Hello, friends. I can't believe it, but we're already in the month of March. Next week marks two full years of the pandemic. I started writing these weekly streaming recaps as a result of the lockdown and how much content we were all consuming. You all enjoyed them so much that I just kept going.
There's a ton to look forward to in the coming weeks. Here are a few shows and movies to keep on your radar:
- Sunday, March 6 - Adam McKay is the brain behind Winning Time, a new series coming to HBO about the golden years of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1970s and 1980s. The cast is incredible, including John C. Reilly, Adrien Brody, Jason Segal, Michael Chiklis, and Sally Field. Quincy Isaiah is cast as Magic Johnson.
- Friday, March 11 - Season four of Formula 1: Drive to Survive hits Netflix. I can't believe I'm addicted to a show about racing, but I am.
- Wednesday, March 16 - Bad Vegan, the story of vegan restaurateur Sarma Melngailis, hits Netflix. This documentary series follows the rise of her vegan restaurant in New York City, and its dramatic downfall once she started dating a man who derailed everything.
- Friday, March 25 - I was already excited because this is the day season two of Bridgerton drops on Netflix, but now it is also the day that Lizzo's dance competition show premieres on Amazon Prime. It's called Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. You can watch the trailer here.
- Friday, April 1 - Season 2 of The Home Edit arrives on Netflix, just in time for spring cleaning. Professional organizers Clea and Joanna help transform chaotic spaces for celebrities and us real people too.
I watched a ton this past week, so I have six fresh recommendations for you.
1. Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (Netflix) - Love him or hate him, it's impossible to turn away from the spectacle that is Kanye West. This three-part documentary was filmed and narrated by Kanye's long-time friend and creative collaborator, Coodie Simmons.
Coodie and Kanye met when Coodie was 24 years old and Kanye was just 17. Kanye was getting ready to move from Chicago to New York City to pursue producing, and Coodie moved with him. Coodie documented Kanye's every move. In fact, it was shocking to see young Kanye have to elbow his way into rooms and beg people to listen to his tracks. In the early years, Kanye wore retainers and he would take them out to rap. It's a small detail, but one that really humanized this person who has become such a mega celebrity.
Kanye gets a big break when he helps produce Jay-Z's The Blueprint, but he can't get Jay or his partner Dame Dash to sign him as an artist. There's one scene where Kanye literally goes from room to room at Roc-a-fella Records playing "All Falls Down" and no one is giving him the time of day. Not even the executive assistant!
In August 2002, Roc-a-fella finally signs Kanye, but they're dragging their feet on giving him time in the recording studio, so he starts to record on his own. We get to see him record at the studio inside Jamie Foxx's house, where Foxx has a cameo on the song "Slow Jamz." John Legend, Ludacris, Common, Mos Def and Pharrell also make appearances during this time. In fact, one of the best scenes is when Kanye plays "Through the Wire" for Pharrell for the first time. It's a moment where two artists truly recognize each other's raw talent.
Kanye had to fight tooth and nail to get Roc-a-fella to prioritize him and that album. The College Dropout wound up being a huge success and Kanye was nominated for 10 Grammy Awards that first year.
As you might suspect, the documentary also spends a lot of time on Kanye's relationship with his mother, Donda West. They were more than just mother and son, they were also best friends. Donda was Kanye's inspiration and motivation. Since I already knew she had passed away before I started watching, each time she would come into the frame my heart would sink. It's very special that Coodie captured all that footage of them together and I am sure that Kanye re-watches it constantly.
I found the third installment of the documentary to be the least interesting. It catches us up to present day, where Kanye is running both his music and fashion empires out of his ranch in Wyoming. Justin Bieber even makes a cameo, recording for Jesus is King. The Kanye you see in present day seems detached and deranged. He feels like a different person than the one we got to know in the first hour, relentlessly pursuing his dream.
If you're a fan of Kanye West's music, then I definitely recommend watching the first hour of this documentary. You'll be reminded of those early years where it was all about his signature sound.
2. Pivoting (FOX or Hulu) - I discovered Pivoting during a late-night scroll and I am so glad I did! The show stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Eliza Coupe and Maggie Q as three best friends mourning the loss of their fourth bestie.
Ginnifer Goodwin plays Jodie, a suburban mom in a loveless marriage. She finds excitement in her weekly personal training sessions, where she's developed an intense crush on her trainer.
Eliza Coupe plays Amy, a cooking show producer who decides she wants to spend more time with her kids. She resolves to "be a mom in the afternoons" and the situations she gets herself into are hysterical. She also looks like a young Lisa Rinna, which I found very distracting!
Maggie Q plays Sarah, who quits her job as an ER doctor to do something less stressful. She winds up working as a cashier at the local grocery store and finds that it's not so easy to leave her over-achieving ways behind.
This show is such an easy watch. It's light, fun and has a Desperate Housewives vibe. The ladies have a true bond and the supporting cast is delightful too (especially Amy's son, who is obsessed with animal facts).
3. Abbott Elementary (ABC or Hulu) - My mom recommended I give this show a try, and while I was home sick for a few days I finally had time to watch it. Quinta Brunson is the show's creator and star. She plays Janine, a second grade teacher at an elementary school in Philadelphia, PA with zero resources. Janine wants to give the kids in her classroom the best possible experience, while also bonding with her fellow teachers.
Sheryl Lee Ralph plays Barbara, the seasoned teacher Janine looks up to most. Lisa Ann Walter plays Melissa, the other second grade teacher who has all these mysterious connections for school supplies, books and repair men. Tyler James Williams plays the sub (who clearly is developing a crush on Janine).
If you've ever worked in a school setting, I am positive you will find this show relatable. I really enjoyed Terry Gross' interview with Brunston on Fresh Air this week. She talks about the inspiration for the show, including her own mother and the elementary school teacher who shaped her as a young girl.
4. Plus One (Hulu) - My favorite email newsletter is Anne Helen Petersen's Culture Study. She recently interviewed a romantic comedy expert and she asked him what rom-com people should watch that they likely haven't seen, and his top recommendation was Plus One on Hulu. So, naturally, I watched it that night.
The movie co-stars Jack Quaid (yes, the son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) and Maya Erskine (co-creator of PEN15) as college best friends, Ben and Alice. They are in the middle of a busy wedding season and decide to be each other's plus one to all of the wedding events they've been invited to.
As you can likely guess, along the way, they fall for each other. There's a drunken night where they cross the line, an adorable decision to really go for it, and of course, a moment where it all gets screwed up.
I found this movie to be completely adorable. I've seen many movies about weddings and this one cleverly takes you from event to event by opening each new wedding with the best man or maid of honor's toast. It helped set the scene for each new event, while also offering moments of levity and humor.
5. Poetic Justice (Amazon) - A few weeks ago I watched the four-part documentary about Janet Jackson, and in the series they talked about her first major film role as Justice in the movie Poetic Justice. I had never seen it, so this past weekend I decided to finally watch it.
Jackson plays Justice, a young woman who expresses herself through poetry. All of the poems read during the movie were actually written by Maya Angelou.
Justice lives alone in a house she inherited from her grandmother, and works as a hair stylist during the day. Her best friend Iesha (played by Regina King) invites her to come on a road trip with her and her boyfriend, and she reluctantly agrees.
While Iesha and her boyfriend are making out in the back of the truck, Justice sits up front with Lucky, played by Tupac Shakur. They have a great chemistry, that builds as the movie goes on. Though Tupac was best known for his rap skills, he was excellent in this role.
I enjoyed the movie and thought it had a very satisfying ending. If you're in the mood for a throwback, add this to your watch list.
6. And Just Like That: The Documentary (HBO) - I did not watch the HBO reboot of Sex and the City because it is my firm belief that the original show (plus the first movie) were perfection and it's insane that they are messing with something that had such a beautiful legacy. Leave well enough alone!
That said, when I heard there was a documentary coming out about the making of the show, I did feel I could get off my high horse long enough to watch it.
The documentary is one hour long and about 50 of those minutes are spent talking about the fashion. Patricia Field was the costume designer on the original show and the movies, and her number two, a woman named Molly, has now taken over. We get to see Molly dusting off classic pieces from the original six seasons, as well as shopping for new additions. It was so cool to see how she thinks about full outfits, who will wear them, what kind of moment / event they will wear it to, etc.
We also get to see how involved Sarah Jessica Parker is in the styling for Carrie. Not only does she come in for fittings, but she helps to select belts, shoes, bags and jewelry to ensure every element of the look is true to Carrie and her sensibilities. There is also one scene where Sarah Jessica is telling the props department how Carrie's new closet looks too sterile and organized and she shows them how to mess it up a bit to feel more like her.
Throughout the documentary, we flash back to earlier outfits, apartments and dinner scenes as a reference point for things that got included in this new version of the show. It was incredibly fun to be reminded of those moments. Also, give the editor of this documentary a round of applause! It was all so seamless.
The best part was getting to see Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon hanging out together between takes. It's so clear that the three of them have a genuine friendship, and that they were elated to be back together again.
Whether you watched the reboot or not, make time for this. You'll be so glad you did.
There you have it! This week's top picks.