Extra

Hacks season 2 premieres May 12 on HBO Max (Starring Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder)

HACKS

  • By RICH ANDREW
  • Photo Courtesy of HBO MAX

Season One gave us the awesome gift of Deborah Vance, Vegas headliner, living legend, and comedienne extraordinaire whose dwindling star now struggles to sell out the house. So her agent suggests hiring young comedy writer Ava Daniels to help beef up the act and make it more relatable for today’s audiences. Deborah reluctantly takes her on and immediately butts heads against this new style of joke. Through all the bickering, they manage to cobble together new material for Deborah’s final show, but on that fateful night, Deborah decides to stick with the old routine, leaving Ava incensed. When she finds a gift from Ava reminding her of all the risks she took that earned her this career, Deborah performs the new material. And it tragically bombs. But Deborah sees its potential, so for Season Two, she decides to test out her new act on the brutal road. And with Deborah, Ava, and company confined to one giant tour bus, hilarity is bound to ensue. With a stellar cast that includes Emmy-winning Jean Smart (Babylon), Hannah Einbinder (North Hollywood), Rose Abdoo (Call Me Kat), Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Candyman), Mark Indelicato (Mélange), and guest stars Ming-Na Wen (The Book of Boba Fett), Devon Sawa (Chucky), Laurie Metcalf (The Conners), and Margaret Cho (The Flight Attendant), Season Two of Hacks delivers double the laughs.

For more, click here.

The First Lady now on Showtime (Starring Michelle Pfeiffer)

THE FIRST LADY

  • By NINA SVENTITSKY
  • Photo Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Showtime’s insightful drama series about three first ladies connected by their frustrations with politics and the limitations of the ‘job’. Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Michelle Obama (Viola Davis) are portrayed in wonderful performances. Eleanor Roosevelt was part of American royalty, expected to make a good marriage but not interested in being a society lady. At boarding school in Europe, asked what she most wants to be in her life she answers useful. Betty Ford surprised me most; she is shown during the struggle for women’s equality and we see from early on, as a young woman, she’s overpassed for a job in favor of a man even though she’s better in the role. When she and Jerry enter the White House, she comes under the scrutiny of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, who want her silent and congenial. She rebels and becomes a heroine when her breast cancer battle becomes public. Pfeiffer is subtle, vulnerable and full of depth in this role. By now we know that Michelle Obama was reluctant for Barack to run, and we see how his ambition steamrolls her as she tries to strike a balance between loving partner and independent woman. Viola Davis brings humor and power to the role. The First Lady is the perfect series to watch with Nana, she will have seen and remembered it all.

For more, click here.

Julia documentary on Prime Video, (Photo Paul Cushing Child and Julia, Credit Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

JULIA

  • By NINA SVENTITSKY
  • Photo Courtesy of SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

I thoroughly enjoyed Julia, a new documentary by Ron Howard, about America’s first tv chef, Julia Child. I thought I had seen everything there was to see about her, film adaptations of her life, books about her life in France, a tv series about her breakthrough tv series on public television, The French Chef. This film, on Amazon Prime and debuting on CNN May 31, beautifully weaves the story of her life – but most important her career success – with never before seen photos and footage. Julia was a pioneer, rising above the chauvinism of the 1960s to get her tv show produced and repeated for several seasons. The doc urges us to recognize her contribution to home cooking; at the time, tv dinners were de rigeur and weird jello molds were considered festive. What Julia did for the insecure American home cook (housewife) was to give confidence and a way to dream big in the kitchen. She elevated home cooking. Much is made of her role as a pioneer, with famous chefs chiming in – including her good friend and collaborator, Jacques Pepin. The photography and food styling in this show are stunning, and you will find yourself hankering for a boeuf Bourgignon (beef stew!) or omelet. The anecdotes abound, and her old friends and colleague recount their Julia stories. Julia (the documentary) is charming and inspiring. All ages.

For more, click here.

Anatomy of a Scandal now on Netflix (Starring Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller)

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL

  • By NINA SVENTITSKY
  • Photo Courtesy of NETFLIX

For a buttoned-up country, Britain knows how to turn out naughty boys, and how to protect them. Anatomy of a Scandal does a fantastic job of revealing still evident hard truths about the class structure of modern British society. This particular scandal is a secret gradually revealed about family man and MP James Whitehouse. Early on, we learn that Whitehouse’s aide accuses him of assault following the end of their months-long affair, thus disrupting his loving family (and reputation). This limited series is expertly written and played by a stellar cast including Rupert Friend as Whitehouse, Sienna Miller as wife Sophie, and Michelle Dockery as the prosecutor. Whitehouse’s BFF from Oxford is the Prime Minister. Through flashbacks we see how intricately the cast is connected and how the system (or society) protects and excuses the privileged class. Each episode exposes layers of secrets, lies, and facades and also brings up nuances of relationships in general…when does a passionate affair become dangerous? What does one really know about one’s life partner? And how far will someone go to seek justice? The characters are at once empathetic and annoying, none being absolute in innocence nor guilt. Even Miller as the suffering wife has benefitted by the smoothing out of life’s little wrinkles. If you’ve wondered what Lady Mary ( of Downton Abbey) is up to these days, here’s your answer.

Streaming on Netflix, click here.