There’s a sense of chaotic energy that runs throughout Tuca & Bertie, Netflix’s newest adult animated series. It’s a welcoming and specific sort of chaos, the kind that only feels possible in a sitcom about two 30-something “bird women” who live in a world populated by subways made of caterpillars, topless anthropomorphic plants, and dancing STDs; and where a woman’s breast (just one!), fed up with workplace sexual harassment, can pop right off and stomp away to get a drink.
Ultimately, the show can be summed in up in an early line from Anna Madrigal, describing people as “flawed, narcissistic, and doin’ our best.” The series has many faults, often gets lost in its own self-indulgence, but it’s easy to admire how much effort they’re putting into making something for a queer audience—both new and old.
But in DuVernay's retelling, in which she directs and co-writes each episode, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker zeroes in on how people of color are quickly judged at first sight, and is intent on making viewers really see these boys. They were teenagers with friends, families, hopes, and plans — entire lives that ceased when their freedom was ripped away from them.
This specificity in depicting queer and Latinx communities, and especially the women who inhabit them, is no stroke of good luck. Instead, it's simply what happens when you pack the cast and crew with writers who aren't imagining from the outside but who have lived experiences to bring to the table.
Too frequently, these stories consist of a coming out narrative or endless trauma (or, in a lot of cases, both) but Pose — which takes place in the late ’80s — is most often a lively, spirited, and joyous affair.
The episodes often fill me with a vague sense of nostalgia for my film courses in college, where we dissected movies (including a number of these documentaries) down to their bare bones. At the time, I occasionally worried that the process would result in my loving these movies less; Documentary Now! shows that it’s actually the opposite.
“Since the beginning, I’ve been waiting for this conversation and thought about what I would say,” Bob-Waksberg told me over the phone. “It’s never come up in an interview before and I kept waiting for it to happen and it didn’t."
The movie’s plot plays on the common “Nigerian prince” (or “419” scam), in which a scammer pretends to be a prince and needs help transferring millions of dollars. If you give him a small amount, he claims, he’ll soon repay you with a much-larger sum. Freshman Roommates promised that if we paid a paltry movie-theater ticket fee, it would repay us with Tracy Morgan as a Nigerian prince. In the end, it scammed us all; Freshman Roommates never got made, and I’ve been thinking about it for almost ten years.
But the awfulness of Insatiable isn’t (just) because it continually misses the mark when taking on “taboo” topics or because it’s consistently tone-deaf. It’s also, simplistically, poorly written — a strange amalgamation of about a half-dozen different programs all competing for attention.
It’s fitting that MTV has billed this not as a seventh season, but as a separate reunion series; it’s almost like the roommates want to detach themselves from their old selves.
Season 2, which premiered on Friday, May 4th, focuses largely on the resurgence of white supremacists, alt-right trolls on the internet, and the psychological effects of racial trauma. It’s sure to be heralded as just as timely — if not more. But the “timely” description also feels a little easy: when haven’t these subjects been timely within the black community?
One Mississippi was straight-up important, both behind the scenes where the second season had an all-female writers room (many of the episodes’ directors are women, too) to its on-screen handling of sexual harassment—which is necessary now more than ever.
A program like Annedroids is especially important for young girls, considering the underrepresentation of women in STEM professions: although women make up half the college-educated workforce, they’re only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce. Even more pressingly, as a Microsoft European study showed, girls tend to lose interest in STEM subjects around middle school — a target age for these Amazon Video series.