Herself starring Clare Dunne

New Shows + Movies by Women — January 8, 2021

I considered not writing this. The week has taken it out of all of us. Researching shows and movies can feel like such a small thing to do in the wake of an attempted coup. All of us are so raw. We watch a coup chase our government out of office, delaying certification of our next president, the seditionists who spurred it get to take their seats in Congress, and then we…what, go back to work?

I’ve prided myself on missing only three weeks since I started doing this last March – two were to take Thanksgiving and Christmas off, the other was to feature pressing Black Lives Matter actions instead. When I miss a week, I make sure to wrap that week’s content into the next week. I’ve refined how I research and what my sources are as I’ve done this, so I’m sure a few things have slipped through the cracks, but I’ve tried to be thorough and I’m proud to say I’ve covered everything I can for the last 10 months.

This week I just wanted to give up, though. None of this is to say ‘woe is me’ or anything like that, because we’re all feeling some version of this. Whatever we do, whatever we’re proud of, whatever we feel can make an impact, it begins to feel inconsequential when we hurt so much at what’s happening. I talk about this because I know I’m not alone in that feeling, and I don’t want anyone else to feel alone in it either. We’re all so exhausted and debilitated by what’s been happening, and we can all feel that what we do is inconsequential in the face of it.

Yet the day before this coup, we won two Senate seats in Georgia and took control of the Senate. Two months before, we won a presidency and the House. Early last year, we mobilized to stop an escalation toward war with Iran. We pushed some police reform through – not nearly enough, but a first step. The list goes on, from saving the core of the ACA to blunting the reach of ICE. A lot of these actions weren’t enough, but they stopped far worse.

And if, in the midst of it, you wrote a poem and made someone feel connected, like they could do this one day more, it mattered. If you convinced someone to watch a movie by a director of color, a woman writer, or that cast disabled actors, it mattered. If you put your mask on correctly every day, it mattered. If you called your Congresspeople, it mattered. The only way that what we do now becomes inconsequential is if we stop doing it entirely. The only way we really lose is if that apathy takes over, if we’re really convinced of that inconsequential feeling, that impostor syndrome that tells us we don’t belong and we shouldn’t act.

Some of these things may feel like a drop in the ocean, but they don’t feel meaningless to those who connect with them, who feel moved by them, who change a decision because of them. And I don’t know if this message belongs in this space or not, but that knowledge that what you do matters and changes the actions of others belongs in every space until we genuinely know it.


Mr. Mayor (NBC)
co-showrunner Tina Fey

A wealthy businessman runs for mayor of Los Angeles for a list of terrible reasons. He has no idea what he stands for; he just wants to have the position.

The show was originally set to follow Alec Baldwin’s “30 Rock” character in his New York political career. When Baldwin stepped out, Ted Danson replaced him under the condition he didn’t have to move from Los Angeles. This required the show to re-orient itself around L.A.

Tina Fey showruns with Robert Carlock. Fey is best known for writing and starring in “30 Rock”, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, “Mean Girls”, and “Saturday Night Live”.

You can watch “Mr. Mayor” on NBC or on Peacock with a subscription.

Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town (Funimation)
directed by migmi

Lloyd is the weakest warrior in his village, but his village lies in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. In the capital, he’s an overpowered superhuman. He’s sent by the chief of his village to become a soldier in the capital for his own protection. There, a witch named Marie will help look after him.

For those unfamiliar, this is a play on RPG and video game progression, where dungeons and lands later in a game are much harder than those encountered early in a game. This allows players a challenge that escalates with their own skills. Of course, as a game mechanic, it often avoids engaging the logic that the people who live in the harder territories would have to be tougher themselves.

This is based on a manga that started publication in 2017. An Min-Gi, who stylizes her name as migmi, has previously directed on Marvel anime adaptations of “Iron Man” and “Blade”, as well as on series including “Death Parade”. This is the first series where she’s directed all episodes.

The series is also written by Deko Akao, the screenwriting alias for singer Hitomi Mieno.

You can watch “Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town” on Funimation with a subscription.


Herself (Amazon)
directed by Phyllida Lloyd

Sandra and her children leave her abusive husband. She has no home, no land, and barely any money. While her husband has all three, she and her children simply aren’t safe with him. It calls attention to how often this tenuous situation happens in the real world, and how little support our cultures offer to women and children at such risk.

Director Phyllida Lloyd has previously directed “Mamma Mia!” and “The Iron Lady”. Writer Clare Dunne also stars as Sandra. It’s her first screenplay, here co-written with Malcolm Campbell.

You can watch “Herself” on Amazon Prime with a subscription.

The High Note (HBO Max)
directed by Nisha Ganatra

Grace Davis is a singer whose star is fading. Her management is happy to push her through tours and residencies where she sings her greatest hits, but she wants to take a chance and record a new album. Her personal assistant Maggie is a hopeful producer who connects with her on this. The combination of Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson in these roles is an appealing dramedy duo.

Chances are you good you saw previews for “The High Note” a year ago. The film never got its intended theatrical release because of the COVID pandemic. It’s been rentable since last May, but this is the first time it’s come to a subscription service.

Nisha Ganatra directs. She also directed the Emma Thompson-Mindy Kaling comedy “Late Night”, which shared a similar theme of women from different generations connecting on their ambitions in a male-run industry. Ganatra’s also directed on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, “Dear White People”, and “Transparent”. “The High Note” is the first screenplay for writer Flora Greeson.

You can watch “The High Note” on HBO Max with a subscription or rent it.

Gun and a Hotel Bible (VOD)
co-directed by Alicia Joy LeBlanc

“Gun and a Hotel Bible” has an intriguing premise: a man ready to commit murder has a conversation with a personified hotel bible. The bible’s in a tough place – even as it spiritually argues against the act, the man points out that the bible textually prescribes the specific act of murder he’s about to commit. As you might guess given the dialogue-heavy, two-people-in-a-room premise, the film is based on a play.

Alicia Joy LeBlanc directs with Raja Gosnell (yes of Scooby-Doo fame). This is LeBlanc’s first film as a director.

See where to rent “Gun and a Hotel Bible”.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you enjoy what you read on this site, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

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