Sundance 2021: These Days

Marianne Rendón appears in These Days by Adam Brooks, an official selection of the Indie Series Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

These Days is a half-hour pandemic-set comedy but whether it will be appealing to audiences or not is something that remains to be seen.

Mae (Marianne Rendón) is a professional dancer so the pandemic has not been kind in terms of work.  We don’t know much about her when we first meet her.  What we do know is that she’s trying the whole online dating over Skype.  Guy #1 is an epic disaster.  Seriously, you want to bang her shirt?!?  But Guy #2 just happens to be Will (William Jackson Harper).  You can see the chemistry between the two on their first online date.

We know very little about them but the first episode gives the minimal information.  Mae lives in her Washington Heights apartment with her dog, Diego.  She’s also recording daily videos for Sam–not much is known about Sam in the first episode.  Best friend Shelby lives in Idaho and Mae’s dad isn’t talking with her.  It’s not the best lockdown situation and as a single person in my 30s, I completely feel for Mae.  Take away social media and my life becomes talking to the family dog through video calls on the phone.

A lot of writers out there are certain to resonate with Will.  He’s a culture writer who has written for the likes of Vulture and Slate.  Mae is on her date with Will when his editor calls.  Shouldn’t that be over Slack and not a phone call?

Connecting got a short life earlier this season on NBC.  While I enjoyed what I saw in the These Days pilot and found myself laughing, it’s a question of whether audiences want pandemic-set material.  How much Zoom are we willing to take?  This is what he comes down to and at some point, it’s going to get tiresome.  But for right now, the material works because the pandemic leaves little choice when it comes to shooting with as little crew as possible.  What I can tell from the pilot is that it’s all the way back when New York was cheering its health workers.  Is this still a thing.

These Days offers a satisfying pilot and leaves viewers wanting more but at some point, the series will have to catch up to whatever becomes the post-vaccine normal.

CAST:  Marianne Rendón, William Jackson Harper, Amy Brenneman

These Days holds its world premiere during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the Indie Series program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.