The D in Duchess (Series Thoughts: The Duchessm Netflix)

Netflix kept on recommending ‘The Duchess’ to me – via email, via the home screen when I log on – that it tired me out and I just pressed play without knowing ANYTHING from it. Well, to my surprise, it is (kinda) British so I fell in love with right away.

It’s about a mom (played by Katherine Ryan) who is raising her school-age child, and she is saucy. She curses, she fights with other moms in her school, but she does it all in shiny sequiny designer clothes. So what’s not to love?

And in the first episode, she gets the realization that she wants another child, because her first one turns out so well. She tries the local sperm bank, but is disillusioned by the teenage boys depositing sperm. So could it be her kinda boyfriend Evan? Nah, she doesn’t want to mess up what they have by adding fatherhood to its plate, so she speaks to her daughter’s father, a lapsed boy band member, because he did such a good job with their first child. This is a fun and witty show – sometimes crass but they say it with a British accent so its classier! I can feel the six episodes fly already.

Her World (Television Thoughts: Cilla, ITV)

When I saw the recent London production of ‘Funny Girl’ I was mesmerized by its star, Sheridan Smith. She has that unenviable role of taking over a role that is so iconic and identified with someone string and popular. But I do think that Smith made that role her own. I know that there are differing opinions about her Fanny Brice, but I thought she was funny i. that role, and sang the role differently – maybe by choice because there’s no one who could outsing young Barbra.

Cilla is an ITV miniseries from 2014, before Smith did Funny Girl. And here she plays Cilla Black, a British singer in the 60s, of the Petula Clark vein. I know next to nothing about Black, though I should have – she is my kind of singer. This miniseries tells her life, of how she was discovered by Brian Epstein, who also discovered and managed The Beatles. I like the fact that the series isn’t your typical musical biopic – it isn’t one of those success and dark sides one. It shows Black being managed by this guy who later became her husband. He could have had a musical career of his own, but instead made her priority. The only ‘scandal’ is Epstein overdosing on drugs, but with her BBC contract already ready for her signature. Smith is truly wonderful. you get a real sense of Cilla, and she even does her own singing here – wonderful renditions of those 60s songs like ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart,’ and ‘You’re My World.’ I was glued to my screen in all three episodes.

First Comes Love Then Comes Covid (Television Thoughts: Love In The Time of Corona, Freeform)

It had to happen. I am pretty sure we will be getting a whole lot of stories about corona virus, it’s just a matter of when. Freeform has come up with ‘Love In The Time of Corona,’ a four part mini-series about, well, all kinds of love in these pandemic times. It stars actors who are already quarantining together, and it is one of the first ones I have seen that look ‘normal,’ meaning unboxed by Zoom screen limitations.

It is pretty specific – about Angelenos and how they make love fit in the midst of the pandemic, and it is pretty specific too in terms of time – it covers that initial time when we first got locked down. There was still a huge sense of optimism then, there was hope we could still have some semblance of summer, for example. It centers around four stories. I have to say it started out weird, as I wasn’t sure if I was ready to watch these stories yet – everything is still happening outside as I write so i don’t know if watching this would be an ‘escape’ or an aggravation. I need not have worried – the stories are kind of universal, if a bit common. My favorite is about the ‘binary’ guy Oscar who finds out his roommate – a young girl – is in love with him, even though he is pursuing relationships with males. At first I didn’t know where the story was going to end up in as some parts were awkward, but it landed okay, if safe. Leslie Odom Jr plays a man who initially wanted to have another baby until the race cases brought up complications. The stories are all relatable, and pretty to take, and I have to admit I felt ferklempt towards the end. By no means are they deep, but they do touch.

Couples Therapy (Series Thoughts: Smothered, Amazon Prime)

A gay couple in therapy – sounds funny? This series, ‘Smothered’ is on Amazon Prime and it is that type of easy watch – each episode to just about five or ix minutes. In each episode, the same gay couple hashes out their issues with a different therapist (who use different techniques) The series has been described as ‘irreverent’ and ‘laugh out loud funny.’ I certainly have n o problems with both.

It’s an obnoxious show about two obnoxious guys shouting at each other throwing out stupid issues. I used to work next to a couples therapist and I would hear couples shout at each other and this is exactly what it sounds like. It’s realistic, but not anything I would want to spend my time with.

Unapologetic Bitches (Television Thoughts: Vida, Season 3 Finale)

I have been watching Vida since the first episode and now that it has reached its finale, I feel kind of sad. I have been with them these brief years and they somehow felt like friends. If there was one word I can use to describe the people in Vida, I would use unapologetic. These people lived their lives with all the fire and passion one can muster, ad you have to give them credit. Over the yeas, the show has raised a couple of issues – perhaps too much at times – and in the third season, there were more. We see scenes of ICE operatives arresting undocumented people in the middle of the streets, in front of their families, and they even raise the issue that some of these officers are their own people. The relationship between Lyn and Emma is the heart of the show, and though the last scene is a bit open-ended, we get the feeling that everything will be alright – these sisters have each other.

You Owe me (Television Thoughts: Indebted, NBC)

p16935912_b_v8_aaI was only a casual viewer of ‘The Nanny’ but I like Fran Drescher a lot, and I was curious enough to sample her new sitcom on NBC, ‘Indebted.’  She stars with Steven Weber in this multi-camera sitcom about an older couple who finds they are broke so they have to live with their adult child. And it is one of those ‘comedies’ that did not make me even break into a smile. It’s relentlessly dated, and I felt like all the actors were trying too hard, and the weird part is that we have a great slate of actors here, with Adam Pally and Abby Elliot rounding out the cast. It annoyed me at one point, and I just wanted to turn the show off, as it took me the greatest effort to even finish watching thirty or so minutes of the pilot. NBC – you owe me for trying to watch this one.

He Ain’t Heavy… (Mini Series Thoughts: I Know This Much Is True, Episode 1, HBO)

iktmI knew that ‘I Know This Much Is True’ was going to be tough. I remember reading the book during a week-long vacation in Provincetown and what a miserable (and engrossing) read that was. Strangely, though, I do not remember much from the book, except that it was very dark and heavy. I had to get myself in a mod to finally watch the first episode of the mini-series, and I finally did. And boy, was this heavy. Mark Ruffalo plays twins here, and it is a dual role of a lifetime. There’s Thomas, a schizophrenic, who in the beginning of the show is seen at a library where he saws his hand. And there’s Dom, who bears the brunt of his whole family, from his mother’s cancer to his stepfather’s controlling ways. There’s a harrowing scene where Dominic is asked by the doctor as to whether he was giving permission to reattach Thomas’ severed hand. Of course, he wants to do it, but Thomas is screaming at him to please don’t. And as he says later he made a decision to not do it because ‘for once, Thomas once tp have control over something in his life.’  Ruffalo is a great actor, for sure, and maybe it’s just me, but I have to get used to Thomas as hysterical and loud, as Ruffalo is normally more nuanced. It will be really tough for me to continue watching this, as I ask myself, do I need to go through something this bleak in this time of pandemic? But if there is anything that’s luring me back, it will be Ruffalo’s acting.

Nine Percent Chance (Series Thoughts: High Fiedlity S01, Hulu)

13f9a8be06d47093a38439c6e5132a09_500x735I finished the first season of ‘High Fidelity’ on Hulu, and I got so hooked on it. I practically watched the last couple of episodes non-stop because I wanted to see how it ends.

First off, I know this is Rob (Zoie Kravitz) and her story, but I also liked that the supporting characters were not short–changed. I loved Simon (David Holmes) and the fact that he also had his own episode, and of course, it was about what he thought was his one great love. I think it would have been better had he gone back to that toxic relationship, but sure, why don’t we make him responsible. And DaVine Joy Randolph as Cherise is priceless, and I wish we knew what happened to her at the end – has she started performing, really – but let’s hope that’s reason enough for a second season. As for Rob, I am mixed. She is a bit of a spoiled brat – pouting when she doesn’t get her way – but that makes her character more real to me. I mean, even if we are friends with someone, we can disagree with her actions, right? I was kind of rooting for Clyde, but then again I always root for the nice guy always. She treated him like crap and I liked that he stood his ground at her towards the end. And who knows, people can over come nine percent. chance, right? They do, all the time.

The Love Soundtrack (Television Thoughts: High Fidelity, Hulu)

hfI feel so old now, because I remember when Zoe Kravitz was born, and now here she is starring in her own show on Hulu, ‘High Fidelity.’ It is supposed to be based on Nick Hornsby’s novel, and for the life of me I cannot recall if I read the book, or if I saw the movie, or even the Broadway show. I know I should have an affinity for the material, because the main character is a music collector, and once upon a time before everything was available to streaming, I was one of those. I know all the cool kids nowadays collect and listen to vinyl, but I was a CD guy. And now I have no more desire to ‘collect,’ so I don ‘t know if I can still relate.

But I can certainly relate to Rob, Kravitz character on the show. Her love life is a mess, and see her enumerating all her heartbreaks in the first episode – telling us the stories of partners who she is still emoting for. It’s cute, and I know some people are not able to relate, but I can. I like the little touch of her still pining for the guy who broke her heart last, and seeing him just as she is on her way to a date, screwing up her psyche altogether. At about twenty minutes or so per episode, I think i will try to savour episodes instead of bingeing.

Perfect Mothers (Television Thoughts: Little Fires Everywhere, Finale, HULU)

Little-Fires-Everywhere-2478583I have finished ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ and I have some thoughts:

1 – The ending. I don’t know if I liked it, as the last episode felt a little rushed. The buildup was there, for sure, and the excitement was palpable for sure, but it may be too much at one time? I read that the book had a different ending regarding the fire – Izzy started the fire on print – and while I do like the metaphor in having the three other kids do it, my initial reaction was also: these kids are much too self-centered and selfish to do something like that. They would value their material things over that. I don’t think the realization would come all at once, and at the same time for all three of them. I have to admit that as a writing ploy, it is kind of brilliant. And really, Mia and Pearl was able to pack everything they own in hours ? I don’t know about that.

2 – Washington is really fantastic, and her role is much better than Witherspoon’s that’s why she is getting more attention. Witherspoon’s final scenes were on the shrill side, but her character was also not as well-written. While watching the episodes, I liked the fact that while you may agree or disagree with Elena or Mia, you understand both. In the final episodes, Elena felt like a different person altogether. The kids were all uniformly good, but Gavin Lewis (as Moody) was the best for me – he has the most expressive eyes. Gold Derby is predicting Emmy nominations for Witherspoon and Washington – the latter has a chance of winning.