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Hipster Hijabis and the Dark Side of Yoga: December 2015’s VOD and Web Series Picks

Hipster Hijabis and the Dark Side of Yoga: December 2015’s VOD and Web Series Picks

This month’s picks are about geographical transitions and cultural clashes. In “Namaste, Bitches,” a yoga teacher moves from New York to L.A. and finds the sunny town’s yogis awfully cold and image-obsessed. In “The FOB and I,” an Indian newcomer to L.A. finds her U.S. cousin/roommate overly cynical, while the American finds the new immigrant annoyingly eager and demanding — who the hell knows where to find good chai in L.A.? “Shugs and Fats” are two roommates trying to walk the line between Brooklyn hipstery and their Muslim traditions. And “Divide in Concord” is a documentary about the clash between environmentalists and traditionalists in a small town.

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

Web series

Namaste, Bitches – Created by Summer Chastant

Former yoga teacher and actress Summer Chastant takes us behind the scenes at the yoga studio from hell in the comedy “Namaste, Bitches.” The web series follows Sabine, a yoga teacher from New York, who moves to L.A., the city of health and wellness. She’s received coldly by a small studio who gives her a trial position if she gathers enough Instagram followers and works on her image. The classes quickly become popularity contests, where instructors backstab each other while juicing and smoking weed. When an Indian man runs away because “they’re so many white people” talking down to him, it’s clear how far away from the original culture this hollow version has become. Watch this funny show about perfection, appearances and inner demons at Dailymotion.

Shugs and Fats – Created by Nadia Manzoor and Radhka Vaz

Nadia Manzoor and Radhka Vaz recently won the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series (Short Form) for “Shugs and Fats,” and it’s well deserved. The fast-paced series about two Muslim women trying to adopt the latest Brooklyn trends while holding on to their cultural inheritage is a breath of fresh air. How often do we see a comedy about Muslim women in hijabs discussing Louis C.K. in a Brooklyn laundromat? Or fighting over a vibrator, both pretending they don’t know what it is? Or discussing “Lolita” (without having read it) in a two-person book club?

“Our main goal with ‘Shugs and Fats’ was just to make people laugh,” Manzoor told Indiewire after their Gotham win. Vaz added:  “We wanted to show characters that don’t you typically see. We are human beings like you and everybody in this room.”

They succeed in both respects. Watch the series with the tagline “walking the line between hipsters & hijabis” on their website. The third season will be released on January 11.

The FOB and I – Created by Meena Ramamurthy

Sita (Shefali Deshay) is born and bred in the U.S. When her parents force her to share an apartment in L.A. with her FOB (gresh of the boat) cousin from India, Jisha (Uttera Singh), tensions arise. Sita is cynical of everything, both Indian and American cultures, while wide-eyed Jisha is excited about everything her new country has to offer. But, eventually, they grow to learn from each other. “The FOB and I” is a sweet and sharp series about cultural stereotypes, openness, family and female friendship.

Watch the first three episodes at the show’s website.


Divide in Concord (Documentary)

“I consider myself a warrior, and warriors have to be prepared for any enemy,” says 84-year-old Jean Hill, who’s been battling the bottled water industry for three years, trying to get her small town of Concord, Massachusetts, to ban bottled water. “The bottle bill” divides the town. Some say plastic bottles are completely unnecessary and harmful to the environment; others don’t want interference in their personal lives. “If they ban bottled water, they can ban anything!” one woman gasps. Thereby, this seemingly small dilemma gets a much wider impact. The film world premiered at Hot Docs.

See if the feisty Jean convinces her town to ban the bottles by watching the documentary on VOD.

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