Before she returns to the world of Pandora this December, Zoe Saldaña flexes her dramatic in the Netflix limited series From Scratch. The series is an adaption of actress Tembi Locke's NY Times best-selling memoir From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home. Tembi's sister Attica serves as the showrunner in addition to writing the first and last episodes with Tembi. Other writers on the show include Amy Wang, JJ Braider, Marguerite Macintyre, Joshua Allen, and Jason Coffey. Stepping into the director's chair, we have Nzinga Stewart for five episodes and Denise Gordon for three.
From Scratch is a cross-cultural love story that follows Amahle "Amy" Wheeler(Saldaña), an American student studying abroad in Italy, as she meets and falls in love with Lino (Eugenio Mastandrea), a Sicilian chef. Their whirlwind romance faces many unforeseen challenges, including their very different cultural backgrounds and disapproving family members.
True to real life, it is also infused with lightheartedness and moments of humor that exist alongside the more serious ones. But when Lino is faced with unimaginable health challenges and the couple's future is threatened, the two families come together to create an extended family unlike any they could have imagined, proving that love crosses all borders.
When my wife and I sat down to watch From Scratch, we honestly had no idea what to expect. I primarily hit play as I wanted to see Saldaña in something different. However, in researching for my article and discovering who Tembi Locke was, I remembered her from an appearance on an episode of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. In addition, I'm on board anytime I can see Keith David, who portrays Amy's dad, and Danielle Deadwyler, who portrays Amy's sister in this project.
The writing on From Scratch is conceptually organic and allows us to follow Amy and Lino throughout their relationship. One of the things I want to comment on the writing team is never allowing to fall into stereotypical jones or use the race card. When the moments happen, such as Amy explaining to Lino that grits and polenta are the same things, it works.
In the lead roles, Saldaña and Mastandrea have great chemistry, and it's not hard to see why they fall in love. I found myself invested in all the episodes, looking forward to where the characters would ultimately go. I also like handling the family lines, particularly the one with Lino's family, which I won't spoil here, but it's dealt with tactfully.
With a naturally organic love story and winning performance from the cast, I highly recommend From Scratch.
Final Grade: B+
From Scratch is available to stream on Netflix this Friday, October 21st.