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!)
Series of the Week: “Nancy Drew”
Created by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz
Like “Riverdale” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” before it, The CW’s “Nancy Drew” takes a familiar story and gives it a darker, stylish update.
This adaptation of the beloved book series hails from “Gossip Girl” creators Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, and sees its titular teen detective floundering. Following the sudden death of her mother, Nancy (Kennedy McMann) has sworn off solving mysteries, her greatest skill and passion. Her college dreams seem to have taken a back seat. When she’s not serving at a local diner, Nancy spends time with a secret lover (Tunji Kasim) and avoids dealing with her growing resentment towards her father (Scott Wolf), who she feels has been absent since her mother’s death.
The pilot introduces two mysteries: a murder at the diner and an urban legend about Dead Lucy, a homecoming queen whose body was never found after she supposedly jumped off a cliff. Nancy and her co-workers find themselves suspects in the former, and the episode hints that Nancy’s family may be involved in the latter. Nancy will have to return to her detective roots to get to the bottom of both mysteries, but it’s clear that there are many more mysteries left to be solved in the sleepy town of Horseshoe Bay—mysteries that will reveal shocking secrets about Nancy’s nearest and dearest.
It’s difficult to muster up much feeling about the murder victim at the diner since we’re only briefly introduced to her, and the show’s supporting characters don’t make much of an impression in the pilot—but the show is soapy, angsty and addictive enough to entice me to stick around for future episodes. (Laura Berger)
“Nancy Drew” premieres October 9 on The CW.
Feature of the Week: The Sky Is Pink
Directed by Shonali Bose; Written by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar
“I’m dead,” the narrator of The Sky Is Pink announces in one of the opening scenes. “Get over it.”
That’s when I knew I was all in on Shonali Bose’s third feature. An epic tale of love and family, and based on a true story, The Sky Is Pink primarily focuses on how one couple’s life is shaped by their daughter, who is born with a rare immune deficiency disorder.
The audience knows from the outset that Aisha Chaudhary (Zaira Wasim) will not make it past her teens. Yet it wouldn’t be accurate to describe the film as a tragedy. It’s sad, to be sure, but it’s also a comedy that mocks the absurdity of life and a romance about two people who decide to keep showing up for each other, even when they’d like nothing more than to call it quits.
Aditi (Priyanka Chopra) and Niren’s (Farhan Akhtar) love begins before Aisha and continues after her, but for 19 years or so, their daughter is the center of their relationship. Her treatments, their side effects and the day-to-day realities of loving someone with a chronic illness consume their lives, and that of their son (Rohit Saraf).
Yet happiness infuses Aditi and Niren’s marriage and family, even in the darkest of times. The couple share an inside joke as their children throw tantrums in the background. A family snorkeling excursion is no less fun for Aisha, who can only go underwater for two minutes before needing her oxygen tank. All of the Chaudharys are excited to get a puppy, despite the terminal prognosis Aisha has recently received. Aditi and Niren are still in love after their daughter’s death.
In other words, life goes on. The Sky Is Pink is in no way dismissive or cruel, but that’s its ethos. Joy and despair can coexist; a person’s death doesn’t negate the love you feel for her; a tragedy can also be a comedy. (Rachel Montpelier)
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Shonali Bose.
The Sky Is Pink opens October 11.