Netflix has dropped the four episode documentary series Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop which details the origins of the genre and the women who contributed to it and helped define it. The show is executive produced by Queen Latifah and is named after one of her songs (a collaboration with Monie Love, who is also interviewed for the series) and offers a look into an often overlooked part of the music industry.
Like many documentary series, Ladies First cuts together interviews shifting from subject – plenty of time is spent discussing Roxanee Shanté, including with the star herself – cutting from archival footage (often including lyrics flashing on the screen) to interview footage to music videos – both pertaining to the era being discussed, or modern videos used as evidence of the point being put forward.
A large part of Ladies First’s appeal is the diverse range of artists interviewed and delving into their personal backstories – from MC Lyte to Rah Digga to Rapsody, Saweetie and Kash Doll. Some of these personalities only appear once, like Sha Rock or Remy Ma, but most appear over multiple episodes. Ladies First also digs into much of the cultural and political context that surrounds these artists, with historians, designers and even clips that showcase the story being told.
Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop is an interesting watch, though one that certainly rewards people already interested in its topic.
Special Ops: Lioness has dropped the majority of its first season on Paramount+, with only two more episodes expected in the coming weeks. The show comes from Taylor Sheridan, co-creator of the Yellowstone franchise and Mayor of Kingstown, and features a black ops American program called the Lioness program that sends out female soldiers to infiltrate the inner circle of women potentially linked to suspected terrorists.
Special Ops: Lioness is a brutal show, featuring a lot of cruelty – some by despicable characters, like abusive boyfriends, but some sanctioned by the show’s protagonist too.
Zoe Saldaña (Avatar: The Way of Water, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek Beyond) stars as Joe, the CIA officer in charge of the Lioness program. After an asset is exposed and Joe misses her window to extract her – choosing instead to bomb the facility she’s in – she must recruit a new asset in Cruz Manuelos – played by Laysla De Oliveira (Locke & Key, Needle in a Timestack) – a marine whose backstory includes a past as an exotic dancer and an abusive relationship.
Joe’s job keeps her separated from her family, a fact not helped by her standoffish personality that keeps them at arm’s length even when she returns home. Special Ops: Lioness may be brutal and uncompromising in its violence, but it’s also an engaging spy thriller that puts its characters in plenty of dubious positions across its season.
The show also features Jill Wagner (best remembered as the host of Wipeout), Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters, Walker) as Joe’s husband Neil, Nicole Kidman (Nine Perfect Strangers, Being the Ricardos, Aquaman) as Joe’s morally dubious supervisor and Morgan Freeman (Solos, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, The Comeback Trail) as Edwin Mullins the Secretary of State.
Disney+ has released It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s sixteenth season. Co-created by series stars Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day in 2005, the series focuses on five selfish, entitled and abrasive people who constantly try to enrich themselves through a variety of poorly thought-out schemes.
McElhenney (Mythic Quest, sports documentary Welcome to Wrexham) stars as Mac, a dim-witted bar owner whose vanity is his most consistent trait. Howerton (A.P. Bio, Fargo, The Mindy Project) plays Dennis, who drifts from manipulative voice of reason to barely concealed sociopath, and Day (Horrible Bosses, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, I Want You Back) who plays Charlie a uniquely simple man who reveals any number of disgusting habits.
The cast is rounded out by Kaitlin Olson (The Mick, Finding Dory, Hacks) who appears as Sweet Dee, and Danny DeVito (who needs no introduction but recently from Jumanji: The Next Level, The Kominsky Method and Dumbo) as Frank Reynolds, Dennis and Dee’s hedonistic and depraved father who funds most of the misadventures.
Sunny has always been good about reinventing itself and finding new lows for its characters to sink to. DeVito in particular seems to enjoy playing his absolute worst self in Frank, who in the latest batch of episodes spends an entire episode acting much like a dog while waving around a firearm.
This season also provides the Gang learning about inflation, getting cursed, being shot by one of their own, going bowling, and spending time at ‘Risk E. Rat’s’. Of course Disney+ also has the remainder of the show, now totalling some 170 episodes.
Sunny is a darkly funny show, well-worth a shot.