“Cleaning woman. The story of a single mother “(” Maid “)

Alex in the middle of the night (Margaret Qualley from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) grabs her two-year-old daughter Maddie, a few things, gets in the car and drives away from the trailer where her abusive boyfriend Sean lives (Nick Robinson from Love Simon) – the baby’s father. It seems that here it is, freedom. But the hell in Alex’s life doesn’t end there. On hand – only $ 18. Ahead is a tense custody battle; a penny job as a cleaner, which barely covers the most modest expenses; the grueling bureaucracy of government welfare programs; finally, post-traumatic stress disorder, which developed from years of abuse.

The basis of “The Cleaner” was the memoir of American Stephanie Land, who experienced all these difficulties on herself. First, she talked about her experience in a blog format, then she wrote several articles for major publications like The Huffington Post and Vox, and in 2019 she released a full-fledged book that became a national bestseller. The now happening film adaptation of “The Cleaning Lady” is among the most outstanding TV series of the year. And one of the most impressive statements about domestic violence, social injustice, and motherhood, heroically carried out in completely monstrous conditions. The detective “Impossible to Believe” from the same Netflix possessed similar properties – another dramatic bomb about violence against women, also based on a real (unthinkable) story.

The showrunner of “The Cleaners” – scriptwriter Molly Smith Metzler – chooses for her story the ideal intonation that does not fall into the exploitation of suffocating hopelessness, but does not give off a fantasy-fabulous sweetness. In addition to the thoughtful elaboration of the obvious topics, the show manages to touch on the not entirely obvious: “The Cleaning Lady” also says that the rich also cry, but not quite as is customary in premium American TV shows (they like to play Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon ), – as a result, it is more likely not about the absence of differences in the lacrimal glands of the wealthy and the poor, but about the complete meaninglessness of wealth in the current situation (one of Land’s articles was published under the heading “I spent two years cleaning houses. forever discourages me from being rich ”).

All of this could be nothing more than exemplary public service announcements, but the magnificent cinematography built on cunning audiovisual images – and the astonishing performance of Margaret Qualley, who won all the awards in the world here, get in the way. And again, Metzler’s meticulous drama: Among other things, “The Cleaning Lady” is a grandiose text, full of complex and interesting characters, written in many colors. And those who are ready to present surprises: if at first some of the characters seem almost caricatured flat, this is nothing more than an optical illusion.

Where to see: Netflix

“My Mom’s Penguins”

15-year-old Gosha, as he jokes himself, lives in an orphanage: some time ago his parents took three children from the orphanage, and now they are preparing for their fifth child. The next replenishment promises to be a serious test: two foster families have already abandoned little Vitalik, who is severely traumatized and experiencing difficulties in expressing his emotions. Gaucher himself, who was an only child for the first ten years of his life, is having a hard time under these conditions. He tries to pour out the accumulated experiences in the format of stand-up monologues – and soon gains the respect of popular comedians from Novy Arbat.

In “My Mom’s Penguins” persistently nagging, as is customary with Natalia Meshchaninova (“Arrhythmia”, “Heart of the World”), the drama meets a young Russian stand-up (the residents of Stand Up Club # 1 are involved in the case), but this experimental combination looks rather untidy than curious. The show shows promising forks, but in almost all cases, “Penguins” turn off somewhere in the wrong direction. Instead of an inventive deconstruction of the image of the holy mother, ready to accept and warm all the abandoned children of the world, the heroine of Alexandra Ursulyak remains (at least after five episodes of seven) just a disgusting person who, in principle, should not be allowed to people: it still tends to equate difficult and unpleasant. “Penguins” are generally extremely economical in matters of disclosing and deepening their characters: describing in more or less detail Gosha’s relationship with his mother and mother with Vitalik, the series by and large leaves the rest of the children and the father of the family overboard – therefore, the show can hardly be called a full-fledged family drama. although it was clearly worth moving in this direction.

The only bright spot here is the protagonist performed by the charming debutant Makar Khlebnikov, the son of director Boris Khlebnikov – Meshchaninova’s constant co-author. However, its interestingness, making its way through the strange image of the teenage version of the comedian Yevgeny Sidorov, is not fully realized by the authors: in the stand-up series, suspiciously little attention is paid to the process of writing jokes (another strange feature of Russian projects about creativity), and Gosha’s monologues are far from always are directly related to his life, so to write off everything on a virtuoso impromptu, as in “The Amazing Mrs. Maisel”, does not work. School conflicts arising from the professional activities of the young joker, too, do not seem to be too busy for the people behind the “Penguins”: this problem never gets rid of its dotted character. But the series spends a lot of time on a senseless demonstration of stand-up drunks, a film adaptation of comedians’ grievances against hecklers (viewers shouting out remarks and insults during performances), as well as a completely monstrous romantic line between Gosha and an adult comic, with which the boy naively falls in love (this can be understood) – and which, for completely inexplicable reasons, seems to be responding with a semblance of awkward flirting (how is this to be understood?). And – which is upsetting separately – a lot of infinitely weak jokes. Things like that have to die on open microphones – well, now we know where they go when they die.

Where to see: What

“Natural selection”

A tiny dramedy series that was originally produced by samizdat, and then attracted by the Premier platform. The first season, dedicated to the sarcastic veterinarian Alice and her unsuccessful but funny search for a boyfriend, got two sequels at once. The second episode tells about the similar romantic failures of Vova, a game master from a hipster anti-cafe, and the third about the heroes’ life together (don’t consider it a spoiler).

Unfortunately, how charming and surprising was the first season, which turned out to be almost a Russian echo of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Rubbish” (which is especially surprising, since the series was invented and shot by a man), just as depressing is the second one – for some reason, gnawing into outright sexism and at times reminiscent of some shameful sitcoms of the TNT channel (really, this is how the deal with Premier affected). Instead of a difficult and sometimes repulsive, but charming and intriguing heroine, there is a boring and unpleasant hero, whose internal conflict, firstly, does not develop in any way and only makes itself felt over and over again, and secondly, at convenient moments it simply turns off (which especially surprising since the show was written and directed by a man). The third season somewhat improves the state of affairs, since it returns Maria Korytova with her Alice to the frame, however, the stupidity of Efim Petrunin’s character does not disappear from this, so the dynamics of their relationship is not the most exciting sight. Fortunately, the show is designed in such a way that the existence of anything outside of the first part can be safely ignored. And to see the first season is really worth it.

Where to see: Premier


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