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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THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT – Review by Susan Granger

What’s most surprising about the popularity of this mini-series is that its ‘heroine’ is a desperately defiant, self-destructive alcoholic, a condition blamed on PTSD from an abusive childhood. Kaley Cuoco plays the titular role of good-time-girl Cassie Bowden, which isn’t a far stretch from her stint as party girl Penny in The Big Bang Theory” She still mugs, smirks and does double-takes, but now she flies international routes for Imperial Atlantic.

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BRIDGERTON – Review by Susan Granger

While Netflix’s Bridgerton sprawling mini-series may seem like Gossip Girl-meets-Downton Abbey, it’s unique in reimagining 19th century Britain with aristocratic families seeking favor from Black royalty. Produced by Shonda Rhimes, it’s fun, frothy escapism. According to showrunner Chris Van Dusen, regarding that era’s excess, beauty and decadence: “It was over-the-top: the costumes, the jewels, the glittering ballrooms, the country homes.”

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THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT – Review by Susan Granger

Who would have thought that this seven-episode Netflix series – built around an intellectual game like chess – could be so compelling? Based Walter Trevis’ novel, it’s written and directed by Scott Frank, who turns this fictional character-study into a fascinating coming-of-age drama about an obsessive, self-destructive young woman taking control of her life and succeeding in what is traditionally considered a man’s domain.

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THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT – Review by Martha K Baker

It’s a sports film played not on field or court but on a board. The sport is chess. But The Queen’s Gambit is not all about chess although knowing nothing about the ancient game does not deter from its thrills. Walter Tevis’ story, as written for the screen by director Scott Frank and Alan Scott, is also a bildungsroman about a young woman coming of age, stabilized by a male-dominated game.

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EMILY IN PARIS – Review by Susan Granger

Since the definition of a “guilty pleasure” is a cheesy movie/TV program that one enjoys, despite feeling that it’s not generally held in high regard, this new Netflix series fits that perfectly. It’s a fabulous fantasy of fashion, glamour and romance as seen through the eyes of 20-something Emily Cooper (Lily Collins), a junior ‘social media marketing’ executive at Savoir who, when her boss unexpectedly gets pregnant, is transferred from Chicago to the boutique agency her company recently acquired in Paris.

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