Hello, friends. How is everyone doing?
We're less than a week away from Thanksgiving. I know many of you have had to change or adjust your plans for the holiday. With COVID cases rising, many people won't be able to see family this year. I know this is so hard. Please keep wearing your mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance. We're all in this together.
If you seek escapism through TV and movies, you've come to the right place. Before we jump into this week's short list, here are a few things to look forward to:
- Friday, November 27 - Virgin River will be back on Netflix with a second season. I loved this show back in March. I can't wait to head back to this tiny town.
- Tuesday, December 1 - Back in June, I talked about this cool series Netflix released called The Movies That Made Us. It featured Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Home Alone. Each episode talked about the idea for the movie, how it was made, the on-set experience and the audience reactions. Well, now Netflix is debuting The Holiday Movies That Made Us. I know this will be great and super nostalgic!
- Friday, December 11 - Ryan Murphy directs the movie Prom for Netflix, an over-the-top spectacle about creating a dream prom for a young teen in a small town in Indiana. It stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, James Corden and Keegan-Michael Key. You can watch the trailer here.
- Tuesday, December 15 - More episodes of Song Exploder hit Netflix. If you missed the first four, I recommend starting with Lin-Manuel Miranda's journey of writing "Wait for It" for Hamilton.
Now onto this week's top picks.
Season four delivers us 10 new episodes and the arrival of Diana Spencer. I was clamoring for this point in the timeline, as I have very strong memories of Princess Diana from childhood. I will never forget where I was when I heard she had been killed in that car crash (at the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel waiting to fly home to Boston).
Emma Corrin plays Diana and her likeness to the famous princess is uncanny. Not just her appearance, but her posture, voice and even the way she tilts her head.
Princess Anne remains my favorite character and Erin Doherty brings her to life with just the right balance of sarcasm and decorum.
Olivia Coleman continues to wow as the queen, and in this season, faces a worthy opponent in Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson. I highly recommend listening to this episode of NPR's Fresh Air where Terry Gross interviews Anderson about this role. I also enjoyed this piece in The Atlantic, titled "The Crown Takes the Shine Off Queen Elizabeth’s Reign."
At this particular moment in time, eight months into the global pandemic, this show completely transported me - to the grand halls of Buckingham Palace, to the damp fields at Balmoral Castle, inside London's most exclusive restaurants - it was thrilling. If you miss travel, this will scratch that itch.
2. Dash & Lily (Netflix) - If you're already watching holiday movies, then you've got to add Dash & Lily to your list. It's eight episodes (each about 22 minutes long) following two teenagers as they write back and forth to each other in a shared notebook. Dash is played by Austin Abrams (Kate's terrible high school boyfriend on This Is Us) and Lily is played by Midori Francis.
Dash discovers a red leather notebook in The Strand, one of New York City's most famous bookshops. He reads a message from Lily, challenging him to complete a few tasks to prove he's open to this exchange. What follows is them getting to know one another through these written messages, without ever meeting in person.
The show reels you in with episode one, and you have to know, will they meet? Will they be excited or disappointed? Could their relationship exist outside of the red notebook?
In addition to the unique premise, this show is a beautiful love letter to New York City at Christmas time. It made me miss Manhattan so much!
Fun fact: the series is directed by Fred Savage, famous for playing Kevin Arnold in the Wonder Years!
3. All In: The Fight For Democracy (Amazon) - If you were watching the news in the days after the presidential election then you likely heard the name Stacey Abrams over and over again. Abrams ran for governor of Georgia in 2018 and her voting rights organization, Fair Fight, is credited with registering thousands of voters in the past two years, majorly contributing to Georgia voting blue in this election cycle.
All In: The Fight for Democracy is a documentary about the history of voter suppression in the United States, culminating with the 2018 election in Georgia. Abrams' race is used to examine what voter suppression looks like in practice. This film was recently released, so it covers voter suppression laws and changes all the way up to July 2020.
I was gripped for all 103 minutes of this. Understanding these laws, especially at the state level, is critical for helping to make any kind of real change.
My ultimate takeaway? Stacey Abrams is the human embodiment of strength, endurance and grit. I hope she runs again, or runs for an even higher office! She'd have my vote.
There you have it! This week's must-watch list. I'll be back next week (Thanksgiving week!) with more recommendations.