Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood‘s newest resource. W&H writers are often asked for recommendations, so each week they’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that they’re most excited about. (Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s picks delivered to your inbox!)
Amazon Prime Series of the Week: “Catastrophe”
Created and Written by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney
Everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed couple is back for one last run. “Catastrophe’s” final season is, like its first three outings, a simultaneously filthy and lovely take on romance, marriage and parenthood. The series, which concluded earlier this year on the UK’s Channel 4, is one of the few contemporary TV projects that never outstayed its welcome: its final episode is just as satisfying as its first.
“Catastrophe’s” last go-around picks up in the legal and emotional aftermath of Rob’s (Rob Delaney) DUI. Sharon (Sharon Horgan) is understandably reeling—after all, she didn’t know her alcoholic husband had fallen off the wagon until his car accident. She begins acting out, and, as is her wont, isn’t exactly gracious when she’s called out for it. Rob, meanwhile, is trying to earn back his wife’s trust while juggling court-mandated community service, AA and his job at a corporate hellhole.
As always, Horgan and Delaney have amazing chemistry and seem to have genuine fun playing off one another, but it’s Horgan who steals the show. Sharon will go down as one of the great television characters: truly three-dimensional, she’s brutally honest, occasionally petty and a little messy—but you never doubt her loyalty and affection for her loved ones.
In fact, you actually wish you could be her friend. (Rachel Montpelier)
The fourth and final season of “Catastrophe” will begin streaming on Amazon Prime March 15.
Hulu Series of the Week: Shrill
Written by Ali Rushfield, Lindy West and Aidy Bryant
An adaptation of former Jezebel blogger Lindy West’s memoir of the same name, “Shrill” sees Aidy Bryant of “SNL” taking on fat-shamers, trolls and her own lack of self-esteem. Annie (Bryant) is an aspiring writer who’s been stuck doing busywork at an alt-weekly. Driven and capable, she struggles to stand up to her domineering boss (John Cameron Mitchell), who insists that she’s not ready and has dues to pay.
Annie’s timidity isn’t just holding her back professionally. She continues to hook up with a guy (Luka Jones) who demands that she sneak out of his apartment so his roommates won’t see her, and her mom (Julia Sweeney) is constantly making passive aggressive comments about her “health.”
Slowly but surely, we see Annie undergoing a transformation. She wants to change her life—and she’s done apologizing for, and being ashamed of, her body. She’s fat, and she’s increasingly fine with that: it’s everyone else who seems to have the problem.
The highlight of the six-episode debut season comes when Annie attends a “Fat Babe Pool Party.” Initially dressed in a conservative outfit and hanging out on the sidelines, Annie feels emboldened by her fellow fat babes and eventually takes off her clothes, rocks her bathing suit and has the time of her life.
“Shrill” is an all-too-rare opportunity to see a fat woman on-screen who isn’t a sidekick. This is Annie’s story, and her arc isn’t about trying to look a different way. Instead, the feminist is working hard to stand proud and raise her voice in a fatphobic world that’s trying to shrink her down and silence her.
Given that the season is so short, it’s disappointing that “Shrill’s” pacing still feels somewhat slow. Annie’s relationship with her best friend (Lolly Adefope) also deserves further development. (Laura Berger)
Season 1 of “Shrill” will begin streaming March 15 on Hulu.
Documentary of the Week: The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
I am obsessed with Theranos. I haven’t completely figured out why, but having read John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood and listened to the ABC podcast “The Dropout,” I am fascinated by the fraud that Elizabeth Holmes has perpetrated to the tune of hundreds of millions.
Some of my interest comes down to gender: women don’t usually get away with something this big, but Holmes managed to convince men who operated at the top tier of our government—some still at the top tier—to support her. George Shultz believed her over his own grandson. Elizabeth Holmes is a pathological liar at the level of Donald Trump, and she’s a train wreck you can’t take your eyes off of.
After Bad Blood and “The Dropout,” The Inventor is the third prong of the Theranos story. It’s where you finally get to see Holmes, her whiteness and her blondness and her eyes that don’t blink. And the voice. The voice is one of the most intriguing things about her. It’s fake, just like she is.
The documentary is a good overview of the case, but the name The Inventor is a misnomer. Holmes didn’t invent anything except a massive fraud. (Melissa Silverstein)
The Inventor premieres March 18 at 9 p.m. EST on HBO. It will subsequently be available on HBO GO and HBO NOW.