'Mr. Selfridge' turns a department store into the greatest show on earth
Published: March 27, 2013
Captured before his 80th birthday, Roth is also good company as an interviewee. He discusses his life and career as perceptively as you’d expect, offering a rare glimpse into his creative process. We learn that Portnoy’s Complaint emerged from a dark period when he was unburdening himself to a psychotherapist several times a week. He hit upon a way to “release stuff like this on paper.” The sexually charged masterpiece published in 1969 made him an international sensation, not to mention a target for those who didn’t appreciate an uncensored perspective on the Jewish community. He recalls being yelled at on the street: “Philip Roth, the enemy of the Jews!”
Despite such pressure, Roth has never succumbed to self-censorship. “Shame isn’t for writers,” he insists. Hearing his insights into such startling works as Goodbye, Columbus and Sabbath’s Theater, you see the value of his approach. Tune in on this night for shamelessness at its most eloquent.
Orphan Black (8pm Sat, BBC America)
This new series starts with a stunning tableau. A scraggly English punk named Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) catches the eye of an elegantly dressed woman on a subway platform — an exact look-alike. The elegantly dressed woman then calmly walks in front of a train and kills herself.
This is only the first step down the rabbit hole that is Orphan Black. Sarah decides she can solve her many problems by assuming her double’s identity and emptying her bank account. But the masquerade leads her into a dangerous conspiracy that, by the end of episode one, she can’t even begin to understand. Mysterious figures text her, threaten her, have sex with her, shoot at her. Sarah pieces together the dead woman’s life while the complications pile up in her own life.
Maslany is a revelation. She elicits sympathy as Sarah, even as the character breaks the law and makes terrible decisions. She’s equally convincing as Sarah’s double. You have no trouble believing that the English punk is pulling off this high-wire hoax, and with an American accent, yet.
Speaking of Sarah’s double, what is the look-alike thing all about? I hope next week’s episode brings answers, although I love the questions just as much.
Frontline: Kind Hearted Woman (8pm Mon, PBS)
An intimate documentary about a 32-year-old Oglala Sioux woman from North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation. Robin Charboneau is a divorced single mother with a tragic history of sexual abuse. She has more problems than she can handle — but, somehow, she handles them. Robin attempts to stay sober, gain custody of her children from their abusive father, and get a social work degree by hook or by crook.
Don’t tune in for the filmmaking. Kind Hearted Woman is badly paced and nothing to look at. But do tune in for a glimpse into an American life and location that no network besides PBS would ever train a camera on.
It’s a challenge for Robin to keep herself from crying as she encounters one obstacle after another. You yourself will face the same challenge.
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