Latinas are still denied autonomy and control over their own fertility.
Renee Tajima-Peña’s No Mas Bebés, on the widespread use of coerced sterilisation at LA County Hospital in the 1960s and 1970s, aired last week on PBS in what was perhaps extremely fortuitous timing. Even as audiences were learning about a class-action lawsuit filed by victims of sterilisation, the media were reporting on the growing spread of Zika virus, known to cause congenital anomalies, and the recommendation that people avoid pregnancy until the outbreak is resolved. This affects primarily Latin American women, as the virus is clustered in Central and South America, and it serves as a bitter reminder that the issues brought up in No Mas Bebés persist to this day, though they may change shape and form. Latinas are still denied autonomy and control over their own fertility, in this case via government officials recommending that they not get pregnant for up to two years in some regions.
Something is happening in the US consciousness that’s making people grasp for things that feel comforting and familiar because they grew up with them.
With the rise of adult colouring books — colouring books designed for adults, not the other kind of ‘adult’ — has come the rise of animated comedies also targeted at the adult market (think Adult Swim and Bojack Horseman). Now, HBO is rolling out its own entry in the field with Animals, debuting this week, and in an interesting move, it’s hitting streaming before it airs, reflecting a possible shift in the network’s positioning. It may be attempting to appeal to younger audiences, known to prefer streaming, and it also likely wants to be competitive against Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.
Star Wars, like most science fiction and fantasy epics, has a bit of a gender problem.
Star Wars, like most science fiction and fantasy epics, has had a bit of a gender problem. Like Lord of the Rings, it offers a deluge of multi-dimensional and varying male characters while only offering one or two female characters.
The X-Files is back, complete with spooky opening titles and snappy Mulder-Scully action.
The X-Files is back, complete with spooky opening titles and snappy Mulder-Scully action. On Sunday night, the Internet went absolutely wild for it, even with American football and Downton Abbey to go up against, and few have been so bold as to speak ill of the revival. That testifies, perhaps, to the enduring pop culture status of the show, which hasn’t aired since 2000 but is still powerful enough to draw an audience of loyal fans who want to relive the days of plopping around the telly to tune in—yes, children, on-demand wasn’t always an option, and if you missed it on the tube, you’d have to wait until the videos came out. (And then wait some more, because competition at the video store was fierce for new releases.)
Think Ken Burns crossed with Downton Abbey crossed with Grey’s Anatomy crossed with House, and you’ll be roughly on track.
On Sunday night, the first original PBS drama for broadcast in 10 years, Mercy Street, hit the airwaves, hoping to coast off Downton Abbey as a lead-in. 3.3 million people tuned in for the programme, set in a hospital square in the centre of the drama in the US Civil War. Think Ken Burns crossed with Downton Abbey crossed with Grey’s Anatomy crossed with House, and you’ll be roughly on track. The result is rather a muddled mess of tropes and ponderous posturing, and it makes for rather a bit of a dull watch.
The show reminds us, poignantly, that some people we lose way before they die.
Death is peculiar. It marks us all as guests and travelers on this planet, as guests of being – or what we know of being, anyway. Even if one believes in the permutation and transcendence of the conscience or the soul, death is still an annihilation of all of our points of reference. The only thing more terrifying than coming up against this unknown is having to be the person who contemplates it from a distance, through loss.
“Her Story” is anything but your average hipster cliché.
A web series about a couple of Los Angelenas discovering love when they least expect it sounds less “groundbreaking” than stereotypical indie pitch. Yet “Her Story,” which debuts its first six episodes on its website (for free!) on January 19th is anything but your average hipster cliché. The series, co-written by Jen (“I Am Cait”) Richards and directed by Sydney Freeland (whose rez-set feature film “Drunktown’s Finest” made a splash at Sundance a couple years back) also features trans women in the lead roles. Meaning the talented ladies both in front of and behind the lens are all part of the transgender community. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with series director Freeland – who I last interviewed prior to the “Drunktown’s Finest” 2014 premiere – to learn more about “Her Story,” and her own story about the process of portraying a once marginalized, increasingly visible population in a realistic light.
In the five years since Downton started airing, the social landscape has changed radically.
Five years ago, audiences were introduced to the sprawling country estate of Downton Abbey at the turning point of a century of turmoil: The RMS Titanic had just sunk, taking the heirs of the estate with it, and setting off a chain of events that would put the inheritance into the hands of a ‘common’ solicitor. This week, the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey brought us 13 years forward, to 1925 and a radically different society. Over the years, we’ve watched the Julian Fellowes production become the juggernaut that launched a thousand competing costume dramas, transforming itself into a cultural institution in a society that bizarrely attempts to defy everything the show stands for, in many ways. Even as we claim to be breaking down class barriers — while they’re patently still up all around us — we’re embracing a show that mourns the dissolution of a particular form of the British upper class.
Taking a few of the key prizes in consideration, this was indeed a year of surprises.
2015 has been an interesting and sometimes controversial year in the world of literature in English. (I am not equipped to comment on the rich and varied non-English-language literary scene, so this piece will confine itself to books published in English).
New year, new TV!
New year, new TV! Old standards are returning from their midseason break, but more importantly, there’s a fresh crop of television including midseason pickups and, of course, fall shows — while we don’t know much about the fall schedule since we haven’t seen the spring upfronts yet, we can dream…and I’ll warn you ahead of time that one of the shows on this list is fictional, because why not put my wishes for 2015 out there into the world? It’s up to you to guess which, though!
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