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Quick Bites

60-Second Reviews and Quick Takes on Television, Film and Popular Culture.

 
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UNCOUPLED

A New Guilty Pleasure

Neil Patrick Harris (who will always be Doogie Howswer, MD to me) is back with an engaging new sitcom produced by Darren Starr, he who brought us Sex & The City. This is in some ways the same formula--singles in Manhattan finding love, friendship and trouble. Except this time the singles are gay men, knocking on 50s' door. Super fun dialogue, and situations that tickle your funny bone just as much as they touch your heart. Highly recommended.

Look out for: A charming Tisha Campbell, and self-involved but endearing Emerson Brooks

Where to Watch: Netflix.

 
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MOVIE REVIEW: 'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande'

We say we want to see more content about middle-aged women as women (not just wives or mothers, or supportive colleagues) but do we mean it? This movie really tests us on that. In it, "Nancy" a widow has hired "Leo" a sex-worker to help her check off it few items on her sex bucket list. She has only had one lover, her dead husband, and never had an orgasm. Leo is tasked with helping her get there.


Instead of being a couple of hours of us wondering when we get to see this super-handsome young man, and the equally handsome older woman do the deed, 'Leo Grande' turns out to be a long conversation between two people working out their shit in between some naughty time. The sex is mostly playful, but the conversations are not. "Leo" defies the stereotypes of the exploited (either by himself or others) sex worker, and "Nancy" is a lot more than a repressed woman approaching older age. I enjoyed it, not only for the great dialogue, but because it definitely forced me to challenge my own prejudices about sex work and the people who engage in it. Recommended.

 

MASTER

Regina Hall

I didn't hate it. I thought it was horror, but it's actually psychological suspense and could have been a good one, but for the fact that even the movie didn't seem to know what it wanted to be. I think the filmmaker crammed too many goals into what could have been a very interesting film about the price Black people pay when they try to thrive in predominantly white spaces.

 

DEEP WATER

Ben Affleck, Ana De Armas

I recommend this one. It's not high art, but when I tell you this couple defines "toxic relationship", believe me. Watching it was like watching a slow motion car crash--horrified fascination. Having said that, I can see why it didn't make it to a theatrical release.

 

I Watched 'Love is Blind Season 2' and Liked It.

In my defense, I have a colleague—someone whose opinion I respect—who kept badgering me in meetings: "Have you watched it yet? I told you to watch it!" So, literally in anticipation of her asking me again, I started watching LIB Season 2 in the background while I did other stuff. Just so I could plausibly discuss it with her when we met, during the pre-meeting banter. Anyway, I barely cared what happened in the first few episodes and then the blind-dating-pod couples met and I got super-invested (predictably) in the Black couple (Iyanna & Jarette-so adorable!) and then secondarily in the South Asian couple, and then in the Latinx couple and  the interracial (Asian chick and white dude) couple.

What can I tell you in just another few sentences? (Because these are Quick Bites, after all) Well, basically, that dating on a reality show, no matter how gimmicky the beginning eventually sees relationships become pretty much what they would be in real life. And watching relationships unfold is always fascinating and hard not to get invested in. So I guess that's it. I watched it, and I liked it. Because deconstructing relationships is my stock in trade, and this show is a really interesting way of watching them unfold. And I can't lie. In real life, more so than in books, HEAs and watching people yearn for and work for them can be pretty cool.

 

Love Life Season 2

Watch this show, y'all. Highly recommended. It's not often you get such a well-developed portrayal of Black men like this one. A book editor, conflicted and at a crossroads, trying to figure out marriage, love and who he wants to be when he grows up. If he ever does. 


HBO Max made the first episode free on YouTube so lucky you! 

 

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO ...

No shame in my game. I love B-movies about nutty people. So this one was on my definitely-will-be-watching list. Watch the trailer, and I defy you to tell these two women apart. One of the most enjoyable things about this wild ride was the sense that no one acting in it took it any more seriously than those of us watching. It's a popcorn and glass of chardonnay rollicking good time. Check it out!

 
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Fast-Paced, Propulsive Read

I won't write a full review of this one since I did 'Razorblade Tears', except to say, 'read it!' Both books have been optioned for film and I am hell-excited. But honestly, this writer is so visual it's tough to see how these stories will be improved in a movie. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Most Anticipated

We're going to have to wait until July for the new Leesa Cross-Smith, but I am sooo excited. I loved her first book 'Whiskey & Ribbons', and her second one, 'Too Close to Okay' a little less, but something about her writing is so emotionally resonant and accessible that not reading it isn't an option.

Immersive Experience

When you feel like an immersive reading experience, this is probably a book to get into. Confession: I haven't read it all yet. Not because I didn't like what I've read so far, but because it feels like a book I need to focus on. Not a casual read at all. I predict this one is going into the new Black literary canon along with Jesmyn Ward's work.

 

The Gilded Age, HBO

This one is from the creators of Downton Abbey, a series I never expected to enjoy but not only enjoyed but learned a lot from. Definitely looking forward to this one for the same reasons. Whenever I visit old cities like New York (I guess it may have been New Amsterdam in this era?) I wonder what the same streets looked like back then. And of course, I wonder about people who looked like me. So psyched that this series may be the answer to both those curiosities. Started January 24th on HBO.

 

Do We Need to Talk About Cosby?

Maybe so. Or, at a minimum, it would be really cathartic if we did. Not that we want to, but I think afterwards we'll be better off. W. Kamau Bell, who has an extraordinary talent for maintaining a pokerface while talking about the most difficult things, and talking to the most challenging people about super uncomfortable topics couldn't be a better guy to manage this project. A lot of us just wish the subject would disappear, but yeah ... it won't.


I don't need to talk about Cosby, but I will be watching this documentary on SHOWTIME, January 30th at 10 PM ET.