Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Notes on Pop Culture: Showtime's Women-Centric Dramedies, Put-Upon Political Wives & 'Bright Star' Shines

Showtime’s Women-Centric Dramedies

In advance of the season two premieres of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and the United States of Tara, the Wall Street Journal ran a feature story entitled, “Showtime’s Bad Girls Make Good: A crop of shows with dysfunctional leading women has given the cable network a burst of momentum.”

Writer Amy Chozick pointed out that, in addition to Jackie and Tara, this is the network that airs Weeds and has a new show slated for this summer called The Big C, about a cancer patient starring Laura Linney. Showtime, the article said, “is reinventing itself with original series largely driven by complicated women. Showtime’s strategy: attracting big-name actresses, of a certain age and experience, who are hard-pressed to find juicy, challenging, starring roles elsewhere.” That is something I can definitely applaud, and is another good reason to keep Showtime as one of my pay channels.

After watching the season premiere of Nurse Jackie I reviewed it for CliqueClack TV and found it very promising. As for the Tara premiere, well, let's just say that I’m going to reserve judgment until I see more episodes.

Put-Upon Political Wives on TV and Real Life

CBS’ The Good Wife has been knocking it out of the park recently. (Entertainment Weekly recently ran a cover urging people to watch it.) The tension has been amped up with Peter Florrick -- the disgraced Chicago state’s attorney who was jailed for corruption and who was found to have slept with escorts -- now under house arrest and living in the apartment with his wife Alicia and their two teens. Alicia’s not sure if she’s going to reconcile with him (he’s sleeping in a guest room) or if she even wants to, despite the fact that, in a recent episode, she slept with him for the first time since the scandal broke. I’m thrilled that the show’s writers aren’t rushing things, like having Alicia simply accept his apology or have her just boot him to the curb. It’s been intriguing the way it’s been playing out.

That being said, Peter still went ahead and hired some political consultants to explore the notion of running for office again, without really talking to his wife or thinking about what this would mean to her, to have his indiscretions brought up yet again if he re-enters politics.

TV husbands blowing off their wives’ concerns for their political ambitions – including with Big Love’s Bill Henrickson – are the focal point of my new Mommy Tracked column this week in a piece that asks how much bad behavior wives can and will take when their husbands run for office. Real-life political wife, Elizabeth Edwards, unfortunately, was included in the column because she's plastered on the cover of People after her husband’s mistress and baby mama, Rielle Hunter did a high profile interview with GQ.

Bright Star Shines

While researching a recent column about women’s power in Hollywood in light of Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar win for best director for The Hurt Locker, I read that a number of film critics had heaped praise upon an indie flick, Bright Star, written and directed by Oscar winning screenwriter Jane Campion. The critics said that the film -- set in 1818 and about the love affair between 23-year-old English poet John Keats and his next door neighbor Fanny Brawne -- was criminally overlooked during awards season yet it still made dozens of critics top 10 lists for best film of 2009.

I finally saw it. (It's out on DVD.) And I loved it. Not only was it beautiful and deeply moving on many levels, it was extremely thoughtful, witty and possessed a quality about it that will linger in your mind long after the film’s last frame. Plus, it’ll make you long for springtime. And butterflies.



Image credit: Entertainment Weekly.

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