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.

 

There She Is (Television Thoughts: Phyllis, Mrs America S01 E01, Hulu)

mrs-america-movie-posterPhyllis Schalfly is one of the most despicable figures in the Republican party, and that’s a group chockful of deplorables. I wondered if I would like a show featuring and about her. But who can resist Cate Blanchett? Blanchett plays Schlafly as a deliciously evil as she can, and you gotta love her. Schafly is that kind of woman with a place reserved in hell – she doesn’t support other women and goes against her own interest. After her failed congressional run, she tries to go to a think thank meeting in Washington DC and there she is treated like dirt, but still she perseveres and joins the group, offering her services. By the end of the episode, we see her rallying against the ERA (Equal Rights Ammendment) owning ‘libbers.’ I know that she has a great dislike of gay people so I would be curious if the series will cover that part, and of course I will be watching the rest of the season.

Victor’s Unraveling (Television Thoughts: Love Victor S01 E 05 06 07 08 09 10, Hulu)

love-victor-movie-posterI was right. The latter five episodes of Hulu’s ‘Love Victor’ was much better. In a way, the first set is a set up, as after it, Victor has realized more and more that he is gay, and that he is attracted to Benjie. I think George Sears is adorable as Benjie, and I am even using his poster for this post. I think one of the best episodes is when Victor goes to New York City to meet Simon, and is welcomed by a diverse and loving gay family there. It tore me up, because it is true, When you are gay, your friends become your family, and sometimes not-blood family is more precious than the bloodlined ones. I appreciated Nick Robinson’s cameo as Simon, tying everything up together. When he gets back to Atlanta, the show all of a sudden became deeper, and the relationships he has with all these people got more textured. I loved the scene when he comes out to Felix, and want to believe it is a better world out there with young people that this sort of thing is no longer a big issue. And the scenes leading to the dance is heartbreaking – I can relate top what Victor was going through, keeping a secret that is slowly unraveling before his eyes. I hope there is a second season.

Webbed In (Television Thoughts: Little Fires Everwhere S01 E 02 03 04 05, Hulu)

lfe2I have to say I am up to episode five of Hulu’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ and I am so hooked. I am realizing that this is the second Hulu series this year that got me – Normal People earlier blew me away.

The story is quite interesting and it takes me to places I never thought it would, and more so, it keeps me guessing. Both the characters of Reese Witherspoon (Elena) and Kerry Washington (Mia) fascinate and frustrate me both at the same time – both are drawn quite real and there is not just one way of looking at them. I keep on saying that Witherspoon plays the same role, and here I do feel the same, but there is a lot more that she does. Washington is a brave actress, unafraid of challenging the audience for her characterization. The whole cast is good, and I am here awaiting when I can stream what happens next.

Love, Actually (Television Thoughts: Love, Victor S01 E 01 – E 05)

love-victor‘Love Simon’ really touched so I was elated to find that there was going to be a television show spinoff from it. From Hulu comes ‘Love, Victor,’ about a teenager, George Salazar, who moves to Georgia from Texas, the same world where Simon Spiers (Nick Robinson’s character in the film) inhibited. Victor’s journey isn’t as easy as Simon’s – he has more conservative parents and is quickly drawn to situations that will make him fit in his new school – dating a girl. I am about halfway through the series and I have some thoughts.

First, I know this was developed for Disney+ and was banished to Hulu, perhaps because they deemed the material too racy for Disney. Puh-leese – this is as safe as a series gets, and the first half shows it was clearly meant for the Disney audience, manly tween girls, Victor starts dating a girl, even as he questions his orientation. This is clearly meant to satisfy that audience. At times I felt like I was watching the wrong show – is this about a straight teenage couple? I hope the latter half improves on that front.

But i can’t knock the show – it is cute and charming and the cast is great. Michael Cimino as Victor is superb, able to show vulnerability even as he is awkward and self-deprecating. And George Sear as his male love interest is cute, and I gotta admit I was drawn into that cute scene where Benji starts singing ‘Call Me Maybe’ on stage because that’s become their theme, a wink to the secret the audience only knows. By the end of the fifth episode, the path isn’t clearer, and it just whets my appetite for what’s to come next.

Yes To Never (Television Thoughts: Never Have I Ever Season One)

nhivSo yeah, I finally finished a Netflix show by really bingeing it. ‘Never Have I Ever’ goes by so quickly and easily it’s so easy to devour it. Call me hooked, but I got sucked into Devi’s life and loves. There were a lot of things that happened on the second half of the series, and I thought most of it was pretty good. I like the fact that we saw the depth of the character – we see how the death of her father really affected her psyche, and we even get sub storylines from her friends that are pretty satisfying. And just when we thought we were all rooting for her to end up with Paxton, there’s Ben. I am usually good at gauging how things go, but I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by that, and I kick myself for not really entertaining the idea earlier. I have to say, though, that I like the Devi/Ben pairing, only because the Paxton character is such a wuss. I hear that the show is a success, and I look forward to Season 2 !

Where There’s Spark (Television Thoughts: The Spark, Little Fires Everywhere S01 E01, Hulu)

little-fires-everywhereCeleste Ng’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ has been on my to-be-read list since it came out in 2017.  But of course, I have been so behind on my reading that there is, now, a Hulu series adaptation of it. As much as I want to read the book, the series will do for now. I had also been meaning to watch this, but there is so much content out there that I just saw the first episode. And it’s riveting. I don’t know how it differs from the book, but the first episode has me hooked and I can’t wait to start watching the series.

Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington both produce and star in this show, and they are cast perfectly. Witherspoon is Elena, all type A suburban perfection and Washington as Mia her artistic urban counterpart. Of course, the two characters together would bring sparks. (The first episode is titled ‘Sparks.’) Their families start to weld together – Elena’s four kids and Mia’s one daughter.

The series starts showing Elena’s house in flames. There’s a question on what started it, and some point to Izzy, Elena’s daughter. But I know things are most probably not what they seem in the story, and I am now just too eager to find out.

A Quiet Thing (Television Thoughts: Love Life S01 E 07 08 09 10)

Love-Life-Anna-Kendrick-HBO-Max

I just finished the third and final drop of Love Life episodes, and I can say I am pretty satisfied with it, and the show will probably end up on my best of list for the year. There are a lot of things I liked about it, and I think Anna Kendrick was tremendous – I don’t think I have ever seen her give such an ‘adult’ performance. She has always been one of my favorite actors and this will cement her there. And, you know what? As much as a lot of the show is tropes, it surprised me in one angle – I thought Darby was going to end up with Auggie. In a way they do – they will always be coparenting their son – but I thought that they would end up together together. The last couple of episodes wisely showed the different sides of Darby – as a daughter, as a friend, as a mother. They helped show her growth as a woman, and when we see her in that last episode, we see her as a full woman, because we went through that journey with her. And I like the final sentiment – that sometimes love enters your life quietly, without bells and whistles.It reminds me of the Kander & Ebb Song, “when it all comes through just the way we planned, it’s funny that the bells don’t ring…it’s a quiet thing”

I will miss the characters.

Devi’s Ever After (Television Thoughts: Never Have I Ever, Netflix)

MV5BNTk1OWE3MmItNDhlYi00NGM4LTkwMWUtM2NkZWJiNjQyNGIxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTMxODk2OTU@._V1_I honestly cannot think of a Netflix series that I have binged watched. Of course, I have not seen any of their Greatest Hits – ‘The Crown’ had been languishing in ‘My List’ for a long time now – but I have this thing about Netflix. I put so much stuff on ‘My List’ and I look at the service as my last resort – I tell myself it will always be there, and I never get to there.

But I started watching ‘Never Have I Ever’ and I can’t get enough of it I am even trying to ‘preserve’ it by not trying to watch it all at once. I am now finished halfway – five out of ten episodes – and it’s an unlikely source of happiness for me. Who knew?

I have always liked YA stuff because there is so much hope there, and, for the most part, the desires and longings are innocent, and I like innocent. Here we have. protagonist, and she is cast perfectly in Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. She is Devi, and Indian American teenager who suddenly loses her father in her Spring orchestra concert,. She is your typical Type A overachiever, in the most adorable way. and she has set her sights on Paxton, the school hunk. And in all the halls and corridors, they do find each other, from her agressiveness (can we have sex, she asks him) and then, of course, he finds her ‘soul.’  Halfway through, there are obstacles, and you know what, even if they don’t end up where she wants him to be, I do get a feeling she will be alright.

This is produced by Mindy Kaling, and I appreciate the diversity in her characters. Devi’s friends are both of color: one is Chinese, the other black, and one of them is gay. Even the main squeezes show diversity. I mean, even the white-looking hunk is half-Asian. It truly represents the world we live in today.

And it’s pitch perfect – funny and sad, and real.