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Kondo-ing Your Queue 

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness and The Cleaning Lady

click to enlarge Waiting for Omicron to peak.

The Cleaning Lady

Waiting for Omicron to peak.

GETTING CURIOUS WITH JONATHAN VAN NESS. Digital Streaming Services need Marie Kondo. Imagine how satisfying it would be to hear the sound of crumpling paper as you dispose of Dexter: New Blood in the bin where the last season of Game of Thrones went. Or else, neatly packing your sentimental '80s sitcoms that are deeply ism-schismed, yet still manage to bring you joy (as long as you don't talk about them to anyone, sparking intense discussion and future therapy material). But we must navigate without Kondo. So the relentless click of the remote control that somehow only moves the the selection box once for every three clicks stops on an image of Jonathan Van Ness — for their solo project apart from the Queer Eye team.

Their pure, unadulterated JVN light makes my spirit want to jump on my bed while living my best "Free Your Mind" En Vouge moment, but it's way too much for the late need-to-work-tomorrow hour. Yet way too much may also be what my soul and the soul of our society need.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness is that way-too-much joy. The sheer amount of energy JVN uses to tackle the deeply profound questions like, "Are bugs Gorgeous or Gross" and "Why is hair so Major?" — as the first two episodes are titled — in less than half an hour is infectious, fascinating and satisfying. Underneath its superficial and fluffy facade lies the groundwork for palate-cleansing world views, societally obfuscated facts and incredible guests like Geo Neptune and Ayanna Pressley (if you don't know them already, you must Google now). It balances frivolity and necessity well without being preachy.

However, if you are looking for something bingeable, this full rainbow cheesecake with edible glitter and unicorn candies packed in every episode may not be it. It may result in you leaving the Netflix room altogether, satiated, but bloated and dizzy from the sugar high. TVMA. 27M. NETFLIX.

THE CLEANING LADY. Luckily, Marie Kondo and her organizational magic would most likely take her into the Hulu room fraught with dark and twisted series that bring joy to serial killer fans and true crime podcast junkies to clean and organize the hell out of it. Amid the current clutter, like a sign from the digiweb gods,The Cleaning Lady beckons with cross-platform advertisements and slick images. Even if one is questioning whether they need yet another crime drama series in their life, one could simply watch and be perfectly content in its interesting takes on familiar plotlines.

The sound of a Ruby Ibarra track and main characters speaking Taga-lish immediately sets this show apart and fills a void in the heart of every Filipino who has predominantly relied on Rufio from Hook and Joy Koy's mom for representation in a blatantly Filipino-absent Hollywood. Representation is important. Its mere existence may just be more culturally important than artistic/aesthetic fact of the show actually being good.

So far, so good. The Cambodian Pinay lead character, Elodie Yung as immigrant doctor Thony, is smart, talented and focused. And rather than letting a super intelligent main character's frankly dumbass moments go unexplained (beyond human imperfection) like so many other series, The Cleaning Lady offers much deeper and character-driven motivations that make the bad decisions believable as she heads underground and into shady business. A child on the brink of death, an opportunity for a better life, deportation and DACA, love, abandonment and the American caste system all come into play without it feeling confusing. If you desire binge-worthy drama, this is it.

As Arman Morales, Adan Canto's oozing sex appeal and even-tempered consideration may minimize the callous and violent gangster he should be, but juxtaposed with Thony's volatility and drive to survive, it adds dimension to their power struggle. Yung and Canto's chemistry is hypnotizing — hopefully it won't turn into another StockholmSyndrome plotline. Devastatingly beautiful and talented Eva De Dominici makes you want to yell at the camera to stop moving and focus on her, regardless of who's speaking. Should the series take off, it's easy to imagine her Nadia Morales becoming an iconic character worthy of impersonation by the best of RuPaul's Drag Race's Snatch Games. As Fiona, Martha Millan is perfect in her portrayal of many Filipinas' coming-to-America story and her acting breathes life into the familiar storyline, offering strength, perseverance and a necessary grounding for Thony.

Typically, heady crime dramas don't spark joy in me and would end up in the Kondo trash pile. But Hollywood moving away from the caucasity of diluting all Asian cultures into a hodgepodge mix-and-match of Orientalism does. And with a good balance of character development and motivation, drama, action and plot, The Cleaning Lady is breaking the norms of Hollywood while using its formulas in a new way to generate an interesting series. I'm hoping for its success. TV14. 45M. FOX, AMAZON PRIME, HULU, STREAMING.

Tiggerbouncer Custodio (he/she/they) is an empowered queer Indigenous Filipino artist passionate about truth, reconciliation and accountability, whose works have been seen on Humboldt stages and spaces, as well as out of town venues.

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For showtimes call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theatre 822-3456.

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