NOT SO PRETTY – Review by Martha K Baker

Award winning documentarians Dick Kirby and Amy Ziering instill trust in this educational series Remember that feeling of horror and betrayal while witnessing chief executive officers of major tobacco corporations declare, man for man, that cigarettes are not harmful? Similar scenes are played over and over in Not So Pretty, a series of four half-hour investigative documentaries that tear apart the beauty industry. Not So Pretty moves swiftly and carries a bruising punch.

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MINX – Review by Martha K Baker

Minx, a 1970s magazine, presents gents in the buff in the centerfold. To select the right bulked firefighter or buff athlete, menfolk have to audition. There’s nothing coy about these auditions, and that’s one of the most honest aspects of the 10 episodes. Minx jostles down memory lane, complete with polyester clothes, typewriters, and the rhetoric of the Seventies. However, one grating anachronism is generic use of “guy,” rarely heard in 1971. The music, including, of course, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” signifies throughout, and allusions to Gloria Steinem fit neatly. Minx works on so many levels.

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THE OUTLAWS – Review by Martha K Baker

Trust Stephen Merchant — all 6 feet and 7 inches of him — and his humor and insight. Known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais on The Office and Extras and as an actor on those television rockumentaries and in movies, such as Jojo Rabbit, Merchant brings both talents to a brilliant, six-part British dramedy, The Outlaws.

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SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE – Review by Martha K Baker

Admirers of Bridget Everett’s bawdy, bosomy, song-belting stage show may fear that her work in this streaming series will be corseted. In many ways, it is — up until the last of the eight episodes. Throughout, however, Everett portrays 40-ish Samantha, a character a little like herself. Sam goes home to Manhattan, Kansas, from Manhattan, New York, from the Big to the Little Apple. The death of her sister brought Samantha home. Sam is surrounded by her farmer father, her alcoholic mother, her randy brother-in-law, and her perfect sister Tricia, who shares her sister’s sass. The series covers Sam’s new life in Manhattan as daughter, sister, store clerk, and friend. And singer. Thankfully, she remains vulgar and sarcastic as she slides into her new, old community.

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THE GIRL FROM PLAINVILLE (SXSW 2022) – Review by Leslie Combemale

The Girl From Plainville is inspired by the texting suicide case in which 17 year old Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for coercing her boyfriend Conrad Roy to kill himself. There was a documentary on the subject called I Love You, Now Die released in 2019, but this narrative brings something more, because it can be as subjective as it wants to be. Elle Fanning as Michelle Carter is so magnetic you can’t take your eyes off her, and Chloë Sevigny, who plays Conrad’s tortured and grieving mother Lynn Roy, is as heartbreaking as Fanning’s is chilling.

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MAID – Review by Martha K Baker

The creator of Maid, Molly Smith Metzler, wrought fiction from Maid, a good book of facts about poverty in America. Although it’s best to remember that the television series is not the book (kind of like Nomadland“, the Netflix series sincerely studies poverty — especially its burden on women.

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THE CHAIR – Review by Susan Granger

This ‘Back to School’ month is the perfect time for Netflix’s new college-set series The Chair, starring Sandra Oh (Killing Eve, Grey’s Anatomy) as Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, the first female head of the English department at (fictional) Pembroke University. A prestigious “lower-tier Ivy,” Pembroke has always favored its rich, white students and faculty, so the newly elected Chair faces not only gender prejudice but also racial bias. A single mother, she’s raising an adopted daughter, Ju-Ju (Everly Carganilla), with the help of her widowed, Korean-speaking father (Lee Ji-Yong).

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MARE OF EASTTOWN – Review by Susan Granger

New season = new series to stream. Kate Winslet stars as an exhauted detective in this compelling seven-episode HBO mystery set in a small, working-class town in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Life isn’t easy for Mare Sheehan (Winslet), who is desperately trying to solve a perplexing murder case revolving a teenage girl found sprawled in a creek deep in the woods. Townspeople are wondering whether this grim discovery has anything to do with another young girl-gone-missing a year ago.

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DEBRIS – Review by Susan Granger

I was eagerly anticipating J.H. Wyman’s new NBC-TV Monday night drama Debris, which looks like an amalgam of X-Files, Lost and Fringe, Wyman’s previous show. Set in the near future, it focuses on an international team of spies and scientists who examine mysterious material that fell to Earth after the destruction of an alien spacecraft.
Unfortunately, the pilot episode – which should be so compelling that you want to stream the series – left much to be desired.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Zellweger’s TV true-crime series: THE THING ABOUT PAM – Brandy McDonnell reports

NBC has granted a straight-to-series pickup to The Thing About Pam, based on one of the most popular true-crime stories to come out of its venerable Dateline series and its companion podcast. Zellweger, who will also executive produce, will make her broadcast TV series debut in the six-episode series.

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