As much as we like to romanticise the winter period, Christmas can be dull. Providing you’re not one of those weird people who actually enjoys the company of their family, the space between actual Christmas Day (good, lots of food, a pressie or two) and New Year’s Eve (good, lots of drugs, fireworks) is fairly boring. Faced with this lack of stimulation, even the best of us can resort to raging arguments with relatives, simply for some entertainment. Hey, it beats hours spent staring at the ceiling of your teenage bedroom, wondering whether you can hitchhike back home on the M25.
But what if there were a better way to spend the festive season? What if, instead of arguing with your uncle about mixed-gender loos, you could better yourself culturally, with all the amazing books, shows, podcasts and articles produced this year?
Hark, your prayers have been answered. VICE UK staffers have curated a list of things to watch, read and listen to over the Christmas break. Perfect for when you’ve eaten all the green ones in the Quality Street tub and 40 Best Christmas Film Moments on Dave just isn’t doing it for you.
"Gourmet Makes" from Bon Appétit
This series from Bon Appétit follows test kitchen chef Claire Saffitz as she attempts to “gourmet-ify” trashy American foods like Oreos or Twizzlers. The challenge is to mimic them almost exactly, while also improving texture and flavour. The series has gained a cult following because something about Saffitz’s personality and the complex task of working out how the fuck you make a Cheeto is weirdly entertaining. Ruby Lott-Lavigna
Honey Boy, in UK cinemas now
Remember when barely a day passed between outrageous Shia Labeouf news stories popping up on socials? This film is the aftermath of those years. Labeouf wrote the script – which is about growing up around his abusive father, and his early acting years – in court-ordered rehab. The result is an astonishingly courageous film that’s unlike anything you’ll have ever seen before. Ryan Bassil
Mr Robot, available on Amazon Prime
This paranoid hacker drama has been totally missed off most end of year lists in the UK, mainly because the USA Network series is only available on Amazon Prime. But give it a watch – the show ends this year, it's all set during Christmas in New York (festive!) and there's plenty to love about it, including insane plot twists, outrageously tense action set pieces and a stunningly vulnerable performance from lead Rami Malek. Zing Tsjeng
You, available on Netflix
The second season of last year's surprise stalker-themed phenomenon lands on Netflix on Boxing Day, promising more terrifying escapades courtesy of Penn Badgley's obsessive boyfriend Joe. It's as more-ish as Quality Street, and can essentially be described as Gossip Girl for adults – if there was even more male entitlement. Lauren O'Neill
Seek Treatment podcast
Seek Treatment is "a podcast about boys, sex, fucking, dating and love," as its earworm of a theme tune attests. It is hosted by NYC stand-ups Catherine Cohen and Pat Regan, who have this disease where they're the funniest people in the world, and will both probably be extremely famous very soon. It is a pod with everything: comedy guests, emotional honesty, and conversation so fast it borders on indecipherable. Iconique. Lauren O’Neill
Tyler, the Creator talks about IGOR with Rick Rubin on Broken Record podcast
In this episode of the Broken Record podcast, the most famous bearded man in music sits down with Tyler, the Creator to chat every intricacy on his latest album IGOR. You get: Tyler playing solo piano takes on IGOR’s best songs; Tyler saying how he wanted to create a record you could dance to; Tyler talking about bridges (the song thing, not bricks and mortar over a river). It is good. Ryan Bassil.
Still Processing on Joker, Succession and the 20th anniversary of Fight Club
Still Processing, the podcast from New York Times culture writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, is never not good, but their episode on "psychobros", which links the fragile masculinity of Joker and Kendall Roy’s hubris with Fight Club – which turned 20 this year – is particularly wide-ranging. Phoebe Hurst
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
Is it a vibe to recommend a book about a mutant capitalism in a cheery end-of-year list? Probably not, but The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff, which explores how big tech harvests personal data to control our behaviour and make us buy stuff, should probably be required reading for anyone with an internet connection. Ideal if you watched The Great Hack and wanted to be freaked out a bit more! Phoebe Hurst
All the scammer long reads of 2019
There’s something darkly fascinating about scammers. This year, we came back time and time again to stories of people who tried (and failed) to fake their way to the top. From blogger-influencer-wreck Caroline Calloway to Anna Delvey the fake millionaire and a nationwide Airbnb grift, it's been a vintage year for scam artist long reads. Ruby Lott-Lavigna
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
This here is a colourful, vivid and engrossing book about a dream relationship going seriously sour. The writer doesn't just unpack her ex-relationship, but also dismantles the stereotype that lesbian relationships are a safe utopian dream. The Cut recently published an extract from the book, which you can read online. Daisy Jones.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
An epic, sweeping book that won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Overstory intertwines humans and trees in such a mind-blowing way that I'll never look at a human or a tree the same again. Trees talk to each other. Old trees are as spiritual as whales. When ancient forests die, we die. It's the best book I've ever read. Max Daly
"The Stories We Tell" by Bernadine Evaristo
This year’s Booker Prize winner Bernadine Evaristo on how she has pursued a four-decade creative career might be the most no-nonsense guide ever written on achieving your dreams. A quietly inspiring antidote to foLlOw yOuR pAsSionS! Insta quotes and the work-hard-play-hard hustle narrative. Phoebe Hurst