It’s a little strange that I love this show so much, since I’m not part of Dance Academy’s target audience of 13-year-old girls. Maybe it’s because Tara, the lead character, isn’t pouty or beautiful or even that great of a dancer. She finds herself ranked dead last on the school’s list after her performances regularly underwhelm peers and superiors. But despite being socially awkward, she perseveres while weathering a fair amount of taunting and backstabbing by friends along with the cutting remarks of her uptight dance teacher. Likewise, the supporting cast is just as multi-dimensional, with lives that can go from privileged to pitiable in a single episode. And it doesn’t hurt that the entire series is shot in Australia against a backdrop of glorious beach scenes and landscapes. Or that one of the male dance instructors is drool-inducing gorgeous.
– Joni Williams
Grace and Frankie
Grace and Frankie is a delightful sitcom that makes women in their 70s the stars of the show and their friends and families’ lives. Grace and Frankie (played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin), who have never gotten along, become thrown together after their respective marriages end in the most difficult of ways and they have to figure out their new lives. They are two of the most vivacious and endearing characters on TV, and the show does an incredible job of portraying the realities of aging while highlighting women who have so much life. Seasons 1 through 3 are currently streaming.
– Jane Morgan
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
When she gets stepped on (so to speak) one too many times, Ruth shakes off her depression and steps up her game. She forms an unexpected alliance with her kooky neighbor Tony, who just happens to have a nunchucks obsession. After angrily confronting him about walking his dog by her yard and not cleaning up after him, Ruth and Tony join forces to pursue the burglars who broke into her home. In some ways, this movie has all the trappings of any other—sometimes suspenseful with injections of offbeat humor. But these characters are gritty and real and superbly acted by Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey. If quirky dark humor appeals to you, don’t miss this one.