Goodbye, winter caps—hello, summer hats! It’s that glorious time of year where many of us can switch from content creators to content consumers. NYWIFT members Mellini Kantayya and Kathryn O’Kane have put together #SummerHours, a series of fun summer books, movies, and TV shows by or about women.
By Mellini Kantayya
The old advice in pitching TV shows is to liken it to two simple elements: “It’s like Cats, but with dogs” or “It’s Mad Men at an insurance company.” I suppose the idea is to provide a familiar context, but the most binge-able shows transcend the familiar and bend genres in unexpected ways. Here are four created by women that are guaranteed to put a you-shaped dent in your couch.
Jane the Virgin: Created by Jennie Snyder Urman and based loosely on a Venezuelan telenovela, critically acclaimed Jane the Virgin tells the story of Jane Villanueva, a woman in her early twenties who’s decided to remain a virgin until marriage at the urging of her religious grandmother—only to accidentally get pregnant through artificial insemination. The premise seems unsustainable, but Synder Urman craftily makes it work—in ways that surprise and delight. Jane the Virgin is a plot machine with three generations of strong women characters, an endearing narrator pulling us through the fourth wall, and just the right amount of camp. With this past season, I’ve especially appreciated how the show has deftly managed to acknowledge the current political climate while remaining much-needed escapist entertainment. It’s been renewed for season four, so now is the time to get up to speed. Available on Netflix. Season four will premiere on the CW in the fall.
One Mississippi: Created by Tig Nataro and Diablo Cody, One Mississippi is based on comedian Tig Nataro’s own experience recovering from a serious stomach infection, a double mastectomy after breast cancer, and her mother’s unexpected death—all within a shockingly short period of time. Tig’s character of the same name leaves Los Angeles to return to her hometown in Mississippi to say goodbye and put her mother’s affairs in order. She’s challenged with battling childhood ghosts, family dynamics, and juggling girlfriends past and present. This series wholly embodies the word “bittersweet.” I watched it in one sitting. Pro tip: keep the Kleenex close by. Available to stream on Amazon.
Jessica Jones: The hair, makeup and costume design team of Jessica Jones was awarded the Variety Ensemble Award at NYWIFT’s 2017 Designing Women event for their contribution to the unique aesthetic of the show. Created by Melissa Rosenberg, Jessica Jones is based on the Marvel comic of the same name. Keeping with most heroes within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jessica is a superhero with super-human struggles and super-human flaws. The show is so detailed and deliciously nuanced that I worry that almost anything I could say about it would be a spoiler. Krysten Ritter will be reprising her role as Jessica Jones in this summers’ The Defenders, premiering August 18th. Fun fact: as with Jessica Jones, the first two episodes of The Defenders are also directed by S. J. Clarkson. Available on Netflix.
Being Human: Developed by Anna Fricke with Jeremy Carver and based on the British series, Being Human is about three twenty-something roommates trying to live a normal life despite being a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost. It sounds farfetched, but not only is it successful within the supernatural and sci-fi genres, it plays as a solid drama with lots of humor thrown in for good measure. The cast has incredible chemistry, the dialogue is clever yet easy and unaffected, masterful cliffhangers abound, and you quickly become invested in the lives of these highly relatable characters. It’s a monster show that feels unexpectedly real. The pilot had me hooked in 30 seconds and after I was done with the series, I started over and watched the whole thing over again. Available on Netflix.
(Cover photo by Bridgette Matthews)
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I need to watch all of these. There goes my summer!