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.

Sterling K. Brown

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

NBC’s This Is Us – Binge Watch It Now


This Is Us is being hailed as the only breakout hit for the networks of the 2016 fall TV season. It’s been nominated for three Golden Globes – Best Drama, and Mandy More and Chrissy Metz, for Best Supporting Actress. So one rainy afternoon, I decided to watch the first episode using my cable service’s on demand feature. Three hours later, I had to turn off the TV, but returned over the next few days to take in all 10 episodes. It’s that addictive.

The show will be on hiatus until January 10 when it returns to tell us whether one of the show’s popular characters will be killed off. You have time to catch up before those new episodes air.

This Is Us is quality TV, something all too rare on the networks these days when reboots (MacGyver, Lethal Weapon), super heroes (Supergirl, Marvel’s Angents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and sci-fi fantasies (Timeless, Genius) dominate. Shows about families often are comedies, like Modern Families. Or they veer into melodrama. This Is Us manages to introduce issues faced by many families without delivering lectures. We’re left to figure it out for ourselves after watching another family confront its challenges.

The performances are some of the best we’ve seen this season, even taking in shows on HBO and Netflix. But it’s the writing that takes This Is Us to another level. Series creator and writer, Dan Fogelman, centers the story on the Pearson family, father Jack, played by Milo Ventimiglia, and Rebecca, played by More (and yes, she does get to sing in some of the episodes.) In the pilot, Jack is celebrating his 36th birthday when Rebecca goes into labor. She’s pregnant with triplets, but only two of the babies  – a boy, Kevin, and a girl, Kate – will survive. Gerald McRaney plays the wise doctor who helps the couple handle both the joy and sorrow of the delivery.

Through a twist of fate, Jack and Rebecca will go home with three babies. An African-American baby boy is in the nursery, having been left at a fire station. Jack is drawn to the baby and Rebecca agrees they should adopt him. Yet what seems like an obvious solution, can’t help but create future complications. Rebecca still grieves for Kyle, the baby she lost, and has difficulty bonding with Randall, the baby she has. When she does, however, Randall quickly becomes her favorite, something her other son, Kevin, can’t help but notice.

The “twins,” Kate and Kevin, have always been close. Kate claims to feel pain when Kevin does. Randall, on the other hand, has struggled to fit in with his siblings. As adults, all three children have “issues,” and with flashbacks we begin to understand how these challenges have come to define them as adults. Randall, who as a young child was found to be gifted, is a successful trader, married with two little girls. While he loves his adoptive parents, he’s constantly searching for his birthparents. Although Kevin is a famous TV actor (he plays “The Manny,” an au pair in a sitcom), he hates the show and feels like a failure. And Kate constantly struggles with her weight.

There is no one “star,” but an ensemble where even the minor characters leave an impression. Ventimiglia and More make for a believable couple, warts and all. Fogelman takes us back to their courtship in Pittsburgh. While watching the Steelers in the Superbowl, they argue about having children. (That becomes a moot point when the triplets are conceived in a bathroom during the game.) The adult children are played by an appealing trio: the nominated Metz (My Name Is Earl, American Horror Story – Freak Show); Justin Hartley (The Young and the Restless, Revenge); and Sterling K. Brown (nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Christopher Darden in The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story).

Fogelman’s test will come with the new season. Will he be able to keep up the momentum the series has created? There are still many family secrets to be revealed. Expectations will be high.

Top photo from Bigstock: “This is Us” Cast at the PaleyFest 2016 Fall TV Preview – NBC at the Paley Center For Media on September 13, 2016 in Beverly Hills, CA. From left: Chrissy Metz, Mandy More, Justin Hartley, Sterling K. Brown, and Milo Ventimiglia.