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Literary Merit

Literary Merit

By Alex Vigue, Ashley Hall
Two queer WWU grads approach pop media with an academic eye, and dispel the myth of the guilty pleasure.
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Avatar: The Legend of Korra
After a slightly unplanned hiatus we're back, and we finally finished Korra! Also, Alex discovered a new cryptid and Ashley discovered a new guru.
September 21, 2020
Quarantine Round Up 2
Listen, we're all having a hard time. Sometimes you just need to rewatch some old stuff. Also, Alex had fun with shapes and Ashley uncovered history's mysteries.
August 24, 2020
The Umbrella Academy Season 2
Oh my God, they're back again. That's right, The Umbrella Academy season 2 just dropped and we're so excited we're dancing with ourselves.
August 10, 2020
Atomic Blonde (with Leonora!)
While everyone else is talking about that other (extremely good) Charlize Theron action film, we watched one from a few years ago that many people passed on. Watch out Keanu, because we're here for the Theronaissance. Check out Leonora on twitter and Letterboxd: @leolermontov
July 27, 2020
Doctor Sleep
As we continue our great HBO adventure, we have arrived at the film adaptation of Doctor Sleep. And Ashley has now determined she's never, ever going to watch Ready Player One. Also, Alex joined the wild rumpus and Ashley found some big old holes.
July 13, 2020
Watchmen (HBO)
We watched Watchmen. Get it? Also, Alex chased a mystery and Ashley enjoyed a refreshing drink.
June 29, 2020
Blood Machines
Black trans people are one of the most vulnerable populations in America. During Pride and every other month of the year, please consider giving your time and/or money to support this community. Black Lives Matter. (The Marsha P. Johnson Institute: Also, we watched a weird series(?) called Blood Machines.
June 15, 2020
Birds of Prey
Weird energy today, but the movie has a weird energy too! We actually loved it, and if you're anything like us you will too. Also, Alex learned the definition of a man, and Ashley had a sweet tooth.
May 18, 2020
Future Man (with bonus May 4th surprise!)
We found ourselves pleasantly surprised by this nasty little gem. Also, Alex took us to Germany for something lovely, and Ashley did the same for something stupid.
May 4, 2020
Musical Movies Quarantine Edition
We're trying to bring in the cheer with a little music... to varying degrees of success. We watched Cats (2019), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and Moulin Rouge (2001). Also, Alex got artistic and Ashley got toxic.
April 20, 2020
Quarantine Roundup
It's rough out there, so we called up our good friend Allie to talk about how we're keeping sane while we're staying safe. Also, Alex and Allie went under the sea and Ashley got musical.
April 7, 2020
Swashbuckling Tales
We've been responsibly social distancing, so you know what that means: binging movies about fancy men fighting evil. But what do these films tell us, other than running in tight pants is a good look? Also, Alex learned a new way to run a scam, and Ashley got prehistoric (again).
March 23, 2020
Cozy Gaming
Times are hard, friends. Luckily, we can turn to video games. We discovered, though, that cozy gaming is different for different people. Also, Alex brought the hard facts and Ashley brought some old bones.
March 9, 2020
We were in a Valentine mood, so we chatted about shipping! Canon or not, these ships have a huge impact on fan culture. Also, Alex gave us another great word and Ashley was feeling peckish. (Sorry about the audio quality, everyone! -Ashley)
February 17, 2020
Sabrina Season 3 and NiNoKuni
Things have been busy, so we came in with our own individual topics: Season 3 of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the Netflix film adaptation of NiNoKuni! Which one do you think was ultimately disappointing? It's a pretty easy guess. Also, Alex got gory and Ashley predicts spring will be here soon.
February 5, 2020
Dracula (Netflix)
You almost did it, Moffat. You were so close. Also, Alex has medical news and Ashley has a new hero.
January 20, 2020
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
It's Christmastime in this house, so we did a Christmas thing. Turns out, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms... is actually pretty ok! Also, Ashley investigated a Christmas mystery and Alex put on his Santa hat. Music is Chiron Beta Prime by Jonathan Coulton (
December 23, 2019
Robin Hood (2018)
Well, we done did the thing. At long last, we watched the Robin Hood movie and found some unexpected themes floating around amongst the bizarre costumes and chewed scenery. Also, Alex has a new toy and Ashley took us spelunking.
December 16, 2019
Lessons Animation Taught Us 2
Well, Disney+ is out, so we went back to a couple of our beloved animated series: Star Wars: Rebels and Gargoyles. Also, Alex is not granted the rank of Master, and Ashley's got the music in her... arms?
November 25, 2019
Robert Pattinson November
Two R Pat movies in two days! We saw The Lighthouse and The King, and boy was our Robbie serving some accents. But what was it all about? Also, Alex got the munchies and Ashley stayed on theme.
November 11, 2019
What We Do In the Shadows (2019)
For spooktober, we decided to watch something  scary-adjacent, and we really can't believe we waited so long to check this series out. Also, Alex delved further into his family history, and Ashley provided the refreshments.
October 21, 2019
Kevin Kline is De-Lovely
We must really like our musician biopics, because we're back at it with 2004's De-Lovely. Kevin Kline plays Cole Porter, one of the most prominent songwriters of the first half of the 20th century. Of course, we focus on the gay stuff. Also, Alex talks quaint infrastructure, and Ashley gets Classical (again...). 
October 7, 2019
Carnival Row and Magic Racism
Boy, we were surprised to find this show was actually good! From the writing to the acting to the effects, Carnival Row completely gripped us. But what did it have to say about race, miscegenation, war, and culture? Well, you should watch it to find out, but if you want to hear what we thought about it, here you go. Also, Alex learned about our favorite rare phoneme, and Ashley sheds some light on the situation.
September 25, 2019
The Silence of the Lambs (w/ Leonora Mint!)
Leonora came over and watched The Silence of the Lambs with us, and it was a nail-biter. Even Ashley was on the edge of her seat, and she'd already seen it! Of course the big issue of queer representation had to come up, and it resulted in a great discussion. Also, Leonora has found our new political candidate, and Alex and Ashley both get mythological.
September 9, 2019
Mindhunter Season 2
Well, it's been almost two years but it was worth the wait. Mindhunter season 2 is out, and they outdid themselves. With themes like personal agency, blame, and responsibility, as well as race and sexuality, this season gave us a lot to chew on. Also, Alex and Ashley both learned about the deep [color] sea.
August 26, 2019
'To Wong Foo' and Big Gay 90s Films
The 90s had a few Big Gay Movies, and 'The Birdcage' might be the best known among them. But what about 'To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar'? We took a look at this depiction of Drag culture and small-town America to consider its high and low points. Also, Alex learned some astronomy and Ashley learned some biology.
August 12, 2019
The Huntsman Series(?)
Alex sat Ashley down to watch a couple movies she missed this decade: Snow White and the Huntsman and it's pre-sequel, The Huntsman: Winter's War. One of these movies is better than the other, but you might be surprised which it is. Also, Alex warns of unusual infrastructure concerns, and Ashley introduces you to a woman you probably don't know.
July 29, 2019
Stranger Things 3
Boy howdy, this season was a lot. We run down the many cinematic homages, as well as discuss the very rude boys that the real heroes of the day had to put up with. Also, Alex got caught up and Ashley's got a sneaky new friend.
July 15, 2019
Captain Marvel Was Good
Oh boy, just when things calmed down we had to go and kick that beehive. That's right, Captain Marvel was good and y'all gotta deal with it. Also, Alex killed some time and Ashley had a special treat.
July 1, 2019
Well, we loved it. Our discussion mostly revolved around that, but we did manage to do an OK job explaining what made it so good. And just talking about how great Taron Egerton is all the time and in everything. Also, Alex learned a new word and Ashley had a craving.
June 17, 2019
It's been a long time coming, but we've finally done it: The Magicians. Super extra spoiler warning if you haven't seen the end of season 4. WE'RE SERIOUS. Also, Alex has a craving and Ashley does some time travelling. Once again we've got some audio drops, sorry about that. We're trying to figure out how to fix it.
June 3, 2019
Camp and Jupiter Ascending
Did you see Jupter Ascending? Ashley hadn't and boy, was there a lot to have feelings about. Mostly that the Wachowskis didn't go far enough. Also, Ashley introduced Alex to the original original Nightstalker, and Alex learned about balls.
May 20, 2019
Trans Representation in Movies (w/ guest Leonora Anne)
We sought outside help for this week's topic! Writer and friend of the show Leonora Anne joined us to discuss trans representation in film, and we had an absolute blast. Its a bit of a fraught subject, but we can all at least agree that Jared Leto sucks. Also, Alex brought us another sweet treat, Leonora found our new vacation spot, and Ashley read up on a big mystery. Find Leonora's work:  @LeoLermontov
May 6, 2019
Crimson Peak and Feminist Gothic
Were you one of the many people who missed Crimson Peak? Ashley says you missed out. We're talking about our guy Guillermo and the spooky ghost movie he did. Also, Ashley learned about glamorous science, and Alex gives you a gift you didn't know you needed. Also also, the short story Ashley referenced is Herman Melville's "Benito Cereno"
April 22, 2019
We sat down and watched Waiting For Guffman, and ended up with a few questions. Namely, what's the point of mockumentary in the first place? Also, Ashley gets dangerous and Alex gets delicious.
April 8, 2019
Beautiful Creatures (LitMerit 2.0!)
Ashley and Alex are officially roommates, and the first order of business was sitting down and watching Beautiful Creatures. How was this gem of a film forgotten? Oh right, it's target audience was teen girls. Also, Alex learned about a saint, and Ashley learned about a sinner.
March 25, 2019
The Umbrella Academy: Millenial Superheroes
What is it about Netflix's adaptation of The Umbrella Academy that connected with us, and what does it say about this generation? This episode explores the themes behind the series and contrasts it with other hero stories, and maybe manages to make a point about something. Also, Alex and Ashley both managed to see the same movie in the theater and didn't even plan it.
March 4, 2019
Why I Love Bob's Burgers (w/ brentraptor!)
Because we just can't get enough we're back again with our friend Rachel, aka. brentraptor, and we're talking about the burger show and why it's just so good. Also, Alex fell down the Disney hole and Ashley is very sad about the Disney. Find Rachel on twitter: @brentraptor
February 18, 2019
January Round-Up
One month in, and already this year has given us a lot to talk about. We cover Kingdom Hearts 3, Polar, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Also, BIG NEWS EVERYONE!!!!!! 
February 4, 2019
Soldier 76 and Other Gays
Rejoice, as the Gay Agenda(TM) claims another for our flock. Soldier 76 is gay, and we love it, but so what? What does it matter for Soldier to have a boyfriend, and what about other queer characters in other games? Also, Ashley leared about soome spooky little guys, and Alex has been watching Netflix (surprise!).
January 21, 2019
2018 In Review
So... what even was last year? Alex and Ashley try to piece together what 2018 looked like in media, and try not to think about all the... other things that occurred. Also, Alex has strengthened his relationship with Youtube, and Ashley wants to get her gambling freak on.
January 7, 2019
Bright Solstice, Happy Yule!
It's been a while, but we're back and talking about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale! Well, after the important business of those new movie trailers... Also, Alex has a new toy and Ashley has a new child.
December 24, 2018
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Johnny Depp
What are we to do when a problematic person is involved with a project we like? What about when a creator we once admired has started making a lot of bad decisions? We're not totally sure we can answer those questions, but we'll talk about them anyway. Also, Alex has questions about salad, and Ashley has questions about ham.
November 26, 2018
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (and London adventures!)
What did we think of Netflix's newest, spookiest original series? This is your chance to find out, lucky you. Also, Ashley had a great pie and Alex met a big pumpkin.
November 12, 2018
All Hallow's Read 2
Alex's story is The Stepmothers by Kelly Magee Ashley's story is The White People by Arthur Machen This episode's music is Sorcerer by Mort Garson
October 26, 2018
Let's Get Hygge
So... what the heck is hygge? How do you even pronounce it? And what does it have to do with Hayao Miyazaki? We answer these questions and more in this extra cozy episode. Also, Alex is experiencing a time slip and Ashley has no more bones.
October 8, 2018
September Round Up
Once again we've prepared a nice scatter-shot of stuff we watched. Looking for a new series to start? We've got you covered. Also, Ashley achieved culinary perfection and Alex might be cursed.
September 26, 2018
The Last Airbender and Cycles of Violence
Now that Ashley has finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, we wanted to discuss what we saw as being one of the most prominent themes running through the show: the perpetuation and breaking of cycles of violence and abuse. Also, Ashley found a new favorite show and Alex has a hot date.
September 10, 2018
Musical Movies
This episode required the help of a special guest, Ashley's husband Will! The topic of the day is movie musicals, especially those adapted from the stage. Also, Alex is still very tired, and Will and Ashley went to Black Mirror.
August 27, 2018
Fairy Folklore
How has fairy lore evolved over time, and what even IS a fairy? We discuss these questions and others as we compare fairy folklore to the modern idea of fairies. Also, Ashley saw a show, and Alex just can't. Ashley's new show! Twitch: Youtube:
August 13, 2018
Mini Film Reviews (and AtLA!)
This episode is a little different! We each went to the movies, and want to tell you about what we saw. First is Alex with Mama Mia: Here We Go Again, and then Ashley with Ant Man and The Wasp. And as a special bonus, we discuss what Ashley has watched so far in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and just how dang good it is! Also, Alex is an important poetry boy, and Ashley's legs almost fell off.
July 30, 2018
The Good and Bad of Genre
Springboarding off of an article from the New Stateman featuring Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro, this episode is about how genre fiction is disparaged, the usefulness of genre, and how it can be used or subverted to tell great stories. Also, Alex went to the park and Ashley endured a living nightmare. Article Discussed:
July 16, 2018
June Round-Up
Things have been a little crazy for us lately, so we decided to chill out and do a nice breezy media round-up. What have you been watching, reading, or listening to? Let us know on twitter @litmeritpod! Also, Ashley is the boss now, and Alex has the water you crave.
July 2, 2018
Lessons Animation Taught Us
Inspired by Mikey Neumann's "Lessons Animation Taught Us" project on YouTube, we decided to try out the concept in our own medium. We talked about Avatar: The Last Airbender, We're Back!, Princess Mononoke, and of course Quest for Camelot (as well as a few others). Also, Alex struck out, and Ashley learned why you should go to a graveyard. If you want to join in the conversation you can find us on twitter, and please check out Mikey's original video on the FilmJoy channel as well as the various great responses other folks have made, which can be found in the Lessons Animation Taught Us playlist.
June 11, 2018
Greek and Norse Mythology (Double Dip Your Baby Part 1)
This time we're talking Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology, God of War (again), and Troy: Fall of a City, and wondering why it's gotta be so hard to keep track of these darn pantheons. And why are the gods so dumb? Also, Alex has the sleep schedule of a kindergartener and Ashley has identified the one time when double-dipping really is the best plan.
May 28, 2018
Infinity War/Catch Up
It's been a little while since Alex and Ashley found time to chat, so this episode is a little bit of a media round-up. We're talking Infinity War, Troy: Fall of a City, and of course the Met Gala. Also, Ashley had some housing troubles and Alex met some dinosaurs.
May 14, 2018
God of War (PS4) (w/ Will and Dillon aka. Zoodle)
Well this was a little bit of a weird one! Since Ashley and Alex just couldn't find the time to get together, Ashley's two best boys Dillon and Will stepped up to fill those big shoes and discuss the new God of War game with her. Also, fight choreography is hard, and GO KAYLEY O'CONNOR!!!!
May 7, 2018
Teaching Poetry/Ashley's Wedding
This episode is all about Alex's recent experience teaching poetry to elementary schoolers, but we ended up talking about Ashley's wedding for a good while anyway. How do you make poetry accessable to beginners, and what's poetry even for? Also, Alex got some new duds and Ashley is going to live forever.
April 17, 2018
Miriam Beach (with brentraptor)
In this episode we're delighted to have brentraptor (aka. Droosy, aka. Brent, aka. Rachel) back on the show, this time to discuss their recently-launched webcomic Miriam Beach. We talk sitcoms, inspiration, insecurity, and Miss Vanjie. Also, big life changes ahoy! Miriam Beach:
April 2, 2018
Pixar's Coco
In this episode, Ashley and Alex found themselves recording in the same room! Such a treat! The topic is Coco, why so many people missed it, and why that was such a tragedy. Things ended up turning into a bit of a group therapy session, but it was mostly relevant. Also, Ashley is now terrified of the natural world and Alex keeps on truckin.
March 19, 2018
Movie Villains/Killmonger
Like everyone on Earth, we loved Black Panther and we knew we had to talk about it in one way or another. We decided to focus on the rad and terrifying Killmonger, and see how he compares to other supervillains, as well as movie baddies in general. Also, Alex is giving it another go, and Ashley hates cake now.
March 5, 2018
DDLC Summary
In episode 24 we ended up summarizing a lot of Doki Doki Literature Club, so we cut it out and stuck it here. Enjoy.
February 19, 2018
Doki Doki Literature Club
We had a wild time talking about this one, and had to bring back an old guest to do it right. Welcome back to the show Dillon, aka Zoodle! Doki Doki Literature Club is a very popular visual novel/dating sim, but with a twist. This one gets a big, big spoiler warning. Also, Alex has a lot of time on his hands, and Ashley's staying put.
February 19, 2018
Queer Coming Of Age
This one got a bit heavier than we expected, but in retrospect we really should have known better. The topic is queer coming of age stories, and a key phrase we hit on was "deferred adolescence." Hit play to hear what on Earth we were on about! Also, Ashley's headed northward and Alex had a snack.
February 7, 2018
Best Of 2017
Another year over... what good stuff happened anyway? Ashley and Alex look back on 2017 and the best things in it, and mostly gloss over the rest. Also, Alex joined the artistic elite and Ashley waited for a bus.
January 22, 2018
Holiday 2017 (w/ Chris Hatton)
Happy holidays! In this very special episode of Literary Merit we discuss Star Wars, mashed potato movies, and a whole lot more with a very special guest! Sit down with a glass of egg nog, spiced cider, or something a little stronger and cozy up for a nice chat with good friends (and maybe escape your visiting relatives... ). This episode's theme song can be found at
December 25, 2017
The Good Place
So this episode was supposed to be about The Good Place, and it was... for a while. Things got a little out of hand. Also, Alex is more stylish than ever, Ashley's getting into the Christmas spirit, and we fixed Brooklyn Nine Nine!
December 12, 2017
JRR Tolkien and Middle Earth
This episode is all Tolkien. Well, mostly Tolkien. We discuss the varius adaptations and spin-offs that take place in Middle Earth, with a dash of Lovecraft for good measure. Also, Ashley has a new appreciation for Ryan Gosling and Alex invented a new flavor of doughnut.
November 27, 2017
Thor: Ragnarok/Stranger Things
Too much good stuff happened recently, so this one's a double header. Ashley and Alex may have seen two entirely different movies when they saw Thor, though. Also, Alex spent some time on the road and Ashley has a new best friend.
November 13, 2017
All Hallow's Read 2017
Happy Halloween! Stick your broom in the closet, put the werewolf in the other room, and pour yourself a nice glass of wine (or the dark red beverage of your choice). It's All Hallow's Read!
October 31, 2017
Lore (Amazon Prime)
For this spooky episode, we're talking about The new Amazon Prime series Lore. Also, Alex has a lot of lunches and Ashley's got a costume dilemma.
October 30, 2017
Brooklyn 99 (w/ Brentraptor)
We sat down with a fantastic new guest to talk about Brooklyn 99, and it was a more fraught discussion than you might think. Also, Ashley invented a new hair treatment and ALEX'S BOOK IS OUT!!!!
October 16, 2017
The Myth Of Man
This episode is a special sneak peek at Alex's forthcoming chapbook "The Myth of Man," plus we finally followed up on Solid State. Also, Ashley got a new rock and Alex wandered the outside world.
October 5, 2017
Hannibal (NBC)
At long last, Ashley got to yammer about her favorite show in the world, so this one ran a little long. Also, Alex shoots aliens and Ashley got (temporarily) stranded at the beach.
October 5, 2017
Game Of Thrones Bonus
Things got a little out of hand, and we ended up with a whole other episode. This is it! It's all GoT S7 finale nonsense, and we know it's what you crave.
October 1, 2017
The Adventure Zone (Balance)
Buckle your fantasy seat belts, because we're taking off for The Adventure Zone! Also, Alex is publishing a book, and Ashley is spending even more time in that closet.
September 30, 2017
Guilty Pleasures (w/ Allie)
This time we've brought on another guest and the topic is our own guilty pleasures, so you can make fun of us for the stuff we like. Also, Alex and Allie went shopping and Ashley escaped from a room.
September 30, 2017
A topic that should be dead and buried has risen from the grave to plague us. Also, Alex went on a boat and Ashley puts small girls in car trunks (not really).
September 30, 2017
Jonathan Coulton's Solid State
This time it's a deep dive onto Jonathan Coulton's recent album Solid State. We're talking internet trolls, pictures of cats, and mankind's relationship to technology and each other.
September 12, 2017
Queer Web Series
What's better than a web series? A queer web series! This time we're talking about The Outs and The Feels. Mean girls and soft boys. Also, Alex has different hair and Ashley cannot stop saying TRUE.
September 12, 2017
Inglorious Basterds
Things are a little different this time, as we drill down on one particular piece of media: Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Also, Ashley had a birthday, and Alex has big news.
September 12, 2017
Bonus Episode 7
We just had too many funny things to say! Here's the rest on Wild Wild West, The Borgias, and more.
September 12, 2017
Historical Fiction
Historical fiction is the topic of the day, as we contemplate the difficult balance between factual integrity and good storytelling.
September 12, 2017
Overwatch Anniversary
We look back on what Blizzard did so, so right to make Overwatch the phenomenon that it is. Also, we talk about how tiny infants are and Pikachu's character arc.
September 12, 2017
Bonus Episode 5.1
Stuff left on the cutting room floor of episode 5 for not being about comics, including smoochable boy faces and cancelled TV shows.
September 10, 2017
Queer Comics - Episode 5
We're talking queer comics, the history of LGBTQA+ representation in comics, and our favorite queer heroes. Also, we've got mixed feelings on the Wachowskis, as well as dogs.
September 10, 2017
Bonus Episode 4.1
More than we ever wanted to know about Twitter's thoughts on Jeff Goldblum, and Sonic's new family.
September 10, 2017
Nostalgia - 4 (w/ Zoodle)
Our first guest episode! We talk about nostalgia in new video games and other media with Dillon, aka. Zoodle, who may or may not have gotten on the show thanks to nepotism.
September 10, 2017
Bonus Episode 3.1 - Star Wars
We ended up talking about Star Wars for a long time after episode 3, and dumb jokes were enjoyed by all.
September 10, 2017
Representation - Episode 3
We drilled down on the topic of representation and diversity in Hollywood. Buckle up, this is rocky terrain. We mostly looked at Power Rangers (2017) and Ghost in the Shell (2017).
September 10, 2017
Bonus Episode 2.1
Some rants cut from episode 2, including romantic misadventures with aliens and why Sherlock is dumb.
September 10, 2017
Adaptation - Episode 2
We talk about adaptations of classics, and get a little sidetracked at times. Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and more are on the table.
September 10, 2017
Salutations - Episode 1
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September 10, 2017