‘We Are Who We Are’ Official Teaser

By Will Oliver, July 27th 2020

Luca Guadagnino is coming to HBO with the new limited series We Are Who We Are. The series sees a 14-year-old named Fraser (Jack Dylan Grazer) who moves from New York to an Italian military base with his mothers (Chloë Sevigny and Alice Braga) where he forms a friendship with Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamón) another American who has been living on the base for years with her father (Kid Cudi). Their friendship becomes tested as they come of age on the base.
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Review: ‘Transparent’ Season 2

By Kate Royal, December 22nd 2015

The Pfefferman clan in 'Transparent' season 2

In the first season of Jill Soloway’s groundbreaking Transparent, we witnessed the first stages of Maura Pfefferman’s (Jeffrey Tambor) social transition. In shedding her life as Mort at the age of 68, Maura and her family spent those initial 10 episodes feeling their way through uncharted, unexpected challenges, each character ultimately facing an identity crisis of their own. While many lauded the series for its truly pioneering representation of LGBT life, there was skepticism over the role Maura was playing in the grand scheme of story, fearing that she was becoming a supporting character in her own coming-out narrative.

Season 2, however, answers those fears. Where one may have worried that Maura would be tasked with the role of moral center in favor of foregrounding the arcs of her self-centered, conflicted children, she instead is plunged into the thick of self-reflection and self-analysis. In seeing the experiences of her trans sisters Divina (Alexandra Billings) and Shea (Trace Lysette) and a confrontation from a radical feminist former colleague (Cherry Jones), Maura must reconcile the woman she is becoming with the (affluent, privileged, white) man she once was. The Caitlyn Jenner parallels speak for themselves, and it is a narrative treated with honesty and respect, in the hands of Tambor at his very best. Through Maura’s season 2 journey, Soloway proves that she has no interest in sentimentalizing her language of trans and queer representation. There is no such thing as a “very special episode” in the world of Transparent, which in itself is part of what makes the show so radical.

Meanwhile, Sarah Pfefferman (an ever-astounding Amy Landecker) must confront the consequences of the whirlwind decisions made in the first season, discovering, questioning, and forgiving herself along the way. Brother Josh (Jay Duplass) continues to reel from the sudden and life-altering revelation of his son’s existence, while trying to maintain a relationship with Rabbi Raquel (Kathryn Hahn), an arc that delves into some of the show’s darkest and most achingly real emotional territory. And Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) who has proven herself Maura’s most direct descendant (though to what end, we are still learning) carries the banner of the season-long examination of the intersection between radical feminism, lesbianism, and trans women. Amidst these present-day personal journeys, we are shown flashbacks into the queer and trans history of the Pfefferman clan, tracking the experiences of Gittel (thank you, Jill Soloway, for introducing Hari Nef to the world) as a member of Magnus Hirschfield’s radical collective that called his Berlin-based Sexual Institute home until it was ransacked by the Nazis in 1933.

Kathryn Hahn and Jay Duplass in the second season of 'Transparent'

While Season 1 was largely contained to the Pfeffermans themselves, season 2 belongs entirely to its guest stars and supporting cast. From the return of Mikaela Watkins and Bradley Whitford to the stunning work of Cherry Jones, Angelica Houston, and the inimitable Kathryn Hahn, season 2 is on the outside looking in at the Pfefferman family, calling them out and folding them in to new worlds and communities, from Ali’s newfound lesbianism to Sarah’s interest in kink/BDSM. Episode 9, “Man on the Land”, is the pinnacle of this, placing gorgeous writing by Ali Liebegott in the hands of a sterling guest cast to create an utterly unprecedented look at history’s treatment of transgenderism, as portrayed through Maura’s experience at a trans-exclusionary Womyn’s Music Festival juxtaposed with the tragic development of her Aunt Gittel’s story. It should be required viewing for every Gender Studies class from this day forward.

Within these ten episodes, the show reaffirms its perspective as one that is queer, feminine, and utterly non-judgemental. Soloway has delivered on her promise to break boundaries of representation both on and off-screen. With a crew that includes at least one transperson in every department, and a conscious decision to have every episode directed by a woman or transperson, Soloway has done something more than simply give us the queerest, most feminist, most Jewish show possibly of all time – she has created a safe space. Its power of inclusivity and empathy extends from the literal production process to the content and finally out into its audience. I feel better when I watch this show. I feel seen, heard, and understood. Had Ali Pfefferman existed on television when I was fourteen, I imagine mine and many other young queer women’s journeys may have been very different.

That said, there is still more territory to be covered, which, given Soloway’s track record of pre-empting criticism, I am confident we will see in coming seasons. Amidst the show’s staggeringly nuanced look at issues within the queer community, its utter lack of racial diversity, specifically in its depiction of the trans community, cannot go un-addressed much longer. At most, there were two women of color portrayed this season, both relegated to small roles with less than 5 lines. Transparent gets so, so much right. Arguably more than any other show that represents LGBT life. But in looking ahead to season 3 and the boundaries that have yet to be broken in its representation, I am eager to see Transparent follow in its heroine Maura’s footsteps and strive to look beyond its own place of privilege. Given what the show has already accomplished, I would feel foolish to place anything less than my full trust in Jill Soloway and her creative team.

Review: ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 3

By Kate Royal, June 19th 2015

Orange Is The New Black Season 3

If season 1 of Jenji Kohan’s masterful 13-hour serial Orange is the New Black was about breaking and reshaping one’s identity within prison, and season 2 about tribal territory and clan warfare, then season 3 is about the individual mechanisms of survival each inmate uses to get herself through her sentence. As the show delves deeper into exposing the corrupt nature of America’s prison-industrial complex, it keeps its focus on the women at stake, showing us a glimpse at what they cling to in order to remind themselves of their humanity. From episode 1, Kohan and the writers establish the key forces of this to be motherhood, faith, and power.

When we arrive back in Litchfield, the inmates are preparing for Mother’s Day celebrations, which offers a wonderful opportunity for each character to confront their own relationships to motherhood, whether they themselves have children or are grieving their lack of them, illustrated most touchingly in a scene featuring Doggett (Taryn Manning) and Big Boo (Lea DeLaria). Meanwhile, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) has, to the delight of audiences and Piper (Taylor Schilling), returned to Litchfield for the indefinite future. And while Piper wants to celebrate and pick up where she and her on-again lover left off, resolution doesn’t come easy as Piper struggles to admit to a bewildered Alex that it is her fault she is back in prison. Luckily that question is answered relatively early, and seems to only add fuel (if rather toxic fuel) to their attraction.

For Piper, her mission is assigned to her by Red (Kate Mulgrew): “No more bullshit.” And the transformation that follows is troubling, fascinating, and establishes Piper Chapman as one of the most interesting antiheroes on television since the departures of Walter White and Don Draper (to the point where a joke comparing Piper to the former is actually said aloud). The roles are reversed for Litchfield’s favorite couple, as Piper embraces her independence and resolution, while Alex lives in paranoia that one of the new inmates has been sent to kill her by the crime boss she betrayed. As Alex begins her tentative journey down the road to reformation and responsibility, literally afraid of any connection to her former criminal life, Piper is ruthlessly carving out her path to power. And when the new, self-assured and arrogant inmate Stella (Ruby Rose) comes on the scene, Piper finds herself questioning just how well her new power-hungry attitude matches Alex’s vulnerability.

Orange Is The New Black

Among the other “main” characters (the show at this point has found its strength in being a 100% ensemble piece – Piper can hardly be called the lead anymore), the other stand-out story is that of Doggett, more commonly known as “Pennsatucky.” Since the beginning of her friendship with Big Boo in Season 2, Doggett finds herself in a position to question the beliefs she has clung to her entire life. Ideas she has taken as purely true are now under scrutiny as she embraces her own self-identity and understanding of who and what she does or does not trust. This journey culminates in episode 10, “A Tittin and A’ Hairin” which offers one of the most complex and challenging looks at feminine sexuality television or film has seen. As has been true since Season 1, Taryn Manning here proves herself to be one of, if not the most valuable player in what is already an incredibly strong cast.

Beyond these personal portraits, Season 3 places all of its many characters on a search for answers, big and small. Between the power shake-ups in prison management leaving the guards fearful for their jobs and needing leadership, to prisoners looking to believe in whatever will make them feel some semblance of peace, everyone finds themselves in a crisis of faith. Some find solace in following Norma (Annie Golden), the mute inmate and long-term sidekick to Red, who now, thanks to the conviction of others that she possesses mystical abilities, takes on a position of guidance, control, and power, benevolent though it may be. Meanwhile characters such as Brooke or “So-so” (Kimiko Glenn) and Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) struggle with a need for fulfillment that somehow cannot be achieved through devotion or faith, and requires palpable connection to feel validated. And as for Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba), who begins in the throes of grief over Vee’s death from last season, carves a role for herself as the resident novelist of Litchfield, discovering her penchant (if not calling) for sci-fi-oriented erotic fiction, and develops a cult following of her own.

Season 3 of Orange is the New Black is the strongest thus far, and offers the most daring and complex explorations of even those characters we have for the most part treated as accessories to the main plots. Each woman is using the tools at her disposal to retain a sense of identity and control within a system designed specifically to strip away those two very tenants. Whether it be Piper’s ruthless business acumen, Norma’s ability to play spiritual leader, Gloria’s ferocious maternal instinct, or even Suzanne’s success as a novelist, each woman understands they have a fundamental need to survive on their own terms, and have either learned or are learning the valuable lesson that titles the final episode and which Piper proudly has branded on her arm: “Trust No Bitch.”

Watch The ‘Community’ Season 6 Trailer

By Will Oliver, March 3rd 2015

Community Season 6

Attention all you Human Beings, the Community season 6 trailer has arrived. It not only gives us a look at the pilot, but it also gives us a glimpse into the entire season, all done while parodying the Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer (“The Age Of Yahoo”). It’s perfect.

The trailer gives us brief looks at the gang and they don’t shy away from the fact that Troy and Shirley are missing. We also get some first look at new cast members Paget Brewster and Keith David, with the latter already proving he’s a perfect addition with one pitch perfect Ghostbuters joke.

As you’d expect, the show looks utterly chaotic and helter skelter, but I’m sure in the context of the season and each episode, it will all come into place.

Season 6 is really happening people! Be sure to catch the premiere on Yahoo! Screen on March 17. Find the trailer posted below.