Television Shows & Appetizers
Historical dramas are aplenty in this so-called golden age of television. Some are fantasy-oriented whilst others are based in real, historical fact. Outlander is a mixture of the two: set during the Jacobite rebellion in the mid-1700s, but being quite liberal with the source material and the historical accuracy of the characters.
The basic premise is this: Claire Randall, a nurse during WWII, goes to the Highlands in Scotland to re-connect with her husband, who was deployed elsewhere during the war. During their time there, Claire is accidentally transported back through time to the 1700s and the aforementioned insurgency. However, what sets this TV show apart is the vivid, grounded depiction of emotions and interactions between characters, and a commitment to showing gender equality or at least a semblance of it that has been sorely lacking in other dramas of the genre. For example, sexual violence, as with all historical dramas, is a big threat (notably, for both genders): but whereas some shows explicitly use it as an isolated incident, the threat of potential assault is examined microscopically – not just the physical impact but the far more serious and long-lasting psychological damage. I haven’t seen a show explore the aftermath of sexual assault (as it should be done) in a way that Outlander does.
On the flip side, the love scenes are just as explicit and passionate. Sex in Outlander is a human instinct, a way for two people to show their love for each other and MOST IMPORTANTLY a situation where both peoples’ pleasure matters.
If for nothing else, the stunning Scottish Highlands’ scenery should do the trick.
New York Times’ Modern Love series, that initially began as a college essay writing competition about everyday experiences of “love, loss, and redemption” is one of the most poignant havens of honest and relatable storytelling. The WBUR podcast version of this series sees popular celebrities read essays that were published. What is also fascinating is how the producer Meghna Chakrabarti checks in with the author of the piece after the reading to understand more about how the relationship in the story has evolved or changed them.
The Doorman, written by Julie Margaret Hobben, is a charming story of a single woman in a big city who finds an unexpected friend, ally, and support system in the doorman of her building, who becomes a silent spectator in her quest for love, for acceptance, for taking control of her circumstances. The story is so relatable and evokes hope in finding kindness and compassion in a strange dark world. The story moved me by also demonstrating how two people, vastly different from each other; and one, moreover, being an immigrant from a foreign country, can define unconditional friendship together. Somehow, I find this story to be a timely reminder given the current rhetoric we hear around us in certain parts of the world, today.