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Archive for the ‘Netflix’ Category

Breaking Down ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’

In Netflix, race, TV, Uncategorized, violence on April 20, 2015 at 5:00 am

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Sarah S.

For me, Kimmy Schmidt came out of the bunker as an incongruous maelstrom—a pickle juice cocktail, fuschia and lime confetti, hail on a sunny day. I was excited for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, show creator Tina Fey’s “television” follow-up to 30 Rock, and it almost immediately presented a combination of the expected and the surprising, the standard and the bizarre.

Ellie Kemper as Kimmy brings an oddball charm to a rather complicated role. Kimmy takes up life in New York City after being rescued from a bunker in which she was held captive for 15 years. She and the other “Indiana Mole Women” were kidnapped and held by a deranged preacher who told them the apocalypse had happened and they were the only people left on earth. So Fey set herself a challenging task: create a comedy about kidnapping, rape, trauma, and the will to survive. Fortunately, Kemper is all in, playing Kimmy as an uncomfortable-but-funny combination of plucky, outdated, dopey, and indomitable.

Kimmy surrounds herself with a motley crew—Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski), an aging, trophy wife who hires Kimmy as a nanny, personal assistant, and general underling; Lillian (the incomparable Carol Kane as), a Jewish, New York hippy who owns Kimmy’s apartment building; and Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), Kimmy’s roommate, an impoverished, down-on-his-luck actor (is there any other kind?). All of these characters are stereotypes but with enough twists or charm or combinations thereof to make it work. Titus works the black GBF for all it’s worth and Lillian is a genuine kick in the pants. Jacqueline is a Native American passing for white in order to sustain the materialism she always idolized, an interesting twist on “demanding, clueless, rich white woman”—a character Krakowski has made a career out of playing. These characters aren’t going to change narrative television but they are played and written with enough aplomb to carry them through, particularly as offsets to Kimmy’s quirk.

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How To Be Awesome Like Claire Underwood

In adaptation, DNC, feminism, gender, How to be Awesome Like, Netflix, parenthood, reproductive health, spoilers, Television, TV villains on February 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Sarah S.

In the first episode of Netflix’s House of Cards, one recognizes immediately that Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) is Lady Macbeth to devious congressman Frank Underwood’s (Kevin Spacey) Macbeth/Richard III hybrid. But despite her overt support of villainy, Claire is easily one of the most fascinating women in a current series. Here’s how to be awesome like Claire Underwood.

-Marry not because you’ll be “happy” or “stable” or have a passel of children. Marry because your Intended promises you’ll never be bored.

-Know what you want and go after it.

-Look your age but with an unwavering running schedule, an amazing haircut, and a wardrobe of dresses to die for. (I love how this show plays off Wright’s star text by hearkening back to Princess Buttercup and her being the “most beautiful woman in the world.”)

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-Have a hot, art photographer ex-lover in Manhattan on speed dial for whenever you’re feeling a little bit down and/or your husband is being an unsupportive ass.

-Have a true companionate marriage based on absolute honesty and respect and so

-Be pissed as hell when your husband begins to sacrifice your career for his and asks you to make compromises he’d never ask of himself.

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-Be part of an interesting experiment in the evolution of “television.” House of Cards, Netflix’s foray into series making, has flaws but it’s super interesting on multiple levels nevertheless. If nothing else, am I irritated that Claire’s sense that her life is missing something is manifesting in her wondering if she should have had (and should pursue having) children? Absolutely. Because it’s boring and cliché and so obnoxiously obvious and typical—e.g. not like Claire at all. (Related, I also hate that in her discussion with her doctor we receive two pieces of medical misinformation: first, that despite what she’s heard her age is no impediment to a healthy pregnancy; second, that her uncomplicated abortions might have negatively affected her fertility.) However, perhaps we are supposed to think that this newfound desire is misplaced, given what we know of both Underwoods. Only time will tell if Claire will be crushed by the inevitable tumbling of this House of Cards.

Review: “Gotta Dance” and the New Jersey NETsationals

In dance, Documentary, Gotta Dance, Netflix on October 1, 2012 at 10:14 am

Phoebe B.

Last night, in need of a feel-good movie and desperately in the mood for some dance, I put on Gotta Dance. This documentary follows the evolution of the New Jersey Nets’ first seniors hip hop dance team, the NETsationals. It is amazing (and available on Netflix streaming)! Here’s why.

In a culture that highly values youth and normative beauty ideals, and in a profession (that is dance) that disregards those over a certain age, Gotta Dance argues that you can learn to dance and be sexy, fun, and generally badass at any age. As Audrey (a NETsationals dancer) says about turning 60: “Some people think it is all over; it’s not all over. Turning 60 is just the beginning.” After all, as many of the team members remind us, age is just a number. (And, as Deanna reminds viewers, 60 is definitely the new 50.) Everyone on the NETsationals team is over 60, and some team members are even in their 80s. Not everyone knows how to dance, but that doesn’t stop any of them.

Throughout the film, the cast (slash team) talks about aging, beauty, dance, and feeling valuable in a culture that is all about the young. Many feel like the team has given them the chance to show what they’re made of. When they’re performing in front of cheering crowds they feel inspired and valued and totally sexy. Audrey notes that the people she encounters on a daily basis are noticing a change her step: “Audrey you look great. Something’s going on Audrey. And it ain’t sex.” She laughs it off. Since it’s dance! And friends!

Throughout the course of the film, we see the women—and the one man on the team—form close relationships with each other. They go out to dinner and drinks and have pre-game fun times and get nervous together and they rely on each other. And through the team and the friendships they build there, the group gains confidence. This is especially true for Betty, who also goes by Betsy (Betty/Betsy).

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