American history is built on ingenuity, independence and the willingness to believe in the impossible.
In 2012, the miniseries The Men Who Built America aired on the History Channel. It told the story of five American titans of business who through their individual contributions, changed the way the people of this country lived.
I have mixed feelings about this particular miniseries. It’s educational for sure, but not as good as other miniseries that have aired on this channel. I would have also appreciated to see a greater diversity of stories other than five Caucasian males.
Bringing the main characters to the screen are Sophie Grace (Kristy Thomas), Momona Tamada (Claudia Kishi), Malia Baker (Mary Anne Spier), Shay Rudolph (Stacey McGill), Xochitl Gomez (Dawn Schafer), Vivian Watson (Mallory Pike), and Anais Lee (Jessi Ramsey).
I started watching initially for the nostalgia factor and was immediately sucked in. Though I was watching with adult eyes and adult experiences, my former thirteen year old self was watching it with me. It was still the BSC I knew and loved, but with a modern sensibility. I think what makes it feel like BSC with a 2020 twist was the casting. Choosing non-white actors for the roles of Mary Anne and Dawn was a brilliant decision. It was also a brilliant decision to cast Alicia Silverstone as Liz Thomas-Brewer, which made me feel very old.
I absolutely recommend it.
The Baby-Sitters Club is available for streaming on Netflix.
For centuries, humans have made up stories of mythical creatures found in the oceans. Though we live in the 21st century in which science and logic tell us otherwise, there are still stories of what could be swimming beneath the waves.
River Monsters aired on Animal Planet from 2009-2017. The show follows angler and biologist Jeremy Wade as he investigates stories of creatures who existence has been whispered about, but never fully confirmed.
This is not my favorite show on the Animal Planet schedule. However, it is an interesting program. Utilizing both science and the myths, he tells a story in a way that is down to earth and recognizes the ecological importance of the animal to its environment.
In the history of the Earth, there are only two species that have been at the top of the animal food chain: humans and the dinosaurs. Science has told us how and when the dinosaurs disappeared. But what happens when humanity disappears?
Between 2008 and 2010, the Life After People aired on the History Channel. Asking the hypothetical question of what if people no longer existed, the series told the story of the world we would have left behind and how it would change.
I think this series is both interesting and eye-opening. I hate to say it, we humans think that we rule Mother Nature. The reality is the other way around. The world we have built is as fallible as a house of cards. Until we are able to admit that, we will never completely understand our place in the world.
When one transcends from ordinary human to legend, we forget that this person is still a human being.
Fosse/Verdon premiered last year on F/X. Stepping in the gigantic shoes of the late Broadway legends that are Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon are Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. Told over the course of multiple decades, the series follows the professional and personal ups and downs of the main characters.
Though they separated (but never legally divorced) in 1971, Gwen and Bob were joined at the hip. She stayed by his side as he cheated on her with multiple women, dealt with addiction issues, and never truly faced his demons. On his end, he relied on her as a respected professional collaborator who understood his unique way of working.
This is one of the best miniseries that I’ve seen in a long time. Both Rockwell and Williams are flawless in their roles, humanizing these giants of the entertainment industry.
No one is without a past, for better or for worse. Ideally, we should be able to learn from the past and watch it disappear in the rearview mirror. But that is not always the case.
Beecham House premiered last night on PBS. This six-part miniseries takes place in India at the end of the 18th century. The viewer is introduced to John Beecham (Tom Bateman). A former employee of the British East India Company, John is eager to move on from his troubled past. But that is easier said than done.
I really enjoyed the first episode. As the lead character, John is compelling, complicated, and human. Filmed on location in India, the setting adds a level of reality that is often not seen in dramas set in this period. It could have been conceived as a technicolor, fairytale-ish land that can only come out of a dream. Authentically re-creating India as it was in the late 18th century helps to draw the viewer in further to the narrative and the characters.
A good meal is more than the components that make up the dish. It is an experience to savor and treasure.
The Best Thing I Ever Ate has been part of the Food Network schedule since 2009. The show takes viewers across the country as the network’s stars talk about a favorite restaurant and a specific meal that makes their mouth water.
I’m not a foodie by an stretch of the imagination. But I will admit that some of the dishes look so good that it makes me want to buy a plane or bus ticket to try it.
Behind every icon is a human being with the same joys and flaws as the rest of us. But when this person becomes that icon, their humanity is often forgotten.
The Crown premiered in 2016 on Netflix. It tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy). The series starts with her wedding to Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh (Matt Smith) in 1947. It appears the young couple has many years ahead of them to live as ordinarily as they can. Then Elizabeth’s father, King George VI (Jared Harris) dies. Thrust into the role of Queen, she is walking the fine line that many working mothers do between the job and taking care of your family. If that was not enough, her younger sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) can only be described as a rebel who has all of the luxuries and none of the responsibilities the sovereign.
I am only the beginning of the second season. To say that I am hooked is an understatement. As both a history buff and a feminist, I find this fictional Queen Elizabeth to fascinating. She wants to be an ordinary wife and mother. But fate had other plans for her.
Even in the best of times, the selling and buying of homes has the potential to be a crap shoot. Especially when the purpose of buying a home is to fix it up and hopefully sell it for profit.
Flipping Vegas aired on A&E from 2011-2014. The show followed the careers of real estate investors Scott and Amie Yancey. They earn their bread by buying dilapidated homes, flipping them, and then selling them to new homeowners. As anyone who watches this sub-genre knows, the process is not as simple as television makes it out to be.
What is most interesting for me is not the process of the home renovation, but the conflicts between Amie and Scott. In most shows like this where the main attraction is a married couple, most couples have a cohesive vision for the final product. Amie and Scott don’t always agree, which I think makes the show unique.
For some in college, the experience is incomplete without at least the attempt of pledging a sorority or a fraternity. But does that experience live up the images seen on the big and small screens?
Back in the early 2000’s MTV included Sorority Life (2002-2004) and Fraternity Life (2003-2005) on their schedule. Both series followed pledges and members of a handful of sororities and fraternities from across the country.
When both programs originally aired, I was the target audience. It was easy for me to get hooked on both series. But two decades later, both programs are showing their age and the questions that come with how real a “reality show” is.