This month had a ton of great viewing opportunities. Between the streaming services and Jordan Peele, March was miiiiighty fine.
So here they are. My Favorite Things in March.
The Umbrella Academy – Netflix
I’ll be the first to bemoan the glut of superhero movies and shows (with few exceptions, including Black Panther and the first Thor). My biggest regret in the Avengers: Infinity War movie is that they didn’t go ahead and kill everyone, finally ending the series for good.
But The Umbrella Academy is goooood. It follows the grown children of an eccentric billionaire, born and raised under suspicious circumstances. They once were superheroes. Now, they’re misfits. It’s a compelling setup: people with greatness within them, living ungreat lives.
Shrill – Hulu
This new show on on Hulu is loosely based on Lindy West’s book of the same name, Shrill. West is a woman of size, noted in her infamous essay, “Hello, I Am Fat,” living in a distinctly sizeist world.
Aidy Bryant does a great job in this role, subtly showing the weight of carrying the awkwardly well-meaning but insulting comments, the boyfriend she endures because she thinks she can’t do better, and job with the tyrant boss. It’s funny in a “ohhhhhhhh,” groany kind of way.
The Dropout – ABC Radio
I am officially obsessed with Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos saga. This is the company, helmed by Holmes, that promised a palm-sized device that could test more than 20 conditions using 1-2 drops of blood. Instead, it was a fraud.
Bad Blood made me hungry for even more info, and The Dropout podcast delivers. All of the details add up to such a head-scratching case. Especially the odd bits, like Holmes’ fake baritone voice, the toxic work environment, and Tyler Schultz’s grandfather trying to pull a gotcha with lawyers hiding upstairs. It’s so bizarre and so frustratingly futile.
Jordan Peele does it again. Us is a creepy movie, more disturbing than scary, that left me pondering all weekend after watching it. I had so many moments of, “Oh, that’s why she acted the way she did towards the children,” and more.
The performances are all brilliant and nuanced. I heard a piece on NPR about the composer Michael Abels, and how he matched each of the four main characters to his or her own unique instrument, Peter and the Wolf-style. I really need to watch it again.
Lorena – Amazon Prime
I remember when the Lorena Bobbitt trial happened in real life. She was a laughing stock. All the newspapers, spectators, and even my classmates could do was gawk and make as many jokes and puns as we could. We all laughed.
Watching this series gives the perspective of time and experts. It’s shocking that I got through my entire childhood before marital rape was criminalized. I owe Lorena a debt of gratitude and respect for what she had to endure. She still speaks on domestic abuse today, empowering women to get out of bad situations.
The Act – Hulu
The Act is a dramatization of the real-life mother and daughter pair, Dee Dee and Gypsy Blanchard. Dee Dee Blanchard had Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, inflicting unneeded medicines, surgeries, and medical interventions upon her daughter, Gypsy. Why do these parents do it? Attention? Validation? The reasons are varied, but the end result is the same: a kid with multiple manufactured illnesses.
Gypsy was one of these victims and The Act showcases it with just enough well-times reveals to be continually shocking. I haven’t gotten to through the whole series yet (they’re releasing them each week, not allowing us streaming fiends to binge), but I cheated and Googled the real-life counterparts. Turns out, the movie isn’t dramatizing much, looks-wise.