Recap: Last Tango in Halifax, S1 E3

Last week, Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) drove off with her two boys and Celia (Anne Reid), leaving John (Tony Gardner) standing in the middle of the road at the farm. That’s where we start up this week, with Caroline having an emotional breakdown in the car as she drives erratically away.

Caroline stops the car and gets out. Her oldest son, (Edward Ashley) follows and says he’s sorry about telling her about his dad having Judith in the house. The younger son (Louis Greatorex) follows and the three of them end up in a hug.

Alan (Derek Jacobi) arrives at the police station, where Gillian (Nicola Walker) is waiting for the release of her son Raff (Josh Bolt). Gillian asks her dad is he is angry about her mother’s trick. He says no, he has no regrets. Policeman Robbie (Dean Andrews), who is Raff’s uncle – the one who blames Gillian for his brother’s death – brings Raff out. Robbie makes a remark that Gillian ignores about Paul and they leave.

When Gillian, Alan, and Raff get home, they find John half drunk in the living room. Can’t let all that booze from the engagement party go to waste, now can he? Gillian and John chat in a  commiserating way.

Gillian goes to check on Raff. They have a brief exchange. He won’t tell her what Paul was saying about her, and she doesn’t attempt to explain her relationship with Paul.

Alan offers to drive John home in the morning. He asks him not to drink any more. He doesn’t want John throwing up in the new Lexus before Celia’s even had a chance to ride in it! John explains to Gillian about Judith. Gillian says his house is half his and doesn’t see how Caroline can throw him out. He needs to stick up for himself.

In the morning, Alan delivers John to the big house. John blusters in loud and yelling about cooking breakfast and pancakes.

Alan has a bouquet of flowers and knocks on Celia’s door. She’s still in her bathrobe but brings in him and makes him tea.

In the big house John is playing the radio loudly, tossing pans about, singing, and generally acting like he owns the place.

Celia asks Alan if he believes in God. She says she wants to get married in a church. Alan says you don’t have to believe in God to get married in church.

Caroline comes down stairs and John and Caroline conduct a screaming argument that Alan and Celia listen to gleefully. They have a giggling fit while John and Caroline yell at each other.

NIcola Walker and Sacha Dhawan
NIcola Walker and Sacha Dhawan

Gillian tries once more to get Raff to talk to her, but he won’t. She heads off to work. As she’s heading in to the grocery store, Paul comes out. He says he told Raff about the wallpaper in her bedroom and the shoes in her closet to make him believe that he really knew Gillian. She goes into the store and pulls her hair in anguish. She can’t believe she’s involved herself with a fool who would brag to her son about getting into her bed. In a very poignant moment she thumbs through the contacts in her phone, wanting to talk to someone. She looks at Raff’s name and doesn’t call. She looks at her Dad’s name and doesn’t call. Just as she gives up on talking to someone, John calls her. He goes on about how he stuck up for himself and how happy he is with his behavior at home. He thinks Gillian’s a “sweet, exotic creature.” Oh, dear.

Caroline meantime is on the phone with Kate (Nina Sosanya) who gives her very sensible advice like “divorce him and sell the house.” Caroline isn’t quite ready to face this yet, but asks Kate to come over to talk to her.

Caroline goes outside and throws a bucket of water on John. Another loud argument the whole family can hear. She says the marriage is over, dead, and redundant. He refuses to leave.

Anne Reid as Celia
Anne Reid as Celia

Alan and Celia are parked on a beautiful scenic overlook holding hands and getting acquainted by exchanging stories. Her marriage was not a happy one. She tells Alan a story about a time when she could have killed her husband but didn’t. However, she vowed to do it if she ever got another chance. Alan is sad she had to go through all that. She asks him to spend the night in her cottage – in the spare room. He grins and says, “I’d have to buy a toothbrush.”

Gillian arrives home from work and finds Raff has moved out. He won’t answer his phone but she finds him at his Uncle Robbie’s. Robbie says he thinks the boy has finally figured out what a mad bitch she is and that he can stay with him as long as he wants. Gillian’s response to this latest upset is to call John. Oh, good grief, she calls John. Her loneliness already has her up to her butt in alligators with Paul, and she calls John. They have a long heart-to-heart about affairs, parenting and John’s marriage.

While John and Gillian are on the phone, Caroline and Kate are talking in the garden.

Sarah Lancashire and Nina Sosanya
Sarah Lancashire and Nina Sosanya

Kate complains that Caroline’s never really asked anything about her. Caroline seems to expect sympathy with nothing in return. They talk about Michael and how he tried to blackmail Caroline. Kate talks about “the effect” Caroline has on her. Caroline tries to explain her feelings. She talks about not knowing how to be a good friend to anyone or how to have a happy relationship. She describes her early life and how unhappy her parents were. Caroline talked about how different Celia is with Alan than she was with her dad, and how different her life might have been if her mother had loved her father.

Alan and Celia are in her cottage, asleep on the couch, holding hands.

Gillian comes out of the farmhouse in the morning to find Paul, bloodied and horribly beaten in her yard. It wasn’t Raff who did it. I couldn’t understand what he said when he explained who beat him up, but apparently he’s in some sort of trouble. [Note: this part of the story is explained in addendums and a comment. Keep reading.] Someone has threatened to douse him with gasoline and set him afire. She takes him to the doctor.

Sarah Lancashire
Sarah Lancashire

Caroline is having breakfast. Celia pops in to say she and Alan are going to Halifax. She says they slept together in her double bed, which Caroline is desperate not to hear about. Celia claims they had marvelous sex. (I’m wondering if this really happened or if Celia is exaggerating the truth. All we saw was snuggling on the couch.) Caroline holds her ears.

Gillian reluctantly takes Paul back to the farm after his doctor visit. He isn’t welcome at his own home.

In William’s classroom, Caroline comes in and sends the instructor (Kate) off. She touches Kate’s shoulder in a familiar way. She sits down to watch the students while the Kate is gone. The boy in front of William writes, “Your mum is a lesbian” on his hand and shows it to William.

Judith calls John and wants money. When he doesn’t want to give it to her, she threatens to come to his house.

Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid
Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid

Alan and Celia are sitting in a church, waiting to talk to the vicar. They have a very funny argument about religion, politics, The Daily Mail and pop songs at funerals. They end up laughing. Celia mentions she wants to walk down the aisle to the strains of “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel. These two are so lovely together.

Celia says she hopes the vicar isn’t a woman. So, of course, the vicar is a woman who questions them about why they want to get married in a church when they haven’t been churchgoers since the 70s. They leave – the church isn’t going to work.

Alan says, “Where would you like to get wed?” and Celia says, “Somewhere classy.” South something Hall – I didn’t get the name of the hall correctly.

Raff returns home to pick up his belongings and finds Paul on the couch, all beat up. Robbie, who drove Raff home, figures out that Gillian has been involved with Paul and tells Gillian she needs to have her head examined. Gillian asks Raff to stay and tells him that she can’t chuck Paul out. Raff leaves anyway.

Alan and Celia arrive at the Hall where they are thinking about holding the wedding. There’s no one about, so they wander through rooms full of an assortment of memorabilia. Alan tells about seeing a ghost in one of the upstairs rooms. They climb spiral stairs and wander through chapels and finally find the room where he saw the ghost. Odd dolls with strange eyes populate the room. There’s a flash of lightning and the lights go out. Celia gets uncomfortable and wants to go. I’m with her – this place is spooky. They race for the exit.

They are locked in. With no reception on their phones and a storm raging outside.

At the farm there’s a flash of light and a boom. Gillian rushes outside to find her Land Rover ablaze in the rain.

All images © The BBC.

ADDENDUM: I wasn’t the only person who could not understand what Paul said about why he was beaten up. I’m seeing people show up on this blog who want to know what he said as well. If any reader could understand him and knows what happened to Paul, please fill us in with a comment. Thanks!

ANOTHER ADDENDUM: I found this on IMDB’s summary of episode 3: “Later a badly injured Paul arrives, beaten up by his girlfriend’s brothers, and she lets him move in.” So that solves the mystery of what he so poorly articulated, It also emphasizes the point, which I did not in my summary, that Gillian revealed to John that part of Paul’s unsuitableness as affair material was that he already had a girlfriend. I love how broken and troubled Gillian is, but I’m ready for her to do something smarter. Like maybe not let an already entangled dude who thinks it appropriate to brag to her teen-aged kid about banging her set up residence on her couch.

A Downton Abbey Season 4 Preview (Video)

Downton Abbey fans, I found a tiny tidbit about season 4 to help tide you over. Hope it helps with the pain of waiting.

Season 3 of Downton Abbey ended with Lady Mary Crawley giving birth to a son as his father accidentally smashed his car into a tree and died.

Season 4 doesn’t begin on PBS until January, but people in the UK can watch it starting soon. A season 4 teaser video lets us see the problems Lady Mary is having dealing with the loss of her husband and her new role as a parent.

Recap: Last Tango in Halifax (S1, E2)

We begin back in the cafe where the two daughters went last week to retrieve their parents. They are shocked when the newly engaged Celia and Alan (Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi) announce to their children that they are getting married. Instead of congratulations for the announcement, Gillian (Nicola Walker) rushes off to the loo and Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) claims to be too busy to stay and chat.

Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax

Our old young lovers agree to talk tomorrow as the children rush them off. They look at each other with so much affection, it’s simply lovely.

In the car, Celia tries to convince her daughter Caroline that she’s serious. Caroline blows her off by saying she doesn’t have time to think about it. It’s clear that she doesn’t think a marriage will actually happen.

Gillian asks her dad what the hell on earth he thinks he’s doing. He tries to explain about how her mother tricked him by not delivering Celia’s note all those years ago, but he doesn’t quite get it out.

Next day at school Kate (Nina Sosanya) tells Caroline that she told another teacher named Michael about her relationship with Caroline. Kate said all she told was they kissed a couple of times.

Celia calls Alan and says she wants to come over. She asks Caroline’s errant husband John (Tony Gardner) for a ride to rent a car. He asks her to put in a good word for him with Caroline. She doesn’t say she’ll help, but instead asks what he thinks about her news.

Nicola Walker
Nicola Walker as Gillian

At the farm, Gillian tells her father that she thinks she should tell her son Raff (Josh Bolt) that his father actually committed suicide because Raff’s uncle keeps raising the issue of the father’s death.

John calls Caroline at school to see if she will agree to go out to dinner with him. He says he finds the relationship between Celia and Alan life-affirming. Caroline still continues to blow it off. I have to say I agree with John on this one. When he hangs up the phone he finds his girlfriend Judith (Ronni Ancona) at the door. That can’t be good.

At the school, Michael comes into Caroline’s office. He tries to intimidate and threaten her with his knowledge about her and Kate. Her response is, “Sod off, you little prick. Do you really think you can humiliate me? Go for it, genius, spread a few rumors. It will say more about you than it ever will about me. This is 2012. I was single. She’s single. We’re adults. We had a fling. The ladies have landed. Quite a long time ago in fact. Get over it.”

Go, Caroline!

At Caroline’s house, John and Judith are discussing their breakup. Judith wants him back. They start drinking. That can’t be good, either.

At the farm Alan drags a box of photos down from the attic. He and Gillian look through some of them. There are photos of her mother, and her mother with both Alan and Celia. Once again he muffs the chance to explain to her that the only reason he ended up with her mother instead of Celia was because her mother tricked him. Celia arrives in her rented car. In Alan’s eyes it’s like the sun just came out. They talk about where they might live after they are married. His little house, which is currently rented. At the farm. In her cottage at Caroline’s. Three choices, no decision.

Gillian is using rocks to rebuild a wall when her bad boy lover Paul (Sacha Dhawan) drives up. Just as he asks if anyone is at her house, Celia and Alan drive by on their way to lunch. Well, no one’s at the house. Quickie time for Gillian and Paul.

On the drive into town, Celia suggests to Alan that they sell both their small cars and buy one car – something they’ve always fancied. Alan may be dazzled when he learns exactly what Celia’s always fancied.

John and Caroline’s eldest son William (Edward Ashley) arrives home from school to find John and Judith drunk. In his eyes, his dad is now officially a wanker. Gotta say I agree with him, even though John technically is innocent of any wrong doing on this particular occasion. Just as Judith heads out the door, Caroline phones and says yes to going out to dinner with John sometime. I love the way the writers framed these two phone calls about a dinner date for the reunited married folks with Judith’s arrival and departure.

In an auto showroom, Celia and Alan are looking at a red Lexus convertible. You read that right. A red convertible. While they look at the car, they exchange stories about their kids. Celia doesn’t understand why Caroline let John come back. Alan reveals his son-in-law’s suicide. They have trouble getting the salesman to take them seriously and let them drive the car. Ageism is rampant even in the UK.

At the farm, Gillian and Paul have finished their little love fest, and she tells him to bugger off. After he goes, she looks in the mirror with one of those what the hell am I doing looks.

The car salesman is finally talking deal with our favorite lovers. It will cost them about 10,000 (euros? pounds?) each. Turns out Celia drives a hard bargain.

They decide to have an engagement party on Saturday at the farm.

The minute Gillian gets her dad alone again, she brings up the question of telling Raff about the suicide. Alan agrees that it needs to be done. He tells Gillian he thinks it’s wise, one of the kindest things I’ve ever heard a parent say to a child in a television show.

When Gillian does tell Raff, he asks several questions. She tries to reassure him. She talks about how everyone has demons, a line of thought that seems to apply to her more than her dead husband. She mentions that Raff’s dad had a wonderful side and a dark side, and assures him that he doesn’t have a dark side like that. He’s like her dad – kind, thoughtful, balanced.

Celia arrives back home and tells Caroline about the party on Saturday at Alan’s house. They talk a while, giving Celia a chance to explain her feelings and how she doesn’t see her behavior as “rushing.”

This episode is full of deep conversations between parents and their children.

On Saturday morning, as they prepare to go to the engagement party, Caroline almost tells John about Kate, then changes her mind and talks about being snotty to Gillian instead. Then she tells him he can start sleeping in the bedroom with her again.

No, Caroline!

The engagement party starts off well, conversation is flowing. Alan stands up to give a speech and finally tells the tale of the deception that lead to him and Celia losing touch. Gillian looks gobsmacked when she realizes the implications of the story. As they toast the happy couple, the new Lexus is delivered. Everyone rushes outside to see it. The two daughters finally share a moment of bonding as they look at each other in dismay over their parents car buying behavior.

During the excitement over the new car, the police drive up to take Raff away because he assaulted Paul. Seems Paul was talking about his mother in a way Raff didn’t like. Gillian doesn’t have time to explain to Raff and the police that she’s been shagging Paul. During the arrest, William tells his mom about Judith being at their house. Finally convinced that John is a wanker, Caroline leaves him standing in the middle of the road at the farm and tells him he can’t come back. Feeling guilty about Kate is one thing, but a wanker is a wanker is a wanker. John is yelling at Caroline that she can’t leave him there when Celia walks up and slaps him.

Go, Celia!

As if Gillian hasn’t had enough to deal with already, we can look forward to learning in episode 3 whether or not she will claim her relationship with Paul or continue to try to hide him from her family. I’m also eager to find out where Celia and Alan are going to live.

What did you think of episode 2? What do you think will happen next?

All images ©BBC.

August: Osage County is Full of Promise (Updated)

August: Osage County is the most promising movie, story, cast, whatever, to come along in a very long time. It’s a family drama with many strong women called together by a family crisis at their childhood home in Oklahoma. It’s based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tracy Letts. Letts also wrote the screen play for the film, which debuted this week at TIFF, although it isn’t scheduled to be released in U.S. theaters until December 2013.

Take a look at the trailer.

What a cast! Meryl Streep is the family matriarch, Violet, who suffers from mouth cancer. Sam Shepard plays her husband – an Oklahoma poet who quotes T.S. Eliot. This couple have three daughters played by Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson. Roberts is married to Ewan McGregor. They have a daughter played by Abigail Breslin. The sister played by Juliette Lewis arrives with a man in tow, played by Dermot Mulroney. The Julianne Nicholson character lives near her mother, something that probably makes her an expert on the family dysfunction in a way the two other daughters haven’t experienced. Other characters include Violet’s sister (Margo Martindale), her husband (Chris Cooper) and their son (Benedict Cumberbatch).

If that list of names isn’t enough to get your attention, the producer is George Clooney.

august: osage country poster

Early reviews coming out of TIFF are favorable. Julia Roberts in particular is attracting attention for her performance. It must be an intimidating proposition to try to stand out in a cast like this one, but Julia Roberts has apparently achieved that.

Abigail Breslin – if my math is right – is about 17 now. We’ve been watching her grow since Signs in 2002. She’s been in Raising Helen, Little Miss Sunshine, My Sister’s Keeper and much more. In every part she’s had, she’s demonstrated brilliant talent. Now she’s nearly “all growed up” and will be playing adult parts in the future. This may be the last time we see her as a teen or as someone’s daughter still under the parental wing.

August: Osage County is obviously complete or it couldn’t be playing in Toronto at a film festival. Yet we have to wait until December to see it. This means it will be released with prime Oscar nomination timing. The last thing we see in a year always has a better chance of getting the Oscar votes than something that comes out early in the year. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Julia Roberts get an Oscar nomination out of this one? Or how about a movie by a female writer and full of fabulous female characters getting a nomination as best picture? Now, that would be pretty damn wonderful.

UPDATE: A second trailer for the film is out now.

Recommended: Last Tango in Halifax

Last Tango in Halifax is a 2012 British series which started on PBS last night. There are only 6 episodes in season 1, so get organized fast to watch this one. Last Tango in Halifax is all kinds of love stories, chiefly one between Celia and Alan, played by Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi.

Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi

Here’s the basic setup. Celia and Alan were in love as teens. Through a series of mishaps, they failed to get together. Each married someone else. Fifty years later these two tech savvy elders find each other on Facebook and get together, with plenty of twists and surprises along the way. Reid and Jacobi are absolutely lovely together. It’s so wonderful to see a love story between people in this age group. I suspect that dwelling in the first bloom of love is going to make these two elders act as foolish as teenagers before this story is told.

Sarah Lancashire plays Celia’s daughter, Caroline. In the opening scenes we see her take back her philandering husband (Tony Gardner). She doesn’t show much enthusiasm for his return, and neither do their two sons, but back he is. Later, we realize she’s been filling in the time during his absence with a female teacher in the school where she’s headmistress. The teacher, Kate, played by Nina Sosanya, is dumped without ceremony because, “John is back.” The indications in the opening episode are that John’s stay back at home may be limited, and Caroline may not be fully finished with Kate. So, another kind of love story.

Alan’s daughter, Gillian, is played by Nicola Walker. When we first meet her she’s worrying over her son’s devotion to his Uncle and their penchant for dangerous motorcycle sports. There’s a lot of backstory involved in the relationship with the uncle and her late husband’s death that Gillian has to face with her son in the first episode. Gillian works in a grocery store, and we learn via her sale of a package of cigarettes that she’s sexually involved with a younger bad boy character played by Sacha Dhawan. It isn’t clear from the first episode if this can be called another love story or is more about loneliness and sex.

In addition to the romantic love stories and second chances that sprinkle Last Tango in Halifax, family love and parent and child relationships are explored. All kinds of love stories. I don’t know about you, but I firmly believe that the only good stories are stories about love – what ever kind of love that might be.  It doesn’t matter if it’s romantic love, family love, friendship or even love for a pet. Maybe that’s why I recommended this series about love so enthusiastically.

PBS doesn’t put their videos on YouTube where it’s easy to pick them up to display here. But if you go to the PBS page for Last Tango in Halifax you can watch a couple of videos from episode one. Once the season is over, all the episodes will be available on pbs.org/tango.

All images ©BBC.

Ray Donovan is a Wow!

I’ve never liked Jon Voight. I don’t have a good reason, he’s just never done anything for me. Of course I’ve seen him in a lot of things – there’s no avoiding the man. But, wow, he found the vehicle of a lifetime in Ray Donovan on Showtime. He is so perfectly Mickey Donovan – his walk, his tone of voice, his expressions, his questionable sincerity – his entire being is flawless in this part.

I, who would never see anything simply because Jon Voight was it in, am telling you to see this if you can because of Jon Voight. If you don’t have Showtime, file it away as a must watch on Netflix or Amazon or Hulu or someplace like that in the future.

The series is currently nearing the end of season 1. Here’s the trailer.

Voight aside, the entire cast is exceptionally good at creating the gritty and steamy world of Ray Donovan.

The title character Ray is played by Liev Schreiber. He’s an Olivia Pope from Scandal fixer sort of guy, except he uses violence more than cunning to do his job. Ray takes care of the illegal and misguided antics of the rich folks in L.A. while Olivia is keeping D.C. running smoothly.

Liev Schreiber
Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan

Ray is a family man, as his father Mickey is attempting to be on his return from 20 years in prison. But Ray keeps his family in the dark about his less than admirable work life. This is a source of conflict with his wife (ably played by Paula Malcomson) and his two kids (played by Kerris Dorsey and Devon Bagby). Ray is close to his brothers, Terry (Eddie Marsan) and Bunchy (Dash Mihok). As the story gets underway, Ray learns that he has a African-American half-brother, who serves to help push the plot line involving Mickey’s devotion to black women and their asses. (Mickey definitely knows what twerking is.) The half brother, played by Pooch Hall – a boxer in real life –  has been hanging around the boxing gym Terry runs. Terry and Bunchy both knew about the relationship for years, a fact that does not sit well with Ray.

That’s as far as family love goes with Ray. He hates Mickey for reasons that haven’t been fully explained yet. He doesn’t want his father near his own family or hanging around with his brothers – both things Mickey immediately does on getting home from prison.

The series is a rich drama with lots of stories intertwining from a past full of secrets and lies as well as Ray’s present unsavory work. Worthy of special mention as supporting players are Kerris Dorsey (you may remember her from Brothers and Sisters) as the teen-aged daughter, Katherine Moennig (from The L Word) as one of Ray’s assistants, Elliott Gould as a business partner hiding secrets from the past while quietly going cuckoo, and Paula Malcomson as Ray’s wife.

A woman, Ann Biderman, is the series creator and writer. This matters to me.

Showtime will let you watch episode 1 for free. I urge you to take advantage of the offer.

All images property of Showtime.

WIGS: Diana Nyad documentary

The web series WIGS created a documentary about Diana Nyad. It seems a fitting tribute to post it today. Yesterday the 64 year old swimmer achieved her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida. She did it in 52 hrs, 54 mins and 18.6 sec without the protection of a shark cage. She is the first person in history to accomplish this feat of endurance and determination.

Here’s to Diana Nyad!

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts Together Again on The Fosters

From 1998 to 2002 a series called Any Day Now captured my devoted attention. It starred Annie Potts as Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Sims and Lorraine Toussaint as Rene Jackson. The two grew up together in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960’s. Despite their difference in race and the upheavals and violence of the civil rights movement swirling all around them in Birmingham, they were best friends.

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts
Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts

Years have passed since those childhood days, which we see in frequent flashbacks. M.E. has been in Birmingham the entire time and has a husband (Chris Mulkey) and kids. She’s a housewife and aspiring writer. Rene has been gone, working as an attorney in Washington. She returns to Birmingham after her father’s death and they strike up their old friendship.

Any Day Now was about friendship and marriage and family. It was set in a crucible of the civil rights movement. The reverberations of race and the struggle for equality that affected the two friends’ childhoods and continued into their adulthoods made for powerful storytelling. Even though there were heavy themes involved, the stories were told with warmth and understanding.

While I loved it for the characters and the stories, it’s safe to say that it was a groundbreaking story of civil rights and race relations.

These two actresses – Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts – worked together to weave stories with a message about equality and human rights. Any Day Now ended over 10 years ago.

This week on ABC Family’s new series The Fosters, these two actresses will be together again.

The Fosters is about a multi-ethnic family of foster and biological kids raised by two moms. The moms are Stef Foster (Teri Polo), a police officer, and Lena Adams (Sherri Saum), a school Vice Principal. ABC Family emphasizes the family relationships and downplays the two mom aspect of this show to present it as just another family.

Much as ABC Family doesn’t make the lesbian couple the focus of this family drama, there’s still the lesbian issue right in your face. And the race issue. Lena is bi-racial. Two of the adopted children are Hispanic. While I love it for the characters and the stories, it’s safe to say that it is a groundbreaking story of civil rights and race relations.

The Fosters Wedding
Sherri Saum and Terri Polo

Monday night on ABC Family, in the season 1 finale of The Fosters, Stef and Lena are getting married. Their parents will be in attendance. Their mothers will be played by Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts.

On the very day the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the wedding scenes in the series finale were filmed.

When the civil rights struggles began in the 60’s, no one knew how long the fight would last or how hard the battles would be. A movement that originated around justice for African Americans has grown to include women’s rights and gay rights and encompasses numerous social justice issues. It isn’t over. We still struggle, despite all our progress.

It’s a long and painful history of struggle and progress that I will remember when I see the wedding of two women on The Fosters. A history that is tangibly tied to the early struggles in Birmingham and the South by the presence of two women who worked on a show called Any Day Now. This episode of The Fosters represents much more than a modern love story. It represents 50 years of the fight for equality in America.

Bravo to ABC Family and The Fosters for pulling these threads together into this powerful television moment with two brilliant casting choices – Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts.

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts images via Lifetime.

Update: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.

WIGS: Web Series Extraordinaire

Triian Bellasario
Troian Bellasario in Lauren. Image via Frikarte

Some of the best stories you’ll find anywhere are now playing on your computer on a YouTube channel called WIGS. WIGS offers original series, short films, and documentaries, all starring female leads.

There are numerous offerings on WIGS. Some films are one episode, some 3, some 12, some with more than one season. All feature well-known female leads such as America Ferrera, Virginia Madsen, Maura Tierney, Julia Stiles, Jennifer Beals, Troian Bellasario, Anna Paquin, and more. The many male actors who populate these tales are well-known, too, but the purpose of the films is to feature the women. The documentaries feature women.

I’ll mention my favorite series. I hope you’ll explore them all, because they are all good.

Lauren

Lauren is a drama about rape in the military. It stars Troian Bellasario as Lauren, the soldier who is raped. Jennifer Beals is Major Stone, the officer to whom Lauren turns for justice.

If you’ve paid attention to the headlines recently, you know justice for crimes of sexual assault does not automatically happen in military culture. Lauren is not an easy series. It’s tense and full of unfairness that makes you want to scream.

Here is episode one.

There were 3 original episodes in Lauren. It was so well-received and so important a topic that 12 more episodes were shot as a second season. The story doesn’t end at the end of season 2. I’m hoping there will be a season 3 to bring closure to the story.

Jennifer Beals and Troian Bellasario are fabulous together in Lauren. There’s great chemistry and tension between the two, as you can see in the first episode.

Blue

Blue features Julia Stiles as a single mom who supplements her income as a call girl. There were 12 episodes in season 1. Season 2 had 26 episodes. There is room for a season 3 in the story, which was unresolved at the end of season 2. Blue may end up being a full blown movie. Here is the first episode.

Julia Stiles is remarkable in this role. Blue is so complex and has so much to hide (and so much to lose) that it’s fascinating to watch her life open up a little more to the viewer in each episode.

Julia Stiles wrote and directed a series of her own on WIGS, called Paloma, which features Grace Gummer. Yeah, it’s that kind of woman-power.

Ruth and Erica

Ruth and Erica features Maura Tierney and Lois Smith. Tierney is trying to get her parents out of the family home and into a facility where they can care for her father (Phillip Baker Hall) who has Alzheimer’s disease.

There are 13 episodes. Here is the first.

Ruth and Erica is told and acted and shot with great tenderness and love. The scenes between Lois Smith and Phillip Baker Hall as the loving old couple dealing with Alzheimer’s are beautiful and tender and heartbreaking. The two of them are exquisite together. I’d love Ruth and Erica for this couple alone, but Maura Tierney has her own storyline independent of her parents’ drama that is intriguing as well.

This series was resolved at the end of 13 episodes, so I don’t think another season is in the works for it. It would be wonderful if someone would write another series for Lois Smith and Phillip Baker Hall with a story to tell that was about elders living life fully.

Susanna

Susanna features Maggie Grace and Anna Paquin. The two play sisters. Anna Paquin is a new mother with postpartum depression. She is scary-wonderful in this role. She had me holding my breath during most of her early scenes. Maggie Grace is the sister who gets called in to help when things get impossible.

Here’s episode 1 of 12.

I’ve been watching Anna Paquin perform marvels on a screen ever since The Piano so I wasn’t that surprised by her wonderful performance. However, I’d never heard of Maggie Grace (I’ve never watched Lost or Californication or Taken – unbelievable, right?). Seeing Maggie Grace was an education. She’s really gifted and does some revelatory things with her part as Susanna.

A second season for this story is a must have. I don’t think one has been announced yet, however. Come on, WIGS, bring it.

Why WIGS is among my favorites

It’s all about the women. The women are the center and the source of all the interestingness.

WIGS has men, too. Unlike shows that are all about the men, where the women are just cardboard cutouts by the man’s side, the men in WIGS are developed characters. This kind of equality makes for a better set of stories. We need millions more stories like these just to catch up with all the stories about complex, real men.

It’s about life. Real life. It isn’t about explosions or saving the world by killing great swaths of people without ever thinking about the consequences. It’s about the way real people live.

Have you watched any of the WIGS web series? What were your favorites?

Get over to YouTube or Watchwigs.com and check out these great stories.