Apple TV +’s ‘Roar’ spins stories of femininity into satisfying fables: NPR


Issa Rae ind Roar.

Apple TV +


hide caption

change caption

Apple TV +


Issa Rae ind Roar.

Apple TV +

The new anthology series Roar on Apple TV + tells eight stories about women in different emotional states. Some of the stories are more comical, some are more dramatic. The series does not have a single, overtly thematic consistent line, such as technological fear Black mirror do. What unites the chapters, apart from the fact that they are about women in different circumstances, is that they are satisfying, pleasantly weird.

Roar has led his promotion with his cast: Episodes led by Cynthia Erivo, Nicole Kidman, Issa Rae, Merritt Wever, Fivel Stewart and Kara Hayward (Hayward played Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom ten years ago), Meera Syal, and EMBER veterans Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin – working with again EMBER creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, who adapted the series from Cecelia Ahern’s history book.

The installments come with titles that reveal their addiction to surprisingly central imaginings: “The Woman Who Was Put on the Shelf” (with Gilpin), “The Woman Who Eaten Photographs” (with Kidman), “The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin” (with Erivo ) etc. (A few of the episodes do not have direct inspiration in the book, but are more in the style of the book’s stories.)


Betty Gilpin and Daniel Dae Kim enter Roar.

Apple TV +


hide caption

change caption

Apple TV +


Betty Gilpin and Daniel Dae Kim enter Roar.

Apple TV +

By the way, take these titles literally: Kidman’s character eats photographs, Erivos finds bite marks on her body after she goes back to work after her son’s birth, and Gilpins moves in with a wealthy man (Daniel Dae Kim) whose idea of ​​love is to get her to sit on a shelf in the large living room of their home so he can admire her.

Some of the stories that come from the book have been changed significantly. This goes for “The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck”, the episode with Wever, who is the one who most economically communicates, how strange Roar is willing to get. This also applies to “The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared”, starring Rae, which transfers the idea of ​​disappearance to a completely different context than what Ahern wrote.

What Flahive and Mensch have done is take these offbeat core ideas and spin them into stories that dig into something about these women’s lives. It is a strength of this format that most of these episodes are in the vicinity of half an hour; it allows for a structure where the translation from hook to emotional idea does not have to be gradual because there is only enough time to present the idea, explore it with vividness and then finish the story.


Cynthia Erivo and Jordyn Weitz ind Roar.

Apple TV +


hide caption

change caption

Apple TV +


Cynthia Erivo and Jordyn Weitz ind Roar.

Apple TV +

You are not supposed to spend time slowly discovering what a story about a woman being placed on a shelf by a rich man is supposed to be about – of course it’s about the emptiness of being shown rather than being loved, because that’s literally what happens. Rae’s character feels like she’s disappearing because she is. And when you see Nicole Kidman stuff a photograph in her mouth to live inside a memory of her past, there is not a moment that dawns on you: “Oh, this represents her desire to be comforted by her memories. ” She just ate a picture, After all. It’s * meant * as bracing, more like getting water thrown in your face than like getting an idea gently to reveal itself.

While Roar gets good performances from its actors, it has not been so assertive in terms of promoting this lineup of directors – and that’s too bad, because this is very much a director’s project. Rashida Jones directed Erivo’s horror-like episode, which is full of interesting pictures, and Channing Godfrey Peoples (who wrote and directed Miss Juneteenth) instructed Rae’s. Quyen Tran, who was the photography director of the inventive (and realism-bending) romantic comedy Palm Springsdirected “The Woman Who Returned Her Man,” and you can see her touch with the magical and the mundane in the way the episode attacks the idea of ​​a department store, where they sell returned husbands at a discount.

Not everything works, though Roar is successfully surprising and committed to making the amazing ideas it plays with seem like parts of ordinary life, and putting them into dialogue with common problems like grief and guilt.

The emotional weight behind these stories in most cases does not come from one Twilight Zone-style twist. It comes from the translation of the intangible to the tangible, the moment when there is no doubt that the thing you think happens, happens actually. We are all used to using rough physical equivalents to explain emotions: I feel invisible. I feel like I’ve been exhibited. I feel like this pain could definitely eat me alive. Roar is about the questions: What if you really were, if you really were, if you really could?

This is perhaps too stylized a show to be everyone’s cup of tea, and anthologies are inherently uneven. (Either you want to join the story of Wever and others, or you’re largely not.) But these fairy tales, which can be anything from funny to really scary, have their own blunt and sometimes resonant truth, though nothing, what is happening here could really happen. Hopefully.

Leave a Comment