Photos: Aple TV +
In the new anthology series Hadeer, eight feminist tales told in half-hour instalments, each exploring a different concept through a somewhat intense lens. Topics like postpartum anxiety, intersectionality, aging, and romance are told through magical realism, absurd comedy, and – in one case – horror, with nearly each one featuring a central metaphor that is literally conveyed. If there was an episode called “The Woman Who Disappeared”, you had better believe that the woman would actually disappear.
The series is taken from creators Liz Flahave and Karlie Mensch, who were behind the much-missed Netflix. radiateShe boasts, among other things, that Nicole Kidman is an executive producer. Kidman stars in one episode, among a roster of other artists including Betty Gilpin, Cynthia Erivo, Issa Rae, Merritt Weaver, Alison Brie, Hugh Dancy, and Jake Johnson. As with any anthology, some episodes will be stronger than others. We’ve taken the guesswork out of the equation by ranking each of the show’s episodes, from least to most effective:
8. “The Woman Kept on the Shelf” Episode 3.
Betty Gilpin plays a woman who – you guessed it – her wealthy husband (Daniel Dae Kim) literally keeps her on an oversized cloak so he can stare at her all day long. This episode is clearly framed as a fairy tale, with the idea that the ideal princess is that little girls are fed from infancy onwards greatly tampering with their sense of worth. It’s a worthwhile idea, but in the end the episode seems like a one-note concept – what if the trophy wife was a real prize? – It stretched for too long. Gilpin, the superstar of Flahave and Minch radiateShe does a great job with what she has presented, and the episode rewards her at the end with a dance sequence, but unfortunately the general weaknesses in Hadeer As a concept we feel strongly here.
7. “The Woman Who Disappeared” Episode One.
Issa Ray plays a writer whose childhood memoirs are selected into a movie. Or whatever you think would be a movie. She’s traveled to Los Angeles and settled in a luxury rental home, but the experience of having her story handled by a group of soulless white opportunists is increasingly humane. The metaphor at work here—not feeling like seeing, not being able to tell one’s story—is pretty simple, and once you see where it’s headed, the episode doesn’t really veer off that path, but Ray sells her role with conviction and sympathy.
6. “The Woman Who Got Her Husband Back” Episode 5.
What if you could take your husband back to the store and replace him with a different model, like Home Depot for Couples? That’s the portrayal of this bittersweet domestic comedy, starring Mira Seal as a 60-year-old woman whose husband (Bernard White) doesn’t appreciate and doesn’t please anymore. So she takes her friends’ advice and trades it in with a younger, more attentive model (Peter Facinelli!). What follows is a fairly standard issue of “Be careful what you wish for” in the morality tale, but it ultimately features Tony Award winner Julie White as the woman’s neighbor across the street, so there’s that.
5. “The Woman Who Ate the Pictures” (Episode 2).
Nicole Kidman (plays a wife and mother whose mother, played by Judy Davis, comes to live with her due to the onset of dementia. Their career) takes a tense and somewhat exhausting road trip, and along the way, Kidman’s character is immersed in a family photo album, as the title suggests. Well, you eat it. To keep the memories inside. At this point in the series, we’re already used to episode title metaphors getting quite literal, but there’s still a lot of magical realism in the episode that may have simply depended on the gigantic talents of actresses like Kidman and Davis’ storyline.
4. “The Girl Who Loved Horses” (Episode 8).
atypicalFivel Stewart stars in a kind of modern western set in the past but with the sensibility and language of the modern age. She is a young girl out to avenge her father, and along the way she ends up chained to the daughter of a local preacher, who plays her sunrise kingdom Actress Cara Hayward. preparation True grit Without the grizzly old man, but it’s mostly about these two little girls finding angles to go with them, and while the actor who eventually appears to play the man Stewart’s character needs to kill is the episode’s biggest gag, the heart is Stewart and Hayward’s sweet friendship sticking.
3. “The Woman Who Feed a Duck” (Episode 6).
Although it HadeerThe particular romantic comedy part, this episode is more quirky and surreal than just a boy meets a girl. In this case, it’s a girl who meets a duck. Yes, literally, Merritt Weaver plays a woman who is too busy studying for the MCATs and too disappointed with the dating scene to find a boyfriend, so she’s taken to sit by the duck pond to study every day. And it’s where she meets a confident, seductive, and incredibly charming duck who she can talk to (or to whom she can hear her thoughts?). This is followed by a very unorthodox romance, not a muddled fairy tale but a more realistic local tale, which only adds to the weirdness of this couple’s half being a duck. As a viewer, you spend most of the episode quietly obsessing over one question running through your head (“Would you… have sex with that duck?”), but while you’re obsessed, the episode veers off sneakily into a less fainting area.
2. “The Woman Who Became Killed” Episode 4
The premise here is very simple: it’s a parody of real detectiveA crime fantasy where two armed detectives attempt to solve a murder case of a slain and sexually exploited woman through the prism of masculinity. Only this time the victim, played by Alison Brie, is still more physical than ever (I think Patrick Swayze is learning to push a dime inside) ghost) who eventually realizes that if her murder is solved, she will have to do it herself. The performances here are great, starting with Brie but also Hugh Dancy and Chris Lowell playing detectives, as well as Saturday Night LiveAnna Nodim as a dressed mayor. And while the analogy isn’t entirely accurate, it manages to get away from being very educational…until the last few minutes. So close!
1. “The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin” Episode 7.
with many Hadeer Episodes, magical realism combined with the ways in which culture makes it hard for women leave the viewer wondering why these aren’t just horror anthologies. This episode finally scratches that itch (so to speak), as the great Cynthia Erivo played a mother of two who just got back into her high-pressure, all-important marketing job after maternity leave from her second child. She’s dealing with some major postpartum trauma as well as the general feeling of guilt that comes with leaving your kids every day to go to work, and that’s all before the increasingly visible bite marks appear all over her body. Erivo is brilliant in a role that could support a feature film just as well as Jake Johnson as her husband. The episode – which was directed by Rashida Jones – is steeped in psychological stress and physical horror and it easily tops the best of the series.
all episodes Hadeer Drop on Apple TV + Friday, April 15th.
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Joe Reed is the managing editor of Primetimer and co-host of This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The AV Club, and more.