Something sour in the water and environmental injustice, sexuality and stolen strap-ons, and some sweet, rom-com levity round out this set of women-created VOD and podcast picks. Set in the rural, Appalachian region of the U.S. that is often neglected in media, Ursula Ellis’ “Crick in the Holler” follows a first-generation college student’s return home to West Virginia as Dawn navigates both old and new dynamics within her family.
Moving from realist insights into West Virginia to sunlit evenings in Sweden, Alice, the protagonist of “Fuck You,” also carefully navigates shifting dynamics with her friends and boyfriend as she resists restricting gender roles — and shows how fun that can be.
Deviating from our web series showcase, this time we are happy to include “RomComPods,” a serial podcast that has offered a much needed escape with cute, funny romantic comedies packed with diverse characters and strong leading women who are navigating their careers, passions, and love lives.
Here are Women and Hollywood’s VOD and podcast selections.
First-generation college students navigate a series of specific challenges when leaving home, acclimating to campus life, and most pertinent to “Crick in the Holler,” coming back home. While taking care of her younger sister during a break from classes, Dawn notices a licorice scent emanating from the family home’s tap water, and conducts a simple experiment, discovering that there are chemicals in the water that may be harmful to her family. Negotiating how higher ed has alienated her from her family, Dawn must also convince her sister to take her seriously until the local news confirms a chemical spill.
Ellis drew inspiration from the 2014 Elk River chemical spill and ensuing water crisis, noting in her director’s statement that the spill “left roughly a third of the state’s population without potable water, but received very little national attention.” During the crisis, the director observed the determination, intelligence, and resourcefulness of young West Virginians and sought to represent these traits through Dawn as her personal challenges compound with the environmental crisis.
Learn more about and watch “Crick in the Holler” on Seed&Spark.
“You shoot like a girl,” Alice’s friend group says to one of her male friends while they play a coin game. She narrows her eyes and leaves the table. With more moments like these, “Fuck You” thematizes the subtle devaluation and degradation women of all ages experience.
“Fuck You” follows Alice’s day with friends, which includes giggles and play at a sex shop, a stolen strap-on, and kisses from her boyfriend. Alice challenges how others treat her, and invites others to think beyond their rigid conceptions of gender roles. Without voicing it explicitly, Alice suggests to her peers that doing so opens up the realm of possibility for pleasure, intimacy, and joy. Writer-director Anette Sidor has described her short as one “[she] needed to see when [she] was growing up” and it offers a model of sexuality, gender identity, and women’s empowerment that rejects patriarchal and racist norms.
Learn more about and watch “Fuck You” on Vimeo.
A balm from our stressful realities, “RomComPods” is a podcast created by and featuring women that offers all the heartwarming levity of romantic comedies without any of the assumptions that women are all single-mindedly focused on finding the right person. In the first season, Claire takes her honeymoon trip — alone — after her would-be husband cheats on her. Once there, she dives into her first solo-trip experience, remembers one of her long-neglected passions, and finds community with other travelers.
In the second season, Lucy is running the campaign of an aspiring president with progressive values. His platform offers a hopeful alternative to the lived realities of the most recent U.S. election and Lucy plays an integral role in centering women in the candidate’s policies. Lucy is organized, sharp, and full of ideas for the campaign and the country to help her boss — but now she also has to work with his son, who ghosted her eight years ago.
Learn more about and listen to “RomComPods” via its website.