This is a good week for the less mainstream platforms. There’s something really interesting if you’ve got Freeform, Peacock, OVID, or MUBI. The first two are included in some TV packages, so you may already have them. It’s worth it to seek out some of these services.
Freeform’s got an interesting history that finds it at a somewhat awkward crossroads of programming. It was originally launched as an extension of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network – a platform that spewed bigotry of every kind. It was since sold to multiple other buyers. It became Fox Family in 1998, and ABC Family in 2001. ABC increasingly tried to shake the religious overtones and previous attempts to become a children’s network with shows like “Kyle XY”, “Greek”, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, and eventual flagship “Pretty Little Liars”. In 2016, ABC owner Disney finally said screw it and relaunched the platform as Freeform.
The anchor weighing down any evolution the platform’s taken has been Pat Robertson’s “700 Club”. Every purchaser of the platform has been contractually required to keep airing the racist, misogynist program – one that Robertson has often used to traffic in scams and support dictators with whom he has investments. When we look at what Donald Trump did in his four years as president, the actions of Robertson over the last five decades lay a very clear blueprint for manipulating evangelical populism for profit at the expense of women and people of color.
It stands at odds with Freeform’s otherwise more progressive programming. Does that mean we should watch that programming, or avoid it because the same channel hosts “700 Club”? Does watching more progressive programming on the network devalue “700 Club” by comparison, or does it elevate the network and therefore the show? I don’t know.
Most of the discussion on boycotting Freeform comes from evangelical groups upset over its inclusion of gay characters or themes of feminism in its original programming. That makes me lean toward watching programs like Freeform’s “Cruel Summer” – knowing that a network can be shifted away from hatred and toward more inclusion. Am I totally confident in that conclusion? Not at all.
Cruel Summer (Freeform)
showrunner Tia Napolitano
A young, popular girl named Kate disappears in 1993. Over the next few summers, a social outlier named Jeanette becomes more popular. Hatred pours her way as others connect the two, whether it’s warranted or not.
Showrunner Tia Napolitano has written and produced on “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy”.
This is a weekly series. “Cruel Summer” premieres new episodes on Tuesdays.
You can watch “Cruel Summer” on Freeform. The channel is included in many cable and satellite TV packages, and can be subscribed to through streaming services such as Hulu, Roku, or Sling, among others.
Rutherford Falls (Peacock)
showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas
Ed Helms stars as Nathan Rutherford, who lives in the town named after his family. He finds himself in a fight to keep the statue of his progenitor standing, a fight that intersects the fates of a cultural center and a local casino.
Sierra Teller Ornelas is a Navajo and Mexican American showrunner who’s produced on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, “Superstore”, and “Splitting Up Together”.
You can watch “Rutherford Falls” on Peacock. The basic subscription with commercials is still offered free, and ‘premium’ levels come included with certain cable packages.
directed by Azra Deniz Okyay
“Ghosts” follows four characters in Istanbul who are dealing with its urbanization and modernization. Who exactly does that modernization prioritize, and who gets left behind?
This is the first feature made by Turkish writer-director Azra Deniz Okyay.
You can watch “Ghosts” on MUBI.
Three Summers (OVID TV)
directed by Sandra Kogut
A caretaker for the condos of a wealthy family witnesses their fall from grace. As they’re caught out in corruption scandals, the staff find themselves without paychecks. They start their own businesses, using the condos when necessary.
Writer-director Sandra Kogut is a well known Brazilian filmmaker. Her first feature in 2001 was “A Hungarian Passport”, which chronicled her connection to a place her grandparents had fled during the Holocaust.
You can watch “Three Summers” on OVID TV.
Modern Persuasion (Hulu)
co-directed by Alex Appel
Wren finds herself in the uncomfortable position of dealing with an ex who hires her company. The film is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”.
Alex Appel directs with Jonathan Lisecki. A guest actress in series like “Lost Girl” and “The Listener”, Appel has more recently turned to producing and directing.
directed by Amelia Moses
Grey keeps having visions of being a wolf. She’s invited to work with a music producer at his secluded mansion in the woods. She brings a friend along for safety, but as she works, she begins to transform into a werewolf.
Amelia Moses has worked a variety of crew positions in horror – set designer, cinematographer, editor, writer, and now director.
You can rent “Bloodthirsty” on Google Play or Vudu.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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