Don’t sleep on The Duchess. While the new Netflix show from creator, writer, producer, and star Katherine Ryan has gotten mixed reviews so far, it’s the kind of show that, with a little extra thought, opens up a lot of really lovely themes. Ryan is a Canadian comedian who has lived in the UK for well over a decade now and released two previous stand-up specials on Netflix, so fans of hers will be delighted to see the way she’s mixed and exaggerated parts of her personality and life throughout the six-episode series about a single mother who wants to have another child. If you like shows about interesting women (and no, not complicated women, because aren’t we all) such as Fleabag, Catastrophe, GameFace, or This Way Up, The Duchess is sure to be an enjoyable, breezy binge for you as well.
I spoke to Ryan on the phone this week, a call so important to her that she even declined a FaceTime from her preteen daughter in the middle of it. There are light spoilers ahead as I had to ask about a few moments in the back half of the series, FYI! Here we discussed the elements, such as fashion, and the moments, such as a haircut, that came from her real life and made it into the show, as well as the typical rom-com elements that were flipped for the show — including the fact that ladies, we don’t always need a man.
DECIDER: First of all, I love boy bands so I love that your character’s ex was formerly in a group. Were there any particular boy bands that inspired it and are you also a fan?
KATHERINE RYAN: Well I think that’s something very specific to my generation. In all the work that I do, I’m directly speaking to like-minded people. But also, specifically women like me and women my age. Certainly, when I was growing up, boy bands and girl bands were a huge thing. There was the Brittany, Christina, *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys craze. But when I moved to the UK, it was a little bit of a different flavor. They had a huge boy band/girl band boom. They had, I swear, 10 really famous boy bands. It was a lovely, just really specific British/Irish flavor. And I wasn’t inspired by any boy band in particular, just how interesting [it was]. Where did these people end up? How did they grow up? They must be really eccentric when they come out the other side.
One of the other moments that stood out to me was when your character brings her tea mug from home to drop off at school in the morning. That felt a little bit inspired by real life — was that a thing that actually happened to you?
Well, I just find that on my drop-offs, my daughter’s older now, but certainly anything, any step out of line, any behavior that wasn’t completely the norm, there were certain women that thought it was hilarious. They thought it was so unusual. Whether that be just something so logical as bringing your tea cup — we were only walking down the road, it makes sense to carry your mug from home or whatever. These women — not all of them, of course I find like-minded women everywhere — but there was a specific clique. If you behaved in any way, if you deviated from the norm, thought that it was the wackiest thing they had ever seen. They would have such a laugh.
I will say also that I found it very cathartic every time your character tells somebody off. I felt a personal victory for myself watching it, even though I’m not telling anyone off.
That’s so good! Because we can’t really tell someone off. It’s a heightened version of everything I tried to do, anyway. But I have seen more male characters get away with that behavior than female characters. I think, first and foremost, we’re expected to be nice. I just thought: this is a woman who really, truly doesn’t give a what, what anybody thinks. She really lashes out, apart from, she does protect the most vulnerable. So she’s like, rough and soft, I guess.
I feel like it’s impossible not to talk about the clothes in this show. I love that you never said: “Is this too many sparkly, silky robes? Is this too many feathers?” Everything was just exquisite. Were some of these already yours or did they become yours? How did that work?
Some of the pieces were mine. The World’s Smallest Pussy jumper is mine. That is a Rachel Antonoff feminist subversive anti-patriarchial jumper. I think a lot of people expected that. But I’ve worked with the same stylist for seven, eight years. My friend Jen — hang on one second, my daughter’s trying to FaceTime me. I talk about how important she is, and then I decline her call. Jennifer Michalski-Bray and I have worked together for eight years. We’re such close friends. I was really audible about getting Jen on this project. Because I think, in the UK especially, we don’t focus on fashion or beauty — in terms of beautiful shots, beautiful coloring, beautiful theory. We don’t really think about that as much for comedy. I wanted it to be front and center because I do have some American sensibilities. I’m Canadian, obviously, and I love rom-coms. I needed the wardrobe to be an extension of her. She really isn’t thinking about anyone else. She’s put together. She knows what she wants. I like looking at beautiful fashion. I like doing that in my stand-up. The whole reason I love Selling Sunset or the Kardashians is because I like tasteful interiors and beautiful fashion. It was really important to get Jen on this project. She worked on Gossip Girl a long time ago, when she was an assistant. I just knew she would add a real heightened sense to the character, a real status.
Did your real daughter Violet consult on the stories, or did you consult her about crafting the character of your daughter Olive on the show at all?
She doesn’t, because Violet really understands the difference between my stage persona and my real life. I’ve spoken about her in stand-up comedy specials before, and she understands that I do take artistic license. A lot of the stories I tell were true at the beginning, and then I embellish them toward the end. So Violet, she definitely was interested in Olive. She came to set and she met Kate [Byrne], the actress who played Olive. She watched a lot of the audition tapes with me. She did take an interest in who was playing pretend-her. But as far as consulting the scripts, Violet is nothing like Olive now. She’s in high school now. In England, they go to high school when they’re in Grade 7. So she’s 11 years old in high school. And it’s breaking my heart but it’s a lovely little Harry Potter-type school. But no, she thinks the stage version of her is so not her.
It’s still early, but in just talking to other people about it, have you noticed that people are picking up on some of the more important aspects of the character that I hope aren’t overlooked? Like you were saying, she puts herself together in the nice clothes. She puts her daughter first. She doesn’t talk shit about the dad. She knows exactly what she wants in her romantic life. Do you find that these things — that I think are really important about the character — are jumping out to people and that they’re connecting with them?
I think it’s either one of two reactions. Some people find it very refreshing to see a woman portrayed on screen in a way they experience women and female relationships in the real world. Katherine is not catty with Cheryl (Doon Mackichan). She is happy to welcome another woman into her daughter’s life — as long as that woman doesn’t infringe upon any boundaries or territories. Katherine is not catty, even when Evan (Steen Raskopoulos) gets a new girlfriend. The female relationships, I think, are different from what we’re used to seeing. A lot of people find that refreshing. The boyfriend, I wrote him on purpose to be a female rom-com character that we stereotypically see, who hardly gets his needs met, is happy to receive crumbs in the relationship, and really just wants to get married. I’ve seen so many women just want to get married, so I was inspired to write a man who desperately wants to get married.
But then there is the antithesis of that for a lot of people who don’t see those things, and they don’t see the empowerment of women, and they don’t see the vulnerability of Katherine. They just feel very uncomfortable to see a bad woman win. They’re like, “I’m happy with a woman being bad if she’s a mess. I’m happy with a woman being bad if she’s damaged and she’s losing. But I don’t feel comfortable seeing a woman who doesn’t need a man, who’s really evil sometimes, and wins.” Those reactions are fine with me.
What do you find that you’ve experienced more judgment about? Is it from the other moms, or anyone, on the way you parent? Or is it more about your relationship status? Because I love that you are so confident about both of those.
I mean, the truth is, I like most of the other moms. I think that the small percentage of women who are weird with me or have been weird with me in the past — it’s because they have made so many sacrifices. They’re so tethered to this idea of what they should do. I don’t have any animosity to those women, really, because it’s so easy for me to get trapped in this idea of cultural expectations. ‘You can only be one kind of woman, and you have to be a mother! You have to do this, you have to be someone’s wife, and by the way, change your name.’ I think most of the pushback that I receive, there are people who feel very threatened by a woman who doesn’t need a man. I think society was structured, for so long, to make sure we needed them. We legally needed them to live. We needed them to have bank accounts, we needed them to have houses. So when you go in public and you have to say, “I like men. I love men, but I don’t need one.” Then I was surprised. There’s a very visceral reaction to that, a real anger from some people. I think my alternative shape of a family, and the fact that I like it, threatens some people’s worldview. But most people are cool with it. But that is definitely the most pushback that I get.
It’s only after I made Glitter Room and just said very pointedly: you really don’t need a man — I’ve got that message out for single women. And then, in a cruel twist of fate, I got back together with my husband. But it’s because I wanted some time alone that I certainly don’t need him. He likes that I don’t need him.
The moment in Episode 5 when Olive gets a haircut is really special. What was that like for you? It feels like, based on just watching it, maybe it wasn’t too hard to have tears coming down your eyes when you were shooting it.
Yeah. That was inspired by real events in my life. Not everything is, but that definitely was. I think what made me emotional, more so than the haircut — because I am really chill about a lot of things, it’s your hair, do what you want. I don’t micromanage my daughter’s life. But it was when she wanted to climb in the car, and the lady pushed her — I think that’s a little microcosm of what society does to little girls and has done for years, and unfortunately, just continues to do in new and inventive ways. Just push them, so soon, to be grown. That whole creepy Britney Spears era of obsessing over their virginity and sexualizing teenagers. Now TikTok — the best thing you can be on TikTok is a 14-year-old with a midriff. I find it all very unsettling.
But yeah, it was the lady in the hair shop that was like, “No, you’re a big girl now!” And Violet, in real life, my daughter just wanted to sit in the chair. But the lady had ruined it for her. She got in the car chair anyway, and I was proud that she did. She put her little hands on the wheel and I could see that she was embarrassed. She was like, “Oh, I’m supposed to be the big girl. Ugh.” And I think we all have a moment like that, even in our own history, where your innocence kind of just is gone. Whatever it was that took it away, you’re like, “Oh, I’m supposed to be a big girl now.” Even now in my life, sometimes I’m like, “Aw, man. I’m supposed to be an adult now.” That’s where that comes from. She put her little hands on the wheel of the car, and it really upset me that day. I know I don’t get upset about many things, but I was like, “You’re a fucking bitch!” in my heart.
I have spent this summer watching a lot of the British panel shows when I’ve needed a laugh and I’ve needed something light. But I’ve read some of the things that you’ve said recently about backing away and being able to make your place available for other comedians, especially females, and hopefully not just white people. Have you seen that decision have any positive impacts yet?
Well, I’ve gradually done that since 2015 with certain shows that I know would have, at that time, only booked one woman. And since that time, I have seen loads of positive changes in this country. Also, I’m at a point in my career where I hear what producers are saying. I know a lot of people in the industry: casting agents, bookers for panels, everyone is making a concerted effort to include loads of diverse voices. Whether that be different socio-economic backgrounds, or ethnicities, or genders, they really are making an effort. My girlfriends and I, in this country, sometimes we call it the double-edged sword of feminism. Because when we started, at our level, there weren’t as many women as perhaps are starting now. I think there will soon be more of us because there are more women starting. More people of color, more ethnic, diverse voices. But at the moment, sometimes they try to book us for something, and the double-edged sword of feminism is: we’re busy with something else. We need to just wait for all those young comics to grow up a bit. I see the next generation of panel shows, and of sitcoms, and of specials be so much more diverse. Before us, it was mostly white men. And then with us, the tide is changing. Soon, I think all those comics will be at the level where we need them. They’ll be available. And it will be amazing.
Where to stream The Duchess
Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact
Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie.
Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo.
But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way.
The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake.
The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.
Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either.
Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price.
Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity.
Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well.
Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Liu Yifei made no outright apology.
Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas.
5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!
American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations.
Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.
Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming.
Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes
Year of release: 2019
1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre.
Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.
- Rise of Empires: Ottoman
Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes
Year of release: 2020
Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.
This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride.
- Wild Wild Country
Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes
Year of release: 2018
The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!
- Lenox Hill
Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes
Year of release: 2020
For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.
Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.
This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.
Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes
Year of release: 2016
The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.
The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!
Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!
The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses
When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.
What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?
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Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.
We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.