Hello, friends. Happy Friday! It's snowing here in Boston today and it's beautiful. It's the kind of snow that is light, soft and gracefully flutters to the ground. My dining room has a big bay window and it feels like I'm sitting inside a snow globe.
Snowy weather provides ideal conditions for streaming. Let's talk about a few things coming up, then we'll get into this week's top picks.
- Wednesday, January 12 - We are less than week away from the return of Cheer on Netflix. The show follows Coach Monica and the Navarro cheer team as they fight for a national title. I thought this show was one and done, so I'm elated we'll get more time with the squad.
- Tuesday, February 1 - The Real Housewives of New Jersey return to Bravo. The network just released the trailer for the new season and I can't wait.
- Friday, February 4 - Sweet Magnolias, the show about three adult best friends living in a small town, returns to Netflix for a second season. This one comes out on a Friday, so you can look forward to it at the end of the work week.
- Friday, February 18 - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will be back on Amazon Prime, just after Valentine's Day.
- Friday, March 25 - The countdown is on to season two of Bridgerton.
I watched three fantastic things this week and I can't wait to tell you about them.
1. Queer Eye (Netflix) - To say I had been counting down to the Queer Eye season six premiere would be an understatement. The cast flew to Austin, TX in February 2020 to begin filming and production was quickly shut down due to COVID. It felt like this season was going to be on hold indefinitely. When Netflix announced it would drop on New Year's Eve, it felt like a gift from above!
This season has 10 episodes, each one hour long. Here's a quick summary of each hero's story:
- First we meet Terri, a woman who teaches line dancing at a honky-tonk bar. She dresses like she's in her twenties, wears a wig to cover her natural hair (but won't admit to Jonathan), and has a strained relationship with her daughter. The Fab Five help her find a more age-appropriate wardrobe and Karamo helps bring her and her daughter a little closer together.
- Episode two is a tearjerker! A woman named Angel who has recently transitioned is trying to find her unique personal style, and dreams about mending her fractured relationship with her dad. Bobby transforms Angel's apartment into something light years more expensive than any young twenty-something could dream of.
- We head to a catch ranch in episode three to meet Josh, a grown man sleeping in a bunk bed inside a shipping container. The Fab Five help him clean up (in every way), apologize to the only girl he ever cared about, and open his heart and mind to the idea of being friends with people who are gay.
- Episode four is a special one. The Fab Five help plan a senior prom for a group of students whose final year at their high school has been turned upside down by COVID. The most moving scene was when the students and teachers gathered together to put artifacts into a time capsule. I didn't expect to, but I ugly cried!
- "Craw Zaddy" is the name of the fifth episode, where the Fab Five travel into rural Texas to meet Todd, a widower running a crawfish boil restaurant that keeps the memory of his late wife alive. I cried at the very start of this episode, not even 10 minutes in! Todd and his daughter are incredible people, who are trying to move forward after a deep loss.
- Dr. Jerika is the star of episode six, a Black, female doctor providing COVID vaccines and urgent care to low income individuals and families in her community. She's so committed to the job that she often forgets to take care of herself. Tan helped her feel beautiful in clothes again (from ELOQUII, my fave), Jonathan helped her return to her natural hair, and Bobby transformed her backyard into a peaceful oasis where she can relax and garden with her husband and son.
- Get a brand new, full box of tissues for episode seven. The hero's name is Jamie and she runs an animal rescue for special needs animals, and pairs them with special needs children for therapy. Jamie is so devoted to her work, that she completely lost control of herself and her schedule. The Fab Five pull off their biggest construction project yet and build Jamie a barn to keep her animals safe during extreme weather. Her organization is called Safe in Austin if you'd like to learn more about them or to donate to support their work.
- The biggest emotional transformation for any hero comes in episode eight. Chris runs a non-profit organization that supports the homeless. While he's thriving at work, he's having a very difficult time personally. He lost his mother, he was abusing pain medication, and he recently had gastric sleeve surgery. With Tan and Jonathan's coaching and style refresh, just within a week, Chris begins to exclude triple the amount of confidence.
- OMG Squee, a local bakery, is the star of episode nine. Its owner, Sarah, is overwhelmed, having opened just a few weeks before the pandemic. She's had to pivot the business a few times, and as a result, the bakery itself has gotten out of control. While I find her hard to emotionally connect with, Bobby and his team do an insane job on upgrading the bakery into an Instagram paradise. At the end, Sarah is making macarons with the faces of the Fab Five on them, and I am not going to lie, I really want them!
- The tenth and final episode featured Reggie, a rapper, husband and father who had lost his mojo once he couldn't perform live in the pandemic. I actually thought this was the least emotional episode of the ten. I was surprised they decided to close with it, since it wasn't as moving as any of the others.
Did I watch all 10 episodes in two sittings? Yes, I did. Do I think this is the most hopeful show on television? Yes, I do.
If you want more Fab Five, on January 28 there will be a new show on Netflix that is a spinoff of Jonathan's podcast called Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. That should help ease the pain of season six flying by so quickly!
2. I May Destroy You (HBO) - Michaela Coel, the creator, writer and star of I May Destroy You, won the Emmy for Best Writing for a Limited Series in September 2021. At the time, I didn't have HBO and knew I wouldn't be able to watch, so I pushed it to the back of my mind.
When I decided to pay for HBO, everyone I talked to said I had to watch this show. I only knew that it was about sexual assault, and I wasn't sure I was in the mood to feel that depressed.
The show is loosely based on Coel's real life experience. In the series, she plays a woman named Arabella who wakes up one morning and begins having flashbacks to a disturbing scene she can't quite recognize. It begins to take over her life, distracting her from work and making her uncomfortable in situations that used to feel routine. In so many ways, the aftershocks Coel wrote into the show reminded me of Chanel Miller's memoir, Know My Name.
To cope, Arabella leans on her two best friends, Terri and Kwame. Terri is a struggling actress who is keeping a big secret from Arabella about the night she was attacked. Kwame is having a tough time supporting Arabella after enduring an assault of his own. Did I mention this subject matter is heavy?
I don't want to say too much about the ending because it would give things away, but I will say, this show is unlike anything I've seen on television before. The setting, the characters, the story arc - it's all incredibly unique.
I was thrilled to see the actress Sarah Niles (who played Dr. Sharon on Ted Lasso) reappear here. She plays the police officer leading the investigation to find Arabella's attacker.
There are 12 episodes total, each 30 minutes. I found that I could only watch two at a time. The show made me anxious. That said, I think it's an important watch.
I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole reading about Coel and highly recommend this profile story in ELLE Magazine if you'd like to learn more about her.
3. Mayor Pete (Amazon Prime) - The other night I was looking for something new to watch when I stumbled upon this documentary on Amazon. It follows Mayor Pete Buttigieg for the full year leading up to the presidential election in 2020. You get to watch him as he sets up his campaign office, travels the country by bus and plane, gives many stump speeches, and ultimately concedes to make room for Joe Biden to win the election.
As someone who media trains CEOs as part of my job, I loved watching him prepare for debates, particularly when his communications director, Liz, would give blunt feedback about him needing to connect more emotionally with voters.
While most of the confessional interviews are with Mayor Pete himself, there are also conversations with his husband, Chasten, which were some of the more touching moments of the film.
The documentary is 96 minutes and gives you a deep look into Mayor Pete's career (so far), personal life and a glimpse into his future.
Also, if you haven't watched All In: The Fight for Democracy, add that to your list too. It's about Stacey Abrams and it's also available through Amazon Prime.
There you have it! This week's list.