‘Selling the OC’ is a perfect parody of Southern California excess

Two women getting into a bright red sports car outside an Orange County mansion
Alexandra Jarvis and Alexandra Rose in “Selling the OC.”

Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone interested in the lifestyles of the relatively rich and almost famous.

That could be the subtitle for one of this week’s streaming recommendations, Netflix’s “Selling the OC” — in which most of the main cast is still on the make, both as realtors and reality stars. Don’t worry though, we have plenty more to offer if garish sports cars aren’t your speed.

The 50th issue of Screen Gab brings two more TV shows to catch up on this weekend, all the highlights from our fall TV preview (in print Sept. 4) and an interview with Edward Buckles Jr., director of the heartbreaking new documentary “Katrina Babies.” And, as always, we want to know what you’re watching, so send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.


Fall TV Preview

All of the stories from this week’s special issue, at your fingertips

Sheryl Lee Ralph.

The 20 shows our TV experts are most excited to watch this fall: The Times TV team is back together for another fall season. Here are the 20 new and returning shows we’re most excited for.

Sheryl Lee Ralph put in the time and the work. Hollywood is finally taking notice: The “Abbott Elementary” star opens up about her “rough” path as a Black woman in show business — and now, at 65, enjoying the view from the top.

In the fight to be ‘the next Oprah,’ Jennifer Hudson is counting on one weapon: herself: Kelly Clarkson. Sherri Shepherd. Tamron Hall. Entering the risky, competitive daytime arena, EGOT winner Hudson isn’t worried about the competition.


‘Tell me what money we have’: Inside the preposterous task of writing original songs for TV: The talent behind 12 beloved shows, from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” to “Rap S—,” explain how they surmounted what may be the most daunting challenge in TV.

Hollywood is chasing dignitaries like never before. Who’s reaping the dividends?: Clintons. Obamas. British royals. How civic leaders became the industry’s “coin of the realm” — and whether the trend is worth more than money.

Turn on

Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times

Hot realtors partying on a yacht
Gio Helou, from left, Tyler Stanaland, Polly Brindle, Austin Victoria, Lauren Brito, Alex Hall, Sean Palmieri and Brandi Marshall in “Selling the OC.”

Inspired by dreams of ocean breezes and icy currents as a major heat wave moves in, I spent much of the week indulging in the very guilty pleasures of Netflix reality soap “Selling the OC,which like predecessor “Selling Sunset” combines over-the-top real estate, over-the-top clothes and over-the-top personas into a cringeworthy celebration of Southern California excess. The main difference, this time around, is the addition of male Realtors to the main cast, a decision as aesthetically pleasing — there’s a shirtless football sequence to rival “Top Gun’s” — as it is dramatically inert; the franchise’s bread-and-butter remains a level of petty squabbling among female co-workers so incessant that it would make Carrie Bradshaw burn her designer bras. Still, as the hot young strivers of the Oppenheim Group’s Newport Beach office vie for top properties (and the camera’s mercurial attentions), the series emerges as a perfect, perhaps inadvertently lacerating parody of people and place, at least if you accept that the “people” are “nascent reality stars” and the “place” is “the strip of Orange County close enough to the ocean to command eight-digit home prices.” Not since the days of “The O.C.” and “The Hills” has the medium produced such deliciously earnest lines as “We are ... following polo season around the country” and “I must’ve been a water sommelier in another life.” — Matt Brennan

Every year, great shows appear that simply don’t get the, um, exposure they deserve. Exhibit A: HBO Max’s “Minx.” The very TV-MA comedy is about an early-1970s magazine that never existed — “Minx,” featuring brainy feminism side by side with beefy dudes in the buff. The smart scripts hilariously mix earnest protagonist Joyce Prigger’s (Ophelia Lovibond) hyperverbal book learnin’ with publisher Doug Renetti’s (Jake Johnson) easy sleaze. The cast kills. Oscar Montoya is a lovable photographer afraid to believe he’s an artist, Jessica Lowe is the Keeley Jones/Rollergirl figure, Idara Victor is Doug’s assistant, the smartest person in the room, and Lennon Partham is Joyce’s sister, a suburban housewife on a journey of self-discovery. The ensemble’s chemistry forms the foundation for the improbable schemes Joyce and Doug construct, with sociopolitical commentary among the Dick Cavett appearances and sex toys. Don’t be scared off by the sex, either! The naked truth is “Minx” is one of 2022’s hidden gems. —Michael Ordoña

Catch up

Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about

A She-Hulk in evening wear
Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters in “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.”
(Marvel Studios)

Marvel has a long history of winking at itself, going back to the self-parodying 1960s comic Not Brand Echh, and while some fans live for the super-serious brand of comic-book adaptations, there’s an undercurrent of absurdity to the whole superhero thing that is best acknowledged. Marvel’s TV series have happily tended toward weirdness and comedy, never more fully embraced than in “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” (Disney+), whose very title encompasses the mix of the extraordinary and the banal the series delights in. Easter eggs, inside references and deep-cut characters notwithstanding, you don’t need a degree in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to understand what’s happening here, as lawyer Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is accidentally irradiated with the Hulk blood of her cousin Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) following an accident and becomes the Amazonian She-Hulk. Unlike Bruce, Jennifer is naturally able to control her transformations, because the triggers of “anger and fear” are “the baselines of any woman just existing” — there are nice jabs at sexism in the world, the workplace and fantasy fandom — and when she’s the She-Hulk, she is always still Jennifer. She would like to be appreciated for her brains rather than her mutant brawn, yet she’s hired by a private firm to be the face of its new Superhuman Law division. Maslany, who played several roles in “Orphan Black,” has great comic chops, and the writing is genuinely funny in big and small ways. Like the metafictional, fourth-wall breaking comic, the series comments on its nature as television and the practices of the MCU: “I just want to make sure you don’t think this is one of those cameo-every-week kind of shows,” Jennifer says, before going on to enumerate them (not including Megan Thee Stallion as herself). —Robert Lloyd

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

A man holds a framed photo of his family leaning on the back of a parked car
“Katrina Babies” director Edward Buckles Jr. with a family photo.

First-time filmmaker Edward Buckles Jr. first conceived of “Katrina Babies” (HBO), his moving, intimate portrait of the generation of New Orleans children who grew up in the shadow of Hurricane Katrina, when he was just 20. He then spent years collecting the stories from family members, friends, the community, moving beyond the harrowing tales of survival that have always marked the public’s understanding of the storm and subsequent levee failures toward its long — ongoing — aftermath. As with many New Orleanians, among others, Buckles understands what happened to be anything but a “natural” disaster. I spoke to him, on the 17th anniversary of Katrina’s landfall, about what he’s watching, what he learned from making the film, and what he makes of the most well-known account of the storm to date, Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke.” — Matt Brennan

What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?

I’ve been slowly keeping up with “Snowfall” (FX, Hulu). I enjoy having something to look forward to at the end of my day, so I’m not a huge fan of bingeing. Watching shows, that’s like my escape. And it takes me so long to actually fall into the rhythm of watching a series, I don’t want to have to start that process over. So it takes me a very long time to watch [a show] straight through. I’m kind of weird like that.

What’s your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?

“Good Times” (Peacock). I didn’t have cable growing up. And “Good Times” was one of those shows that appeared on the non-cable station, and it was pretty damn good. I love the humor. I love how it’s light, but it also tackles heavy topics and heavy ideas. I think the characters are super relatable, although often it’s kind of [exaggerated]. It’s a show that brings me back to my childhood.

Coming at a project that was already so deeply personal to you, what would you say is the biggest thing that you’ve learned from the process of making “Katrina Babies,” or something that surprised you about it?

It almost feels weird calling them subjects, because [they’re] friends and family from the community. So what’s been the most surprising thing is just seeing how much trauma my friends and my family were carrying. But I think that also surprised them, because I don’t think that they knew. When we had this community conversation, a lot of that stuff surfaced. One of the biggest things that shocked me was how many of my peers and how many of my family members said that, they had never spoken about this before — it was the first time speaking about Hurricane Katrina since it happened. We had a whole bunch of stuff suppressed, and we didn’t even know that it was there. Because no one ever woke it up. But what’s powerful is that most of us were proactive enough [that], once we woke those traumas up, we wanted to tackle them. We are trying our best to heal as a community, together.

“Katrina Babies,” to me, is now part of a long line of impressive nonfiction storytelling to come out of the storm, from Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke” and “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” through the Atlantic’s “Floodlines” podcast. I’m wondering if there’s anything in that body of work that inspired you, or that you particularly looked to, while you were trying to figure out how to tell your story.

There’s a lot of projects that I look to as inspiration of what not to do — a lot of specials that came out about Hurricane Katrina year after year after year... Those were some of the works that made me realize, “Wait, no one’s talking to the kids.” I never see kids included in any of these specials, or if they are, they’re just saying one little thing, and then we move on.

Some of the things that I heard often [making “Katrina Babies”] were, “Why do we need another Hurricane Katrina story? We already have ‘When the Levees Broke,’ we already have all these other projects.” That was kind of intimidating. So I watched “When the Levees Broke,” out of a lot of respect for Spike Lee — obviously, he’s a legend. And I learned how to deal with a project like this, [where] you’re dealing with the weight of not only Hurricane Katrina, but the weight of New Orleans, and its trauma. That’s a lot to carry as a 20-year-old. I wanted to see what types of questions he asked, how are the interviewees responding, how do you deal with people who are dealing with such trauma? But in that I also saw some things that I didn’t want to do. ... It felt like it was an outsider’s perspective.

I think that “When the Levees Broke” is a great documentary, but I knew that I had an advantage because of the fact that this is my city. The people know me, and they love me, and they trust me, and I can take it a step further.

What’s next

Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on

Fri., Sept. 2

“Buy My House” (Netflix): Homeowners pitch their properties to real-estate moguls, “Shark Tank”-style, in this new series.

“Dated and Related” (Netflix): Sexy siblings must serve as each other’s wingman — or wingwoman — in this new reality series.

“Devil in Ohio” (Netflix): A psychiatrist (“Bones’” Emily Deschanel) treats a young girl who escaped from a cult in this new limited series.

“Fakes” (Netflix): Teen BFFs go into business making and selling fake IDs in this new comedy series.

“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” (Peacock): Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown play a megachurch power couple brought low by scandal in this 2022 satire.

“House of Hammer” (Discovery+): This new docuseries details recent allegations against actor Armie Hammer and other scandals involving his famously rich and powerful family.

“Ivy & Bean” (Netflix): The real treasure was the friendship they made along the way in this new TV movie based on the children’s books.

“Life by Ella” (Apple TV+): A 13-year-old cancer survivor gets busy living in this new family friendly comedy series.

“Rubikon” (AMC+): It’s the end of the world as they know it, but they’re stuck up there on a space station, in this 2022 sci-fi thriller.

“Club Cumming Presents a Queer Comedy Extravaganza” (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Tony winner Alan Cumming emcees this new cabaret-style stand-up showcase.

Sat., Sept. 3

“Jack Osbourne’s Night of Terror: UFOs” (Discovery+): The reality TV star probes accounts of close encounters in this new special.

“The Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert” (Paramount+, 8:30 a.m.): The Foo Fighters drummer who died in March is remembered in a star-studded concert live from London.

“Marry Me in Yosemite” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A travel photographer hooks up with a hunky tour guide in this new TV movie.

“First Home Fix” (HGTV, 10 p.m.): First-time homeowners get help sprucing up their new digs in this new series.

Sun., Sept. 4

“McEnroe” (Showtime, 7 p.m.): Unbelievable! Tennis great John McEnroe is profiled in this new sports doc.

“Biography: WWE Legends” (A&E, 8 p.m.): The season finale takes a look back at the first-ever WrestleMania in 1983.

“Rick and Morty” (Adult Swim, 11 p.m.): Our favorite mad scientist and his grandson/sidekick return in Season 6 of the animated sci-fi comedy.

Mon., Sept. 5

“Recipes for Love and Murder” (Acorn TV): “Outlander’s” Maria Doyle Kennedy stars in this new mystery comedy.

“The Baby Business” (CNN, 6 p.m.): This new rise of the fertility industry is charted in this new “CNN Special Report.”

“No Ordinary Life” (CNN, 7 p.m.): This 2021 documentary pays homage to five courageous female photojournalists who plied their trade in hot spots around the globe.

“Out of Office” (Comedy Central, 8 p.m.): Working from home ain’t all it’s cracked up to be in this new satire. With Milana Vayntrub and Ken Jeong.

“The Bad Seed Returns” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): That girl is still evil — evil, I tells ya! — in this new TV movie sequel. With Mckenna Grace.

“Shock Docs: The Visitors” (Travel, 9 p.m.): Author Whitley Strieber retells his own terrifying tale of alien abduction in this new documentary.

“Real Girlfriends in Paris” (Bravo, 9:15 p.m.): They’re sexy, single and looking to mingle in the City of Light in this new reality series.

“Edge of the Unknown With Jimmy Chin” (Nat Geo, 9:30 and 10 p.m.): Adventure athletes take it to the limit one more time in this new docuseries.

“POV” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): A 50-something filmmaker with a newly adopted baby and a terminally ill mother shares her story in the 2020 documentary “Love & Stuff.”

Tue., Sept. 6

“Get Smart With Money” (Netflix): It’s all starting to make cents in this new series about putting one’s financial house in order.

“Kiddie Kai” (Discovery+): They’ve got their dojos working in this new reality series about martial arts academies for young’uns across the Southeast.

“Sheng Wang: Sweet and Juicy” (Netflix): The low-key comic offers offbeat observations in this new stand-up special directed by Ali Wong.

“Untold: The Race of the Century” (Netflix): This new sports doc salutes the Aussie crew that sailed into history at the America’s Cup yacht race in 1983.

“TMZ Investigates” (Fox, 8 p.m.): A new episode probes the circumstances surrounding the 2009 death of pop star Michael Jackson.

“Teen Mom: The Next Chapter” (MTV, 8 p.m.): The reality TV franchise gives birth to yet another spinoff.

“Queen Sugar” (OWN, 8 p.m.): The Louisiana-set family drama returns for a seventh and final season. With Rutina Wesley.

“Frontline” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): The new episode “Lies, Politics and Democracy” surveys the contentious 2020 election and its aftermath.

“Good Bones: Risky Business” (HGTV, 9 p.m.): Mina Starsiak Hawk renovates a historic Indianapolis home in her new spinoff.

Wed., Sept. 7

“Chef’s Table: Pizza” (Netflix): Keep your eyes on the pies in this new entry in the foodie franchise.

“101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments of All Time” (Shudder): The clips are coming from inside the house in this new series!

“Tell Me Lies” (Hulu): The course of true love never does run smooth in this new drama. With Grace Van Patten.

“Raising a F— Star” (E!, 9:30 p.m.): “No dessert till you finish your TikTok video,” say the parents of aspiring social media influencers in this new reality series.

“Jay Leno’s Garage” (CNBC, 10 p.m.): The comedian’s auto-centric reality show rolls out a new season.

Thu., Sept. 8

“The Anthrax Attacks” (Netflix): This new documentary investigates the mysterious and terrifying wave of toxin-laced letters that followed in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

“Emeril Tailgates” (Roku): The celebrity chef helps football fans up their game-day food game in this new series.

“Epic Adventures With Bertie Gregory” (Disney+): The young cinematographer takes you where the wild things are in his new nature series.

“The Good Fight” (Paramount+): The legal drama is back for a sixth and final season. Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald star.

“Growing Up” (Disney+): Young adults look back on their childhood struggles in this new hybrid documentary series.

“Last Light” (Peacock) : Our dependence on fossil fuels comes back to bite us in the behind in this five-part disaster thriller. “Lost’s” Matthew Fox stars.

“Pinocchio” (Disney+): Tom Hanks reunites with “Forrest Gump” director Robert Zemeckis for this 2022 live action remake of the 1940 animated fable.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” (Disney+): Chris Hemsworth re-teams with former co-star Natalie Portman in this underwhelming 2022 entry in the Marvel franchise.

NFL Football (NBC, 5 p.m.): Your reigning Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams, host the Buffalo Bills to kick off the new season.

“Can We All Get Along? The Segregation of John Muir High School” (KOCE, 8:30 p.m.): This 2020 documentary examines the legacy of 1970s-era efforts to integrate the Pasadena high school.

“Renovation Impossible” (HGTV, 9 p.m.): A Dallas contractor helps homeowners get their stalled renos back on track in this new series.