I love a good fraud story, and the new docuseries The Lady and the Dale tells a whale of a tale that gradually reveals unexpected complexities. It centers on Liz Carmichael, who rose to prominence in the midst of the 1973 oil crisis with the prototype of an eco-friendly, three-wheeled car that she swore would revolutionize the auto industry. But the so-called Dale turned out to be the latest in a string of Carmichael's grifts — although she never stopped claiming that the car was legit — and filmmakers Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker entertainingly unpack her dubious career while sensitively exploring her role as a trans woman in the public eye. All four episodes are now streaming on HBO Max. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)
If you've ever loved a harmony-rich group — whether your era is Jackson Five, New Edition, Backstreet Boys or BTS — consider music doc Streetlight Harmonies a must-see. Streaming on Amazon Prime, the 2020 film dives deep into '50s-era doo wop music, and explores both its roots in slave fields and gospel tents and its influence on future pop stars like Justin Timberlake and En Vogue. Interviews with an impressive array of originators and some incredible archival footage will have you delving into artists like Little Anthony and the Imperials and the Drifters before the end credits roll. (DAN NAILEN)
I started reading Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band expecting lighthearted tales of music-biz debauchery courtesy of Willie Nelson and his sister (and longtime piano player) Bobbie. Instead, the book is much deeper, a meditation on family courtesy of musical soulmates raised in poverty in rural Texas. The Nelsons explore religion and spirituality, romantic love, and the trials of making a living as a musician. Of course there's plenty of laughs, too, whether explaining Willie's only LSD trip or the reason he had to fire a gun at an obnoxious relative at a family barbecue. And both write insightfully about the power of music in a way fans of any genre can enjoy. (DAN NAILEN)
FESTIVAL DU FRAN
Fran Lebowitz isn't on Twitter — in fact, she doesn't have a computer or a smartphone — but she'd certainly be a master of the form. Look no further than Pretend It's a City, a seven-episode series on Netflix. It's a showcase for the irascible writer's withering observations about so many things: art, literature, education, politics, feminism, society's ills and inconsistencies, and the pleasures and perils of living in the Big Apple. Directed by fellow New York icon Martin Scorsese, who previously profiled Lebowitz in 2010's Public Speaking (and who spends most of the series just out of frame, cackling at his friend's witticisms), the show is a breezy monument to a prickly public figure. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST
There's noteworthy new music arriving in stores and online Feb. 19. To wit:
THE HOLD STEADY, Open Door Policy. One of America's best bands, and the songs revealed so far are solid.
MOGWAI, As The Love Continues. If dreamy soundscapes are your thing, Mogwai has your jams.
TASH SULTANA, Terra Firma. The Aussie artist can play more than 20 instruments, and they took over festival stages after their first album came out. This sophomore effort shouldn't disappoint. (DAN NAILEN)