Category Archives: Television

The Cook of Castamar Review

Cross-class romantic relationships are one of the basic narratives with the romance genre. The key for success is for the narrative to stand out from the pack.

The Cook of Castamar premiered recently on Netflix. Based on the book of the same name by Fernando Muñez, it is the story of unlikely love. In the early 18th century, Diego de Castamar, Duke of Castamar (Roberto Enriquez) is a widowed aristocrat who lost his pregnant wife when her horse threw her over. Spending nearly two years grieving her unexpected death, he is brought back to life by the exquisite meals of his new cook, who he starts to fall for. Clara Belmonte (Michelle Jenner) has a talent for creating food that memories are made of. She is also agoraphobic and still reeling from her father’s execution. It is an attraction that neither saw coming.

The concept this series was impossible to ignore. I loved the idea of court intrigue, sex used as a tool to gain or maintain power, and a blossoming love that is not exactly welcomed. I also appreciated that the extra narrative layer created by the female lead’s mental illness. It is rarely seen in this genre. Unfortunately, it did not live up to it’s promise. I was waiting for a Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester spark which never materialized. After watching a few episodes, I gave up. The slow burn was too slow for me.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

The Cook of Castamar is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, Mental Health, Netflix, Television, TV Review

Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury Review

In the Jewish faith, Psalm 137 has the following lines:

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget [her cunning]/ If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

The new six part CNN miniseries, Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury premiered last night. Over the course of the six episodes Sundays, the program tells the story of the city of Jerusalem via six key battles that changed the fate of the city and the region. Combining re-enactments with interviews with historians and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars, the viewer is given a 360 degree picture of it’s past, it’s present, and perhaps, a glimpse of its future.

The first episode focused on the glory days of King Saul, King David, and the downfall of ancient Israel after the death of King Solomon. I enjoyed the first episode. If nothing else, it proved that humanity has not changed one bit. Externally, the world may look different, but inside, it is the same as it ever was. It is also, I think a pathway to understanding what has come before us so we can create a better world for future generations.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury airs on CNN on Sunday night at 10PM.

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Filed under History, International News, Television, TV Review, World News

My Unorthodox Life Review

Walking away from the family we were raised in and the world that we have known our entire lives is not easy. In the world of Orthodox Judaism, the term is called “off the derech“.

The new Netflix reality show, My Unorthodox Life, follows the life of former Orthodox Jew and businesswoman Julia Haart. Living in New York City with her second husband and three of her four children, the viewer is introduced to the tug of war between Haart’s previous life in Monsey and her current day to day life.

After watching a few episodes, I can understand why some Orthodox Jewish women are annoyed by how their community is portrayed, I think the viewer has to take into account that this is Haart’s perspective. I like the mental health aspect of the series, addressing how many women in conservative or fundamentalist may feel trapped by the constraints of their gender and the rules of their gender. I also liked how positively Judaism is portrayed. Though Haart is no longer Orthodox, she is still Jewish and not afraid to be open about it. It is educational without hitting the audience over the head.

It has the gloss of a Bravo reality show, but it is slightly less trashy and not as much of a brain drain as other programs in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

My Unorthodox Life is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Feminism, Mental Health, Netflix, New York City, Television, TV Review

Flashback Friday: America’s Funniest Home Videos (1989-Present)

There is something personal about home movies. They give us an insight into the family as only one made by a loved one can. It can also be incredibly funny.

America’s Funniest Home Videos has been on the ABC schedule since its premiere in 1989. It was originally hosted by Bob Saget (Full House). The program’s current host is Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). Viewers send in funny videos of pranks and unplanned physical comedy. Every week, the producers choose the best of the submissions and the inhouse audience votes on the top three. The winner receives a cash prize.

I haven’t watched this show in a long time, but it still makes me laugh. It is one of those programs that you can sit down with the family and watch without having to explain adult concepts to young children.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

History of the Sitcom Review

The beautiful thing about art is that it is never static. It adapts to both time and culture, giving creators the ability to match what is going on in the wider world.

The new eight part mini-series CNN miniseries, History of the Sitcom, premiered on Sunday night. Each episode focuses on how the sitcom evolved over time and reflects on how it explores the different aspects of our lives from family to work to school, etc. Interviewing actors, writers, and producers, it delves into how this genre has shaped American culture.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. The first one focused on the evolution of the family sitcom and how it has evolved from the white, suburban Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show programs that populated the television schedule of the 1950’s. The second one talked about how sex, sexuality, the LGBTQ community, and the different variations of gender have been seen by audiences.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

History of the Sitcom airs on Sunday night at 9PM on CNN.

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Filed under History, Television, TV Review

I Appreciate Sha’Carri Richardson’s Maturity

The mark of an adult, in my opinion, is the ability to admit when one has made a mistake and accept the consequences.

On Friday, Olympic hopeful Sha’Carri Richardson spoke to The Today Show, She apologized for drug use that led to her one month suspension from competing in the trials for this month’s Olympics.

I admire Ms. Richardson for accepting her punishment with grace and maturity. While I understand that she was grieving for her mother, what she did was wrong. Instead of taking a tantrum (unlike a certain former President) in public, she put on her big girl pants, and let the chips fall where they may.

It is a lesson we can all learn, regardless of how old or young we are.

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Filed under Books, Life, National News, Politics, Television

Bill Cosby’s Release is Both Wrong and Disgusting

Once upon a time (the 1980’s and early 1990’s to be specific), Bill Cosby and his family sitcom, The Cosby Show was everywhere. He was America’s TV dad, breaking boundaries and telling stories that we all could relate to, regardless of skin color.

Cut to nearly 40 years later; Cosby was a felon, found guilty of sexual assault. But as of yesterday, he was released from prison due to the accusation that his due process rights were violated.

Adding fuel to the fire, his TV wife, Phylicia Rashad initially supported him by the following tweet on Wednesday:

“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

By Thursday, it had been retracted and replaced with another tweet.

Starts at 6:09

This is why the #Metoo movement exists. To make sure men like Cosby are given their day in court and then locked in jail for the rest of their natural lives. While I understand that Rashad and Cosby have been friends and colleagues for years, she should not be excusing his behavior. She should be calling him out on what he did and standing by the victims.

As a response to her initial tweet, Howard University, where Rashad is a Dean of the College of Fine arts, has received complaints from students, parents, and potential students. Honestly, I don’t blame them. By condoning him, she sends the message that these kinds of act are not just acceptable, but those found guilty will get just a slap on the wrist.

When it comes to rape and sexual assault, we have finally reached the place in which the victims are believed and the perpetrators get what is coming to them. Bill Cosby’s release is not just wrong and disgusting, it is a cold reminder why we still need #Metoo.

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Filed under Feminism, National News, Television

Throwback Thursday: Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist (2016-Present)

The news does not stop when the traditional work week ends.

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist premiered back in 2016 and has since become a regular part of the NBC schedule. A weekend offshoot of the long running talk show The Today Show, host Willie Geist walks the viewer through headlines of the day.

It is a pleasure to wake up to this show on Sunday morning. Geist has an every person quality to him, making it seem as if he is having a one on one conversation with the audience instead talking into a camera beaming into millions of televisions across the country.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong (A Podcast from Rotten Tomatoes) Podcast Review

The good thing about the movies (or any art form), is that it is subjective. What one person likes, the other may not like. Which can lead to some very interesting discussions.

In the fall of 2020, the website Rotten Tomatoes released a new podcast. Entitled Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong (A Podcast from Rotten Tomatoes), hosts Mark Ellis, Jacqueline Coley, and guests take a deep dive into our favorite movies and television shows. Some are hated, some are loved, and others are somewhere in between.

I discovered this podcast recently and I am thrilled that it exists. I can hear the fun that the hosts and the guests are having. Its akin to getting together with friends and having a lively discussion about our favorite (and not so favorite) films and television shows.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Movies, Podcast, Podcast Review, Television

How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived Book Review

The key element of a memoir is voice. The reader should be able to hear the voice of the writer through the page, as if they are in conversation with one another.

How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, the memoir by actor Leslie Jordan, was published in April. As Covid-19 spread around the world last year, Jordan took to Instagram to share his thoughts about being home all day. He became a viral sensation, drawing in millions of fans with his own unique brand of Southern charm and telling stories that only he can tell.

I loved the book. It is a joy to read. He is as delightful, entertaining, and authentic on the page as he is on social media. I first noticed him when he played Beverly Leslie, the frenemy of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) on Will and Grace. Of the many side characters, I think I laughed the most when he came on screen.

It is a wonderful book and definitely worth the read.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Television