In a stroke of tactical genius, Gadsby explains precisely how the show will unfold, revealing all the important revelations ahead of time, and predicting not just when the audience will laugh, but how. While at first this might seem a real gamble born of a lack of confidence in the audience’s willingness to go with her, it quickly proves to be another example of Gadsby’s analytical mastery of her artform and all of its devices.
Douglas, it scarcely needs saying, is also frequently laugh-out-loud funny – not least when Gadsby uses a big screen and her own knowledge of art history to highlight some of the weird and pervy things to be found in the fancy paintings of centuries past. None of these were accidents or oversights, she reminds us. They were decisions.
Gadsby makes plenty of decisions of her own in Douglas, and most of them pay off. Those looking for Nanette II will find elements of continuity in Gadsby’s revelations about herself – particularly her experience of autism – and in her defiant excoriation of misogyny and the patriarchy (once a certain innocuous-looking star of a children’s book series is exposed as the epitome of male privilege you’ll never look at him the same way again).
The only real weak spot is the section in which Gadsby gets stuck into the anti-vaccination movement; it could have worked better and been more persuasive to the honestly confused had she firmed up her ground by explicating a few pertinent and irrefutable facts along the way.
All in all, though, it’s hard to mark Douglas down as anything but another triumph. Folks who have yet to see Nanette will find that on Netflix too.
The Young Offenders
Irish teenagers Conor MacSweeney and Jock O’Keeffe (Alex Murphy and Chris Walley) are real dimwits. The sort that would try to steal lead flashing from the roof of a building to get money to buy a sex doll. But while The Young Offenders revels in the boys’ stupidity it’s also an intelligent, big-hearted little comedy that often proves surprisingly poignant. Writer-director Peter Foott has an exquisite touch in capturing the mean streets of rough suburbs and the tender agonies of adolescence and parenthood.
Murder in the Front Row
Amazon Prime Video
This celebratory documentary about the Bay Area thrash metal scene of the 1980s makes no distinction between the bands and the fans when putting them in front of the camera. Because the bands were ordinary fans, and the other fans were friends who helped make and immortalise those bands by trading live bootlegs and taking historic photographs. Members of Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus and Slayer are among those queuing up to tell long-time Metallica collaborator Adam Dubin about good times and bad.
Amazon Prime Video
The first season of Homecoming – the one that starred Julia Roberts – was about a secret program to get traumatised soldiers back on the battlefield by erasing the memories that perpetuated their PTSD. That whole program must have been knocked on the head by now, right? Maybe not.
A young amnesiac (Janelle Monae) wakes up in a rowboat with no clue who she is apart from the military tattoo on her arm. Monae shines but the series takes some real chances with the viewers’ sympathies.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend the scale of a scandal or a crime or a monstrous, predatory evil. In the case of super-rich American Jeffrey Epstein, who raped and sexually abused countless girls and young women, this new documentary series conveys it through the sheer number and consistency of the survivors it interviews – and through the harrowing nature of their accounts.
But director Lisa Bryant, basing this four-part series on a non-fiction book by novelist James Patterson – a former neighbour of Epstein’s in the rich enclave of Palm Beach, Florida – has much wider territory to cover as well.
Viewers will find themselves increasingly outraged as former Palm Beach police chief Michael Reiter and survivors’ lawyers explain how prosecutors talked up the prospect of putting Epstein in prison for life before suddenly dropping charges and agreeing to an astonishing plea deal that scarcely interrupted his vicious crimes.
Those who have just watched, say, The Innocence Files (Netflix) and been left aghast by the routine wrongful convictions of poor black Americans could be forgiven for thinking that the US must have two different sets of laws on the books.
How Dogs Got Their Shapes
A busy and charming little documentary full of fascinating insights into why our domestic dogs look the way they do.
The short legs of the Welsh corgi? Those keep the dog close to the ground to avoid being kicked by the cattle whose heels it was bred to nip. The white-tipped tail of the beagle? A feature to help hunters keep track of it when it has its head down following a scent. The scientific detail is minimal but the fun factor is maximal and the cascade of facts just keeps on coming.
*Stan is owned by Nine, which owns this masthead.