"East Los High" (
There is, to be sure, a heightened sense of drama and sensation -- this is a soap opera, if comparatively naturalistic one -- but a heightened sense of drama and sensation is the very coin of the teenage mind, to which even boredom can feel like the end of the world. (The language is moderately salty, and the sex, if not explicit, is heavily implicit.) And if at times the story is conspicuously being nudged toward a capital-P point (this year, bisexuality and domestic abuse join the mix), director Carlos Portugal, the series co-creator with Kathleen Bedoya, keeps his characters out in the front of the issues. And though the show demonstrates repeatedly that actions have consequences, it is not judgmental toward the actors. (Except the ones old enough to know better.) The kids here are smarter or less smart; more mature or naive; more honest or deceitful, or self-deceiving; wilder or more cautious. But they are not Good or Evil in the Manichean Hollywood sense; they are … kids, working it out.
"My Way to Olympia" (
The documentary rambles a bit -- it is roughly chronological, but often not -- and the director is as much its subject as the people he has come to film. But the unifying narrative, such as it is, is Von Glasow's increased appreciation for athletics, which he initially professes to hate -- suspecting that the Paralympics are "a big show to disguise the problem between society and disabled people" -- and his growing affection for his subjects (whom he also regards with a certain suspicion). While we see the competitors through the games, and their wins and losses, this is only partially a story of the glory of sport, or the pluckiness of the physically challenged, and to the extent that it is, it is not sentimental about it. (These are not the massaged and managed portraits of the
"Welcome to Sweden" (NBC, Thursdays).