Best New TV Shows of 2021

*I apologize for the delay in posting. I should have written this before New Year’s Eve.

  1. Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as Loki, the complicated immortal who has become much more than the standard antagonist. Forced into new circumstances, he goes on a journey that forever changes him.
  2. The Wonder Years: This reboot of the beloved 1980’s/1990’s series is just as poignant as its predecessor. The choice of making the main character and his family African-American only adds to its relevancy.
  3. Law & Order: Organized Crime: This spinoff of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit starring Chris Meloni as returning Detective Elliot Stabler is a thrilling and spine tingling hour of television.
  4. Ordinary Joe: This new NBC series is the story of one man and three distinct life paths before him. Told concurrently and using different colors for each decision, is is a reminder of how one choice can affect the rest of our lives.
  5. Impeachment: American Crime Story: The latest chapter of this long running F/X series focuses on the affair between Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) and former President Clinton (Clive Owen) and the impeachment trial that followed. Instead of focusing on Clinton, the story is about the women who were directly affected by his less than honorable actions.
  6. WandaVision: This first foray by the MCU via DisneyPlus is everything it promised to be. Wanda Maxmioff and Vision (Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) are living in family sitcom wedded bliss. But it not what it seems to be. With a star making turn by Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, this series is a must see.
  7. All Creatures Great and Small: Ths unexpectedly Masterpeice/PBS series is adorable and charming. A rookie vetenarian starts his career in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s and grows in unexpected ways. The new season starts tonight at 9PM ET/ 8PM CT.
  8. Atlantic Crossing: This second Masterpeice/PBS series tells the story of the friendship/supposed affair between Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and Crown Princess Martha of Sweden during World War II. Forgotten for nearly a century, this tale of one woman’s drive to save her nation is truly worth watching.
  9. The Book of Boba Fett: This latest entry into the Star Wars universe from DisneyPlus just premiered on December 29th. Though only two episodes have been released, it is already asking questions that are begging for answers.
  10. Behind Her Eyes: Based on the book by Sarah Pinborough, this six part Netflix series about a married man’s affair with his secretary has a delicious ending that is jaw dropping and completely out of left field. Few endings have wowed me as this did.
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Impeachment: American Crime Story Review

Back in the late 1990’s, the impeachment trial of then President Bill Clinton was everywhere. His affair with Monica Lewinsky and the scandal that followed could not be ignored. One would have to be either living under a rock or under a certain age to at least not catch a whiff of what was coming from Washington DC.

The third season of the FX series, American Crime Story, focuses on the whirlwind that surrounded the Clinton administration following the rumor that he had an extramarital affair with Lewinsky, who was then an intern in her early 20’s. Clive Owen plays the former President. The four main female players are Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco), Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson), and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford).

What I like about this series is that it takes the sexism that was part and parcel of this this entire affair and turns it on its head. Nowadays, Clinton has been politically lionized in some circles for what he did while in office. But it is easy to forget that his reputation was that of a hound dog who was not above forgetting his marriage vows. The focus is not on him, but the women around them. Depending on the sources, Lewinsky (who is one of the producers of this season), Clinton, Tripp, and Jones are either mocked, ignored, or vilified for their behavior during this period. Instead of being portrayed as 2D stereotypes, these women are fully rounded characters and finally allowed to tell this story from their perspective.

The cast is fantastic. Owens disappears under a prosthetic nose and a southern accent. Feldstein gives her character the breadth and depth that she finally deserves after being a punchline for twenty plus years. Paulson’s Tripp is sort of an anti-hero. The viewer may not agree with the decisions she made, but we learn more of her than the headlines portrayed back then. For their parts, Falco and Ashford are equally good, trying to hold their own in a world that does not do them justice.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Impeachment: American Crime Story airs on FX on Tuesday night at 10PM.

Katie Hill, Bill Clinton, and the Hypocrisy of Sexual Politics

Morally speaking, we know that cheating on one’s spouse or significant other is wrong. We also know that having a sexual or romantic relationship with one who works for you is wrong. But that does not preclude us from doing either.

The latest news from Capitol Hill is that Representative Katie Hill (D-California) resigned because she was accused of sleeping with a congressional staffer and having a relationship with a congressional aide. If that was not enough to get the halls of power talking, nude pictures of her were released to the press.

A little more than twenty years ago, former President Bill Clinton (D-Arkansas) was at the height of his popularity. He was also dogged by accusations of sexual assault and whispers that he was cheating on his wife. Then he got involved with Monica Lewinsky, a young White House intern. Those of us who are above a certain age can easily recall the political hell that broke lose during that time.

The disgusting hypocrisy is that while the former Representative’s political career and reputation are in ruins, President Clinton is still held in high regard. This case also brings revenge porn once more into the spotlight, an issue that desperately needs local and state and national legislation to stop once and for all.

It’s time to make it clear that this conduct, regardless of who is accused of it, is wrong. Those who choose to act in this manner will be duly punished. But until that day comes when women are given their due and men get off scot-free, the hypocrisy will remain.

Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment Book Review

Since the beginning of human history, men have used sex to gain power over women. But thanks the hard work of generations of women, the power imbalance is starting to even out.

In the new book, Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment, by Linda Hirshman, explores how women have fought back against sexual harassment and have slowly began to win the war.

Ms. Hirshman starts her book in the 1970’s, when women began to talk to each other and organize against men who took advantage of their female subordinates. She then moves forward in time highlighting a number of accusations of rape and/or sexual harassment against prominent men and the women who were brave enough to go public with the accusations. The list includes the 1991 Clarence Thomas Hearings and the accusations by Anita Hill, the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton Scandal, and the multiple women claimed that Harvey Weinstein took advantage of them sexually.

Reckoning is a perfect title for this book. While telling the story of these brave and bold women, Ms. Hirshman inspires the reader to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. She also pulls no punches, calling out politicians on both sides of the aisle, women who stay silent and men who continue to perpetuate this heinous act.

I absolutely recommend it.

Thoughts On Bill Clinton’s #Metoo Comments

A Presidential Impeachment is history making. 20 years, Bill Clinton was nearly impeached for lying about the sexual liaison he had with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

While promoting his new book, The President Is Missing, (co-written with James Patterson) on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, President Clinton was asked about the scandal.

 

I believe that we have to take the following into consideration when passing judgement on President Clinton:

  1. He was not the first and will not be the last public official who is caught having an extramarital affair.
  2. An older male manager taking sexual advantage of a younger female employee is nothing new. Working women throughout history have dealt with this problem for an untold number of generations.
  3. We didn’t have the language or the perspective in 1998 that we have today. The #Metoo movement has shined a necessarily uncomfortable spotlight on the issue of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace.
  4. Unlike other men accused of a similar crime (especially you know who), President Clinton appears from my perspective to be genuinely contrite about his actions.

However, his apologies cannot and will not absolve him of his actions. While his reputation has recovered, the reputations of the women linked to the scandal will forever be tainted. Monica Lewinsky will never lead a normal life. Hillary Clinton perhaps could have perhaps won the 2016 Presidential election, if not for her husband’s past misdeeds.

I don’t know if I will ever completely forgive President Clinton. But at the same time, I appreciate the apology and his support for the #Metoo movement. If there is any silver lining in this story, it is that the #Metoo movement is not going away. It is only getting stronger and will continue to grow until women are treated equal to men.

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