Roar Is a Star-Studded Girlboss Anthology That Occasionally Whimpers | TV/Streaming

Most of the other episodes fit more snugly within that half-hour brief, though, and the best entries in the season are the ones that run full-tilt toward magical realism. “The Woman Who Was Kept on a Shelf” is a real highlight, with Gilpin as an image-obsessed trophy wife who finds that status literalized when her businessman husband (a benignly cruel Daniel Dae Kim) builds a high shelf in his terracotta office for her to sit on all day and all night. “All you have to do is sit there and be loved,” he coos, as we see the existential hell that comes when women are literally put on a pedestal. Gilpin’s fantastic here, with a brilliant, Chaplinesque physicality she puts to great use both on and off the shelf; the latter stretch of the episode, where she discovers the liberatory joy of making a life for herself (complete with a dance sequence with a sundress on the beach), is one of the best sequences of the entire anthology.

Other strong entries include “The Woman Who Returned Her Husband,” in which an older Indian woman (The always-great Meera Syal) chooses to return her unexciting husband (Bernard White) as if he were a defective Costco lawnmower. It’s a charming lark about the road not taken and the transactional nature of romantic relationships. “The Woman Who Was Fed By a Duck” sees Merritt Wever as a frustrated single woman in her thirties who finally finds the manduck of her dreams (voiced by Justin Kirk), only to slowly find out he’s just as passive-aggressive and manipulative as any man on the prowl. And the season closer, “The Woman Who Loved Horses,” is a delightful, “True Grit”-esque Western about Jane (Fivel Stewart), a young Chinese-American cowgirl who poses as a boy to seek revenge against the outlaw (Alfred Molina) who killed her father. The real secret sauce to that episode is the ebullient presence of “Moonrise Kingdom”’s Kara Hayward as Millie, the skittish preacher’s daughter who nonetheless accompanies Jane on her journey and proves herself incredibly resourceful. Together, they see the violent way men navigate the Old West, and imagine something better for themselves.

While the single-minded concepts of each episode can sometimes prove limiting, they lend each hour a singular focus that only occasionally delves into lecture. “The Woman Who Ate Photographs” treats you to the bizarre sight of Nicole Kidman binging Polaroids with a starved woman’s greed, but underpins that with a story of aging, loss, and memory (and gifts Kidman with a beautiful scene partner in Judy Davis as Kidman’s acerbic, dementia-riddled mother). The Cynthia Erivo-starring “The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin” traverses similar tensions as Rae’s episode about the limitations and condescension Black women experience in professional settings, dovetailed with the increased work-life challenges working mothers face. 

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