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The cast of 2019 rom-com “Long Shot” – one of several movies saving us from languishing into the new year. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

We’re probably going to be spending more time inside in the coming weeks than we previously thought.

But that time doesn’t have to become a total slog, even though we’re hunkering down waiting for the omicron-sparked surge in Covid-19 cases to wane (as well as for warmer weather, at least here in New York City). 

To end 2021 – and start 2022 – with some smiles, we’ve pulled together a list of recent movies and television shows that have brought us some joy and laughter, and that can easily be found online for your viewing pleasure. Scroll on to read about some of our staff favorites – all of which, of course, feature dynamic, complex women characters.

1

Grace & Frankie

Five words: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Those storied names should be reason enough to check it out. The show centers on the friendship forged between the titular characters, played by Fonda and Tomlin, when their husbands divorce them in order to marry each other. (There’s also an element of entrepreneurship to this show, as the duo collaborates on products like a vibrator for older women, among other eyebrow-raising outings.) Its final episodes will air in 2022.
Where to Watch – Netflix

2

Long Shot

This 2019 film starring Charlize Theron – whose comedic work rivals her dramatic and action-packed turns – and Seth Rogan is as sweet as it is funny. Theron plays a U.S. Secretary of State preparing for a Presidential campaign; Rogan is her former babysitting charge turned journalist and speechwriter. Their relationship makes no sense on paper, but watching them come together is a true joy anyway. (It’s not entirely G-rated, however, so you may just hop on the couch with only the teens and adults in your life for this one.)
Where to Watch – Netflix

3

Call My Agent!

This French dramedy chronicles the goings on of a talent agency that works with stars such as Sigourney Weaver and Juliette Binoche. (Bonus: The celebrities play themselves – albeit exaggerated versions with fictional struggles.) The series stars Camille Cottin, whose character is a partner at the embattled agency where the show is set, as well as a working mom. It’s an especially sharp take on the workplace comedy genre – and well worth the effort of reading some subtitles. This past April, a fifth season of the show was confirmed.
Where to Watch – Netflix

4

Always Be My Maybe

Upon reflection, it appears 2019 was a banner year for the rom-com genre. This entry tells the story of two childhood friends – played by comedian Ali Wong and actor Randall Park – who reconnect after years of estrangement. Wong’s character, Sasha, is a celebrity chef opening new restaurants throughout the United States. Park’s Marcus, meanwhile, has taken … a slightly different path. But they meet again all the same, and their journey back to knowing and understanding one another is an especially fun one.
Where to Watch – Netflix

5

Dead to Me

This is definitely one of the darker suggestions on this list – but still extremely funny. Then again, what else would you expect with Christina Applegate in a leading role?  She and Linda Cardellini  star as two women who bond after losing their respective significant others. And that’s all we’ll say about the plot, in order to avoid spoiling anything for those who have not yet watched, or read about, this show. Due to Covid-related production delays, as well as Applegate’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis, its third season is now expected to debut in 2022.
Where to Watch – Netflix

6

Girls5eva

The members of a fictional girl group from the 1990s reunite in the modern day when their only hit is sampled by a breakout rapper. Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Busy Philipps and Paula Pell star as the aging members of Girls5eva, whose lives have turned mundane since the conclusion of their 15 minutes of fame. With genuine musical talent and comedic chops like that in your cast, you can’t go wrong. Its first season debuted earlier this year; in June, it was picked up for a second one.
Where to Watch – Peacock

7

Hawkeye

Full disclosure: You’ll likely need at least some previous knowledge of the goings on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to appreciate this one. While its title character, also known as Clint Barton, is given a rich storyline to live out, we especially love Hailee Steinfeld’s lively, nuanced performance as Hawkeye’s protege, Kate Bishop. She’s accomplished, confident and witty as hell, with athleticism to spare – not to mention, her own personal mysteries to solve. (P.S. You’ll love the show even more when [redacted for spoiler purposes] appears.) The final episode of this miniseries aired Dec. 22. (Bonus: If you find yourself wanting more Marvel content to enjoy, “Wandavision” is also an intriguing delight.)
Where to Watch – Disney+

8

The Good Place

Admittedly, this is not the first time we’ve recommended this show. But its heart and humor – and the profound philosophical matters it encourages viewers to contemplate – have cemented its status as an all-time classic. You’ll laugh, cry and think in equal measure as you watch five unlikely friends make their way through the afterlife together. The show has already completed its run, but can still be enjoyed from start-to-finish online.
Where to Watch – Netflix

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