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TV preview: Winter shows to spotlight new and returning female leads

(Nghi Nguyen/Daily Bruin)

By Alyson Kong

Jan. 12, 2021 7:30 p.m.

Time to grab some blankets and the remote – the small screen is taking over the spotlight.

For a much-needed escape from reality, viewers can look forward to some exciting television returners and newcomers kicking off the new year. Many of the biggest shows this winter reflect a slow but promising increase in the number of female-centric series over the past few years. From the Scarlet Witch to Emily Dickinson, an ever-expanding range of female protagonists and productions will be spread across nearly all the major streaming services.

Read on for the Daily Bruin’s pick of the most anticipated series and specials this winter.

[Related: Video game preview: Winter releases provide players with escape to virtual worlds]

(Courtesy of Disney+)
(Courtesy of Disney+)

“WandaVision” (Disney+)

In the spirit of a 1950s sitcom with a superhero twist, “WandaVision” fills the screen with a curious mix of the old and new.

The series marks the first Marvel Studio-produced show on Disney+, which will be airing weekly starting Friday. And for fans of the Marvel universe, “WandaVision” is purportedly expanding and progressing the storylines left open from the end of “Avengers: Endgame.” Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany return to their roles as the sorceress Scarlet Witch and Vision, respectively, this time as a couple who seemingly lead an ideal life – white picket fence included.

The trailer, however, hints at the off-kilter reality the characters reside in – a besotted fever dream filled with intrigue and colorful action sequences to boot. Though much of the plot has been kept under wraps, the detailed homage to classic Americana visuals – from the aspect ratio to the color palette – suggests a well-crafted and layered series.

But one must watch on to see how much risk Marvel is willing to take to subvert nostalgia in “WandaVision.”

(Courtesy of Netflix)
(Courtesy of Netflix)

“Disenchantment” (Netflix)

“Disenchantment” shows how magic and science can make the perfect potion.

After finding its groove in season two, the Netflix animated fantasy series is bringing back Princess Bean and her supernatural companions for more swashbuckling action and humor in season three. The newest installment will likely continue the second season’s significant world building, in which medieval castles exist in the same space as a steampunk country.

But beyond the breadth lies the depth of the narrative, highlighted by the trailer hinting at layered political ploys and quests the trio must face. Under the direction of Matt Groening – the creator of television staples such as “The Simpsons” – the series will likely continue its entertaining mix of physical and surrealist comedy along with greater character development.

Come Friday, viewers will be in for a dreamy ride to uncover the truths behind the lore.

[Related: Rising Artists: New sounds for the new year to add variety to winter quarter playlists]

(Courtesy of Apple TV+)
(Courtesy of Apple TV+)

“Dickinson” (Apple TV+)

Emily Dickinson’s budding career slowly comes to life – but not before romantic obstacles and a chat with Wiz Khalifa as Death.

Season two of the historical comedy-drama premiered Friday with three episodes and will be followed by a weekly Friday release for the rest of the season. And it’s clear the show’s layered storytelling returns again this season as common millennial phrases like “influencers” mix surprisingly well with the Victorian-era backdrop.

Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfield reprises her role as the eponymous writer of the show, grounding the series through her fresh-faced perspective and emotional intensity. Central storylines also emerged from the trailer as viewers see Dickinson’s struggle with fame and her developing queer romance with Sue (Ella Hunt), her brother’s fiancee.

And with supernatural summonings thrown in the mix, season two is off with more drama and stakes for the complicated protagonist.

(Courtesy of Eddy Chen)
(Courtesy of Eddy Chen)

“Euphoria” – “Part 2: Jules” (HBO)

After more than a year since its cliffhanger season finale, “Euphoria” finally returns with a two-part special.

With three Emmys under its belt so far, the critically acclaimed show released the first of its two bridge episodes in December, with the second half premiering Jan. 24 on HBO. Compared to the emotional rollercoaster of season one, “Part 1: Rue” tackles the series’ major themes of drug addiction and mental health with a much calmer cadence. The episode’s emotional anchor is largely tied to Zendaya and Colman Domingo’s naturally flowing performance and connection.

Sam Levinson, the creator of “Euphoria,” said in an interview with GQ that he intends for the two-parter to delve deeper into the perspectives of the two main characters. And given the promising start, “Part 2: Jules” will likely pick up where season one left off with a similar pensive flourish.

For fans eagerly waiting for season two of the hit series, the two-part special will no doubt help guide them to the next phase of the journey.

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Alyson Kong | Alumna
Kong served as the Theater | Film | Television editor for the Daily Bruin from 2020-2021. She was previously an A&E reporter from 2019-2020.
Kong served as the Theater | Film | Television editor for the Daily Bruin from 2020-2021. She was previously an A&E reporter from 2019-2020.
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