In the increasing market of subscription media outlets that are constantly producing new original content, you have to wonder, "What is worth my time?"
Dollface is a Hulu original show just released not long ago. Starring Kat Dennings, who some may recognize from 2 Broke Girls, and the Suite Life of Zack and Cody star, Brenda Song. Both Dennings and Song have been around the Hollywood circuit doing small co-star roles and movies for a while. They are both seasoned actresses, but in the last few film projects I have seen, their performances were not very memorable. Even Dennings in 2 Broke Girls felt robotic, and looking back on some of Song's work I have to say something was missing.
In Dollface, both Dennings and Song hit the mark in this series. There was a perfect mixture of fun and depth they brought to the roles that resembled my own group of friends. I found myself laughing at both women, and finding my own personal traits reflected in both. Dennings plays Jules Wiley who just had a heart-wrenching break-up with her long term boyfriend, Jeremy. Though it may seem she could have taken a cliché route, Dennings presented a real girl with a real break-up. She immediately tries to reconnect with old college friend, Madison Maxwell (Song), as an attempt to not to fall into a lonely existence. Madison is incredibly abrasive towards Jules at first, feeling a sense of betrayal since Jules left their friendship for Jeremy. It was refreshing to see this response. Most break-up stories we are immediately introduced to a dumped girl with an already tight girl posse by her side with margaritas at the ready. Though, I'm happy to report Jules and Madison eventually reconnect to form a new girl squad and an even tighter bond.
This whole series is amazingly feminist without taking away from traditional girl behavior or trying to fight it. In fact, most of the girls who seem to exhibit feminist ideals are materialistic, high fashion, and mostly feminine women. Jules is considered the outsider, because she made herself that way, not because the other women didn't want to accept her. Naturally Jules is the one who cracks jokes and questions most of the 'girl code' that Madison holds dear. I adore how these 'girl codes' are explored humorously, but also earnestly. Dollface has a stimulating approach on providing some much needed light in why these codes exist for the women who may want to make fun of them. It's an honest take on true feminism and sisterhood. The Hulu series take a magnify glass on women judging each other, and explores how the pursuit of a male counterpart can, at times, be un-healthy. There is nothing preachy about the content, there was no need to have a queer woman to make it feminist (though there were queer moments) and the humor was poignant and creative.
I must also mention the wonderful performance of Shay Mitchell as Stella Cole, the cool wild-child of the group who wants to be taken seriously. You would recognize Mitchell as Emily Fields from Pretty Little Liars, but in this show she shines as a true comedic beauty. I fell in love with Stella the moment she said her first word, and was impressed by her uniquely powerful mature thinking. Least we forget, Esther Povitsky, who was one of my favorites from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Though Povitsky plays Izzy Levine, its as if she is reprising a much more desperate and socially awkward version of her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend character. I was a little thrown at first, but Provitsky still gave an amazing and a delightfully fun performance that made me excited to see more of her throughout the series.
The real star that shines in the show is the incredible play on reality and fantasy. You never know exactly when it will switch, but you always are prepared for it. There is no confusion and reading in-between-the-lines and trying to scavenge meaning out of every shot. This is an amazing stylistic element that genuinely adds to the humor and theme of story. You even have a 'fairy-godmother' kind of guide through the fantastical parts so you know why and what is happening. It was something I wasn't sure about right away, but it quickly became an amusing piece to look forward to.
I spend a lot of time searching through Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube looking for content that feels worth watching. Sometimes I want a morally questioning show like The Boys (Amazon Prime), and at times I want my Holiday romance like A Christmas Prince (Netflix), but ultimately I want something worth watching. I yearn for content that make me laugh and think and even cry. I recommend this for anyone, but especially for women. It may answer some questions for women, who are like me, and didn't grow up understanding 'girl code' and have a harder time finding commonality with women. Dollface is an amazing show that makes you feel the girl-power every time you watch it.
It's a must-watch and preferably a must watch with your girl friends and bottle of róse.
Make a film. Do it. There is nothing more exciting than stepping into this creative battlefield. It’s a battlefield because there is always some danger (even if not life threatening) awaiting when you write and film a piece of art.
Females. You should be leading the charge.
This is not ragging on male filmmakers. I work closely (as the picture above shows) with males on sets all the time. Guys that I share the same level of respect. On set we fight together in this battle of cinematic artistry. On set we are energetic about the same shots, we face the same problems, and we work for the same vision. Females need to lead the charger for many reasons. I will give you one right now.
Their stories are important.
I have worked closely with a lot of males who don’t see me with an important story. They see I can help them, and don’t realize I have something to say. This is not malicious, but out of cultural norms they grew up with that have told them for years, “men you should lead the charge.” I know some guys who don’t actually want to lead the charge. They want to follow, but are forced to lead because society has told them their worth as a man. Just like society tells me as a woman to follow.
This isn’t always a high raised flag in our faces. This gender discrimination. You wouldn’t realize it existed until you thought about it. But it exist so heavily in the film world. Females are sometimes haphazardly put on sets for ‘diversity’ or to have a ‘female perspective.’ The truth is some men don’t know what to do with a girl on set. They don’t actually want a girls’ opinion on a script. We are suppose to nod along and say things like “What a great angle,” or “I love the actress you chose,” and my favorite “Wow! How did you make the camera do that thing?”
But we females are guilty of the same discrimination. It comes out as feminist repeals. We assume the ‘man’ is keeping us ‘down’ and we need to fight against them on set. These woman are usually what you call a ‘bitch’ under your breath as you men lift the boom higher. Because, why should the strong feminist subject herself to that? I have done my fare share of fighting guys on set. I have been offended when a man calls me ‘sweetheart’ or ‘doll’ and wanted to burst into a feminist outrage. I have rolled my eyes at dialogue written for females and wonder if these men have ever heard a woman talk.
We are all guilty of this. But females… I encourage again. Lead the charge. Not just for filmmaking, but in life. Lead when you see the need for a leader. Lead when you know something could be better. Lead when you know that no one else will. Lead even if it humbles you.
Men. Follow the charge. Follow to change the world. Follow when you know you will look weak. Follow a woman when society tells you to lead. Follow when you know that is your job. Follow to support your fellows in the same battle.
Females, you too should follow.
Men, you too should lead.
Do it together. I promise if you do everyone will win this battle in filmmaking. And the product will be glorious.