She was more than a legendary actress and comedienne who entertained generations of audiences. She was a trailblazer who opened the door to future generations of female performers.
My first introduction to Ms. White was watching TheGolden Girls. After my paternal grandfather passed away, my sister and I would spend Saturday nights with our grandmother. The Golden Girls was regular viewing for us. It goes without saying back then that many of the jokes were over my head. To this day, I treasure these memories and laugh out loud during reruns (which are available for viewing on Hulu).
It takes a smart performer to play a dumb character. Ms. White was clearly one smart cookie. Rose Nylund is a woman with a big heart who was not the brightest bulb in the box.
When she hosted Saturday Night Live a few years, it was a landmark episode as far as I am concerned. It was not hard to see the throughline between Ms. White’s career and the women who have followed in her footsteps.
May her memory be a blessing and may she continue to make us laugh. Z”L.
Quo Vadis, Aida?: This harrowing tale of one woman’s choice to save her family or save as many people as she can during the Bosnian War is as powerful as a film can get.
Mass: Two sets of parents meet after one of their sons has killed the other in a school shooting to figure what happened. Along the way, they are forced to answer questions that are painful and difficult.
Spencer: This fictional take on Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) and what might have occured during Christmas in the early 1990’s is a unique take on the myth of the late royal.
Belfast: A young boy is growing up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the late 1960’s. As he starts to transition from a child to a young adult, he begins to realize that nothing is ever a simple as it seems to be.
Black Widow: After ten years, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) finally gets the movie she should have gotten. Trying to atone for her past while living in the present, she must face reality and make up for mistakes.
Framing Britney Spears: This Hulu documentary took viewers in the life and career of Britney Spears and how it has changed since her father took control over both.
West Side Story: Steven Spielberg’s adapation of this beloved musical takes it into the 21st century while retaing its message about prejudice and lack of opportunity.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye: Jessica Chastain not only brings Tammy Faye Bakker back to life, she reveals the real person behind the punchline.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: This latest addition to the MCU is more than just the first all Asian cast. It is the story of a complicated father/son relationship and a young man who cannot run from his fate.
Moxie: A shy teenage girl stands up to the sexist bullshit at school and empowers her fellow female students in the process.
We can learn a lot about a specific culture or group by simply observing and tasting the meals that are served. These dishes speak to the history, the values, and the traditions that have stayed with these specific people over many generations.
The new season of Padma Lakshmi‘s Hulu series, Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi, explores the unique holiday traditions of different Americans represented by the food they serve. Each episode focuses on one holiday and tells the story of that holiday via the food that is served and those who eat it.
I have not watched the entire series. But what I have watched, I have enjoyed tremendously. It was made with joy, respect, and the love of a good nosh. If the viewer learns nothing else, it is that despite our outer differences, we are all human and underneath, the same.
For my part, the first episode explored Hanukkah and reminded me how much I love a good latke.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi: Holiday Edition is available for streaming on Hulu.
The truth about men and women is that neither is better or has more rights than the other. Both are equal and both deserve the same treatment. But it is only in recent memory has this idea start to take hold and become accepted practice.
The new FX series, Y: The Last Man, is based on the comic book of the same name. It is set in a futuristic world in which all men have suddenly died. The only man to survive is Yorick Brown (Ben Schnetzer). With Senator turned President Jennifer Brown (Diane Lane) in control of country, a new order must be established. While Jennifer has her hands on the wheel of the nation, Yorick is on a voyage to understand why every other male is deceased and he is still in the land of the living.
The concept of this show is certainly interesting. The idea of women being forced to stand on their own two feet is always an interesting one. The problem is that the slow burn is too slow. I would have preferred less of a buildup to the inciting incident instead of waiting to the end of the first episode.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
Y: The Last Manairs on FX on Monday and is available for streaming on Hulu.
In the fairy tales we were told as children, the stories always ended in a happily ever after. The prince and princess walked into the sunset with nothing but a bright and easy future ahead of them. The reality of that life is far more complicated than childhood tale could create.
The series starts when the teenage princess travels to England to marry. Arthur Tudor, the Prince of Wales (August Imrie). Their marriage was suppose to cement the relationship between England and Spain and create a figurative wall against the power of the French. But Arthur died young, leaving Catherine not only a widow, but childless. Without the heir to the English throne growing inside of her, her fate is unknown.
The solution to the problem is for Catherine to marry Henry. But the question of her virginity looms over their relationship. It is a concern that hovers over the rest of their years together, even after the birth of their daughter (and only surviving child), the future Mary I of England.
The program introduces the audience first to the young girl who has been trained from birth to be a future queen. She then becomes the woman who leads the country when her husband goes off to war and finally, a Queen who realizes that both the man and the crown she loves and will soon be slipping from her fingers.
I have never read the books, so I cannot comment on what changes may have been made between the page and the screen. Either way, the program is fantastic. This world is brought to life with all of the colors and complexities that only a well done BPD (British Period Drama) can bring to audiences. Supported by a fantastic cast, this show is one that is worthy of our television viewing time.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Spanish Princess is available for streaming on Hulu.
There is no doubt that Britney Spears is an icon. She is one of those few performers whose name and work is instantly recognizable. It doesn’t take much to conjure up her image or one of her songs.
Since 2008, Spears has been under a conservatorship led by her father. At the time, it made sense. Given her the public mental health breakdown, it was obvious that someone needed to step in. To sit back and do nothing would have irresponsible. It was supposed to be temporary, until she was able to function as an adult. But somewhere along the way, it became more about using her a cash cow while treating her as a child incapable of taking care of herself.
It’s time for the conservatorship to end. If not wholly, reduced down so that she has some say in her personal and professional life. I also have to wonder if she were a man, would the treatment been different? I think so. There have been a quite a few male celebrities who also live with mental illness and have been open about it. They were not legally and personally shackled down as Spears has been.
There are two ways to create children’s television. The first is to talk down to the audience while advertising an inordinate amount of merchandise. The second is reach the children on their level and respect them as human beings.
The documentary,The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story, was released in 2018. The movie tells the story of the children television network, Nickelodeon, from its inception in the late 1970’s to the powerhouse it became in the 1990’s. Interviewing execs, writers, creators, and actors, it is the story of a channel that was ahead of its time and continues to push boundaries today.
*Warning: the post contains spoilers about the end of the third season. Read at your own risk if you are still catching up.
The anticipated release of a new season of a favorite television series is both exciting and nerve wracking. It has to build on the narrative of the previous seasons while opening the door to wherever the new season may go.
The first episode starts off right where the 3rd season ended. The plane full of women and children has safely landed in Canada. In Gilead, the repercussions of June/Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) rebellion have created a ripple effect. She has become a Moses like figure to the fugitive handmaids who are desperate for freedom. The authorities in Gilead have a different take on her actions and have deemed her to be enemy #1.
In Canada, Commander and Serena Joy Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) are in the custody of the government and bickering. Meanwhile, June/Offred’s husband, Luke Bankhole (O-T Fagbenle) and her friends who are refugees, are dealing with the consequences of her actions from another angle.
So far, the first three episodes are fantastic. It is dark, gripping, and completely intoxicating. Next Wednesday and episode 4 cannot come soon enough.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Handmaid’s Tale is available for streaming on Hulu. New episodes are released every Wednesday.
When the stakes are life and death, the choices that are open to us are nothing short of impossible. Regardless of the the path that one takes, we know that someone will lose their life.
The new movie, Quo Vadis, Aida?, takes place in the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war in the 1990’s. History tells us that over 8000 Bosniaks Muslim men and boys were murdered by the Bosnian army. Aida Selmanagic (Jasna Djuricic) is a translator in the summer of 1995. The Bosnians have just entered the town and are killing civilians who have not already escaped. Thousands upon thousands have made their way to the United Nations compound, looking for safety. But only a handful are able to enter.
Aida is able to get her husband and sons into the compound. But with many more outside, she has a horrible choice to make. She can either put her family first or save as many as she can.
If I were to compile a list of the best films of 2021 today, Quo Vadis, Aida would be near the top of the list. Djuricic gives a heartbreaking and tour de force performance. Her anxiety comes out of the screen immediately, as does the imminent feeling of danger.
When it comes to movies about war and trying to save lives, most of the protagonists are men. The fact that the lead character is a female who is a full fledged human being makes the narrative that much more powerful.
I felt myself getting angry at how useless the UN officials were. Whatever attempts they made to keep the peace were easily destroyed. I also saw similarities to The Holocaust, in which hate and murder was the norm.
Do I recommend it? Without a doubt, yes.
Quo Vadis, Aidais available for streaming on Hulu.
There are two equally important keys to success: talent and hard work.
The 4th season of National Geographic Channel’s Genius series follows the life and career of the late Aretha Franklin. The first three episodes cuts back and forth from the early fifties, when the future superstar is a preteen to the sixties when the adult Aretha (Cynthia Erivo) is on the brink of superstardom. As a young girl, Franklin was a singing wunderkind. Raised by her enigmatic preacher father C.L. Franklin (Courtney B. Vance), she witnesses both his devotion to the church and his less than moral extracurricular activities. In the present, she is not only dealing with work and motherhood, but her sometimes shaky marriage to her husband/manager, Ted White (Malcolm Barrett).
Watching the first three episodes, I feel like I know who Aretha Franklin was, as a whole person. Not just the image presented in the press. Looking back, she represents badly needed change in this country for both women and people of color.