Above: Director Jamie Babbit ’93 on the set of Only Murders in the Building with actor Steve Martin. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn.
As students wrap up their final exams and the winter chill sets in on campus, there’s no better time to curl up on the couch with a good TV show or movie. For those stuck on what to turn on, Barnard has compiled a trove of binge-worthy programs produced, written, and directed by the College’s alumnae.
Watching shows and movies created by fellow classmates does more than just support school pride: In a media landscape still dominated by men, it makes a statement to industry executives about the kinds of content that can be successful.
So pop your popcorn and settle in for the holidays with 15 streaming recommendations, below.
And Just Like That… (2021)
Cynthia Nixon ’88 might be best known for her starring role as Miranda in Sex and the City, but did you know that she’s also an executive producer on the show’s much-anticipated reboot, And Just Like That…? Nixon also took to Instagram to announce that she directed an episode of the new series, which started streaming on December 9. Watch on HBO Max.
Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall (2017)
This deep dive into the life of Todrick Hall — singer, songwriter, choreographer, and regular guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race — was produced, written, and directed by Katherine Fairfax Wright ’07. Follow along with Wright as Hall launches his most ambitious project to date: a full-scale original musical. Watch on Hulu.
The late Bettina Gilois ’85 served as a writer and producer for Bessie, a biopic about the blues singer Bessie Smith, known at the end of her career as “the Empress of Blues.” Starring Queen Latifah in the title role, the film won four Primetime Emmy Awards. Watch on HBO Max.
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016)
With more than 1,000 documentary producer credits, it’s hard to pick just one thing to watch from Sheila Nevins ’60, who currently serves as the head of MTV Documentary Films after 40 years at HBO. Among her many accolades, Nevins has won more Primetime Emmy Awards than any other person (32), as well as 35 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, 42 Peabody Awards, and 26 Academy Awards. Bright Lights, which follows the relationship between entertainer Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher, garnered a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch on HBO Max.
Okay, okay, you’ve probably already seen this famous sitcom about six friends living in New York City — but it might warrant a rewatch knowing that Alexa Junge ’85 produced and wrote more than 50 episodes of the show. Plus, who doesn’t love reminiscing about the City while away for the holidays? Still, if Friends isn’t your vibe, check out Junge’s other work: Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, about two unlikely friends whose husbands leave them for each other, and the celebrated political drama The West Wing. Watch on HBO Max.
Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
Lauren Graham ’88 is in good company with fellow 1988 grad Cynthia Nixon as an actress who went on to produce episodes of the show she’s best known for, Gilmore Girls. Graham — who starred as Lorelai Gilmore in this hit show about a young single mother living with her teenage daughter in fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut — produced half of the show’s final season. Watch on Netflix.
Go, Dog, Go! (2021)
This kid-friendly Netflix series is based on the famous book of the same name by P.D. Eastman and was executive produced by Lynn Kestin Sessler ’84. Cuddle up with your kids on the couch as the pup Tag finds adventure and solves problems with her best friend, Scooch. Watch on Netflix.
Hot to Trot (2017)
This documentary about the world of same-sex ballroom dance was directed by Gail Freedman ’73. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
House of Cards (2013-2018)
Gina Gionfriddo ’91 wrote the 12th episode of the first season of House of Cards. The breakout political drama about a representative from South Carolina won 33 Primetime Emmy Award nominations throughout its six seasons on the air. Gionfriddo’s credits also include several episodes of Law & Order and eight plays, including Becky Shaw, a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Watch on Netflix.
Late Night (2019)
Packed with an all-star cast, led by Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, this comedic film about a late-night host hiring her first and only female staff writer was produced by Jillian Apfelbaum ’05. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
Mistress America (2015)
Greta Gerwig ’06 has no shortage of impressive acting and directing credits, including the 2019 blockbuster adaptation of Little Women, but Mistress America gets our vote for a holiday rewatch since many of its scenes were filmed right on campus. Gerwig co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film about a Barnard student entranced by the antics of her future stepsister. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
Only Murders in the Building (2021)
The latest show with major buzz was executive produced by Jamie Babbit ’93, who also directed several episodes of the series. The show follows three strangers — played by Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez — who share an obsession with a true crime podcast. Watch on Hulu.
Stand UP, Speak OUT: The Personal Politics of Women’s Rights (2020)
Katherine Brewster ’71 is the executive director of this online docuseries that tells the story of how women’s lives have transformed over the past 50 years — but she couldn’t have done it without a little help from her friends: a team of Barnard alumnae from the Class of 1971 came together to make this ongoing web series a reality. Watch on standupspeakout.org.
The Killing (2011)
If you’re looking for something a little moodier to watch this winter, check out this crime drama following two homicide detectives in Seattle. Developed by Veena Cabreros-Sud ’89, the show is based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen (“The Crime”). Watch on Netflix.
Valley of the Dolls (1967)
This campy cult-classic film following three women struggling to make careers in the entertainment industry was written by Helen Deutsch ’27. Valley of the Dolls was Deutsch’s last screenplay. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
For more to watch from the Barnard alumnae community, check out Millie’s List, a monthly roundup of things to view, read, listen to, cook, and shop for, all made by Barnard graduates. Plus, discover TV shows made by the broader Columbia University community and books written by Barnard alumnae.