Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Stu's Show Review - Vocal

"Stu’s Show is more than one documentary and they are both pretty terrific."

Documentary Review: 'Stu's Show' is a Documentary about Showbiz, Love and Healthcare

Stu’s Show begins as one kind of documentary and ends as something completely different, richer, and more thoughtful. What looks like the story of a Hollywood outsider who became an unlikely ally and friend to the stars of the Golden Age of Television, slowly morphs into a harrowing story about our modern Healthcare system and the people on the fringes of society who are forced to struggle and risk death to get the care they need from an often uncaring and indifferent healthcare system.

Stu Shostak is a boomer, he grew up at a time when television was new and parents moving into the working world created a generation of kids whose babysitters were I Love Lucy reruns and family meals were held in front of televisions with Leave it to Beaver and My Three Sons providing the soundtrack. Family time was TV time and Stu Shostak became obsessed with the stars of the so-called Golden Age of Television.

As a grown up, Stu found his way to the fringes of the television world. He started out in menial jobs in Hollywood before getting his big break as a warm up comedian before episodes of the television series Silver Spoons. That gig eventually placed Stu in the orbit of his all time television hero, Lucille Ball. For the last years of Lucy’s life, Stu was a constant presence in her varying projects. With Lucy’s husband, he helped to preserve Lucy’s legacy and organized I love Lucy festivals.

Unknown to Stu at the time, a woman in the crowd at the first I Love Lucy festival in Hollywood was a woman who would change his life. Jeanine Kasun was just like Stu, a child of television who watched those golden age shows with the same obsessive glee. She attended festivals and made connections with the stars of old shows the same way Stu did, through enthusiastic fandom and an encyclopedic dedication to television history.

It wasn’t until years later that Stu and Jeanine would meet and fall in love. Stu adapted to the internet age very quickly by starting a very early form of internet radio show. Stu’s Show began as Stu sharing his love for old television shows and his efforts to preserve television history and telling stories about his time with Lucy and working as a warm up comic. He then expanded to having a regular coterie of guests from the Golden Age of Television.

Jeanine became a dedicated listener to Stu’s Show and eventually became a contributor, calling in to share her own love of classic television. Stu was so impressed with Jeanine’s knowledge of the Golden Age of Television that falling in love was a quick process. Jeanne moved to near where Stu lived and though they had separate homes, they were, for all intents and purposes, a married couple, if not in the legal sense. That becomes important in the second half of this story.

Stu and Jeanine saw no need to get married. Then Jeanine had a stroke. It was devastating and it appeared that she might not survive. As tough as that news was, it became even more difficult because Stu could not make her medical decisions. Being that they were not married, all of Jeanine’s medical decisions had to be made by family members who were not there. Those family members, though they cared, had no idea the horrors that Stu was facing having to find a care facility that would actually take care of Jeanine.

Stu’s Show shines a light on something that, as Americans, we’ve somehow come to accept as part of our culture. In nearly every corner of the country there is a care facility where, if you ask residents about it, they say something like ‘oh, you don’t want to end up there.’ Stu encounters one such facility where patients were left sitting in hallways for hours on end, untended to or cared for. Patients are left in filth, develop bed sores and infections from lack of care as an overburdened staff struggles to keep up.

These underfunded facilities are horror shows where mostly poor people who suffered devastating injuries or illnesses requiring care and rehabilitation face death for the simple lack of insurance or a lack of money that could put them into a facility more capable of providing the comprehensive care that might save their life. Stu and Jeanine are lucky enough to have doctors on their side, and just enough money that Jeanine doesn’t have to stay in one of these facilities, but it is a harrowing story that you must see to believe.

Most of Stu’s Show is the wholesome story of a TV loving guy and the TV loving gal he fell in love with and the stars and shows that brought them together. But it’s also a story about the abject horrors that our current healthcare system visits upon those who may not have the money to afford the kind of care that helps to keep people alive. Jeanine’s stroke was fully survivable and she still nearly died and her story is a damning indictment of the healthcare industry in America.

Stu’s Show is more than one documentary and they are both pretty terrific. One is a wholesome story about a showbiz personality and his undying love of classic television shows. The other is a harrowing tale of the failures of the American healthcare system. It’s quite something that both of these stories work so well together. Director C.J Wallis was blessed with Stu Shostak, a personality who merges these two stories so incredibly well.

Stu’s Show will be available for streaming rental on May 3rd, 2022.

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