Tag Archives: Hulu

RIP Betty White

To be the first in anything is a difficult task. This often applies when one is part of an oppressed group or a minority who is lacking in opportunity.

Betty White passed away yesterday. She was less than a month from her 100th birthday.

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 The Golden 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.

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Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi: Holiday Edition Review

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.

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Do I recommend it? Yes.

Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi: Holiday Edition is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Y: The Last Man Review

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 Man airs on FX on Monday and is available for streaming on Hulu.

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The Spanish Princess Review

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 2019 television series, The Spanish Princess, told the story of Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope). History tell us that she was the first wife Henry VIII (Ruairi O’Connor). Often seen as an embittered older woman who loses her husband to Anne Boleyn (Alice Nokes), her story has been marginalized in favor of her younger replacement.

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.

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It’s Time to Break Britney Spear’s Conservatorship

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.

In response, the #FreeBritney movement and the Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, fans have been advocating for Spears to have at least some control over her life.

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.

#FreeBritney

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The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story Review

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.

As a child of the 1980’s and 1990’s, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was pure nostalgia for me. Talking about shows like All That, You Can’t Do That on Television, Hey Dude, Doug, etc was like going back to a simpler time when life was not as complicated.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story is available for streaming on Hulu.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Review

*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 4th season of The Handmaid’s Tale premiered on Wednesday on Hulu.

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.

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Quo Vadis, Aida? Movie Review

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, Aida is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Kid 90 Movie Review

Being a teenager is hard enough. Adding in Hollywood to the mix is a dangerous cocktail that has the potential for unwanted consequences.

The new documentary Kid 90 premiered last night on Hulu. It follows former child actor Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) as she interviews her friends who were also child stars growing up in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Reading from her old diaries and revisiting video footage that is decades old, she recounts her own teenage years with honesty that is sometimes missing from our memories of that period in our lives.

I enjoyed this movie. It revealed that the teenage experience is universal, regardless of where we are growing up. It also spoke of mental health issues and how being a kid actor can mess with your head in ways that are unique to showbusiness.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Kid 90 is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Throwback Thursday: Brad Meltzer’s Decoded (2010-2012)

History is full of myths, half-truths, and stories that over time have been embellished or altered in some way.

Brad Meltzer’s Decoded aired on the History Channel from 2010-2012. Hosted by writer and investigator Brad Meltzer,┬áthe series follows a group of history detectives as they look into a variety of symbols, secret codes, and conspiracy theories.

Though the show has been off on the air for nearly a decade, it is available for streaming on Hulu. I watched one episode a while back. As a history nerd, I am all for exploring the narrative beyond the accepted facts. The problem is that it was just background noise. I enjoyed it, but I can’t say that I am excited to sit down and binge the entire series.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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