The Plot Against America, which I watched during a week-long free trial of HBO Max, was a little too slow and vague for me, but the finale was particularly good. I loved Zoe Kazan as a terrified Bess trying to soothe a hysteric child over the phone. If anything, the series got me more interested in the work of both Kazan and Anthony Boyle, and the parallels between Philip Roth’s original story and today are startling.
We finally downloaded Disney+ to indulge in the wonder that was Hamilton, but since that inaugural weekend, I’ve traveled down memory lane and watched some of my favorite old DCOMs. Gotta Kick It Up!, Go Figure, and Read It and Weep were still really delightful, and I have viewings of my ultimate favorites — Stuck in the Suburbs, Smart House, and Cadet Kelly — to anticipate. Since the movies are so short, it’s really easy to get through one right before bed.
Also on Disney+ is Encore!, an absolutely delightful reality show on which grown adults return to high school to reenact the musicals they performed. It’s hard to single out a favorite episode — I loved the 1990 reunion of Grease in Hackensack, New Jersey, for how hilariously familiar the grown cast was to me, and the 1992 Sound of Music cast visiting their shuttered high school in Flint, Michigan, was heartbreaking. On the other hand, seeing a 1998 all-Black cast exclaim at the sight of their old drama teacher and perform a Harlem Renaissance-themed Godspell was joyous, as was watching the reunion of a Los Angeles Anything Goes cast that originally performed in 1975. If you need a dose of unbridled happiness with a touch of tears, this show is your one-stop-shop.
On another Disney note, I’ve been listening to the DIS-Order podcast on which three men of all different ages analyze every animated feature film the studio produced. They break down animation styles, generational transitions, behind-the-scenes drama, and how a movie has aged. Episodes are long, so it’s great if you have a lengthy drive or task ahead of you.
Is it surprising that I got emotional watching the TODAY anchors’ socially distant reunion? The world honestly seems a little brighter knowing that these people are together and beginning to broadcast from the studio again.
I’m very pleased with the older, more diverse roster of Clare Crawley’s potential Bachelorette men. They’ve publicized more men than usual because there are literally “backups” in case someone gets sick and has to be replaced. I’m a little uneasy about production starting as California’s condition is worsening, but I trust in ABC taking any possible precaution. I do really miss my Bachelorette summers (Also, my prediction is that Bennett is at least one of Clare’s final four).
Who knows how production on any unfinished holiday movies will proceed, but Aaron Tveit in a Hallmark Christmas movie (and hopefully playing a prince?!) is the 2020 gift I didn’t know I needed.
Morgan Matson announced the details of her next YA book, which I can’t wait to read. She was very open on social media about her writing process and creative inspiration, so the finished product will be so interesting to see.
Another quick, enjoyable watch was Netflix’s Unorthodox. Being from downstate New York with a large Orthodox Jewish community in my hometown, I was always pretty aware of Jewish traditions and the religion’s different denominations. However, what I witnessed regularly is nothing compared to this deep dive into Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox circle. The series is loosely inspired by Deborah Feldman’s memoir, which just traveled its way up my reading list.
Also on the reading side of things, I finished Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, which really opened my eyes to race relations in America. Coates’s work has a very accessible yet poetic writing style that made reading it really flow for me. I definitely recommend the book as an entry point to educating yourself through reading. Up next, I think I’ll start either Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America or Kamala Harris’s memoir The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.
I still don’t understand how Nicole Richie ended up moderating this conversation with the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel cast, but both she and the talk were great. For an underrated Netflix watch, check out Great News, a two-season NBC comedy Richie was in a few years ago.
I didn’t expect The Baby-Sitters Club to charm me as much as it did. From about the ages of eight to eleven, I was a massive fan of the book series (and its spinoff series Baby-Sitters Little Sister), so I went into the new TV series believing it’d be too skewed toward a younger audience for me to finish. Instead, a heartwarming, freshly modern, nostalgic bubble enveloped me until I watched all 10 episodes. The young actors are so good, as is Alicia Silverstone as Kristy’s mom. It’s a beautiful portrayal of tween girls in 2020, and I’m proud to say that I now identify as a Kristy with hints of Mary Anne, whereas a younger me was the other way around.