Hello, friends. Happy Friday! I am headed up to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire this weekend for a full week of lake time with my cousins and their kids. It's an annual tradition that I look forward to all year. I hope you have some plans you're excited about too.
There's a lot of good shows and movies coming up. Here's my current short list:
- Wednesday, July 20 - Season 4 of Virgin River hits Netflix. I love this show and I usually binge a new season in two days.
- 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.
- Friday, August 12 - Season 3 of Mindy Kaling's Never Have I Ever lands on Netflix. Have I re-watched this show all the way through multiple times? Yes, I have.
Season 2 of Sex Lives of College Girls is currently being filmed for HBO Max. I'm tracking that one like crazy.
Let's get into this week's top picks.
1. The Bear (Hulu) - Whatever you're currently streaming, as soon as you finish, start The Bear on Hulu. It stars Jeremy Allen White (Lip from Shameless) as Carmen, a fine dining chef who leaves his prestigious job in New York City to come home to Chicago and run his brother's restaurant after his death.
A note on this actor: White is what I would call "sexy ugly." He's not conventionally good looking, but he has such charisma and magnetism that you can't help but be attracted to him. Mick Jagger also falls in this category.
White is brilliant in this role. As Carmen, he is a fish out of water in his brother's universe of cooks with attitude, back door deals, and neighborhood drama. He's trying to make the restaurant his own, while also actively processing the loss of his brother.
The show co-stars Ayo Edebiri as Sydney, Carmen's sous chef. Sydney admired Carmen's work in New York and is eager to learn from him. The other cooks are not interested in her joining the team and that causes tension in every single episode. In episode 5, titled "Sheridan," the restaurant loses gas and power. Sydney brilliantly builds a grill from cinder blocks in the parking lot, saving the day and earning a tiny bit of respect from the rest of the kitchen staff.
Edebiri is cast perfectly. As Sydney, she has energy and optimism, while Carmen is constantly spiraling. This feels like a pivotal moment in Edebiri's career and I hope it means we'll see more of her.
The supporting cast is also brilliant. Lionel Boyce plays Marcus, a pastry chef on a quest to make the perfect donut. Liza Colón-Zayas plays Tina, a line cook clinging to the past. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays Richie, Carmen's brother's best friend, a true hustler and a major pain in the ass. Oliver Platt plays Carmen's uncle, an ominous figure who apparently loaned his brother hundreds of thousands of dollars. Each character is so complex. I would honestly watch a spin off show about any one of them.
There are eight episodes of The Bear, each about 28 minutes. The final episode opens with Carmen sharing at an Al-Anon meeting. His monologue gutted me. I couldn't help but wonder, "How many takes did he do?" It was such an emotional piece of writing, I can't imagine having to do that multiple times for the camera.
A warning: the pace of the show's first two episodes is very manic. The way it's edited might give you a bit of a headache. It's meant to make you feel the intensity and chaos of a kitchen, and well, mission accomplished.
I also wanted to note that the show has a deep sense of place. It feels like a love letter to Chicago. From the wide shots of the city, to the specificity of the neighborhood, and even down to the music choices.
I loved this show so much. It was announced yesterday that they've been green lit for a season two.
If you'd like to learn more about it, I really enjoyed Pop Culture Happy Hour's podcast review. Co-host Glen Weldon said he thought episode 7, "Review," would be studied in film schools for years to come. Alan Sepinwall's review for Rolling Stone is also excellent.
2. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Hulu) - I watched this movie with my bestie over the 4th of July weekend and we giggled through the entire thing. Emma Thompson stars as Nancy, a woman who has recently lost her husband and hires a sex worker to help her explore her sexuality and do things her husband was never willing to.
Daryl McCormack plays Leo, the young, incredibly handsome man tasked with awakening Nancy's inner most desires. He is part therapist, part lover. He has a smooth and soothing voice that is in direct contrast to Nancy's up tight and regimented approach to everything.
Watching this felt like watching a stage play. It's just two actors in one room. Because the writing is so witty, it keeps your attention and keeps you laughing.
The movie is 90 minutes (in my opinion, the ideal length for a film) and an absolute delight.
3. Pride & Prejudice (Amazon) - Confession: until last week, I had never seen Pride & Prejudice. Not the Colin Firth version. Not the Keira Knightley version. Over the holiday weekend, I finally watched the 2005 version. It's available to rent on Amazon Prime for $1.99.
I'd like to thank Bridgerton for priming me to enjoy this kind of period film. While I found it impossible to understand how Elizabeth (Knightley) could be attracted to Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), they do exchange some very romantic dialogue.
This cast is packed with people who are now (17 years later) quite famous. That includes Carey Mulligan, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone and Rupert Friend.
I also watched Fire Island on Hulu, which is meant to be a modern take on this same Jane Austen story. Joel Kim Booster plays Noah, the opinionated friend (the Elizabeth Bennet, if you will) and Bowen Yang plays Howie, the more shy and reserved best friend (the Jane Bennet). Margaret Cho plays the house mother of their Fire Island getaway. The movie was cute, but not memorable.
There you have it! My top suggestions for the week.
Before I sign off, I also wanted to share two movies that you absolutely don't need to watch. The first is The Worst Person in the World on Hulu. My mom recommended this to me. It's a Norwegian film about a woman finding herself in her twenties. She's restless, keeps changing careers, and has two serious relationships that both end because she implodes them. It's a painfully honest account of this chapter of life and I think it will leave you feeling very down.
You can also skip Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between on Netflix. It's a rom-com, based on a book, and for me, it fell completely flat. I couldn't get invested at all.
More to come next week!