Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Amazon Studios

What We’re Watching Now


The holiday movie season is in full swing, but when the weather outside is frightful, you just might want to stay cozy and warm at home watching something on TV. And, let’s face it, these days there is so much to watch on TV, not only on the networks and cable, but also on the streaming services, that there’s something for everyone. And being able to binge watch means you don’t have to wait to find out how the story ends. So grab your remote and tune in to one of these.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Rachel Brosnahan shines in this Amazon Studios series as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a Jewish housewife who tries to help her businessman husband, Joel, who dreams of becoming a comedian. Midge bribes the owner of the Gaslight, a seedy comedy club in lower Manhattan, with her brisket, landing Joel (Michael Zegen), better spots in the club’s nightly lineup. But when Joel bombs one night, he tells Midge that he’s having an affair with his secretary. Midge gets drunk, returns to the Gaslight and knocks the audience dead with her hysterically funny (and racy) perfiormance. Seems she’s the real comic in the family. The cast, which includes Tony Shaloub as her brilliant but controlling father, and Marin Hinkle as her neurotic mother, is terrific. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been nominated for two Golden Globes, for Best Television Musical or Comedy and for Brosnahan as Best Actress in a Television Musical or Comedy.


This BBC Scottish crime drama is so atompsheric that you will want to book a trip to the island immediately. Largely based on the novels by Ann Cleeves, the series, which can be streamed on Netflix, stars Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez. A standout is Alison O’Donnell who plays Detective Sergeant Alison “Tosh” MacIntosh. Also on the force is Detective Constable Sandy Wilson played by Steven Robertson. For a small area, Shetland has more than its share of crimes and the suspects usually include longtime (and certainly memorable) residents, most well known by the police. Both Henshall and the series have won BAFTA Awards. Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) appears in season three as someone who could help Perez solve a crime. And there’s a relationship triangle: Perez shares custody of his stepdaughter, Cassie, with her biological father, Duncan Hunter (Mark Bonnar). Cassie’s mother died while married to Perez. While the Scottish accents are delightful, you will want to turn on the caption function so you don’t miss any clues. 

Doc Martin

Martin Ellingham, a brilliant and famous vascular surgeon, develops haemophobia (fear of blood), forcing him to leave London and open a general practice in Portwenn, a fictional village in Cornwall. (The series, available for streaming on Netflix, is so popular that the area where the show is filmed has become a tourist destination.) Despite his blood phobia, Martin is a gifted doctor, able to diagnose even the most arcance illnesses he comes across. What he possesses in smarts, however, he lacks in social skills, regularly insulting his patients and locals with his outspoken and rude comments. Yet schoolteacher Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz), falls in love with him and their on-again, off-again romance makes for many  humorous episodes. Portwenn has more than its share of unusual characters who come up with their share of illnesses needing the doctor’s help. Performances are top notch. A U.S. verison of the show is reportedly in development.

This Is Us

Although this show currently airs on NBC, you can watch the first season on Netflix. It’s no secret that the networks have had a hard time coming up with solid hits, but This Is Us is certainly one that has been a critical success. The show centers on the Pearson family – father Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and mother Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and their three children. The series  jumps back and forth between the past and present time. In present time, the three Pearson children are: Kevin (Justin Hartley), an actor who rose to fame as the lead in a TV sitcom called The Manny, which he now regrets; Kate (Chrissy Metz), battling weight issues and trying to mend her relationship with her mother; and Randall (Sterling K. Brown), a Harvard graduate and successful businessman. Rebecca was pregnant with triplets, but lost one of the babies. Randall had been left by his birthfather at a fire station and ended up in the nursery alongside the two surviving Pearson babies. Jack came up with the idea to adopt the African American baby, and after some initial doubt, Rebecca agreed. The show deals with a variety of social issues without ever becoming clichéd. And jumping between the past and the present fills in the blanks about how the family relationships evolved. A great show to watch with older children.

The Good Doctor

ABC finally has a hit. The Good Doctor stars Freddie Highmore as Shaun Murphy, a young surgical resident who is autistic wtih savant syndrome. While his autism means his bedside manner isn’t always the best, his abilities soon make him a valued member of the staff at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Richard Schiff plays Aaron Glassman, the hospital president, who rescued Shaun from an abusive childhood and saw to his education. While he’s confident of Shaun’s skills, he worries that his protege is unhappy and needs help navigating the other aspects of his life. Shaun, however, resists his intervention, creating tension between the two. The show is based on an award-winning series from South Korea that was discovered by the actor Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O), and first shopped to CBS before landing at ABC. Highmore has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. 

Top photo: Bigstock

Kate Winslet and Juno Temple Light Up Wonder Wheel 


With Wonder Wheel, Woody Allen has created an atmospheric period piece with nostalgic scenes of Coney Island on the beach and on the boardwalk, that will stir memories for many who once enjoyed escaping the city’s heat for a day by the sea. The wonder wheel itself looms as a backdrop and ubiquitous presence in the lives of those who live and work in the resort. Coney Island in the fifties was a play land for some, a prison for others.

Kate Winslet

Ginny (Kate Winslet) was once an aspiring actress, with a husband she loved and a young son. One too many love scenes with another actor led to an affair and the end of the marriage. Now she lives with her second husband, Humpty (Jim Belushi), who runs the amusement park’s merry-go-round. About to turn 40, Ginny works as a waitress at a clam bar on the boardwalk while trying to keep her pyrotechnic son, Richie (Jack Gore), under control. 

Steve Schirripa, Tony Sirico, and Jim Belushi

Humpty’s adult daughter, Carolina (Juno Temple), shows up unexpectedly. She and her father had a falling out when she quit school to marry a mafioso. After singing to the FBI, Carolina is now on the run. She returns home, hoping that her husband will believe Coney Island is the last place she would come. (Two Sopranos alums, Steve Schirripa and Tony Sirico, turn up as the mafia henchman looking for Carolina.)

Ginny and Humpty live in an apartment that once housed a freak show. Ginny hates everything about her life, angry that one mistake could have derailed what was once a promising future as an actress. It doesn’t help Ginny’s moods that Humpty, seemingly ignorant of the slight, still calls his dead wife “an angel,” and tells Ginny that Carolina is too smart to be a waitress. Humpty is oblivious to his wife’s unhappiness, puzzled that, unlike the other wives, she rejects his offers to take her fishing or to a ballgame. 

Justin Timberlake

Ginny’s hope for a future materializes when she meets a lifeguard, Mickey (Justin Timberlake), an NYU student pursuing a master’s degree in European theater. A few casual conversations on the beach lead to drinks, and soon the two are enjoying rainy days making love under the boardwalk. Timberlake is the Allen stand-in, breaking the fourth wall and keeping the audience updated on what’s happening and his feelings. For Mickey, the dalliance is a summer romance that might help provide material for the play he’s trying to write. Ginny, however, sees Mickey as her chance to turn around her life.

When Mickey bumps into Ginny and Carolina, he’s immediately smitten with the younger woman. Carolina, unaware, of course, that her stepmother is having an affair with Mickey, asks Ginny for romantic advice. Ginny, desperate for a way out of her troubled marriage, will do everything possible to keep Mickey and Carolina apart, with disastrous results. 

Jim Belushi

Wonder Wheel is not Allen’s best. An early scene when Carolina tries to justify her return home is too drawn out. And why would the FBI just cut her loose, without protection, knowing she was in danger of being killed? But what’s lacking in the plot is more than made up in the performances. Timberlake is more effective when he’s actually acting in the film rather than talking to the audience. While this narrative device is one of Allen’s favorites, the scenes with Timberlake alone disrupt the flow of the film. Belushi delivers a strong performance as Ginny’s husband. Temple, who might be unknown to many audiences, lights up the screen as Carolina, particularly in the scenes with Timberlake’s Mickey. 

Winslet is the heart and soul of the film. There are shades of Blanche Dubois and Norma Desmond in her Ginny. Winslet makes Ginny’s desperation palpable. But while we understand Ginny’s pain, it’s hard to feel sorry for her. She accepts minimal responsibility for how her life has turned out, and is incapable of taking steps on her own to make her life better. Lost in the shuffle is her son, whose cries for attention with his fire setting are met with anger and punishment. Of all the sad personal stories in this film, his is the most tragic.

Top photo: Juno Temple
Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio / Amazon Studios