The five TV shows we can’t get enough of this week
We’re back after a brief hiatus for the Fourth of July holiday — so you’ve already had a chance to catch up on Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” remake (including that creepy theme song) and/or the streamer’s update of “The Baby-Sitters Club” (including its winsome cast). There are plenty of other recent premieres to check out as well, including Apple’s Sara Bareilles-inspired “Little Voice,” co-creator Cate Blanchett’s Netflix drama about Australia’s refugee crisis and Starz’s taboo-breaking “P-Valley,” set in a Mississippi strip club.
As usual, though, there’s more: Each week, The Times’ TV team convenes to offer five recommendations for the TV shows we’re watching. It’s like the office water cooler, except we bring the water cooler to you.
Netflix docuseries “Lenox Hill” and comedy/mystery “Search Party,” now on HBO Max, lead this week’s Times TV picks.
“American Experience: The Vote”
Available on: PBS.org, PBS App
Just as the scripted series “Mrs. America” did earlier this year, “The Vote” sheds light on a largely neglected chapter in the struggle for women’s rights in this country. Released just ahead of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the two-part, four-hour documentary tells the story of the women who fought for access to the ballot box and the resistance they faced — sometimes from their own allies. Though it’s been a century since women were granted the right to vote, many aspects of the suffragists’ struggle will be agonizingly familiar to contemporary viewers, from the vilification and vicious sexism they faced, to the failures of the movement’s white leaders on matters of race and the bitter disappointment they felt after encountering, time after time, the deeply entrenched misogyny of the American voter.
— Meredith Blake
Available on: Amazon Prime
The first season of this international, vaguely sci-fi conspiracy thriller was notable for reuniting “The Killing” costars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, not as partners this time, but as adversaries: he the protector of a daughter (Esmé Creed-Miles) raised in isolation, deep in a Polish forest; she the steward of the CIA program that would have trained her to be part of a team of gene-altered teenage-girl super-assassins. Not the newest idea, perhaps — you can find it echoed in “Stranger Things” and “Killing Eve,” to cite just a couple of recent examples — but executed with a naturalism that makes the script’s more outlandish aspects persuasive. Kinnaman is absent from the recently released second season, but Enos remains good company, the suspense stays taut and the action elegant.
— Robert Lloyd
Available on: Netflix
With the hot-button issue of tensions around law enforcement and race relations at a crescendo following the death of George Floyd, few TV series are as timely and relevant as “Seven Seconds,” the Netflix drama that was inexplicably canceled after one season. A white police officer and father-to-be is in a rush to get to the hospital when he accidentally hits a black teenager riding on his bike along a desolate road. His white superior officer, fearing a horrible backlash, tells the officer to leave the scene without reporting the accident. The story humanizes the plight of both police and the grieving parents searching for answers. Regina King won an Emmy for her portrayal of the anguished mother of the teen in the series, which was created by Veena Sud (“The Killing”).
— Greg Braxton
Available on: HBO Max
From prominent Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet, this Spanish-language series revolves around a man and a woman, played by Guillermo Pfening (“Nobody’s Watching”) and Laia Costa (“Life Itself”), who meet through an app that connects foodies and begin regular meet-ups at special eateries. Over the season’s eight half-hour episodes, the pair eat their way (in some fashion) through Spain, Italy and France and, soon, their love of food develops into a romance that simmers over rounds of espresso and ramen and croissants — no spoilers beyond that. The shots of drinks being made and food being assembled on a plate are as sensual and breathtaking as the chemistry between the two main characters. The series originally ran in December on HBO Europe, and it is now available to stream on HBO Max.
— Yvonne Villarreal
Available on: Disney+
As a theater reporter temporarily deployed to the TV beat amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, I miss musicals. A lot. This unscripted docuseries does more than scratch that itch: By reuniting adults with their former high school classmates to re-create the productions they performed together decades ago, “Encore!” highlights the importance of performing arts programs.
Sure, they’re stepping back onto the stage to relive the heyday of their youth, and only some of them had much singing ability to begin with. But the series’ subjects, most of whom are now middle-aged and with jobs very far from Broadway or Hollywood, were deeply affected by their hours in that rehearsal room. They forged friendships, made memories, learned things about themselves they couldn’t learn elsewhere — and may have since forgotten.
The restaged shows — which turn out quite polished despite the five-day turnaround, thanks to Disney-funded sets, costumes, directors, choreographers, orchestra musicians and crew — are opportunities to rediscover those younger selves, less bruised by the world and more hopeful about what they could contribute to it. And I tear up every other episode, whenever their kids or spouses smile while watching them shine in a way they’ve never seen before. If you just got a Disney+ subscription to see what all the “Hamilton” hubbub was about, this show will bring you joy.
I do wish that the casts were more racially inclusive, and I hope upcoming seasons make more of an effort to prioritize this. But that qualm is one I and many others have of American theater altogether; it’s no surprise that the industry’s whiteness trickles all the way down to high school drama clubs.
— Ashley Lee
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