The five TV shows we can’t get enough of this week
Have you already finished your binge of “Homecoming” Season 2 — and read our explainer about that ending? Caught up with the bombshell revelations contained in the new documentary “AKA Jane Roe”? Weighed whether you’d consider appearing on a reality TV show to meet the father of your child?
Not to fear: The TV team here at The Times has another weekly helping of viewing recommendations to help you sort through the options, old and new. 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.
“Magic for Humans”
Available on: Netflix
As unbelievably awful things are happening all over the world, it’s a reprieve to be astonished by something wonderful — and seemingly impossible. This street magic series, starring Justin Willman — yes, the same charismatic man who used to host Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” — uses magic as a way to help us make sense of the messy, confusing experience of being human. Each episode centers on a relatable theme: one, about guilt, includes an extraordinary experiment involving a staged robbery and accurately guessing the regrets of strangers. Willman repeatedly asserts that he conducts all his tricks without any digital manipulation, letting the viewer at home be as amazed as the person reacting on-screen. But what I love is how he infuses his illusions with an audacious amount of heart. Multiple episodes — including a Season 2 segment in which Willman makes a connection with his Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother — have brought me to tears.
— Ashley Lee
Available on: HBO Max
After nearly three years off the air, this oddball gem is returning next month, moving from its former home at TBS to HBO Max, giving you more than enough time to catch up. A noir comedy about a group of self-absorbed New York City hipsters who become obsessed with the disappearance of a college acquaintance and wind up dabbling in a bit of homicide, “Search Party” defies easy categorization. Think Hitchcock meets “Broad City,” agonizingly suspenseful and wickedly funny at the same time. The series shines thanks to standout performances by Alia Shawkat as series protagonist Dory, who finds a much-needed sense of purpose by playing detective, and John Early as Elliot, the narcissistic founder of a dubious water charity who hilariously personifies every pernicious millennial stereotype. Episodes clock in at just over 20 minutes but are chock full of plot twists, making “Search Party” an ideal binge watch. (Seasons 1 and 2 stream on HBO Max starting Wednesday, with the all-new Season 3 set to premiere June 25.)
— Meredith Blake
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: Acorn TV
Years before Ian McShane swore up a storm as saloon owner Al Swearengen on “Deadwood” and played a Godfather-ish god on “American Gods,” he spent six seasons as a streetwise East Anglia antiques dealer on this snappy comic British mystery, currently go-to comfort television in my sheltering place. Most episodes include a criminal thread, with Lovejoy, who is not above some misdirection to make or improve a sale, suspected of something he didn’t do — he is less a troublemaker than a trouble magnet — but rarely involve homicide. (More mysteries should follow this course.) There was a five-year gap between production of the first and second seasons, long enough to launch the characters — including Chris Jury as Lovejoy’s somewhat thick assistant, Dudley Sutton as his quasi-elegant boozy associate and Phyllis Logan (later Mrs. Hughes on “Downton Abbey”) as his posh platonic love interest — from the late 1980s into the early 1990s. And, of course, to launch McShane into a signature mullet.
— Robert Lloyd
Available on: Amazon Prime Video
Life after death is just a few terabytes away in the wildly creative and endlessly amusing “Upload.” Amazon’s half-hour comedy, which premiered May 1, is set in 2033, when humans have the option to upload themselves into the virtual afterlife of their choosing — for a price. The more money, the swankier the eternity. Computer programmer Nathan (Robbie Amell) is in his 20s when an accident leaves him clinging to life, causing his possessive, rich girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) to upload him to the luxe Lake View resort. From there, they can video chat, text and even have virtual sex with each other. But digital heaven is full of glitches. Thankfully, Nathan has a live customer service rep, Nora (Andy Allo), who keeps him from killing himself — even though he’s already dead — and discovers there may be more to his death than Ingrid’s revealed. The show was created by Greg Daniels, a master of turning normalcy on its head with shows such as “The Office,” “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill” and “Parks and Recreation,” and “Upload” is no exception. The series satirizes all that’s sacred and annoying about our digitized, algorithm-driven world and skewers concerns about privacy and corporate branding with comedic precision.
— Lorraine Ali
Available on: ABC, Hulu
Perhaps the most inconsistent genre on network TV is the family sitcom. They can be inventive and fresh (“Modern Family,” “black-ish”), unfortunately canceled (“The Kids Are All Right”), bland (“Bless This Mess”) or strained (even the great Fran Drescher can’t rescue NBC’s “Indebted”). But one comedy that continues to deliver the goods is ABC’s “American Housewife.” Despite having one of the worst titles on TV, this well-written series has just been renewed for a fifth season. Like the long-lasting “The Middle,” “American Housewife” flies under the radar but is a steady and reliable performer for the network. Katy Mixon’s performance as the crafty, “unconventional” housewife Katie Otto living in a community of so-called perfect parents is the main draw, and she is surrounded by a top-notch supporting cast, including Diedrich Bader, Meg Donnelly, Daniel DiMaggio, Julia Butters, Carly Hughes and Ali Wong.
— Greg Braxton
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