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!)
TV Series of the Week: “Big Little Lies”
Directed by Andrea Arnold
“Big Little Lies” goes off-book in its highly anticipated second season.
Season 1 of the Emmy-winning murder mystery was based on Liane Moriarty’s best-selling book of the same name, but the source material concluded where the show’s seven-episode debut season did. “Big Little Lies” had to look elsewhere for inspiration in Season 2, and they found it.
Like many, I loved Season 1 but was skeptical about whether the story needed to continue. This second installment of episodes, all directed by Andrea Arnold (“American Honey”), more than justifies its existence. Now referred to as “The Monterey Five”—thanks to the gossip mill hungry for more details about their involvement in Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgård) death—Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) and Renata (Laura Dern) are struggling to move on in the wake of the incident, which they’ve told police was the result of an unfortunate slip.
The group is keeping silent on the fact that Bonnie pushed Perry to his death. It seems that law enforcement has accepted their bogus story, but Perry’s mother (Meryl Steep) isn’t buying it—and she’s sticking around Monterey to get answers.
Of course, Season 2 isn’t all about keeping the circumstances surrounding Perry’s fall a secret. This season explores the emotional baggage of keeping that secret, and the toll it takes on the women and their relationships with each other, their partners, and their children.
Celeste in particular has an interesting arc—in Perry’s absence, the world feels “grey.” Her abuser is gone, but so is her friend, confidante and father to her children. She misses him and their sexual relationship, and is still struggling to come to terms with the contradictions of their marriage even after his death. (Laura Berger)
Season 2 of “Big Little Lies” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO. The season premiere is now available on HBO GO and HBO NOW.
Netflix Series of the Week: “Jessica Jones”
Created by Melissa Rosenberg
“You believe you can save the world, but you’re terrified you’ve already failed them—and you have, because you are not, and you never will be, a hero,” Krysten Ritter is told in the third and final season of “Jessica Jones.”
Throughout the course of Melissa Rosenberg’s Netflix series, Jessica (Ritter) has grappled with what it means to be a hero, and she’s always been a reluctant one. The latest installment of the Marvel title sees Jessica confronted by a man determined to prove her a fraud—which, at her darkest moments, she herself seems to believe.
Season 2 of “Jessica Jones” concluded with Jessica’s best friend and adopted sister Trish (Rachael Taylor) killing Jessica’s mom, leaving the future of the pair’s relationship uncertain. Complicating matters even further is the fact that Trish’s own hero’s journey is progressing at a rapid speed—Jess has deemed her a “super cat burglar”—and the pair have very different approaches about how to save the day. One of the season’s most prominent and interesting themes is whether one is capable of feeling, and behaving, like a hero if no one realizes what they’ve accomplished.
Ritter stepped behind the camera this season to make her directorial debut. (LB)
“Jessica Jones” Season 3 begins streaming on Netflix June 14.
Documentary of the Week: Paris Is Burning Theatrical Re-Release
Directed by Jennie Livingston
If you enjoy “Pose,” do yourself a favor and watch Paris Is Burning. Jennie Livingston’s award-winning documentary is in many ways the FX drama’s house mother, to use the film’s vocabulary.
Nearly 30 years since its original release, Paris Is Burning has received a new restoration and is returning to theaters—and it feels as timely as ever. The doc explores New York City’s late-’80s ball culture.
Not only were these balls the birthplace of voguing and throwing shade, they were sanctuaries for the queer community, especially queer people of color. As the subjects reiterate throughout the film, balls were the one place in the world where they could be 100 percent themselves without fear. Whether they identify as gay, drag queens, trans or something else entirely, everyone is welcome. Everyone is allowed to live their dream for a little bit.
Much time has passed since the events of Paris Is Burning, but designated safe spaces are still a necessity for many LGBTQ+ folks. This doc, which returns during Pride Month, underlines the need for community, visibility and acceptance. Everyone has the right to love themselves. Everyone should have their turn in the spotlight. (Rachel Montpelier)
The new restoration of Paris Is Burning will open in New York June 14 and in Los Angeles July 5. Find screening info here.