REVIEW: ‘Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl’

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Kate Nash

I first heard about Kate Nash from watching the first season of Community back in 2010. One of the songs off her first album, “Merry Happy,” played in the final scene of the episode titled “Interpretive Dance.” In the scene, Abed was dancing along to the song on stage. While I was paying more attention to Abed dancing, the song captured my attention the more I watched the scene. I quickly went online and found more of Nash’s music. I instantly became a fan of her music and followed her career ever since. I was overjoyed when I found out that a documentary about her, Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl, was being released.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl, directed by Amy Goldstein and produced by SPAN Productions, follows Nash throughout her music career and the various challenges that she went through. The documentary begins with her rise to stardom within the world of pop at the mere age of 18. As the film progresses, we see her struggles with the media, her being dropped from her label, being defrauded by her former manager, and facing the possibility of being homeless. Even after going through all of these experiences, Nash finds a way out of the darkness through her music and her need to fight back. The film ultimately ends with her being cast in G.L.O.W., one of Netflix’s original shows.

I was surprised to find out that Nash was making a documentary about her career, but it makes sense given the difficulties that she’s had to face. With all of this in mind, I appreciate how honest Nash is about everything in this documentary. While other artists and musicians seem to only cover the surface of their careers, Nash isn’t afraid of holding anything back. Whether it’s how she felt about the state of her career, having to tone down her creativity to fit into a certain category or personal issues, that level of honesty makes this film much more personal. It shows Nash’s growth in terms that she doesn’t want to hide anything about what she’s gone through. One particular instance of her honesty that stood out was when she mentioned how it was considered “okay” for male artists to be as explicit as they wanted to while it wasn’t accepted for her to be as creative with her work. Some would see this as Nash complaining, but it comes across as her being kept down by limitations placed upon many women in the music industry.

Kate Nash

The journey Nash goes through in the film was captivating. It’s one thing to be a fan of her music and just wait for her to release new material. It’s completely different to see the major points of her career and just how they affected her. I wound up learning more about her that I didn’t know before. As for those who may not be too familiar with who Nash is, they’ll get a much better picture of Nash as an artist and as a human being. From her rise to stardom to losing everything because of the darker side of the music industry, one can’t help but empathize with her journey. I wouldn’t be surprised if people end up relating to some of her experiences. It’s also a possibility that some might even relate to being put down by societal norms and standards.

As other music biographies tend to do, Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl has several songs by the artist. A few of Nash’s songs played in the background during scenes and some are used through transitions. There are even instances where Nash and her band play the songs live at shows that were recorded for the documentary. However, I’m glad that there weren’t many scenes that focused on live performances. Instead, the emphasis was put on Nash’s journey. I could log online and look up any of Nash’s performances during my own time. Focusing on her story and the meaning behind some of her songs makes it much more personal.

One of the few things that didn’t sit well with me was the situation between Nash and her former manager. He was included in the documentary for a short while and talked about working with her. It was alarming to find out that he ended up taking money from her, but also not surprising since it’s a story that tends to happen to several artists. What was most unexpected is that he was included in the documentary, to begin with. I’m assuming that filming started way before this was discovered, but I don’t understand why he was in it. It would have made more sense for Nash to have talked about that experience rather than giving him any sort of attention. After everything came to light, I felt like any scene that her manager didn’t serve any real purpose.

Kate Nash

Overall, I really enjoyed watching Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl. Focusing on Nash’s journey and the challenges that she’s had to overcome makes this a much more emotional documentary. Nash’s honesty establishes how personal she is willing to be in this documentary rather than holding things back. From the way it was shot to the song selection, this documentary is one that any fan of Kate Nash will appreciate. Even if I wasn’t a fan of Kate Nash, this is one documentary that I would wholeheartedly recommend.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl is set to be released on May 22nd through the Alamo Drafthouse’s new platform, Alamo On Demand.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl
9/10

TL;DR

Overall, I really enjoyed watching Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl. Focusing on Nash’s journey and the challenges that she’s had to overcome makes this a much more emotional documentary. Nash’s honesty establishes how personal she is willing to be in this documentary rather than holding things back. From the way it was shot to the song selection, this documentary is one that any fan of Kate Nash will appreciate. Even if I wasn’t a fan of Kate Nash, this is one documentary that I would wholeheartedly recommend.