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Calling all TV and film lovers,

I don’t know about you, but every summer seems to feel shorter and shorter...but you won’t see me complaining! The day I can commute to work without sweating on the subway is the day I breathe a huge sigh of relief and turn my attention towards the fall.

In the meantime, take a look at what we’ve been up to the last few months. Between vacations and Summer Fridays and, yes, the abysmal news cycle that never seems to hit pause, I hope you’ll find some time to watch these gems that are taking steps towards better and more inclusive media representation.

Watch intelligently,


Li Lai, founder of Mediaversity Reviews

WHAT WE LOVED

Luce still

Luce

Mediaversity Grade: A+ 5.17/5

In our highest ranking film to date, Julius Onah’s Luce delivers an incisive takedown of the Exceptional Negro trope. Read the review→

SEE IT IN THEATERS

WHAT WE LIKED

Gentleman Jack still

Gentleman Jack

Mediaversity Grade: B 4.00/5

Based on true events, Gentleman Jack proudly celebrates queer history. Read the review→

WATCH ON HBO

WHAT WE SIDE-EYED

Shaft

Mediaversity Grade: F 0.50/5

Unfortunate for a film written and directed by Black men, Shaft leans on toxic masculinity, glaring homophobia, and stereotypes about Blackness for its laughs. Read the review→

AND I DON'T WANNA MISS A THING

A grades
The Farewell was my favorite movie release of the summer, but my favorite “summer movie” would have to go to Late Night for its lighthearted take on important social issues. Speaking of important social issues, film festival darling Yellow Rose tackles the plight of Dreamers through a country musical format. But for pure escapism, you could do worse than Taika Waititi’s vampire comedy, What We Do in the Shadows, which has just come out on Hulu. Meanwhile, Netflix’s Russian Doll was finally renewed this summer, although a release date is still TBD.

B grades
Also on Netflix, you can find long-running Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or guilty pleasure movie Always Be My Maybe, both featuring Asian Americans in prominent roles. Ava DuVernay’s mini-series When They See Us humanizes the Exonerated Five, who were victims of police brutality. And on the silver screen, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Rocketman both found well-deserved box office success.

C grades
In Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino does good by Sharon Tate but mars the legacy of Bruce Lee, to the point where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar penned an op-ed expressing his disappointment.

Also disappointing was CBS’s Instinct, which held promise by starring Alan Cumming as the gay lead of a mainstream procedural. Alas, poor writing and general unwatchability led to its cancellation, announced last week.

Still, not all C-graded shows are made equal. Hulu’s revival of Veronica Mars and AMC’s first season of The Terror delighted me in vastly different ways, even as both retain predominantly white casts. In contrast, Men in Black: International casts Tessa Thompson in a leading role, but its gendered jokes, written by men and executed by a male director, fall flat.

D grades
HBO’s Chernobyl found widespread acclaim, but as yet another historical piece featuring nearly all white men, it only reinforces inequality in Hollywood.
 

INSTA-REACTS

Knee-jerk reactions to the latest on TV or in theaters:

TV

Screenshots of Basketball or Nothing, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pearson, and Tales of the City

Basketball or Nothing - Season 1, Episode 1 (Netflix)

Derry Girls - Season 2, Episode 1 (Netflix)

Fleabag - Season 1 (Amazon Prime) 

Four Weddings and a Funeral - Season 1, Episode 1 (Hulu)

Good Omens - Season 1, Episode 1 (Amazon Prime) 

Harlots - Season 3, Episode 1 (Hulu)

Pearson - Season 1, Episodes 1-5 (USA) 

Tales of the City - Season 1, Episodes 1-6 (Netflix)

The Terror: Infamy - Season 2, Episode 1 (AMC)
 

Film

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Toy Story 4
 

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