Watching more TV than ever? Here are 5 shows worth your time this week
As a second month of social distancing to halt the spread of the coronavirus goes on, you may have moved past web videos about life in quarantine or stopped searching for alternatives to live sports. That’s OK. We’re here for you.
Whether you’re the sort of viewer who’s fascinated by the truth (and fiction) of Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood” or just wants the dishy details of one Netflix reality contestant’s $20,000 date night, we’re bound to be covering something to your taste. (And if not, well, here are 51 alternatives.) To that end, the TV team here at The Times has also launched this weekly recommendation engine — one based on what we’re watching ourselves. Think of it as your work-from-home water cooler, where we bring the water cooler to you.
The Times TV team recommends the five TV shows we’re watching this week — and that you should be watching too.
“Never Have I Ever”
Available on: Netflix
Mindy Kaling co-created this sweet and soulful, skeptical and spiritual series, which plays by the rules of high school comedies even as it rewrites them. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan stars as Indian American San Fernando Valley high school sophomore Devi, lately recovered from psychosomatic paralysis after the sudden death of her father (Sendhil Ramamurthy), still present for a flashback or a vision. She clashes with her strict, traditional dermatologist mother (Poorna Jagannathan); encourages her tentatively rebellious cousin (Richa Moorjani); commiserates with fellow nerds of color Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fab (Lee Rodriguez); fights with the boy (Jaren Lewison) who in the usual way — there are all kinds of traditions — might become a boyfriend and crushes on the one (Darren Barnet) who might wind up a friend, as she sublimates her unprocessed grief. With Niecy Nash as her therapist and John McEnroe narrating as himself (it’s less random than it sounds, but the randomness works): “She put on a happy face like I did at the trophy ceremony when I lost the French Open to Ivan Lendl.”
Available on: Amazon Prime Video (for purchase)
I “discovered” this show via an article in the Financial Times likening it to a Danish version of “Succession,” and, well, that’s all I needed to hear to check it out. Thankfully, “The Legacy” did not disappoint. In this gripping drama written and created by Maya Ilsøe, a world-renowned avant-garde artist named Veronika Grønnegaard (Kirsten Olesen) dies suddenly, leaving her sprawling but ramshackle 19th century mansion to Signe (Marie Bach Hansen), a down-to-Earth florist who also happens to be her long-lost daughter. The decision creates legal and emotional chaos for her other three children, each dysfunctional in his or her own unique way: Gro (Trine Dyrholm), an icy gallerist who is engaged in an affair with a married colleague and hopes to turn the house into a museum; Frederik (Carsten Bjørnland), an embittered lawyer who plans to move into the home with his family; and Emil (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), a hipster trust fund baby who wants to use his inheritance to rescue a doomed business venture in Thailand. Ultimately the show isn’t really about who will inherit what — it’s about Veronika’s legacy, and the way her spectacularly messy personal life continues to affect her children well after she’s gone.
We polled more than 40 TV critics and journalists, inside and outside The Times, on the best TV show to binge while stuck at home.
Available on: Epix
Having come down with an acute case of quarantine Anglophilia — I’ve read P.G. Wodehouse and “Wolf Hall,” and already obsessed over “Line of Duty” in this weekly round-up — it was only a matter of time before I caught up with Julian Fellowes’ “Downton Abbey” follow-up, “Belgravia.” As TV critic Robert Lloyd writes in his review, the series’ most scintillating feature is the antagonistic-then-conspiratorial pairing of Tamsin Greig and Harriet Walter as women of means with a shared secret in Victorian London; I’d happily watch them pull the same trick in World War II dramas, Edwardian comedies, modern police procedurals, Shakespeare adaptations. The servants’ machinations leave much to be desired — it’s clear this is not where Fellowes’ main interest fell — but that seems an unfair quibble when I’m awaiting each week’s episode so eagerly. “Belgravia” has exactly the right amount of intrigue for a shut-in Sunday afternoon.”
Available on: ABC, Hulu
The curse of a show that’s consistently sharp, season after season? Folks take it for granted. But since many of us have vowed never to take anything for granted again as we fashion old T-shirts into masks, now is a good time to revisit one of the best comedies on TV, “black-ish.” The multigenerational series about an upper-middle-class black family, starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, is often ridiculously funny, sometimes surprisingly heavy and always seems to be taking the country’s pulse in real time. Since it debuted in 2014, “black-ish” has weighed in on everything from the injustice of police brutality to the merits of Shalimar. The rigors of helicopter parenting and the trials of black hair. The Prince tribute episode alone is worth watching on loop. With six seasons and at least 140 episodes to choose from, this Kenya Barris series ticks all the boxes to make it through SIP with one’s sanity and sense of humor intact.
Available on: Netflix
Each of us are staying in with our immediate family members, and we’ve turned our homes into makeshift offices, classrooms, movie theaters, gyms and bars. But we’re also sheltering in place with feelings we may have long avoided though our now-gone daily routines. That’s the primary source of conflict in “BoJack Horseman,” Netflix’s animated tragicomedy about a washed-up sitcom actor (voiced by Will Arnett) who will say or do anything to turn away from his innermost thoughts — even if that means hurting the people he loves. Earlier this year, creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg wrapped up the show’s six seasons with a reminder that, despite the awfulness of one’s current reality, even the most damaged person (or anthropomorphic horse) can find peace and forgiveness. Plus, its episodes are overflowing with celebrity cameos and make endless fun of all the Los Angeles things we miss right now.
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