Welcome to The JP Pick vol. 11! For vol. 10 click here.
It’s the holidays, you’re still at home and you’ve watched all The Movies You’re Supposed to Stream. You’re mad at the bad one! You’re glad for the good one! You’re someone I had a zoom call with this weekend who refuses to see both! Good for you. I’m happy for you. I encourage you to incubate yourself with reruns of 90s SitComs so you can drift away to yesteryear in the way I’ve been doing since (truth) March 13th.
Now on to what I’ve been up to!
Series to Stream
On Pointe on Disney+
As I have previously said: gimme an intense ballerina show/movie/docuseries, and I will mainline it to my veins like it’s the GD vaccine — and this 6-part docuseries about one season at School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center is “The Good Shit”: excited, aspiring baby ballerinas — check; inspiring stories of immigrants — check; constant heart-racking moments of dancers edging ever closer to their big break only to have it all come crashing in a millisecond — double, triple, quadruple check. I don’t think there wasn’t an episode where I didn’t cry, then weep, then asked Mike to stop asking me questions when he entered the room because just the sheer act of opening my mouth released a “niagara falls” of emotion.
The series was shot at the end of 2019 (with The Nutcracker production at Lincoln Center as its finale) and what’s made even more heartbreaking than the emotional ride of following these students’ stories is knowing that 2020 is waiting in the wings, ready to thwart them from their plies. Of course, we know there will be forgiveness for these up-and-comers, there will be understanding in resume gaps and weakness in their athleticism — but the momentum of an arts career (especially one as short-lived in its working potential as a professional dancer) makes the students’ “god I hope I get it” energy have an added hue of desperation. But they’re good — really really good. And they’ve got this — and it’s great. Maybe that could be okay for now (and god, now I’m crying again).
Podcast to Binge
Mike and I took a long drive this weekend and as customary for our marital duties — he drove, I picked the podcast. And holy fuck was this the podcast. Perhaps you’ve heard of “The Hollywood Con Queen” the scammer who posed as bigshot Hollywood producers like Deb Snyder, who targeted lowly aspiring showbiz-types like actors and personal trainers, who bizarrely sent these people to a make-believe film shoot in Indonesia, only to have them be driven around and constantly promised to meet a Director who never materialized. Our drive ended, our obsession continued and now I’m 6 episodes deep and still pleading to the sky: “BUT WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM??” What’s tricky about this con is that it isn’t outright lucrative and is SO INVOLVED: fake script sides, fake production sheets, itineraries, you name it. It’s like if Lisa Simpson traded studying academia for studying the streets. And though the production of the podcast itself falls into a sound-alike category of Gimlet shows, the story itself is interesting enough to keep plugging on through the episodes.
Book to Read
I devoured this book. And it surprised the hell out of me. Without giving anything away, Susan’s had one hell of a life — decades before she even stepped into Uber’s HQ (and when she finally does, you cringe and hold your heart as if watching Goldielocks trip into the hands of the Big Bad Wolf). This book is about watching a woman who has built everything she’s had from the ground-up be undermined and sidelined by powerful men and women desperate to protect Daddy Dollar. Sound familiar? That’s probably because it’s literally every capitalist tale we find — but this book elevates the first-person form by having it come from someone as magnificent as Susan. You want to protect her from the world, but you also want her to dismantle it all in one swoop.
Pilot to Watch
Purposely not linking the trailer here because I went in cold and I encourage you to do the same. I’ve never seen a pilot story move like this one, y’all. Never felt the immediate stakes and dread for the main character so quickly. It’s like if the Safdie Brothers directed The Comeback — but even that leans this show’s supremely dark sense of humor more into the absurd. Just borrow your Mom’s password and do it.
Hashtag to Follow
Bless Carlye for finding the glitter in the garbage of this dumpster of a year by rejecting 2020 altogether and traveling back to another time — a distant time — a time we can only fathom in our dreams (or in this case, our photo stream). That year? 2019.
Through a series of posts that (sure) live as a “greatest hits re-posting” of a trip she and her husband took to Tokyo, we’re able to ride alongside with her virtually. Blur your vision with me and pretending we too are feasting on sushi after stepping off a mask-less plane on our way to Sanrio Puroland where Gudetama-themed curry abounds.
Do I love this because it’s so incredibly silly? Do I love it more due to Carlye’s doubling-down commitment to a silly thing? YES! What is internet during covid-times than opening a creative door and walking down it until the road is no more. Maybe this time next year, we’ll all look up at the same Tokyo moon in person. Or maybe we’ll just relive the photo stream again.