‘Stranger Things 4’ and 20 more movies and TV shows to stream this weekend
Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who understands being turned Upside Down by your high-school years.
As television critic Lorraine Ali writes of “Stranger Things 4,” premiering Friday on Netflix, the sci-fi/horror blockbuster continues to surprise viewers, this time by trading in 1980s nostalgia for a more unflinching look at the terrors of adolescence. “The brilliance of ‘Stranger Things 4,’” she notes, “is that rather than gloss over the unpleasantry, it leans hard into [the characters]’ clumsy, painful transition.”
Also in Screen Gab no. 37, we break out the tissues with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin of “Grace & Frankie,” sing the praises of “The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans” and much more. Altogether, from the films of Ray Liotta to our critics’ picks, this week’s Screen Gab contains more than 20 films and TV shows to check out. (And one, Ricky Gervais’ “SuperNature,” to avoid like the plague.) In other words, plenty to watch after you fill up on hot dogs and hamburgers at the barbecue this weekend.
And, as always, we’re looking for reader picks: Send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.
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Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times
Set in and around a compact backstreet Tokyo eatery, open from midnight to 7 a.m., where night owls from all walks of life occupy its U-shaped counter, “Midnight Diner” (Netflix) offers short stories that tend to the bittersweet, but with sweetness most prominent. Kaoru Kobayashi plays the taciturn proprietor, chef and everything else, called only the Master; an unexplained scar runs down the left side of his face, but he has the pacific solidity of a 20th century movie hero. Food matters — we see it prepared, we watch it eaten, we hear it talked about; sometimes it plays an integral role in the story we are seeing. Some episodes end with a brief demonstration of the episode’s signature dish — never anything fancy but obviously magically delicious. Apart from the individual stories, the series captures what it’s like to have a place you like to eat and things you like to eat there. Five seasons were produced between 2009 and 2019, the last two under the title “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories,” and are all available to stream. —Robert Lloyd
If you loved “Yellowjackets,” then it’s time to binge Prime Video’s psychological survivalist tale “The Wilds.” Now in its second season, the series focuses on a group of nine “troubled” teenage girls who were on their way to a wellness retreat when their plane crashed, leaving them stranded on a deserted island. Or so they think. The group are in fact part of a social experiment by Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths), a deranged researcher who uses them as unwitting lab rats for her “Dawn of Eve” program. This well-written and fantastically performed series is full of “Lost”-like mysteries, but the draw is watching how the girls endure and govern outside the confines of a patriarchal society. “The Wilds” is full of spoilers, so I’ll keep the specifics to a minimum, but Season 2 extends the addictive drama, answering old riddles while opening up plenty of new wormholes to venture down. —Lorraine Ali
Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about
When “The Real World Homecoming: New York” premiered last spring, the Paramount+ reunion series swiftly established itself as a worthy successor to MTV’s groundbreaking original, continuing arguments about racism, white privilege and sexuality that feel as relevant today as they did in 1992. Last fall, “Homecoming” reaffirmed that impression by returning to L.A. for an unflinching look back at one of the original series’ most disastrous seasons. But “The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans,” now streaming, might be the pinnacle of the form. Combining difficult conversations about “don’t ask don’t tell,” religious faith and racial identity with more traditional reality TV hijinks, including a legendarily messy night out on Bourbon Street, it is, admittedly, tailored-made for yours truly, a former New Orleanian who crushed hard on gay cast member Danny Roberts when I watched the original back in middle school. Still, you don’t need such a strong personal connection to the series to see it as a fascinating glimpse at who gets to grow up when, and how — and, for that matter, who never does, or has to. In this sense, “New Orleans” is the perfect encapsulation of why “Homecoming” has emerged as the only revival series I’d call indispensable: Forcing cast members to confront their pasts, and ours, it’s unlike anything else currently on TV. —Matt Brennan
A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching
Do you ever think to yourself, “Gosh, I need more content in my life?” Our podcast, the Envelope, is back with new episodes every Tuesday as we wade through the deep waters of Emmy season. We have interviews with David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) and Jessica Biel (“Candy”) coming up. But we kicked things off with our favorite TV besties: “Grace and Frankie” stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who recently said farewell to the Netflix comedy. Check out the full interview here — and be sure to subscribe! Here’s a tease to hold you over. —Yvonne Villarreal
Fonda had been talking about a Harvard study that outlined the health benefits of female friendship and how, as such, she’s going to live a long time because of her bond with Tomlin.
Tomlin: I think you’re going to live a long time anyway. I was looking at Rita [Moreno] and I was thinking Rita could easily make it to 110, maybe 115. So then I’m thinking you could do better than that.
Fonda: No, I don’t think so. Rita’s special. We just finished a movie with her, “80 for Brady.” I remind myself of Katharine Hepburn when we were making “On Golden Pond.” She pulled me aside one day and she said [starts imitating Hepburn’s voice]: “‘You know, Jane,’ she said, ‘my organs are totally healthy,’” She was 74 at the time. “‘Oh, but my joints, that’ll get me.’” And boy, is that true of me. All of my organs are in tip top 24-year-old shape, but my joints and my bones — I recently had a shoulder replacement, I’ve got two hips, one knee. I mean, airports don’t like to see me coming. So I may live a long time, but I may end up in a wheelchair. Which is fine. I’m not vain that way. As long as the light is good.
Tomlin: I’ll be there. I’ll have the proper nurse’s garb.
Fonda: You’ll walk around holding a key light for me. You know, the fact that the two of us have tended to get emotional already since the beginning of this interview I think is a reflection of the fact that we are coming off not just “Grace and Frankie” but two films together [“80 for Brady” and “Moving On”]. And it’s over now. We’re tired and we’re raw. Don’t you feel raw, Lily? I do. Especially when it comes to thinking about you.
Tomlin: I do. I do.
Fonda: We’re hoping we can do a movie. A “Grace and Frankie” movie. Don’t you think that would be fun? Maybe a Christmas movie. We could get into a fight about whether or not we chop down a real tree.
Please, I beg you, make that happen. There’s going to be a “Grace and Frankie”-sized hole in all our hearts for quite some time. Can you tell me what you guys have been watching lately? Lily, last time we spoke, you were all about “Ray Donovan.” I know your character, Frankie, is into “Billions.”
Tomlin: I like ”Billions,” but I’ve lost a little interest in “Billions” since the redhead [Damian Lewis] is gone. “Succession” was a big one. I hear about so much stuff and I just don’t get around to it. I go to bed so early, I don’t really have time to dig into the series. Like, I watched [“Inventing Anna”] because I knew Julia Garner — she was in “Grandma” with me and I really adored her. Jane watches everything.
Fonda: Yeah, I’m seeing [“Inventing Anna”]; “WeCrashed.” I love documentaries — I saw the Andy Warhol documentary. “Pam and Tommy,” “Secrets of Playboy.” I love “Hacks.” “White Lotus” is good. There’s so many. “Better Things.” I always love “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — I get in bed at 7 p.m. and then I watch a whole bunch of things and I usually end with “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I go back to like Season 2 or something.
Tomlin: Yeah, that’s comfort food. I don’t know how she gets done all the stuff she gets done and watches all that TV.
Fonda: I live by myself. I don’t have to worry about nobody else.
Recommendations from Screen Gab readers
In “1883” (Paramount+), the setting is its own character. This is how you know a TV show, book or movie isn’t just worth its salt — it’s alive. The writing is poetry. Somehow the next line is more beautiful than the one you just heard and yet you’re still digesting the the words that just passed through you. Elsa (Isabel May) is the embodiment of courage and anyone who sees her on the screen won’t leave the couch without her in their hearts.
Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on
Fri., May 27
“Emergency” (Prime Video): Three hard-partying college pals find an unconscious woman in their apartment in this edgy 2022 comedy.
“A Banquet” (AMC+): A teenage girl starts skipping meals after a supernatural encounter in this 2022 terror tale.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi” (Disney+): Hello, there! Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the Jedi master in this new “Star Wars” series.
“Stranger Things” (Netflix): Those kids have got to be in their late 20s/early 30s by now as the sci-fi/fantasy series returns for Season 4.
“We Feed People” (Disney+): Chef, activist and humanitarian José Andrés is saluted in this 2022 documentary from director Ron Howard.
“Great Performances” (KOCE, 9 p.m.) Go behind the scenes of the Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.”
Sat., May 28
“From Here to Eternity” (TCM, 5 p.m.): A Memorial Day weekend marathon includes this Oscar-winning 1953 drama starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.
“Old” (HBO, 8 p.m.): The twist is, they were old the whole time in M. Night Shyamalan’s bonkers 2021 thriller.
“I Won’t Let You Go” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A happily married woman isn’t so happy about being stalked by her ex-boyfriend in this TV movie.
Sun., May 29
“Indianapolis 500” (NBC, 9:30 a.m.): They’re all revved up for IndyCar racing’s premiere event.
“Monaco Grand Prix” (ABC, 12:30 p.m.): They are also revved up for Formula One’s most prestigious event.
“Coca-Cola 600” (Fox, 3 p.m.): And they’re also also revved up for NASCAR’s most grueling event.
“National Memorial Day Concert” (KOCE, 8 and 9:30 p.m.): Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise return to co-host this star-studded special.
Mon., May 30
“Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special” (Netflix): The late, great comic offers a few last laughs in this self-recorded stand-up special.
“Julia” (CNN, 5 and 7 p.m.): Save the liver! Culinary icon Julia Child is remembered in this 2021 documentary.
“Biography” (A&E, 8 and 9 p.m.; concludes Tue.): A four-part episode charts the highs and lows of R&B star Bobby Brown’s life and career.
“Theodore Roosevelt” (History Channel, 8 p.m.; concludes Tue.): America’s 26th president is recalled in this two-part profile.
“The Bad Seed Returns” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): That child is still evil — evil, I tells ya! — in this TV movie sequel. With Mckenna Grace.
“Origins of Hip Hop” (A&E, 10 p.m.) This new docuseries explores the roots of that culturally dominant musical genre.
“Explorer: The Deepest Cave” (National Geographic, 10 p.m.): How low can they go? Find out in this new special.
“The American Presidency With Bill Clinton” (History Channel, 8 p.m.): America’s 42nd president is your guide to the inner workings of the Oval Office in this new series.
Tue., May 31
“Pistol” (FX on Hulu): This new miniseries charts the rise and fall of the iconic British punk band the Sex Pistols.
“30 for 30” (ESPN, 5 p.m.): Streetball’s moves and rap music’s grooves come together in 1990s NYC in the documentary “The Greatest Mixtape Ever.”
“America’s Got Talent” (NBC, 8 p.m.): The competition returns for yet another summer. Terry Crews hosts.
“Tom Swift” (The CW, 9 p.m.): A young and gifted Black inventor is part James Bond, part MacGyver in this new action drama.
“Dancing With Myself” (NBC, 10 p.m.): Contestants strut their stuff in social media-inspired dance challenges in this new competition series.
“Frontline” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): A new episode investigates the Minneapolis Police Department in the aftermath of the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
“Bobby Brown: Every Little Step” (A&E, 10 p.m.): The aforementioned celeb also headlines this new reality series.
“Black Patriots: Buffalo Soldiers” (10:30 p.m., History Channel): This special salutes the Black enlisted men who once served in segregated units in the U.S. Army.
Wed., June 1
“South Park: The Streaming Wars” (Paramount+): Our favorite foul-mouthed fifth graders go channel surfing in this new animated movie.
“The Match: Champions for Charity” (CNN, TNT, truTV, 3:30 p.m.): NFL greats Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, et al., hit the golf course for a worthy cause in this special.
“The Real Housewives of Dubai” (Bravo, 9 p.m.): Drinks will be thrown, trash talked, etc., in this latest entry in the reality TV franchise.
Thu., June 2
“The Book of Queer” (Discovery+): This new five-part series shines a light on the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Borgen — Power & Glory” (Netflix): Your favorite Danish politician (Sidse Babett Knudsen) returns in this follow-up to the 2010-13 drama.
“The Orville” (Hulu): Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi adventure series makes the jump to streaming for Season 3.
“This Is Going to Hurt” (AMC+, Sundance Now): And that’s just your hospital bill in this new medical drama. Ben Whishaw stars.
“Under the Banner of Heaven” (FX on Hulu): Murder will out in the finale of this fact-based mystery drama set in Utah. With Andrew Garfield.
“Scripps National Spelling Bee” (Bounce, Ion, 5 p.m.): Student spellers strive to be letter perfect in the finals of the annual competition hosted by LeVar Burton.
“NBA Finals” (ABC, 6 p.m.): Pro basketball’s top two teams take the court in the opening game of this best-of-seven series.
“Her Majesty the Queen: A Gayle King Special” (CBS, 10 p.m.): And we’re not talking about Oprah in this new special.
It's a date
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