Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Recommended: Youtube gets Blue, other women-centric shows

Yes, Youtube has been moving into the original series market as well, and I just watched their latest effort, called Blue. It features Julia Stiles as the lead, a single mom with a simple office day job as well as a sometimes-complicated prostitution gig on the side.

Stiles is a fine actress, and she's pretty without having the sort of cookie-cutter looks that many celebrities do these days. She does a good job of breathing life into this unusually-deep figure. It helps that the 12 installments are brief vignettes about her life.

Part of why the show works so well is that it's never repetitious. Every ep shows a new facet of Blue - yes, it's her name, used both by clients and her teenage boy. She talks to her coworkers, with whom she displays concern without ever really revealing herself. You might see her on a typical night at home. You might see that a guy who adored her in high school has learned about her double-life and hired her for the night.

Each entry is 7 to 8 minutes in length, tho the last minute or so is used for the credits. Updated on a M-W-F schedule, the last ep aired on July 2nd of this year. I chose to write about it partly to let you know what Youtube's up to now. However, I also wanted to commend Youtube for releasing the whole show in one month - none of that "wait for the second half of the season next year" junk like SyFy or USA do.

Blue was produced by WIGS, a digital channel that makes "high-end, original, scripted dramatic series and short films about the lives of women." Sure, I'm a guy, but I didn't tune in to the show to see Julia Stiles in nice lingerie (I don't "need" to). I tuned in because the premise sounded interesting, she's a good actress, and I feel that women are very under-represented in film and television.

To date, WIGS has created several female-focused series with solid actresses in the lead - among them Jan (Caitlin Gerard), Dakota (Jena Malone), Christine (America Ferrera), and Serena (Jennifer Garner). They also have a variety of short films, but the only thing I've seen so far is Blue. It's worth keeping an eye on this production house.

I am an egalitarian, and so I naturally find it annoying/troubling that women (and other minorities) are so misused by popular media. I find it very easy to support a show - or a production house - that seeks to level the playing field. It's annoying to see women exist in film or tv mostly because of the impact they'll have on a man who's "the real star" of the piece.

Blue passes The Bechdel Test, usually with flying colors, and you will probably enjoy it quite a bit. Worst case scenario, even if you don't love it, it's an at-least-decent way to spend 90-plus minutes watching a dramatic series for free.

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