Happy Friday! Welcome to this week’s “global TV to watch,” which features titles from Japan, Spain, and the UK that center on fabulous groups of women.
As March and Women’s History Month draw to a close, I give you today three TV series about women — of various professions, ages and marital/family status, with a wide range of talents, who are strong, vulnerable, selfish, loving and more — for your weekend viewing.
Infieles (2009) (Spain)
This addictive drama hooked me from the off, so I have been none too pleased that only the first season (of three) has been available in the US. Regardless, it’s delicious. It revolves around the lives of five close female friends in Barcelona — widowed psychiatrist Lidia (Montse Guallar, If I Hadn’t Met You); married but childless wealth management consultant Cruz (Ingrid Rubio, Velvet); mother and housewife Joana (Montse Germán, I Know Who You Are); married journalist and wanna-be novelist Paula (Sílvia Bel, Live Is Life); and attached but seemingly uncommitted schoolteacher Arlet (Aina Clotet, Hierro).
“Infieles” translates to “infidels” (according to Google Translate), and there is plenty of infidelity in Season 1. The act of physically cheating on one’s partner opens the series, but emotional infidelity is also explored, as is the concept of being untrue to oneself. All of this and more are presented within the overarching theme of friendship. When love isn’t enough, when what we believed to be true actually isn’t, when we discover something about our loved ones or ourselves that we hadn’t considered… who do we turn to but our besties?
Season 1 of Infieles is currently available for streaming on Freevee in the US, Amazon Video in the UK, and possibly in other countries.
The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House (Japan)
I don’t recall ever having pleaded with a linear channel or streaming service to make another season of a show, but that is exactly what I did when I tweeted Netflix about The Makanai, “one of the loveliest shows ever.” It’s about friendship, love, duty, respecting one’s culture and traditions, and the utter joy one can experience from the simplest of things.
The series primarily follows Kiyo (Nana Mori, Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom) and Sumire (Natsuki Deguchi, Girl Gun Lady), 16-year-old best friends who have their sights set on becoming a maiko, an apprentice geisha, in Kyoto. Sumire is successful in the initial training, but not Kiyo, whose talent lies in cooking, so she is hired as the makanai, the person who cooks the meals, at the house where the maiko live together. As the series progresses, we see Sumire grow into a beautiful maiko and Kiyo use her food to help heal and bring joy, as well as provide sustenance.
Other threads are about the relationship between the maiko house manager and her teen daughter (who, if this were set in the Hundred Acre Wood, would be the Eeyore of the house); the love between the former house manager and the man who would be, but still isn’t, her husband; and the return of a former maiko to the house, amongst others.
The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, a Netflix Series, is currently available for streaming globally on Netflix.
We Are Lady Parts (UK)
This multi-award-winning comedy series is brilliant! And I, along with all of the show’s fans, have been waiting for what feels like donkey’s years for the second season. (The show was renewed in late 2021; hopefully it hasn’t been canceled like so many others have been lately). Anyhoo, it follows the members of Lady Parts, an all-female, Muslim, British, punk band. Yes. All of that. And it’s hilarious.
The main character is Amina Hussain (Anjana Vasan, Killing Eve), a geeky microbiology PhD student looking for a husband. What she finds instead is Lady Parts, which needs a lead guitarist, and whose front woman, Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey, Vera), knows that Amina plays guitar and offers her the spot. But Amina gets sick, literally, in front of an audience, so no can do — until she can, because the ladies make her an offer she can’t refuse: a date with Ahsan (Zaqi Ismail, Britannia), the hot guy she ran into, who happens to be the brother of Ayesha (Juliette Motamed, Magic Mike’s Last Dance), the band’s taxi-driving drummer. So begins Amina’s double life — and the demise of the band. But never say never, especially not with these sisters, because like that phoenix in Harry Potter, Lady Parts (and their song “Voldemort Under My Headscarf”) rises from the ashes to play another gig.
We Are Lady Parts, a Peacock Original, is currently available for streaming on Peacock in the US, Sky in the UK, Stan in Australia, Showcase in Canada, and possibly in other countries.
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