Hello, friends. It's the kickoff to the holiday weekend, and though I'm not feeling very patriotic right now, I am grateful for the time off to rest and recharge. It's pouring rain here in Boston today, the perfect time to talk about streaming!
First, a few things coming up:
- Wednesday, July 6 - From the producers of the To All the Boys trilogy, comes a film adaptation of Jennifer E. Smith's book Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between. Watch the trailer, then enjoy the movie on Netflix.
- Monday, July 11 - This is a big summer premiere day: The Bachelorette on ABC and Below Deck Mediterranean on Bravo.
- Friday, July 29 - Neil Patrick Harris returns to the screen in a new Netflix series called Uncoupled. When his boyfriend breaks up with him, he finds himself single again in his 40s.
Let's get into this week's top picks. I'm excited to share reviews of two awesome shows and two adorable movies.
1. The Summer I Turned Pretty (Amazon) - Jenny Han, the author of the To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy, has another set of her books adapted for the screen, this time the trilogy that begins with the book The Summer I Turned Pretty. Full disclosure: I have not ready any of the books this new show is based on.
Lola Tung stars as Belly (short for Isabel) going through that pivotal phase from tween to full blown teenager. It's the summer she turns 15 years old and she's learning to drive, participating in a debutante ball, and stumbling through multiple romantic relationships.
Every summer, Belly and her family return to Cousins Beach. In the show, this is set on Cape Cod. She, her brother and her mom shack up with her mom's best friend and her two sons. It's their most treasured tradition.
Belly's mom, Laurel, is fresh off a divorce. Her brother, Steven, is eager to make money this summer (to save for college). Laurel's best friend, Susannah, has just learned that her cancer has returned and she's trying to have one last "perfect" summer in her favorite place. Her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah, become central to Belly's love triangle (well, square, since there's three guys).
This show is one of those beautiful coming of age stories that captures a particular chapter in life so perfectly. It reminded me of Lady Bird in that way.
It also has all the trappings of a high school rom-com, complete with an epic (and very moody) soundtrack with songs from Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Ariana Grande, Alessia Cara, Billie Eilish and more. You can stream it on Spotify.
At 37 years old, I definitely found myself identifying more with Laurel and Susannah (the mom characters). I wanted every single one of their outfits, particularly their pajamas and beach cover ups. One of my favorite scenes was when they ditched the kids to get drunk at the Fat Pelican, a beachfront bar they used to frequent in college. Fun fact: Susannah is played by Rachel Blanchard, who was Cher Horowitz in the TV adaptation of Clueless.
There are seven episodes, each 45 minutes long. I've already watched the show all the way through twice. I have a friend whose watched it four times! There's something about it that is incredibly comforting.
For those wondering what is true to the book, check out this fabulous deep dive on Cosmopolitan. I'd also recommend following Jenny Han on Instagram, @jennyhan. She's been sharing a ton of behind the scenes content and re-posting the best fan tributes. The fan videos from TikTok are so good that it almost (almost!) made me download the app.
2. Father of the Bride (HBO Max) - When I heard there was going to be a remake of Father of the Bride, but set in Miami, I knew I would watch it. Andy Garcia plays the dad, Billy, in a role made famous by Steve Martin. Gloria Estefan plays his wife, and Adria Arjona plays his daughter Sofi, desperately seeking his approval and cooperation and she tries to pull off a wedding in under two months.
Diego Boneta plays her fiancé Adan, and Pedro Damian plays his wild and outrageous father, Hernan.
As with the original, the wedding planner gets the most laughs. In the remake, Chloe Fineman, SNL's most skilled mimic, plays Natalie Vance, a young woman building her entire business on Instagram.
For me, the most fun part about watching this was seeing all the footage of Miami. They shot in Miami Beach, on Calle Ocho, on Brickell Avenue, and the boat scene (the engagement party) was filmed in the water right behind my parent's condo building.
While I didn't think this remake was as strong as the original, it's still worth a watch.
3. Love & Gelato (Netflix) - Last week, I traveled to Miami to meet my new niece, and as I always do before a flight, I downloaded a few movie options for the plane. I had seen a trailer for Love & Gelato and thought it was just the right amount of mindlessness for an in-flight flick.
Susanna Skaggs stars as Lina, a high school senior headed to Rome for the summer before she goes off to MIT. Having just lost her mother, she's being welcomed to Italy by one of her mom's best friends, Francesca.
As you can imagine from the title of the movie, she has quite a few love interests. At first, she finds herself being pursued by rich playboy Alessandro, and later, by a quiet, charming, aspiring chef named Lorenzo.
To add more tension into the mix, Lina is given her mother's journals from her time in Italy, in which she learns the true identity of her father. I won't spoil anything, but that story line gives the movie a bit more depth.
To be honest, the best part of watching this was being mentally transported to Rome. I miss international travel and this really scratched that wanderlust itch.
There are several scenes where Lina is eating a pastry that looks kind of like a lobster tail meets a cream puff, and you will definitely find yourself wanting to eat one!
4. Iron Chef: Quest for Iron Legend (Netflix) - Whenever I go to my parents' house, my mom and I always struggle to decide on which show or movie to watch together. By some miracle, I was able to convince her to watch the new Iron Chef with me.
This new set of eight episodes is co-hosted by Alton Brown and Kristen Kish (who I loved on Top Chef). They have a difficult task, which is to narrate what's going on while both teams are cooking in Kitchen Stadium, as well as guide the judges through their tastings and commentary. I learned a ton about cooking techniques and rare ingredients from their live play-by-plays.
The Iron Chefs featured in this season are Ming Tsai, Curtis Stone, Marcus Samuelsson, Dominique Crenn and Gabriela Camara. Dominique Crenn was a major stand out, as her cooking is so whimsical and creative. Her presentations will blow your mind.
I was equally impressed by all of the challengers!
In the first episode, it's chef Mason Hereford, who I learned has a restaurant in New Orleans called Molly's Rise and Shine. Obviously I need to go there!
In episode two, Esther Choi takes on chef Marcus Samuelsson and beats him! It was thrilling to watch. I was also rooting for chef Claudette Zepeda when she took on chef Ming Tsai.
Top Chef alums Mei Lin and Gregory Gourdet compete together as a team in episode seven, hoping to take down chef Ming.
Each episode has a theme and a required ingredient. Everything from live sturgeon to game birds to chocolate.
The judges on this show are some of the most articulate. Food editor Nilou Motamed, chef Andrew Zimmern, and then a rotating third chair. That final seat welcomed Wolfgang Puck, Masaharu Marimoto, and a few comedians too.
My mom and I found ourselves talking to each other throughout every episode because we were in awe as we watched these chefs come up with the most unique dishes from challenge to challenge. You would think you knew what they were starting to make, and then you'd be completely surprised by the final outcome.
If you love to cook (or love to eat), this show is a pure delight.
There you have it! This week's top picks.
Next week, I plan to share thoughts on The Bear on Hulu and a couple of other movies I have in my queue.
*Images courtesy of Unsplash, Amazon, The New York Times, Netflix and Newsweek.