News about coronavirus is coming hard and fast, and the Portland Monthly staff is working to bring you up-to-date information about how the crisis is affecting Portlanders. It’s vital we all stay informed and figure out how to help each other through this surreal, challenging moment.
It’s also vital that we take some breaths. Every week, in lieu of a “top things to do this weekend” post, we’re going to pause and share the pandemic-free content that’s keeping us sane (or somewhere close).
As an American, if you haven’t heard of Middle Eastern political thriller Fauda, you get a pass. In Israel, where the show is based and produced, you’d get some serious side-eye: that country’s YES Network reported some 1 million views within the first 48 hours of the third season’s air date. Fauda, Arabic for “chaos,” focuses on an Israeli army unit working undercover in Palestine to hunt down terrorists and preempt crimes. (Netflix picked up the show for US audiences in 2016, seeing its potential as a kind of Israeli Homeland.)
Written by journalist Avi Issacharoff and former Israeli special forces fighter Lior Raz (he also stars), Fauda provides brutal, white-knuckle action, and tribal heartbreak without the patented Claire Danes crazy face. It’s also a controversial show, simultaneously praised and criticized for its portrayal of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the humanization of perceived terrorists and above-the-law Israeli intelligence. Fauda’s third season hits Netflix April 16. —Benjamin Tepler, senior editor
Sometimes it is nice to drop the bullshit and remember that underneath it all, you are a theatre gay in tastemaker’s clothing. Huge thanks to the Criterion Channel—without whom, it must be said, I would have drowned in a puddle of my own drool weeks ago—and, more specifically, its Rita Hayworth series, for letting me be me this week.
Cover Girl is an insane 1944 Technicolor musical where Hayworth plays her own grandmother(!) and stars opposite Gene Kelly(!!) as a showgirl with incredibly murky dreams of appearing on a magazine and then on Broadway or something. The dresses are immaculate, the gender politics are hideous, and the dancing is sublime. Check out this sequence, where Kelly (who got to appear in the film only after some intense pushback from Columbia’s studio head Harry Cohn: “That tough Irishman with his tough Irish mug? You couldn’t put him in the same frame as my Rita!”) dances with his own reflection on a Brooklyn-by-way-of-Hollywood “side street”:
A major technical feat in pre-Parent Trap Hollywood, the sequence went on to influence Kelly’s choreo for That Dance in Singin’ in the Rain, which hit screens eight years later. I love that I know this now. I love that I know Cover Girl came out the same year Oklahoma! premiered on Broadway, and both helped firm up the idea that the songs in a musical might further its plot. I love that I have seen Rita Hayworth flee a room in a very tall hat, shouting, “If you ever want to see me again, Danny Maguire, you just come to Broadway! Oh, BIG SHOW!” I love that, for one night, I dropped the act and watched this obliteratingly dumb movie with perfect colors and instantly forgettable songs and so many fans blowing so, so many strands of hair. —Conner Reed, arts & culture editor
In my 10-year tenure as our style editor, I have added several subcategories to my job title: Style/Activism/Religion/Big Cats/Local Gossip/Drag Queens/Business Funding/Head of Shenanigans/Would Like to Hold the Microphone/1990s Editor is a more accurate description (but too long for a card), with a distinct emphasis on the final tidbit. Our senior editor Ben Tepler has fairly roasted me for the better part of a decade anytime I begin a story with, “Wait, did this happen in the '90s?” And though I like to think I have good current stories, a lot of them are at least rooted in my love of something from that easy-breezy time, so I have to tip my hat to him before I flip him off when his back is turned.
Such is the case here when I attempt to champion the reboot of Beverly Hills 90210. Look, I’m not going to explain the allure of the original. You’re either old enough to know about Brenda and Brandon Walsh, the Peach Pit, “Donna Martin graduates!” and the love triangles, or you’re not. But what you might not know is that last August, the entire gang (minus our collectively beloved and deeply missed Luke Perry) put out a six-episode reboot, which you can snag now on Amazon. Yes, I adored the original show, and obsessing over their looks might’ve cajoled me into my career—but, friends, this reboot is a damn delight.
Instead of the typical premise of just gathering characters together in the future for a wedding or a funeral (by law it seems to be one of these two options), they get meta with it. The actors are parody versions of themselves: Tori Spelling a reality television brat who can’t pay her bills, Jason Priestley a philandering pretty boy with a bad temper, Gabrielle Carteris now the confused head of the actors guild (she actually is the current president of the Screen Actors Guild), and Jennie Garth as an ever-divorced drama queen. The six-episode arc takes place 19 years after the original 90210 ended and the gang is strong-armed into rebooting the show to get their careers going. The episodes are filled with joyful self-mocking, as they use real-life stories of themselves from the “I Hate Brenda” club for Shannon Doherty to Brian Austin Green’s failed rap career as fodder.
Over the course of the miniseries, spliced with lots of content from the old show as they try to get the revival off the ground, a series of mishaps occur. True to the original formula, scandal, drama, and even the gang’s horniness get them into trouble again. It feels like catching up with old friends and nary a mention of the virus to be found. —Eden Dawn, style editor