It continues to be a hot month and what better way to stay cool than staying-in and streaming it till we make it out of this pandemic?
INDIAN MATCHMAKING (NETFLIX)
This eight-episode Series was a surprise delight! Often the term “arranged marriage” has a negative connotation. What INDIAN MATCHMAKING sets-out to do successfully is explaining the challenges that this generation of single people of Indian descent face in finding a life partner. In turning to their cultural traditions in finding romance, we see how this works in a modern framework in a world that is entirely different from that of their parents. Leading the way is world-renowned Matchmaker Sima Taparia who is tasked with finding fits for men and women in the U.S. and in India. Some individuals are a bit more challenging than others to pair, but we love joining them along the way in the process. If anything, you should walk away from this experience feeling more informed in understanding the nuances of how socioeconomic status, astrology, faith, age and even how despite being Indian how there are so many divisions which dictate one’s romantic fate. In one storyline, we see an effervescent Guyanese-American woman named Nadia struggles finding an Indian man as she often isn’t considered “Indian” despite sharing the same ancestry. While some storylines aren’t tied-up quite as well as others as new characters get introduced throughout the Series, this leaves potential for a forthcoming season and we’re totally in!
DOWN TO EARTH WITH ZAC EFRON (NETFLIX)
This eight-episode Series is something we didn’t realize we would enjoy so much. Idol Zac Efron pairs with buddy Darin Oilen to travel around different parts of the world to understand how they are consuming energy and food differently from the United States. The conscious Series blends many of the obvious reasons one would want to look at shirtless Zac Efron with an awareness that we can all grab takeaways from in how we look at consumption in our own lives. The duo visit Iceland, France, Costa Rica, Lima, Puerto Rico, Sardinia, London and Iquitos and have some fun along the way going outside their comfort zones. There’s even a famous face or two along the way who join them, like Anna Kendrick! The explanations are clear and simple and this was an innovative, entertaining way to speak to a younger audience about issues that are important to our future.
FATAL AFFAIR (NETFLIX)
We admit it – we love crazy, over-the-top “fatal attraction”-type flicks. They usually are packed with thrills, the right amount of juiciness and end with a feeling of catharsis, because the obsessed one usually never survives and we can go once again to our mundane lives. The Thriller centers on former flames Ellie (Nia Long) and David (Omar Epps) who reunite one day by chance (or not) at the former’s work place. They decide to catch-up over drinks and after Ellie confesses she feels distanced from her husband Michael (Stephen Bishop), things heat-up as their passions ignite. David still is not over Ellie clearly and keeps surfacing unwelcomed and Ellie learns some dark secrets about his past that had occurred in the years they were apart. Soon Ellie and her family find themselves in danger as he infiltrates their lives. Peter Sullivan (Secret Obsession) directs and co-writes this Film which is pegged where right it should be as an at-home release. While introducing nothing new to the genre, we still got a rush and wish it went even more over-the-top and gave us a bit more David as we wanted better to understand his obsession and the whys.
THE OLD GUARD (NETFLIX)
Charlize Theron is back and ready to kick some ass. This Superhero-Drama directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights) and based on Greg Rucka‘s Comic Book of the same name. The story is about a group of immortal mercenaries consisting of Andy (Theron), Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), who are sent to Sudan to rescue a group of kidnapped children, only to realize that they were set-up to be exposed by former CIA Operative James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Joining them is Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne), a Marine whom after getting fatally-wounded in Afghanistan, realizes her own immortality and Andy is able to track her down and help protect her, assisting her in harnessing her new-found power. Enter the picture, greedy pharmaceutical empire CEO Steven Merrick (Harry Melling) who seeks to capture the group of mercenaries to find out their survival secrets. In a fight to protect their anonymity and avoid being captured for study, we wonder if they will be able to keep their secret guarded from the world. While from a pacing standpoint it feels a bit long at times, The Old Guard is loaded with adrenaline and high-octane action, giving Blockbuster fans a much-deserved thrill in the absence of cinemas this summer. Inclusive and unconventional casting gives the Film a fresh element, although all eyes go to its fierce star Theron who balances Andy‘s strength and vulnerability perfectly in what looks to be the start of a Franchise for her.
TED LASSO (APPLE TV+)
Jason Sudeikis reprises his role as Kansas College Football Coach sent overseas to oversee a soccer team in England. The funnyman developed this character prior and appeared on NBC Sports and has some fun with him in this fish-out-of-water Comedy which sees him adapting to language, personalities and cultural differences. Sudeikis is great, playing his character straight and well-intentioned yet fumbling, not exactly receiving the warmest reception. Sex Education‘s Hannah Waddingham is great as Rebeca, fearsome boss lady who inherited the said soccer team from her late husband. Why? She may have a reason or two why which you’ll find out. Under-appreciated Juno Temple also is delightfully-funny as a flirty minx who lands Lasso in a bit of trouble! We’ve previewed the first few episodes and are looking forward to the rest of the ten episodes which surface on Apple TV this August.
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE SEASON 12 (CRAVE)
It’s RuPaul‘s world and we’re all just living in it. One of the greatest joys of this isolation period I’ve experienced is catching-up on RuPaul’s Drag Race and you’ll be pleased to know all seasons from the very start are available on Crave. This latest season sees 13 – and then 12 Drag Queens compete for fame, with one being disqualified after catfishing allegations surfaced after the season aired earlier this year. Compared to Season 11, these Queens may lack the sass their predecessors had, but more than make-up (pardon the pun) for with their showman – or should I say showwomanship?! Tons of celebrity guest judges surface including Nicki Minaj, Chaka Khan, Robyn, Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Munn and more. These Queens go through some positively-amazing and tough challenges including a Madonna “Rusical” and toughest of all, the final three compete for the throne from their own living rooms as the Finale had taken place amidst this pandemic. Truly the most heart-filled, entertaining hour on Television. We totally were rooting for Canadian Queen, Jackie Cox!
RUPAUL’S SECRET CELEBRITY DRAG RACE (CRAVE)
Our obsession with Drag Race continues even after season 12 with this limited-run, four-episode special Series which pits celebrities against one another with the winner of each episode getting a prize of $20,000 to a charity of their choice. We get some Canadian representation with Schitt’s Creek star Dustin Milligan appearing, plus some familiar faces like Hayley Kiyoko, Madison Beer, Loni Love, Vanessa Williams and more surfacing for a shot at drag glory. Most of all, it is fascinating seeing the cultural impact the Drag phenomenon has had on the world and a diverse set and we see that even celebrities are battling their own troubles which they overcome over the course of their time on this Show.
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS SEASON 5 (CRAVE)
We honestly can’t get enough of this and RuPaul’s Drag Race has been our saviour amidst this Pandemic. Catching-up with all its branch-offs has been a thing of joy for me. This season pits returning stars of the past (some coming back a third time!) including Jujubee, Miz Cracker, Shea Couleé, Ongina, Alexis Mateo and Derrick Barry. While it is unable to avoid its drama, the bond of sisterhood among the contestants is stronger than ever and it truly is a nailbiter to the finish as the top three are evenly-matched. Celebrity guest judges include Jane Krakowski, Ricky Martin, Nicole Byer, Madison Beer, Tessa Thompson and more. RuPaul throws-in an added twist of a surprise Lip Sync Assassin each episode instead of the old format where the top two compete against one another. Instead, the contestant with the top score of the week competes against an unknown past star.
LITTLE VOICE (APPLE TV+)
We love Sara Bareilles and were so thrilled to hear she is responsible for the Music behind this Musical Young Adult Romance Series, joining forces with Mega-Producer J.J. Abrams. The Series centers on Bess (Brittany O’Grady) a talented younger Singer-Songwriter who is trying to find her voice. Part of the issue with the Series is that you really have to be invested in Bess to want to take this ride with her as the story takes a bit to progress and for a bit you have to sit through a phase of awkwardness. Some solid performances and nice Music on this Series, new episodes premiering weekly.
PALM SPRINGS (HULU)
Max Barbakow makes his directorial debut in charming Rom-ComPALM SPRINGS, which sold for a record $17.5 million after its Sundance Premiere earlier this year. While the pandemic has led to an altered course in its release, those in the U.S. already are able to enjoy this Groundhog Day-esque tale of a duo who cross paths and may be each other’s match. Nyles (Andy Samberg) already has a girlfriend in Misty (Meredith Hagner) and tags along for her best friend Tala‘s (Camila Mendes) wedding, in which Misty is a bridesmaid. Meet Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the older sister of Tala who’s made a few bad choices in her life. She and Nyles hit it off quite well, until an angry crossbow-wielding man named Roy (J.K. Simmons) shows up is in hot pursuit of Nyles. The odd thing is that the day keeps beginning over and over for the pair and they can’t quite understand why. Their storyline however keeps moving along in a linear motion despite the day lining-up differently each time and they realize that they aren’t going to be able to move ahead further until they confront some of the most toxic things that are holding them back in their lives. PALM SPRINGS uniquely combines raunchy Comedy, a bit of Physics and some heartfelt romance for a worthwhile watch that equally tugs a bit of the heartstrings as it does elicit the chuckles. The lead pair are perfect together, with Samberg delivering some of his best work yet.
Summer’s in full swing and here are some new options for you to help pass the time while we’re at home to help “flatten the curve”.
UNSOLVED MYSTERIES (NETFLIX)
Mustering-up the courage to watch this took a lot out of us. This Series mortified us growing-up in the ’90s and made it difficult for this pre-teen to go to sleep on a regular basis, yet still we watched. Netflix just released season 15 of this Series which tackles cold cases and unexplained phenomenons. The theme song and title graphic have been updated by still make us shiver. The round we get six episodes examining everything from a man whose body was found in Baltimore’s Belvedere Hotel; a woman who disappeared from her hair salon with her remains found later leaving her son with several questions and no closure; the search for a man suspected to have killed his family in France; a black man who went missing after attending a party with friends; various towns one night in September 1969 which encountered what is believed to be an UFO; and sisters seeking justice for their missing sister- the suspect being their mom. I am shaking just re-thinking about these. There literally are footprint marks on my bedroom floor for all the feet sweats! We need a mental break. but want more.
CRAZY DELICIOUS (NETFLIX)
We love our cooking and baking competitions and British series CRAZY DELICIOUS is no exception. Each episode, three contestants square-off and are given ingredient and theme challenges and must impress a panel of three high-profile “Food Gods” including Carla Hall, Heston Blumenthal and Niklas Ekstedt. Host Jayde Adams provides tons of puns and quirk. We love the colours and innovation as the show gets its contestants to amp-up the creativity in a serious time crunch. Some thrive, some flop and at six episodes, this was an easy zip-through. I wanted to eat everything.
ATHLETE A (NETFLIX)
Co-Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk take us deep into the world of American Gymnastics where a bombshell was dropped when it was uncovered that Doctor Larry Nassar had abused several young female gymnasts. But prior to being sentenced to 175 years in prison, how did he manage to get away with this for so many years? Documentary ATHLETE A uncovers the web of deception and how the USA Gymnastics Team continued to receive several reports, burying them for several years. Finally, Rachael Denhollander, now a lawyer and a former gymnast ignited the spark that became a blaze as the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar, bringing these victims to justice. We see Nassar‘s world unfold in detail and we get some exclusive content and footage including an interrogation where he visibly is uncomfortable when questioned about his examination practices. Like Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, the Film is focused on the victims and their healing but this goes a layer deeper in understanding of the perpetrator in addition to the victims. Riveting.
This is a collection of 17 short films, produced by Pablo Larrain (Jackie) set during the COVID-19 Pandemic, ranging between 4 to 11 minutes in length ranging from comedic to dramatic, some autobiographical even. Netflix has arranged the Films in episodes which so you can pick and choose which you wanted to view. Some standouts include:
–RIDE IT OUT by Ana Lily Amirpour, a gorgeously-shot look at Los Angeles during the pandemic –CRICKETS by Kristen Stewart and also starring her, centers on a woman coping with insomnia –JOHNNY MA by Johnny Ma is autobiographical is a letter to his mother, which she may never even see; he shares his mother’s dumpling recipe. –PENELOPE by Maggie Gyllenhaal and starring husband Peter Sarsgaard as a man coping with a virus attacking the planet, causing the moon to orbit closer to Earth –THE LUCKY ONES by Rachel Morrison, about a mother who writes a poem for her son, hoping he will remember what life was like during COVID-19
RuPAUL’S DRAG RACE SEASON 11 (NETFLIX)
Confession – I honestly haven’t tuned into RuPaul’s Drag Race since its first two seasons. It isn’t that I didn’t love it, because I did. Life got busy and there were so many other things to watch. Amidst this period of isolation, I decided to catch-up again and that proved a great decision! We meet 14 Queens here, one returning from last season after a premature elimination. And we also have Canadian representation with former Toronto star Brooke Lynn Hytes making us proud, capitalizing off her experience as a ballet dancer to wow the judges. Celebrity judges include Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne, Kandi Burruss, Tony Hale, Joel McHale, Clea DuVall, Katherine Langford, Gina Rodriguez and several more. As desired, things get super-heated among this diverse group of Queens but it is a wonder seeing how far along this Series has advanced in complexity and what we get is a dazzling production with some nailbiter challenges including a drag magic show and a Grease-inspired parody musical. This, in addition to some nerve-wrecking Lip Sync For Your Life and runway challenges. A little wonder how this Series has taken home a whopping NINEEmmys. We need a just-concluded Season 12 on Netflix, in addition to recently-launched Canada’s Drag Race, which is available on Crave in Canada.
CANADA’S DRAG RACE (CRAVE)
Toronto is known as a hot bed for drag talent and this spinoff of RuPaul’s Drag Race gives 12 Canadian Queens a chance to compete for a $100k prize and a year of stays at The Hilton! Brooke Lynn Hytes made a huge splash on season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and gets a heroine’s welcome home as one of three judges, alongside supermodel Stacey Mackenzie and actor Jeffrey Bower Chapman. Each week, a new celebrity guest judge appears starting with the likes of Elisha Cuthbert (24, Happy Endings) and Jade Hassouné (Shadowhunters). A new episode arrives every Thursday on Crave, with the Series premiering this past Thursday to raves. Canada’s Queens certainly have a quirkiness to them, as evinced by a Rocky Mountains photo challenge which saw them tasked with looking their fiercest when the wind machine suddenly went full blizzard mode on them! There’s certainly already quite a bit of sass to be seen already and we can’t wait to see the drama develop.
WE’RE HERE (CRAVE/HBO)
You’d be hard-pressed to find anything more heart-felt, entertaining and educational in six episodes right now on Television. Yes, we had to purchase the HBO add-on to our Crave subscription to see this but it was well-worth the price. WE’RE HERE follows three of America’s top Drag Queens: Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela as they venture to the most obscure towns in America to deliver a message of self-love. We meet a wide array of subjects from people grieving a loss, to people who identify as heterosexual to spread a message of inclusion, to individuals who are non-binary and seek drag as an act of expression to help realize their true selves.
Imagine RuPaul’s Drag Race and Queer Eye as a mash-up in a Documentary format. The Series digs deep and we really see our subjects go on a journey of growth, dealing with things that have halted their lives and most of all, it so much fun seeing the big reveals at the end of each episode. It is eye-opening the barriers that these Queens faced in these places which face an uphill battle in acceptance. The Series culminates in us getting to know each of the Drag Queens and their own emotional journeys from obscurity to fame. WE’RE HERE tugs on all the right emotional strings and gave us all the feels. You will not regret seeing this.
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN (CRAVE/HBO)
So sad we missed our chance to see this in theatres last fall, but so happy we got to finally enjoy it on Crave via the HBO add-on. Based on Garth Stein‘s Novel, this Story of the unbreakable bond between an owner and their pet hits all the marks emotionally. While oversimplified in parts including a legal battle, what this Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) Tearjerker does well is its empathetic view of the world it gives us from our central canine Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) and also his unconditional love for race car driver owner, Denny (Milo Ventimiglia). While this doesn’t really tread any new territory, it gives its audience exactly what it knows it is going to get. This is a must-see for anyone who’s ever loved their dog more than anything and it literally will have you crying so hard, you’ll be gasping for air. You have been warned.
THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB (NETFLIX)
Based on Ann M. Martin’s popular Children’s Novels, this ten-episode Series sure is to be a hit with the younger crowd this Summer. Make no mistake though there are lessons to be learned by kids, young and old here. We follow seventh-graders Kristy (Sophia Grace), Stacey (Shay Rudolph), Claudia (Momona Tamada) and Mary Anne (Malia Baker), who band together to create a club of Baby-Sitters to earn some money. Along the way, they learn about some of the battles they and those close to them each are facing in their own lives. Purely wholesome, these dramas seem real to these young ladies who are dealing with things for the first time. For example, Stacey is a Type-1 Diabetic; Claudia is trying to understand her grandmother’s past having witnessed what it was like to be at an internment camp and also trying to find her artistic self; Mary Anne is learning to assert herself, not knowing how to say “no”. This and several more complex story lines such as living with a single parent or seeing your parent re-marry or date. And the Series even stars Alicia Silverstone as Kristy‘s mother. We love that the stories have been modernized for kids of today but still there are important and healthy perspectives which we all can learn from. We have a feeling there will be more seasons ahead.
This Comedy centers on Wesley (Nasim Pedrad) and her two BFFs Brooke (Anna Camp) and Kaylie (Sarah Burns) who jet off to Mexico to save the former from sabotaging a blossoming relationship with Jared (Robbie Amell).Wesley‘s biological clock is ticking and she’s running out of patience. Jared is a hunk who has it all and could be the one. That is until he “ghosts” Wesley, triggering her to send an angry series of messages confronting him – only to realize he was hospitalized! In a manic frenzy, Wesley and her friends try to break into his hotel room and delete the series of angry emails. The trip to Mexico however proves life-changing as each of the ladies come to different realizations about what they truly want in life. Enter to the picture Sean (Lamorne Morris), who keeps surfacing and despite having had a rocky start with Wesley, we wonder if she might’ve overlooked him. This Comedy by Ellen Rapoport starts-off actually quite funny with SNL alumni Pedrad shining in her many gags, but when things get a little more serious and she’s forced to face her demons and the BFFs get separated in the second-half, it somehow fizzles and feels a bit long at just under two hours.
MUCHO MUCHO AMOR: THE LEGEND OF WALTER MERCADO (NETFLIX)
Puerto Rican Astrologer Walter Mercado gained fame internationally in the ’70s with his larger-than-life persona and flamboyant fashion, but then suddenly disappeared after having been a very regular part of his fans’ lives. This Documentary by Cristina Constantini and Kareem Tabsch explains his rise to stardom and also the reason why he went away, but more importantly, we witness his comeback after a legal battle after signing-away past, present and future rights to his own name. This is a fascinating portrait of an icon, unafraid to ask questions about this mysterious figure including his romantic life. Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda even appears in the Documentary as a teary-eyed adoring fan. The only thing tragic about this is that the subject likely never got to see this lovely tribute to him before passing away last year, though it lets his colourful legacy live on.
Happy Thanksgiving America (and us over-indulgent Canadians)! Taking place tonight is a landmark Television Moment as international Pop Megastar Lady Gaga joins The Muppets on Television for a 90-minute Special, Lady Gaga & The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular!
Also appearing on the Broadcast are the likes of Kristen Bell, Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and RuPaul! Eclectic. You can guarantee there will be drama between Miss Piggy and Gaga for Kermit‘s affections! Surely some of that tension might spill-over to next year’s The Muppets’ Most Wanted, in which Gaga appears briefly?
See a Sneak Preview here:
ABC airs Lady Gaga & The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular tonight from 9:30 – 11:00 PM EST.
Although she’s busy in Japan celebrating her latest Disc ARTPOP, we’re still giddy about meeting her last week in Toronto! More on that here.