An alarming Elon Musk doc and 5 more weekend viewing recommendations
Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone struggling to keep up with the Elon Musk news cycle.
As the world’s richest man continues his will he/won’t he dance with Twitter over purchasing the social media company, and Business Insider reports that his aerospace outfit SpaceX paid off a woman who accused Musk of sexual misconduct, a new documentary about Tesla’s troubles premieres Friday on FX and Hulu. As Times auto industry correspondent Russ Mitchell, who has covered Musk and Tesla extensively, writes in his analysis, “Elon Musk’s Crash Course” “spotlights the persistent dangers of Tesla’s automated driving technologies, the company’s lax safety culture, Musk’s P.T. Barnum-style marketing hype and the weak-kneed safety regulators who seem not to care.” Sometimes it’s worth going back to basics.
Also in Screen Gab No. 36, we discuss Season 2 of “Hacks” finding its groove, catch up with multi-hyphenate Meagan Good and offer two nonfiction recommendations — one comic, one criminal — for your viewing pleasure.
And, as always, we’re looking for reader recommendations: Send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to email@example.com with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.
The complete guide to home viewing
Get Screen Gab for everything about the TV shows and streaming movies everyone’s talking about.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Must-read stories you might have missed
Tucker Carlson hits a dangerous new low in his response to the Buffalo shooting: Undeterred by his ideological common ground with the shooter, the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” host spent Monday’s telecast ratcheting up the rhetoric.
A condition affecting 190 million women has been mostly ignored on TV. Until now: Hulu’s “Conversations With Friends” felt a responsibility to depict the often brutal experience of endometriosis accurately. Here’s how they did it.
Timeline: Key moments in the career of Angelyne, L.A.’s beloved billboard icon: The Times has caught up with the local star regularly over the years. With the premiere of “Angelyne” on Peacock, here’s a sample of our coverage.
How Ellen DeGeneres won, and then lost, a generation of viewers: Battered by scandal, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” ends its 19-year run on Thursday. Its host is no longer the queer celebrity we can all agree on.
Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times
The latest Netflix series from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, “The G Word With Adam Conover” is an informational comedy that looks at government to decide what it likes and what it doesn’t — and you will not be surprised to learn, given the producers, that it comes down in favor of government itself. (Which, just like Soylent Green, is made of people.) The series follows the form of Conover’s myth-busting, fact-flagging, green-screening “Adam Ruins Everything,” with its marshaling of second-hand research into bemused comic bits, including satirical skits performed by Conover’s stock company and adding field reports from different corners of the civil service and military. (It’s always interesting, even comforting, to me when someone demonstrates the special knowledge of a job you had never thought about at all.) The “Yes, but,” good/bad/good/bad structure of these essays can make the arguments seem a little soft at times, but strong points are made along the way, and commitment and optimism win the day over apathy and despair. Executive producer Barack pops in a couple of times to exercise his comedy muscle, answer some pointed questions from the host and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — not to illustrate anything, just to eat. —Robert Lloyd
True crime stories have taken over TV in recent years, but the public fascination with tales of murder, abduction and abuse is hardly new. “Captive Audience” (Hulu) considers the cost of our fascination with the misery humans inflict on one another by revisiting the case of Steven Stayner, a 7-year-old California boy who was abducted in 1972 then escaped his captor and returned to his family more than seven years later. The reunification sparked a media frenzy and an Emmy-nominated NBC miniseries, “I Know My First Name Is Steven,” that is seared into the memories of many an ’80s kid, but the unspeakable family tragedy didn’t end when Steven walked in the door. Director Jessica Dimmock blends archival news footage, family interviews and clips from “I Know My First Name is Steven,” with screenplay excerpts read aloud by the (now grown) actors who played Stayner and his older brother in the original miniseries — a novel device that forces us to think about the way the Stayners’ harrowing ordeal was flattened and sanitized for public consumption. As this briskly paced yet innovative three-part docuseries makes plain, trauma reverberates in ways far too complicated for a tidy Hollywood ending. —Meredith Blake
Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about
With a pair of memorable exceptions — Megan Stalter’s assistant Kayla calling her boss (Paul W. Downs) “fugly” as penance for violating their agency’s sexual harassment rules and Jean Smart’s stand-up legend Deborah Vance grinning savagely through the blood spatter of a UFC bout — I must admit that the return of “Hacks” (HBO Max) initially left me cold. After last season’s cliffhanger, in which Ava (Hannah Einbinder), a young writer/thorn in Deborah’s side, sends a vengeful email about the comic to a Hollywood producer, the payoff of their tense confrontation also comes with plenty of rust to shake off.
With Thursday’s pair of episodes, though, “Hacks” is once again in fine fettle. First, Deborah and Ava share a sincere come-to-Jesus moment involving a tennis ball canister of cremains; later, they embark on a lesbian cruise that underscores the series’ low-key queerness. Perhaps most of all, though, as Season 2 dispenses with the leftover plot machinations, “Hacks” once again creates space to explore what made Season 1 stand out: the series’ astute understanding that comedy, culture and people of all ages must continue to evolve in order to thrive, however painful the process. —Matt Brennan
A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching
Meagan Good has played every role from curious teen to superhero in a career that’s almost as old as she is. But, she says, there’s still “so much left to do.” And that includes starring in a show (“Harlem” on Amazon Prime) while simultaneously executive producing another: the just-dropped “A La Carte” on ALLBLK.
“I’m getting ready to direct the first episode of my TV show in about two weeks. I’m also getting ready to direct a film for Lifetime,” she said. “And then it’s time to figure out what biopic I want to do. And then the other thing that I’m really passionate about is helping young artists get an opportunity to tell their unique stories. Besides that, I want to travel and just see what’s next.
”Like ‘A La Carte,’ about a 20-something woman who finds out that she’s a side item for the man she’s interested in. She’s stuck in the same boat with her millennial friend group, just figuring out life and love in Los Angeles.”
The Times caught up with the SoCal native to talk about the racy “A La Carte,” working with family, and of course, “Shazam.” —Dawn M. Burkes
What drew you to “A La Carte”? More importantly, what made you stay with it?
The most important thing for me was really supporting Dijon’s [Talton, showrunner and her cousin] vision. This has been his baby for years now. I remember the day he was born. And he started directing. And I hadn’t seen anything that he did until I saw the first version of “A La Carte,” and I was blown away. I was like, “If you’re going to pursue this, anything you need, I’m here.” And when he said, “You know what, I’m actually going to go out and shop it,” I was like, “Well, I’m on board as a producer, let’s do the damn thing.”
And here we are, with the show that I’ve seen described with mentions of “Sex and the City” and “Insecure.” How would you describe it to a potential viewer?
I don’t think we’ve seen millennials shown being so raw and so honest, really, really going there. Yes, it’s got elements of “Sex and the City,” but you know, there’s something different about L.A. than New York.
Mahogany (Pauline Dyer) discovers that she’s the woman on the side and decides to settle there. Is the expectation to create a conversation around relationships, fidelity, monogamy?
That’s exactly what the intention is: challenging our ideas and ideals about what you’re told, how you grow up, what you think you’re supposed to do, what you want to do, not judging yourself.
There are several jaw-dropping... R-rated moments in “A La Carte.” It feels like a little bit of a departure for you. But it also feels like representation and inclusiveness on a different level. Is that a correct assessment?
I would say yes, because there were definitely jaw-dropping moments for me as well. A lot of what was actually filmed, I was watching after the work. And I’m like, “I know what the script said, but we really went there.” And in the beginning, I was very nervous, I’m like, “Oh, my God, what with everything that’s going on in my own life, they’re gonna be like, she’s really out here, out here.” But I had to kind of give myself over to my intention. My heart is, again, with Dijon’s vision. I wanted to allow him the space to create something that is raw and is honest and is authentic to 2022 as [the characters] tried to navigate these things. Even if that’s not your cup of tea or your preference, or the way that you want to rock.
“Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member Kandi Burruss co-stars as the owner of a sex shop. How did that happen?
Dijon worked with her on a movie a few years back and she was a revelation because she was playing a drug-addicted mother and I just thought, “Oh, my God, I didn’t even know she acts like this.” And I grew up with Xscape [Burruss’ R&B group], you know?
You’ve had this long career in film, with dips into TV. Now it seems like you’re just settling into a comfortable chair. What have you learned?
I like not to know where I’m going to be in the next few months or what character I’m going to play. That was really something that I got from Terrence Howard, when I was like, 17. I was working on “Cousin Skeeter” and he was working on “Sparks.” And he said, “You know, when you finish the show, take a break from TV. Go do film, go travel the world, just go be free.” And I didn’t commit as a lead character on a show for almost a decade, until “Deception,” I think. But the wonderful part of “Harlem” is that Tracy Oliver and Scott King and Amy Poehler carve out that space. So I walked straight from doing “Harlem” right onto the set of “Shazam” right onto the set of “Dayshift,” which is a Netflix movie I have coming out with Jamie [Foxx] in August. It really comes down to quality of life, especially at this juncture in my life where I’m not old, but I am older. It’s not just me showing up to work for money. It’s me showing up for life and saying, “I like where I am.”
Since you brought it up, what can you tell us about “Shazam”?
Can’t tell too much. But you’ll see a lot more of us, the older kids a lot, lot more.
Meagan Good equals horror movie: “One Missed Call,” “Saw V,” “The Unborn,” in less than two years. Is that in the cards?
The movies that made me really want to be an actress were “Halloween” 4 and 5. And I was the same age as that little girl who played Michael Myers’ niece. I’m a horror movie buff. So I’m like, “Respect the horror movie!” I always enjoy something about what that emotionally brings out of you. And see how every actor is going to translate that. As a director, I just now ventured into more comedy and worked with Kevin Hart’s company and Sundance on a short. So it’s like, “OK, now I want to learn to direct action.” And definitely want to learn to direct horror.
Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on
Friday, May 20
“Dual” (AMC+): There can be only one in this clone-tastic 2022 sci-fi fable starring Karen Gillan and Karen Gillan.
“The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks” (Prime Video): Mike Myers, Fred Armisen, et al., sing the praises of the Canadian comedy troupe in this two-part documentary.
“Night Sky” (Prime Video): An old married couple (Sissy Spacek, J.K. Simmons) find a portal to a planet far, far away in this new sci-fi drama.
“Now & Then” (Apple TV+): They may be through with the past, but the past isn’t through with them in this new decades-spanning mystery drama. With Rosie Perez.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” (Paramount+): Tuck in for a seventh season of the queen-size competition.
“The Valet” (Hulu): Baby, he can park your car, in this Hollywood-set 2022 comedy starring Eugenio Derbez.
“George Carlin’s American Dream” (HBO, HBO Max, 8 p.m.; concludes Saturday): Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, et al., sing the praises of the comedy legend in this two-part documentary.
“Great Performances” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): “The Merry Wives of Windsor” are movin’ on up to Harlem in a reimagining of Shakespeare’s comedy.
“The New York Times Presents” (FX, 10 p.m.): Questions are raised about the safety of Tesla’s self-driving technology in the season premiere.
Saturday, May 21
“Romance to the Rescue” (Hallmark Channel, 8 p.m.): A rambunctious shelter dog brings two lonely people together in this TV movie.
“Disappearance in Yellowstone” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A woman’s teenage daughter vanishes from the national park in this TV movie.
Sunday, May 22
“American Idol” (ABC, 5 and 8 p.m.): The winner is revealed in the singing competition’s 20th season finale.
“Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” (CNN, 6 and 9 p.m.): Your humble host finds himself in — London? — in a new episode.
“The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.): “X-Men’s” Hugh Jackman lends his voice to the season finale.
“Lucy Worsley Investigates” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): A new episode delves into the mental health issues that bedeviled Britain’s George III.
Monday, May 23
“Baby Drivers” (Discovery+): Their feet can barely reach the pedals in this new series about youth go-kart racing.
“Prehistoric Planet” (Apple TV+; also Tuesday-Friday): The indefatigable David Attenborough is your guide in this five-part series.
“Slippin’ Jimmy” (AMC+): Meet “Better Call Saul’s” Jimmy McGill when he was just a wee lad in Chicago in this new animated series
“Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (Fox, 8 p.m.): No teleprompter will save you in a reboot of this competition hosted by Niecy Nash.
“NCIS” (CBS, 9 p.m.): The long-running procedural drama ends its 19th season.
“Celebrity IOU” (HGTV, 9 p.m.): “Winning Time’s” John C. Reilly pays it back in this new episode.
Tuesday, May 24
“Ricky Gervais: SuperNature” (Netflix): Is he having a laugh? Yes, yes he is in the British comic’s latest stand-up special.
“Sins of the Amish” (Peacock): Accounts of sexual abuse within that insular religious community are probed in this two-part series.
“Yo! MTV Raps” (Paramount+): They hip-hop and they don’t stop in a reboot of the 1988-95 music showcase.
“This Is Us” (NBC, 9 p.m.): Keep those hankies handy as the saga of the Pearson family comes to a close in the series finale. With Mandy Moore.
“American Experience” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): A new episode looks back on an outbreak of bubonic plague in San Francisco in 1900.
Wednesday, May 25
“Somebody Feed Phil” (Netflix): Mr. Rosenthal’s gastronomic rapacity knows no satiety in the return of his foodie travelogue.
“Lost Angeles: City of Homeless” (KTTV, 6 p.m.): This new docuspecial examines the seemingly intractable homelessness crisis afflicting our fair city.
“Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.): See who outwitted, outplayed and outlasted whom in the three-hour season finale.
“The Great American Tag Sale With Martha Stewart” (ABC, 8 p.m.): Everything must go in the lifestyle maven’s new special.
“Masterchef” (Fox, 8 p.m.): Also-rans from seasons past get a second chance as the competition returns.
“The American Rescue Dog Show” (ABC, 9 p.m.): They’re all good boys in a new edition of this canine competition.
“Nova” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): Follow a trail of “Ice Age Footprints” in this new episode.
“Colombia: Wild and Free” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The two-part series concludes with a trek to the coastal regions.
“Petit Rat” (KCET, 10 p.m.): A Holocaust survivor and her two daughters are bound by a love of dance in this documentary.
Thursday, May 26
“Look At Me: XXXTENTACION” (Hulu): This documentary remembers the controversial rapper who was killed in 2018.
“The Dreamers” (Sundance Now): Three young Palestinians find themselves indebted to a local crime family in this imported drama.
“That Damn Michael Che” (HBO Max): The comic and “SNL” star’s eponymous sketch show returns.
“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.): The long-running medical drama concludes its 18th season.
“Accused: Guilty or Innocent” (A&E, 9 p.m.): Did they or didn’t they? Find out when the docuseries returns.
“Alone” (History, 9 p.m.): The outdoor survival competition is back for Season 9.
“Bull” (CBS, 10 p.m.): The legal drama starring Michael Weatherly ends its run after six seasons.
“Unsettled History: America, China and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid” (KOCE, 10:30 p.m.): A tale of daring from World War II is retold from different perspectives in this documentary.
“Kings of Pain” (History, 10:30 p.m.): They’re in for a world of hurt in new episodes of this reality series.
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.