‘Gutsy’: On uplifting Apple TV+ series, Clintons spotlight women who inspire, from a conservationist to a Kardashian
Mother and daughter prove quite adept at profiling the subjects and taking part in their lives.
A mom in her 70s and her grown daughter are on an extended road trip, during which they grab coffee from a truck vendor in New York City, tell “knock-knock” jokes on a park bench in Paris and look through old family photo albums in the Arkansas city where the mom got married and the daughter spent her early years before her father’s job necessitated a move to Washington, D.C. On this journey, their primary mission is to reconnect with old friends, and meet lots and lots of new friends. It’s obvious there’s a powerful, loving, enduring connection between this mother and daughter. It’s all very relatable.
Not that this is a typical mother-daughter combo. We’re talking about Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, and the house in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Hillary got married has literally been turned into a museum, and Dad’s job in D.C. was president of the United States, and the friends they meet with in the Apple TV+ documentary series “Gutsy” include Gloria Steinem, Dr. Jane Goodall, Kim Kardashian, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, Amber Ruffin and Megan Thee Stallion — and yes, when Hillary Clinton meets Megan Thee Stallion, you can’t help but think this would make for a great “SNL” bit.
Here’s the thing though. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton — and people have been saying what they will about Hillary Clinton for decades upon decades — it’s difficult to fathom how anyone can deny the power and the inspiration found in the stories told in “Gutsy.”
An eight-part documentary available Friday on Apple TV+.
This is not a political series, but it IS a series about issues, and how so many women have dedicated themselves to making this world a better, more enlightened place, either from a small corner of the world or on a global stage. And even though we’re always aware one of the most famous mother-daughter tandems in the world is serving as the conduit to tell these stories, Hillary and Chelsea are actually quite adept at setting up the profiles and participating in various exercises and activities — but always making sure the spotlight remains primarily focused on their subjects.
Based on the best-selling “The Book of Gutsy Women,” this is well-paced, beautifully shot, expertly edited series about a diverse group of admirable pioneers, innovators, teachers, guides, explorers, counselors, artists and athletes who are true role models.
In Episode 1, titled “Gutsy Women Have the Last Laugh,” Hillary and Chelsea visit with a group of female comics in New York City who talk about how for the longest time the unwritten rule was, “only one woman per [lineup]” at comedy clubs, how they still feel as if they have to win over the men in the audience, who sit with their arms folded when they take the stage. During a separate conversation, Amy Schumer says it was important for her to share the details of her great health challenges during pregnancy, noting that real life is vastly different from Hollywood: “In movies you just see a woman peeing on a stick and then she’s in overalls painting a barn.”
The second episode, titled “Gutsy Women Refuse Hate,” takes us to Los Angeles, where Hillary indeed asks Megan Thee Stallion about the reaction to “WAP,” and Megan explains how she deals with haters. Hundreds of miles and a world away, Hillary and Chelsea take a canoe trip down a river in Georgia with two women who were members of white power groups but now work to help young women escape from the clutches of such organizations.
One can’t help but do a little eye-rolling when the Clintons sit down with Kim Kardashian; doesn’t Kim have enough platforms as it is? Still, it’s clear Kardashian truly cares about criminal justice reform — as does Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” who in real life is an advocate for the Joyful Heart Foundation, which works to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Over the course of eight episodes, we meet a myriad of amazing women, including the married couple of soccer player Abby Wambach and author-activist Glennon Doyle; the aforementioned Ms. Steinem, who sits in a movie theater with Hillary and speaks of Katharine Hepburn’s trailblazing career; Giselle Carrillo, founder of Los Courage Camps Surfing, which offers free surfing classes to the youth of the greater Los Angeles area; Kimberlé Crenshaw, who provides valuable lessons on the true meaning of critical race theory; Abby Abinanti, California’s first Native American lawyer and Yurok Tribal Court chief judge; Ceyenne Doroshow, found of G.L.I.T.S., which offers support of all kinds to transgender people and sex workers, and the legendary Jane Goodall, who sums up the lasting and beautiful message of the entire series when she says:
“For me, hope is not looking at the world through rose-tinted spectacles. It’s action.”