2 weeks ago
Welcome to What to Watch, a series where we tell you the best shows, movies and series out right now, both on networks and streaming services. Everything is funny this week. In fact the least funny show in this roundup is about an aging couple facing infertility, which still manages to draw laughs thanks to Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti.
Big Mouth season 2 (Netflix)
Nick Kroll admits Big Mouth is “the most autobiographical thing [he’s] ever done.” The show premiered to rave reviews last fall, tackling issues about puberty you’ve buried so deep you forgot they happened. Season 1 opened with Jessi (Jessi Klein) getting her first period on a school field trip to the Statue of Liberty and ended with Nick (Kroll) rescuing his best friend Andrew (Andrew Goldman) from a growing porn addiction. No show tackles the ires of childhood with adult humor better, and it doesn’t feel crude like South Park and The Simpsons. Relatable, humbling, bittersweet, with Maya Rudolph and Nick Kroll both voicing “hormone monsters,” Big Mouth is one of the best animated comedies airing right now. Adults acting out experiences none of us ever fully talked about is equal parts terrifying and cathartic. Watch the first season on Netflix (a second time if you’ve already seen it) then binge the second season this weekend to relive those precious firsts of puberty.
Doctor Who season 11 (BBC America)
The full week of outrage and joy at the reveal of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th doctor seems like a distant dream, but it was only a year ago. 2017 truly was a different time. Anywho, if you still care, BBC America is airing the premiere at the same time as it airs in the U.K., while simultaneously playing it at Comic Con in NYC. So no matter where you’re at you won’t be able to escape the whovian screams come 1:45 pm E.T., Oct. 7.
If Whittaker has piqued new interest in this very old show, I’ll remind you that showrunner Chris Chibnall has said there’s “no barrier to entry” when it comes to this new season. Every reincarnation is a soft reset to the series. So while some cameos and references may go over your head, watching the premiere of Whittaker won’t be some weighty head rush as you struggle to make sense of Daleks and screwdrivers.
Admittedly, the show has gotten so damn emotional I’m convinced Shondra Rhimes was on board as a ghost writer. Season 11 looks to be more uplifting. Wittaker said she hopes the season attracts and inspires new, young fans.
Dancing With the Stars Junior (ABC)
As if the adult version isn’t awful enough, ABC prerecorded a children’s version of DWTS to increase the hours of Z-listers dancing on your television from two hours a week to four. I get the pitch—put up cute, extroverted children who have no qualms about dancing on national television and look at how adorable they are. These kids are all actually super cute and charismatic, and maybe I’m jealous I wasn’t nearly as adorable at their age. But I can’t help thinking about how in a few years these kids will turn into teenagers, too awkward and lanky to venture from the sidelines at their middle school prom. Or, maybe they’ll break out the old DWTS moves and wow their little middle school crushes, who’s to say! I will say I know more of the “stars” cast on this season than the adult version. Honey Boo Boo is here, and frankly doesn’t stand a chance next to Mackenzie Ziegler from Dance Moms. There’s also the grandson of Sarah Palin and a 9-year-old from the National Spelling Bee? It’s all ridiculous, and made more ridiculous by the hosts: Frankie Muniz and some other dude I don’t know. Are actual children expected to watch this show? Or just the empty-nester moms who already tune in to the original?
Into the Dark (Hulu)
Into the Dark looks to eviscerate the holiday season. A horror anthology series based around the biggest celebrations of each month. I’m genuinely excited to see what possible horror spins Blumhouse producers can create for months like February and June, but who’s to say we won’t have forgotten about the series by then? Into the Dark’s challenge will be creating episodes good enough for the holiday season that viewers stick around for, namely, the New Year’s Eve Day thriller. The scary-yet-parody horror schtick isn’t exactly new and often fails to deliver on either feat. October’s episode “The Body” follows an obnoxiously cynical hitman (Tom Bateman) trying to dispose of a dead body in addition to the few witnesses not dumb enough to think the blood and guts aren’t just some elaborate costume.
The best part of Halloween is the media surrounding it: pumpkin-themed SNL skits; moth memes; costume controversies; and new, cheap horror flicks. So while Into the Dark looks like a mediocre attempt to cash in on holiday excitement, I’ll gleefully throw away an hour or two of my life each month to see if it’s a Blumhouse win (like Get Out) or loss (Unfriended).
Private Life (Netflix)
Tamara Jenkins’ latest movie isn’t a new concept. The trials and tribulations of infertility in a marriage is used every year or so to pull heartstrings. But Jenkins’ film is the best attempt at portraying the ugly fights and financial struggles with dark humor. The cyclical arguments and omnipresent roadblocks are handled cleaner and funnier by Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (Paul Giamatti). They’re both established, yet waning New York artists who see their lives and legacy slipping away in more ways than one. Their niece Sadie (Kayli Carter) points out the irony of their successful careers contrasted with their tiny apartment. Staying with the couple after dropping out of college, Carter’s younger, naive perspective helps make Private Life a hopeful tale of the modern family.
Yet Private Life is still a bittersweet film of life plowing into you no matter how apt you are to handle it. Similar to Netflix’s Other People and Jenkins’ last film Savages, both about ailing parents and the struggles of family. These small tales on human pain, ones that aren’t wrapped up in the final minutes but instead serve as lessons in sympathy, are some of my favorite films. Private Life is the kind of quiet streaming movie your coworkers haven’t seen—instead they’ll pay $15 to watch some poor recreation of a mediocre original—but will be perfect for a low-key night in wherein you might be in the mood to cry, laugh, and cry again.
Superstore season 4 (Hulu)
We all have our favorite workplace comedy. The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock. Superstore is mine for three main reasons. America Ferrera is a national treasure (no I’m not making a pun). It’s so good to see her back on television playing the everygirl. The show taking place in a big box store allows for a multitude of characters and storylines to shine each episode because they aren’t constantly running into each other in the Walmart-knockoff. And the third? It’s all-in-all a much happier show. You don’t get awkward, pity feels from watching Kevin spill a giant bowl of chili or Tracy Morgan seemingly predict a 2018 Kanye. Ferrera’s character often embarrasses herself as a divorcee who doesn’t know how to create another identity for herself, but it’s sweet and feel-good and funny. Even the meanest characters are there for each other in times of need. It’s the true family you wish your office was.