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.