Call Her Caitlin, Maybe (Television Thoughts: We Are Who We Are, S01 E02, HBO)

I am continually enthralled with the second episode of “We Are Who We Are,’ which is really more like the first episode. In last week’s episode, we see life from the point of view of Fraser, who just arrived at the base. In this one, we see it from Caitlin’s eyes. There’s a difference, of course: she is at home at the base, and already knows the ins and out of the place and its people. Just like Fraser, though, she is still finding her real place in the world, just like all of us when we were at that age. Things are happening, things are changing: on that particular day, she even gets her period for the first time. It’s weird that I still gravitate towards Fraser, because even as we look at Caitlin’s day, I find myself looking for where Frasier fits in it.

And I can’t help but see similarities in ‘Call me By Your Name.’ As in the movie, we observe the characters her as they dance. Caitlin is dancing in the middle of the dance floor, just like Oliver does in the film, and we see how the people around her look at her. I wonder if this is just Luca Guadagnino repeating himself, or is it an homage?

And I love how teh characters express themselves here through fashion. We see how Fraser is into it (he mentions how a seamstress mirrors Raf Simons on the first episode) and in here, we see him sending a polo shirt and pants to Caitlin, after observing her flirt with women at the cafe. These little details certainly matter – they give us insight to both characters in a deep and meaningful way. 

I cannot wait to keep watching.

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.

In Defense of Family (Series Thoughts: Defending Jacob S01 E01 E02, Apple TV+)

Again, I am late to this show, but I just finished watching the first two episodes Apple TV series ‘Defending Jacob,’ and it is riveting. I read a little bit about the show, to be honest, so I had more or less an idea of what to expect. Basically the story revolved around a family. The father, played by Chris Evans, plays a district attorney whose son is accused of murder, and he ends up defending his son. It’s a pretty intense set up, and based on the first two episodes, is s pretty intense show.

My first takeaway – Evans is fantastic here. I always thought he was a very handsome presence, but have not thought of him more as an ‘actor’ until now. He pretty much carries the burden of the story here (he executive produced the show) and carries it with aplomb. I am mighty impressed. The show is filmed in a blue-ish hue which gives it a specific feel – a small town ravaged by a gruesome murder. The show certainly held my interest, and I actually don’t want to binge it all at once as I want to savour it more.

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.

Cloying (Series Thoughts: Crash Landing On You, Netflix)

I may be the only one I know who is not hooked on KDramas. Everyone I talk kep on telling me to indulge in them, that they are dreamy and romantic escapers.

Fine. I acquiesced by watching the first episode of ‘Crash Landing On You,’ which is available on Netflix. And of course I have thoughts.

First of all, I have to marvel at the technical aspects of the series – it is shot beautifully, and the production values are definitely stellar – they pour a lot of money and effort into the series.

Still, it’s saddled with a lot of baggage fort me – the chemistry seems to be manufactured enough to succeed – you know everything has been picked apart in there. And yes I admit that the main cast – the lovers – are beautiful but Hyun Bin, who skyrocketed to fame because of this, just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s just a personal taste thing – all on me.

The question is – will I keep on watching? I think I will – the story is interesting enough. I’ll keep you in touch if it keeps me reeled in.