“The Bear”, “Mean Girls”, “Plague At the Golden Gate”

“The Bear” (Hulu) After watching Treme and Kim Dickens’ trials as a chef I wondered why anyone would ever want to work under that kind of unrewarding stress. And now we have Jeremy Allen White as Carmy in “The Bear” portraying yet another anxiety-ridden, extreme pressured chef on the brink of breakdown. After the suicide of his brother, Carmy leaves the world of five star restaurants (where he was very unhappy–sadistic head chefs, cut throat co-workers) to run the family sandwich shop in Chicago. Internal and external conflicts drive the plot. The tension is ceaseless, but the fine acting and what many describe as an accurate depiction of that world make it a must-see.

“Mean Girls” (Netflix) Even though the film is nearly twenty years old, it doesn’t seem that dated (but then again for me, twenty years ago seems like yesterday). And high school politics have probably not changed that much. I missed this when it first came out in theaters, so it was fun to finally get around to seeing it. WatchingThe Popular Girls get their comeuppance–that familiar trope in teen comedies–is always satisfying whether you are thirteen or eighty. It’s a Lorne Michaels production so it’s funny, well-crafted and cynical in an endearing way. If you are looking for something light, amusing and not stupid–I absolutely recommend it.

“Plague at the Golden Gate” (PBS American Masters) I have saved the best for last. Did you know that San Francisco Chinatown at the turn of the century was hit with bubonic plague? If you, like me, knew nothing of it you will be bowled over by this incredibly good documentary. Most people are aware of the racism that marked the treatment of Asian immigrants, particularly the Chinese. You can imagine how this played out in San Francisco, 1900 when bubonic plague was identified as the cause of death . Politics, yellow journalism ( oh that awful Hearst!) anti-science, and so much more. The story is fascinating and the photographs are gripping. Don’t miss this one.

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