is working on Netflix’s hit, “13 Reasons Why,” which is based on the bestselling novel of the same name.
Set at the end of the 24th century, about two decades after “Star Trek: Nemesis,” “Star Trek: Picard” follows the retired admiral Jean-Luc Picard as he deals with the death of Data and the destruction of the planet Romulus, which occurred in the 2009 film “Star Trek.” As a long-time Trekkie, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and alumnus Michael Chabon (M.F.A. fiction ’87) enjoyed being one of the show’s four creators and acting as the show’s sole showrunner for a period. In a 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, Chabon likened his experience working on the show to writing official fan fiction.
What would you do if you could watch your loved ones from heaven? That’s exactly what protagonist Susie Salmon does in the film, “The Lovely Bones,” which is based on alumna Alice Sebold’s (M.F.A. fiction ’98) novel of the same name. Directed by Peter Jackson, “The Lovely Bones” follows Salmon as she watches her family and friends grapple with her murder, debating constantly whether she should seek vengeance against her murderer or allow her loved ones to heal.
Growing up in Orange County, Calif. as a first-generation Pakistani-American, alumna Nida Chowdhry (B.A.s English and film & media studies ’09) didn’t always feel accepted or seen. This experience motivated her to create a space for nuanced and compelling South Asian and Muslim stories. Her production company’s first show, “Unfair and Ugly,” is a dramedy following a South Asian family in Orange County and is free to stream on YouTube. Also available on YouTube is Chowdhry’s conversation series “#TodayIMet,” where she interviews comedians, dancers, improv actors and more from her everyday life.
Follow Nida Chowdhry on Twitter here. Read our profile on Chowdhry here.
Did we miss you? If you are affiliated with the UCI School of Humanities and work on a show that was not included in this list, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.