Wow. Every episode of this anthology taps into something that I as a woman, as a woman of color, and as a mother and daughter, have felt and struggled with. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who will relate to this series. There's quite a lot of pain in these stories, but each is so briliantly told. I'm not going to share details, not just to avoid any spoilers, but also because I think it's worth watching this not knowing what you're getting into.
ROAR is based on the fiercely feminist book of short stories by Cecilia Ahern.
One thing I wondered as I watched this was...how men feel when they watch this. Do they feel empathy? Or do they watch this and think these are merely dramatizations of women's emotions?
Kudos to the incredible women behind this project:
Creators/Showrunners: Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch
Writers: Cecilia Ahern, Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Halley Feiffer, Janine Nabers, Vera Santamaria
Directors: So Yong Kim, Anya Adams, Liz Flahive, Kim Gehrig, Rashida Jones, Channing Godfrey Peoples, Quyen Tran (also cinematographer)
Composer: Isobel Waller-Bridge
Producers and Executive Producers: Cecilia Ahern, Liz Flahive, Ashley Glazier, Allie Goss, Nicole Kidman, Carly Mensch, Bruna Papandria, Theresa Park, Jodi Matterson
(*note: since I wanted to highlight the women behind this project, I've left off the male producers' names. Also, hopefully IMDB is accurate!).
Not to mention the star-studded cast of badass women.
There are of course many other talented women and men behind this project.
Have you watched it? Let me know what you think! Leave a comment below :)
Pachinko follows four generations of a Korean Family from Japanese occupied Korea to Japan, and the U.S. Its nonlinear storytelling is exquisitely told and it covers history that most westerners are unfamiliar with. Though I'm not Korean, my grandmothers also grew up under Japanese occupation in Taiwan, so in a way, I feel some personal connection to the story as it has me reflecting on my own family's journey. It's a piece of history that certainly contributes to my own complicated cultural identity and I'm grateful to see that reflected here and that this series has the platform that it has.
Watch it on Apple TV+.
My latest must-see TV series is not a new one, but boy oh boy has it stood the test of time. I don't know why I never got into "Lost" when it first aired, but omg am I happy I finally watched it. Better late than never, I guess. Even though more than a decade has passed since the finale of the 6 season series, and aside from the flip phones and ultra low-rise hip-hugging jeans, the series doesn't feel dated at all. The nonlinear storytelling is executed really well, and you're constantly kept on your toes. There are also so many outstanding performances of complex and dynamic characters. You know it's good when you can feel sympathy for even the vilest character, and not in the sexy antihero way like one might feel for Thomas Shelby or Don Draper.
So, if you're looking for your next series to binge, I highly recommend getting lost in "Lost."
If you didn't already know, I'm a total romcom junkie and for the past 9 months I've been hooked on romantic Korean dramas. I've watched so many K-dramas since I first got sucked into them last May, that I thought I'd share with you a short list of all the ones I've enjoyed. Maybe you're wondering what to watch next or maybe you're wondering where to start, either way and in no particular order, here are some of my faves:
I have finally been sucked into the world of K-drama and color me obsessed. I literally broke all the mom rules and spent all of Saturday binge watching this until 3am. Netflix's Crash Landing On You is a perfect romantic comedy series full of laughter, heart, tears (omg lots of tears in the last couple episodes), and romance (duh). The logline reads: "A paragliding mishap drops a South Korean heiress in North Korea - and into the life of an army officer, who decides he will help her hide." It's 16 episodes and most are between 70-90 minutes. I think the last episode was even almost two hours, so basically a movie. Here are a few of there reasons I loved this series and recommend watching it.
If you missed it on Telemundo, the entire series is available on Netflix and it is a MUST watch. If you don't know who Jenni Rivera was, she was simply put...a warrior. She was La Reina de la Banda, the Queen of Mexican Regional music, and she was from Long Beach. The series was based on her autobiography Unbreakable: My Story, My Way, and this is more than a story about a great singer. This is the story of a woman who put herself through school, built a successful career in real estate before becoming the Queen that she was, always put her family and her kids first, and was simply unstoppable even as life threw one nightmare after another at her. If you know her story, you know. If you don't know, it's unimaginable until you know. Through everything, she always rose, and stuck to her values. Calling her an inspiration feels inadequate, but that's the best way I can describe her.
Warning: watching this series may be triggering for some, because there is A LOT of abuse that Jenni endured. But a friend said something really smart to me about watching film or TV that can be triggering, and that is to remember to observe and not absorb. It is worth the watch for all though, also in terms of seeing how abuse affects us and those around us. Jenni is also a great example of someone who is not the "stereotype" of an abused woman. She's strong, comes from a loving family who would literally fight for one another. There's a lot to learn from Jenni and the way she lived her life--full of love, integrity, and a relentless will to rise.
Moreover, as much as this series is about Jenni's life, it also feels very much about her family's, too. I have so much respect for the Riveras and love the love they have for one another.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of when Jenni was killed in a plane crash, but she lives on through her music and her family.
Have you watched the series? What did you think?
When I first saw the trailer for Bridgerton on Netflix, I was not particularly intrigued. I watched it again after watching the series and determined it was a poor trailer, because I never got through the first few seconds of it. If it weren't for two of my good friends telling me to watch it this week, I probably would've continued waiting to watch this when I felt I had absolutely no other series or film peaking my interest. Well, against my better mama judgment, I binged the entire series through the middle of the night as baby and daddy slept, at the expense of losing my patience through a couple diaper changes today (Sidenote: someone please tell me that at some point baby will stop trying to escape in the middle of his diaper changes). Though the plot is highly predictable even with me having never read any of the books, I thoroughly enjoyed the series. It kind of feels like a bunch of Jane Austen books meshed into one, with the addition of a lot of steamy sex scenes. It's a fun watch, and if you enjoy these types of stories and settings, I felt like it has a certain witty charm about it, that I did not expect based on the first few seconds of the trailer.
Have you watched it? What are your thoughts?
It's no secret that I love romcoms, and I'm excited to see more and more in the form of series, because sometimes you need a 90 min. escape, while other times you want to live in the love a litlte...or at least binge it. The latest one I've watched is Mismatched. Mismatched is a light YA romcom based on "When Dimple Met Rishi," a novel by Sandhya Menon, and centers around a teenage boy, Rishi, who believes in old-fashioned love, and a career-driven teenage girl, Dimple, who defies old-fashioned Indian gender roles. It's not totally groundbreaking from a story perspective, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, because what's not to love about a bunch of nerds falling in love during a summer app-building course, and discovering their true desires while overcoming each of their own internal and external challenges? If you like shows like Atypical, The Half of It, or Never Have I Ever, I'd say you'd enjoy this one. The only difference is that this one is set in India and it's in a mixture of Hindi and English, though mostly Hindi. It kind of reminds me of my family or when I visit Taiwan. We speak a mix of languages in our home, and sometimes I'll hear my mom on the phone with her sister or friend and she'll be speaking Chinese, but suddenly throw out a random word or sentence in English. You'll also notice that the series seems to try to cover as many social issues as possible, including, sexism, classism, ageism, disability, broken homes, family issues, and same sex love. It's almost like someone was standing in the writer's room saying, "Tick all the boxes!" Something that I personally really appreciate is that for those of us who aren't Indian or don't live in India, this series shows us that teenagers, no matter where you are in the world, are teenagers and love is a universal language. Some of you may be thinking, "duh, Justine. Don't be naive." But something I always emphasize is that we are more similar than we are different. So, I hope people who might not normally watch an Indian or international series will watch it, read the subtitles, and enjoy it like they would any other silly ol' teen comedy.
Have you watched it? What's your take?
I watched this last week and I didn't know how much I needed to watch it. To add love, joy, and inspiration to your life, watch this short docuseries, which follows eleven individuals with autism on their quest for "the one." It's sweet, it's honest, and it's one of the best things you'll see about love. Watch it. Your soul needs these stories.
At first, I went into watching Emily in Paris with a bit of a French attitude. My French husband had read in the French media that it's just all the stereotypes and all the French people are always smoking. The smoking part really bothers my husband since he's not a smoker. I guess it would be like if French people made a series and all the Americans were always eating hamburgers. Anyhow, I love Lily Collins and it looked like the kind of bright and fun Darren Starr series that I love watching, but I'm so over all the unrealistic romanticizations of France and especially Paris. I even wrote a sitcom about how unromantic and obnoxious it is being married to a Frenchman. Still, I decided to watch the series, because it's also in the space and genre I love writing in...so, let's call it homework. What I found is that it's the usual fashionable and super posh side of Paris that most of us can only dream of, and the show hits all the stereotypes. That being said, I found watching the show was unexpectedly therapeutic for me, because it confirmed for me that you can take the boy out of France, but you can't take the France out of the boy (even if the boy says he's not the most intolerable French person). Thanks to my husband, I now have a love/hate relationship with France and everything French, but in the end I enjoyed the series. What can I say, I'm just a bright-eyed, colorful, optimistic, loud American girl who loves a good romance and happy endings. So, let me break down some of the comically true stereotypes and cultural differences.