Hello, friends. Happy Friday! And happy long weekend.
I am currently streaming season two of Cheer on Netflix. I am six episodes in (of the nine total) and I can't wait to share my thoughts with you next week. Before we get into this week's picks, here are a few things coming up:
- Friday, January 28 - Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye fame will have his own show on Netflix, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness (same name as his podcast)
- Tuesday, February 1 - The Real Housewives of New Jersey return to Bravo. I missed these women and their antics!
- 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 11 - Ahead of Valentine's Day, Netflix is dropping more episodes of the insane dating show Love is Blind.
- Friday, February 18 - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will be back on Amazon Prime. I'm so excited for this.
- Friday, March 25 - The countdown is on to season two of Bridgerton.
I felt very sick last weekend (don't worry, not COVID), so I spent more time streaming than usual. I watched two full seasons of Love Life on HBO, the new Ben Affleck movie, and started In Treatment, another HBO series. Let's talk about all of it!
1. The Tender Bar (Amazon Prime) - I had been anticipating the release of this movie for quite a while. It's based on the memoir of the same title by J.R. Moehringer. The movie is directed by George Clooney, stars Ben Affleck, and was shot here in Watertown, MA.
When I pressed play, I had no idea what the story would be about, but I was excited to find out.
The movie follows J.R. from his early childhood, when he and his mother have to move back in with his grandparents. His dad, who is not involved in his life, is a national radio DJ. He often refers to him as, "my dad in the radio."
The father figure in J.R.'s life becomes his uncle, Charlie, played by Affleck. This is the kind of role that is perfect for Affleck. Charlie is street smart and has a wicked sense of humor. Despite his tough guy exterior, behind closed doors he is kind, empathetic and always there to pick up the pieces when Charlie's dad disappoints.
Daniel Ranieri plays young J.R. and has some of the most expressive eyes I've seen on screen. Tye Sheridan plays J.R. as an adult. He graduates high school, heads off to Yale, and realizes he's very out of his element. He has an on-again, off-again romance with a beautiful student named Sidney (Briana Middleton), but can't fit in with her high net worth family in Westport, CT.
Throughout the movie, J.R.'s inner thoughts are narrated by the voice of Ron Livingston (Office Space, Sex and the City). It reminded me of The Wonder Years in that way.
The ending reminded me of Good Will Hunting, Affleck's breakout writing and acting role. I don't want to give anything away, but when you get to that scene, you'll know what I mean.
This movie has an incredible soundtrack. It captures a moment in time, much like the soundtracks from The Big Chill, Forrest Gump and Sleepless in Seattle.
If this film wasn't on your radar. It should be.
2. Love Life (HBO) - After watching all five seasons of Insecure, HBO recommended Love Life as a show I might like. There have been two seasons so far, and each one follows one character through the ups and downs of their romantic relationships.
Season one stars Anna Kendrick as Darby. She lives in New York City with her best friend, Sara, and she falls hard for a guy at a party, Augie. They date for several months before he has to move for a job. She eventually winds up marrying a very temperamental chef, Magnus.
There's an amazing episode that flashes back to her years at boarding school. Young Darby is played by Courtney Grosbeck, who was Ruby on Parenthood. Later on, her high school crush reappears in the present day, during an episode filmed entirely at the Gramercy Park Hotel, one of my favorite places in all of Manhattan. For anyone who has ever built up an early crush in their mind, that episode is deeply relatable.
I loved the way they ended things for Darby. It was unexpected and perfect. By the final episodes, the costume designers had created such a beautiful sense of style for her and I wanted every outfit.
Season two stars William Jackson Harper (Chidi from The Good Place) as Marcus Watkins. When we meet Marcus, he's married, but starting to feel attracted to a woman he meets at a party, Mia (Jessica Williams).
Over the next several years, Marcus and Mia dance in and out of each other's orbits. There are other girlfriends and boyfriends, and plenty of family drama. Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv from The Fresh Prince) plays Marcus' mom and Blair Underwood plays Mia's dad.
At one point, when Marcus is single, his two best friends take him on a getaway week to stay in a yurt. I screamed at the TV when they showed Marcus waking up in his bed there and he was under my exact bedding that I have in my bedroom in Hull! What are the chances?
I thought the final episode of Marcus's season came full circle in so many thoughtful ways (including a cameo from Anna Kendrick as Darby again). I loved it so much that I watched the extras afterward, which included interviews with the shows co-creators and producers. I somehow missed that Paul Feig was an executive producer!
Overall, I was smitten with this show and I sincerely hope there is a third season. It's one downfall is that it has a narrator, which is does not need. Perhaps they'll hear my feedback and cut that for the next round?
3. In Treatment (HBO) - I was reminded about the show In Treatment when Uzo Aduba started doing press for its new season, which she stars in. I remembered when the show first premiered, but I didn't have HBO at the time.
Rather than start with the new season, I decided to start at the beginning. In season one, Gabriel Byrne plays a therapist, Paul, and each episode focuses on one of his sessions with his patients.
The cast of patients includes Blair Underwood, Josh Charles, Embeth Davidtz, Mia Wasikowska and Michelle Forbes.
The show gets off to a very slow start. Five episodes in I wasn't sure if I could keep going. But, after they lay the foundation for each patient, it really picks up steam.
The tone of many of the conversations in these episodes is dark or upsetting, so I have to be in the mood to watch it. That said, when I do sit down to watch a few, I always feel eager to see where the story will go.
If you liked the book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, I think you'll like this.
There you have it! This week's picks.