Friday Definer: What to Watch Edition - Define American

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Friday Definer: What to Watch Edition

Reporters and media makers telling the whole story of America.

The Friday Definer is Define American’s weekly roundup of stories that paint a fuller picture of what it means to be an American in the 21st century. Share these stories with a friend!

It’s a long holiday weekend for many people. Why not catch up on some of the shows that Define American staff members are watching and, in some cases, helping develop? Here’s a shortlist of what to watch this weekend. Because woke TV is patriotic.

One Day at a Time
One Day at a Time is back.

Take it one day at a time

When Netflix canceled this beloved remake — featuring a Cuban-American family helmed by Penelope (Justina Machado) —  superfans rallied on social media to save the show. After months of uncertainty, the show is reemerging on CBS-owned PopTV. You can catch up on the first three seasons of One Day at a Time on Netflix (the guys who canceled it) … and then expect a new season on PopTV in 2020, followed by reruns on CBS.

“We are thrilled beyond belief to be making more One Day At A Time,” said co-showrunners Calderón Kellett and Mike Royce. “This show has meant so much to so many, and we can’t wait to dive in with our amazing new partners Pop and CBS. And we’d especially like to thank all of the fans for their undying support, helping us turn #SaveODAAT into #MoreODAAT.” — via Will Thorne at Variety


Years and Years (HBO Go/Now)

An ambitious series from the BBC, set in a depressingly more nationalistic and demogogic near-future, Years and Years tells a dramatic love story between a government housing officer and his Ukrainian refugee boyfriend who has been deported, re-deported, and trafficked, officially and otherwise, across most of Europe.

Daniel Lyons (Russell Tovey), the housing officer, tells Jackson McHenry at Vulture about his on-screen relationship: 

“The love story between him and Victor is the focal, central heart and soul, the beating muscle, that keeps this show going. One of the main things that people are connecting with is this love story.”


Culture Shock (Hulu)

Culture Shock
Greg Gayne / Hulu

In the movie, part of Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series of holiday-inspired horror films, a pregnant Mexican woman who is caught attempting to cross into the U.S. wakes up in a picture-perfect American town where all the residents are eager to make her feel at home. This being a horror movie, it does not spoil much to reveal that things are not exactly what they seem.

Director and co-writer Gigi Saul Guerrero talks to Geoff Boucher at Deadline about her feature length debut, and its bilingual cast:

GUERRERO: It totally was not planned. It just felt so organic. I would have to really thank the actors. And I appreciate the opportunity that came from [the] casting job at Blumhouse. We looked and considered very carefully the authenticity of every single person cast for this film. It’s really exciting that everybody was Latino and, for a lot of the characters, Mexican. So it just was so organic for all of us. People just immediately felt the connection, and the actors as well I think even for them expressing back in Spanish with me they were able to really tap into more of a personal atmosphere. You can really see it in the film, that authenticity of the language and mannerisms.


Ramy (Hulu)

Ramy, a bit distracted.

An earnest, smart, often funny look at being a 20-something Muslim in New Jersey. Ramy is a New Jersey-based first-generation son of Egyptian immigrants struggling to reconcile the parts of his religion he’s dedicated to — regular prayer, observance of Ramadan, eschewing of drugs and alcohol — with the pieces he’s less comfortable with, which mostly relate to sex and his hesitance to settle down with a woman his more traditional parents would approve of. Via Gazelle Emami at Vulture

Unlike other immigrant kids who are split between two worlds and have made popular television shows and movies that wrestle with that fact, Youssef’s work is distinguished by how much he leans toward the old world. Ramy is shot in and around Queens, but it’s set in a nondescript North New Jersey town, not far from where he grew up in Rutherford.


More shows to check out

  • Mr. Iglesias, “issues are raised, points are made,” and Family Reunion, “a black Red State comedy, in part,” both also on Netflix, look worth checking out
  • Finally finish season 4 of Superstore on NBC.
  • We also recommend Roswell, On My Block, BEATS on Netflix, and Spiderman Into the Spiderverse if you still have time! 

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