Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood’s newest resource. We are often asked for recommendations, so each week we’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that we’re most excited about. Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s pick delivered to your inbox.
Netflix Series of the Week: “One Day at a Time”
Created by Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce
“One Day at a Time” accomplishes something that is beyond most sitcoms’ abilities: it’s joyfully entertaining and yet incredibly educational and pointed politically. In just the first two episodes of the new season, the Netflix series manages to talk about coming out, male privilege and toxic masculinity. (I didn’t want to watch them all at once—so I could spread out the joy.)
Over the first two seasons, Elena, the teenage daughter played by Isabella Gomez, dealt with her sexuality. She now is finally out. At a family funeral, she spots a cousin who she is convinced is gay and in the closet. Turns out that cousin has been out—and that the whole family even attended her wedding.
The second episode deals with the objectification of women: When mom Penelope (Justina Machado) discovers her son’s private Instagram page and realizes that his version of a joke is actually really hurtful to women, she not only teaches him about toxic masculinity, but brings her lessons to work and schools the sexist co-worker whose behavior has been rubbing off on her son.
Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce have created a gem of a show. “One Day at a Time” uses the specificity of one family of color in Los Angeles to examine the social issues affecting everyone. (Melissa Silverstein)
Season 3 of “One Day at a Time” will be available on Netflix February 8.
Short Documentary of the Week: Song of Parkland
Directed by Amy Schatz
It’s been less than a year since 17 people died at the hands of an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—but a lot has changed. The gun control movement has been reborn thanks to the teen activists who survived the shooting. There have been massive protests across the country calling on elected officials to put the public’s safety ahead of the NRA’s agenda. Following the events of February 14, 2018, there has been a palpable shift in the way our culture responds to gun violence.
In other words, beautiful things have formed in the tragedy’s aftermath. That’s the main idea of Amy Schatz’s new short HBO doc, Song of Parkland.
The film centers on Marjory Stoneman Douglas drama teacher Melody Herzfeld and her students, who decide to put on their annual children’s musical when the school re-opens. It’s an emotional ordeal, but a cathartic one as well. Herzfeld and her kids believe that the musical, “Yo, Vikings,” will bring some much-needed joy to the community—and they’re right. The show also allows them to express their grief and hope in a creative context.
A memorial for those who lost their lives on Valentine’s Day last year, a testament to resilience and art and a call to action, Song of Parkland reminds us that the personal is inherently political. It’s impossible to watch the Marjory Stoneman Douglas drama department stage their production and not think, “Why didn’t we protect them?” (Rachel Montpelier)
Song of Parkland will air on HBO February 7 at 7 p.m. EST and subsequently be available on HBO GO and HBO NOW.
Hulu Series of the Week: “PEN15”
Created by Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle and Sam Zvibleman
If you combined the early-aughts setting of Lady Bird; “Eighth Grade’s” honest, cringe-inducing depiction of middle school; and the surreality, comedy, and lovely central female friendship of “Broad City,” you’d get something akin to “PEN15.” Named after a schoolyard prank, the new Hulu series is about best friends Maya and Anna (played by co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle) navigating seventh grade in the year 2000.
And here’s the best part: Erskine and Konkle are both in their early 30s but are playing 13-year-old versions of themselves. However, the rest of their middle school peers are portrayed by actual adolescents. It’s weird, but it’s also kind of genius. Who among us doesn’t occasionally still feel like an awkward, clueless 13-year-old?
Also wonderful is “PEN15’s” frankness regarding puberty, and what it’s like for girls. Maya and Anna have a burgeoning interest in sex and thongs, but they also still enjoy playing with dolls and watching Ace Ventura ad nauseum. Even though they’re played by adults, these characters are recognizable, relatable and among pop culture’s best depictions of girls on the verge of womanhood. (RM)
All episodes of “PEN15” Season 1 will be available on Hulu February 8.