So, y'all know I've been laid up with boob holes (postop wound issues following a breast reduction) for the past 6 damned weeks. That means, since I don't currently have a *real* job I've gotten some writing done, but even more TV watching and whining. MANY a conversation with friends recently has devolved into what TV we're watching right now, so at least I know I'm not alone in some bingey binging.
We don't have cable, but when this started, we already had the following streaming platforms: Apple TV, Peacock, Hulu, Disney +, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube TV, and I added HBO Max because I wanted to FINALLY watch The WIre....which I still haven't, BUT I basically haven't turned off a show in forty-some days. There's just too much great TV now.
So, here's what I'm caught up on, with short reviews, how to watch them.
Sex Education (SO GOOD, 3 seasons all available, Netflix)- this show is practically perfect. Like most shows, it takes a season or so to really get its feet under it, but when it does, daaaammmnnn. Smart, funny, sweet, sexy, all set in a spectacular English countryside. Addresses sexuality, sex, friendship, parent-child relationships, bullying, insecurity, growth, in a creative and funny way. Plus Gillian Anderson and Hannah Waddingham!
What We Do in the Shadows (RIDICULOUS, 3rd season airing weekly, Hulu)- This silly, stupid, hilarious vampire mockumentary (written by Jemaine Clement and other hysterical writers) took me a few attempts to get into, but once I did, I was hooked. The leads are sensational (Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch) and every weird and funny actor makes a cameo at some point (Kristen Schaal, Craig Robinson, Vanessa Bayer, Lucy Punch, Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Trejo, Paul Reubens, PLUS Wesley-freaking-Snipes and Evan Chambers from "Greek" (Jake McDorman). It's just bizarre fun, and who DOESN'T know a Colin Robinson?
Only Murders in the Building (CUTE, 1st season airing weekly, Hulu)- created by Steve Martin, who stars in it and IS SO PERFECT I COULD CRY, and Martin Short (provoking his exaggerated goofball sometimes, but also more vulnerable and understated than usual), and Selena Gomez (damn she can act) all live in a fancy old Manhattan apartment building where a mysterious death happened ten years ago AND just happened- to someone related to the original crime. This unlikely threesome are all obsessed with murder podcasts and decide to start their own, as they investigate the current murder and try to get a grasp of the old one, too. The characters are quirky and fun, the dialogue is EXACTING and hysterical, and the vibe is just super cool and fun. I can't imagine anyone not liking this show. Cameos already by Sting, Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, and Jimmy Fallon.
The Premise (HYSTERICAL, 1st season airing weekly, Hulu)- I'm only one ep in ("Social Justice Sex Tape"). B.J. Novak (The Office, children's book author) created/writes, and it's so funny I choked and peed. Ben Platt and Tracee Ellis Ross start it off with a really memorable bang.
Ted Lasso (GIVES ME LIFE, 2nd season airing weekly, Apple TV)- I'm a bit behind, but I've been doing regular reviews of this season on this page, so please read if you want details. It's such a great combo of tender and tragic, all built on a scaffolding of funny.
Insecure (MY FAVORITE, 3 seasons available, 4th coming soon, HBO) - Issa Rae's brilliant creation; funny and cool and weird and real- all about adult friendships and romance in LA- the most recent season celebrates Black culture around LA and deals with racism in complex and fascinating ways. No one writes dialogue like Ms. Rae. The kind of show that when I was done binging the season, I missed the characters and wanted to check in on them.
Hacks (50/50, 1st season available, HBO)- about a very famous comedian, Deborah Vance, with a decades old standing show in Vegas who is at risk of losing her venue- and a young, new comedy writer who's gotten mini-canceled before her career has even really much begun, is matched with her via their mutual agent to help revive the star's act. I can't decide what I think of this show. On the one hand, yes, please put Jean Smart in everything always, and she's extraordinarily in charge in every seen-she owns every inch of every scene. On the other hand, it's kind of gross and sad (Vegas-y, set in Vegas, why is Vegas) and I've read it's exploitative and meant to represent Joan Rivers. On the third hand, and I think this is intentional? To emphasize the differences between the generations?? the early twenties woman (played by Hannah Einbinder) is terrible. I can't tell if it's the actor or the part, but she's drab, whiny, entitled, did I mention drab, and I just cannot give any shits about her. Again, not sure how deliberate that was, or if it's somehow telling of the age of the desired audience (and mine), but I can't help but feeling like the casting was a total miss- she didn't have to be a tiny skinny white girl with next to no personality. It's hard to believe when the characters arc toward each other---but I do think the Deborah Vance character arc is super cool, so I guess it's worth a watch. Kaitlin Olson plays Vance's daughter and she's always reliably fun, and someone new to me- Carl Clemons-Hopkins plays Deborah's business manager, and he's divine.
The Other Two (MINDLESS FUN, 2nd season airing weekly, HBO)- if you're looking for a silly, satirical, funny show that won't make you work, this is a good one. Two adult siblings (Heléne York and Drew Tarver) are kind of failing their way toward some sort of vague artistic goals in Manhattan, when their much younger, teenage brother, managed by his sweet midwestern mom (Molly Shannon) goes viral for a silly song he wrote about getting married in middle school- and suddenly he's THE THING and they're all working with and for him...soon, Molly Shannon's character gets picked up to be a talkshow host and is immediately successful and universally adored. It's basically a commentary on how arbitrary and ruthless success is in the entertainment industry. It's funny, mostly. I enjoy it, mostly.
The Flight Attendant (SCARY FUN, 1st season available, HBO)- it's a murder mystery and our messy, sexy, sad flight attendant (played by Kaley Cuoco) is the chief suspect. There's international intrigue, assassins, the FBI with some toxic male juice, lots of sex and drinking and flashbacks and scary rich people. Rosie Perez is in it, but I'm still not totally certain why. Her part of the story never makes any sense. I kept hearing how funny this show was, and there are definitely parts that are (like Zosia Mamet- best friend/lawyer- I could listen to her deliver everyone's lines in every show, always), but mostly it's just really intense, spooky, mind-mending fun. It's a little adrenaliney for late at night when we get to watch these kinda shows around here, but I'm a light weight.
Mare of Easttown (DEPRESSING,1st season available, HBO) I never know what to think when wealthy and perfect Hollywood elite grunge themselves out to display poor regular people. Set in small town Pennsylvania, the inhabitants all know each other, most are related, and, almost all have had babies in high school and/or are addicted to narcotics. The lead, "Mare" played by Kate Winslet, is a cool character and beautifully portrayed- she's the apparently only detective in town and cares a lot, but life has also left her super jaded and cruel. It plays like a really high quality Lifetime movie. There are murders and kidnappings and, oh, hey, Jean Smart is in this one, too! Much has been made of the fact that Ms. Winslet was "allowed to look her age" and be regular chubby and stuff, and there's a sex scene where I guess some parts that we don't usually get to see bounce, bounce? I must have missed it. She's not all glammed up, she dresses practically. It features more sandwiches than contraceptives.
I May Destroy You (COOL & DEPRESSING, 1st season available, HBO) Michaela Coel is a force- this is the second thoughtful, funny, intense, bizarre, and critically acclaimed show she's written and starred in- the first was Chewing Gum. This one she stars in as a writer who is hopping back and forth between London and somewhere in Italy and partying with her friends when she's intended to be finishing her second book on deadline. Something confusing and bad happens one night and as her memories are pieced together, she realizes she was slipped a sedative and sexually assaulted. She later has another encounter with a man who assaults her in a different way, and the many aspects of rape are explored in a really provocative and victim-centric way. She's so powerful and maintains this power throughout, even when others try to threaten it.
Queen’s Gambit (MEH, 1st season available, Netlfix) I think I'm the only one on the planet who didn't like this show. I found the way it stayed emotionally superficial even as dark, deep, sad shit was happening, didn't work for me. And chess is as boring as any other sport to me. I didn't finish it, though, maybe the last few episodes get awesome?