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Stripping Down to the Truth: November 2015’s VOD and Web Series Picks

Stripping Down to the Truth: November 2015’s VOD and Web Series Picks

Jenica Bergere’s comedy “Come Simi” follows a pregnant woman’s efforts to unite with her estranged family before letting a new member of it enter the world. If only she had the mother-daughter relationship of Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum, who fight against constrained body images together on the web series “The What’s Underneath Project,” where women of all forms, ages and ethnicities strip down while talking about their relationships to their bodies. In “Be Here Nowish,” friends Sam and Nina are also trying to improve themselves by moving to LA to find their inner zen. Hillary Clinton, however, as parodied in “The Adventure of Young Hillary,” can’t find anything to improve about herself or her leadership style.

Here are our picks for this month’s women-centric VOD and web series releases.


Come Simi – Directed by Jenica Bergere

Crazy family members, tension, pregnancy and Alzheimer’s. Sounds like all of the ingredients for a good road movie are present in first-time director Jenica Bergere’s highly personal comedy about the heavily pregnant Jenica (played by the director), who’s determined to fix her estranged and dysfunctional family before giving birth. To reunite her Alzheimer’s-riddled mother (Karen Landry) with the sister (Fionnula Flanagan) she hasn’t seen for years, Jenica convinces her reluctant porn-actress sister (Tawny Kitaen) to come along for a road trip from Venice to Simi Valley. Bonus: Bergere actually gives birth on camera.

The film is available on VOD and iTunes.

Web series

The What’s Underneath Project – Created by Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum

Mother-and-daughter team Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum created “The What’s Underneath Project” as a part of their multimedia platform StyleLikeU, celebrating individual style and personal expression. In the web series, the creators interview a diverse variety of individuals, mostly women, about their lives, careers and relationships to their bodies. During the interviews, the subjects gradually strip down to their underwear — the philosophy being that each layer of clothing reveals a new layer of truth and vulnerability. It’s weirdly powerful to see women discussing their struggles with body image and self-esteem while taking their clothes off. In the latest episode, 25-year-old Australian actress Caitlin Stasey bravely speaks out about her experiences with systemic sexism in Hollywood: Being typecast as “the pretty girl,” being sexually harassed by an agent and told by her manager to dress sexier.

Watch the series on YouTube.

The Adventure of Young Hillary – Written and Created by Nicole Drespel

Nicole Drespel rather meanly, but very funnily, portrays a young Hillary Rodham (Joanna Bradley) as a geeky, socially incompetent control freak during her years at the women’s liberal arts college, Wellesly College. We see her work at the library, where she refuses to take back “Jane Eyre” before the loaner has been “changed” by it, alienate her group in directing an experimental theater production (“Would you rather work on this by yourself?” “That’s my dream collaboration!”) and confusing a young man greatly in her attempt to adhere to her tightly planned schedule during a “coupling session” in her dorm room.  

Watch the series at Above Average.

Be Here Nowish – Created by Natalia Leite and Alexandra Roxo

Creators Natalia Leite and Alexandra Roxo star as two women who move from to Los Angeles to advance their careers and find their inner zen after their lives have evolved to chaos in New York. While Sam wholeheartedly embrace the spiritual yoga community in LA and swear off men to “use her horniness on her career,” Nina just keeps having too many drinks and affairs. The two very different women encourage each other to each let go of their ways. See if they manage by checking out the series at their website, where the second season just premiered on Vimeo on Demand.

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