Running out of things to watch while you social distance? Wanting to branch out and explore something new? Here’s a few of the movies, shows & YouTube offerings I’ve been enjoying over the past couple months that I think you might like, too.
Since the premiere of this season of The Handmaid’s Tale, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of feminist TV and feminist media generally. To be fair, I don’t really ever stop thinking about the concept of feminist media, but as there has been a clear influx over the past few years, the conversations surrounding it are becoming more and more pointed.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a clear example of what is widely considered feminist media, but it’s not the only example. Its tone and sense of hopelessness have led me to think a lot about what is useful to feminists about feminist media. Many people think of The Handmaid’s Tale as a story that can open the eyes of those who don’t themselves suffer at the hands of heteropatriarchy to our plight. But as feminists whose eyes are already opened, what do we need from our media?
If I’m recommending a TV show—or any piece of media for that matter—nine times out of ten I’m talking about a story that’s distinctly women-centric. Stories about women and other underrepresented groups are so incredibly overshadowed in the mainstream that it feels wrong to spend my time and energy celebrating anything else.
However, our media landscape being what it is, I sometimes find myself drawn to books, movies, and shows that aren’t as overtly feminist as I would like. In these cases, I like to think about why, despite its less-than-ideal representation overall, a story still resonates with me. It’s this process of (hopefully legitimate) rationalization that I’ve been going through for the past few years with Mozart in the Jungle.
A few weeks ago, I binge-watched Big Little Lies over the course of one (bad-feeling for unrelated reasons) day. At the end of the day, I was feeling weirder than before, but for an entirely new set of reasons. As far as I can tell, this is the experience many of us have had with the show. We think we may have liked it, but we also definitely feel that there was something off about it.
Big Little Lies is based on a book written by a woman, starring an allstar (if very white) cast of women, and produced by a company founded ostensibly to uplift women-centric stories. Yet, more than anything else, Big Little Lies tells the story of women who, despite being overwhelming rich in access to resources, are still barely surviving the emotional barrage of patriarchal social structures.