With the political conventions and politics in general dominating the cultural conversation lately, television has taken a backseat to reality (except for Stranger Things, which everyone seems to be watching, and for good reason). I’ve fallen behind on a few shows myself, but here’s a brief attempt to catch up on what’s going on in television this summer.
Brian’s already covered it, but I wanted to add that I thought Preacher stuck the landing and ended the season on a fantastic note. It’s poised now to kick off a phenomenal second season that will finally cover the storylines from the comics. I am not a comics reader, but because I knew I was going to be covering the series for Uproxx, I went out and read about half the run, only to have most of it ignored on the television series. Still, I’m excited to see how Seth Rogen and Sam Catlin work these TV characters into Ennis’ storylines. Given the lull in the middle of season one, however, I do think it’s a better season to binge-watch. It’s worth the investment.
Mr. Robot was supposed to be the summer’s television savior, but Trump has overshadowed even the USA Network show. I’m not sure what to think of this season, so far. I think Sam Esmail — who is writing and directing the entire season — may have crawled a little too far up his ass. The episodes so far have ran well over an hour, and they didn’t need to, a problem that Kurt Sutter often had with Sons of Anarchy. I’m still confident that Esmail will pull it off, but my interest is not what it was last summer. With the conventions behind us, I am hoping tonight’s episode will reignite my passion for it. (Not that it really bears mentioning, but Suits on the USA Network continues to be dumb, breezy fun.)
HBO’s The Night Of is not quite the murder mystery I had expected it to be, although this most recent episode began to dig into the murder of Andrea Cornish some. Turturro and Riz Ahmed have been amazing, (the obsession with Turturro’s feet notwithstanding) and Michael K. Williams was an unexpected surprise. I like where the series is going, and I feel heavily invested in the characters. HBO provided critics with the first seven episodes, and it’s taken all my willpower not to watch ahead.
Ballers continues to be aimless and mostly pointless, but I can’t stop watching because I like Dwayne Johnson so much. I think the dark, misanthropic Vice Principals is intermittently funny, although I think Danny McBride characters wear thin quickly (and his clueless character has already invited comparisons to Trump). However, Walton Goggins has been a real goddamn hoot for an otherwise “problematic” show.
I’m an episode behind on UnREAL, and I heard that this week’s episode did nothing to right the ship ahead of next week’s finale. The once delightful surprise has gone off the rails, and now it’s something of a chore to watch.
I was talking to Joanna the other day about Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, and how out-of-touch loving this series makes me feel. I understand its flaws, but I feel like I did with Sorkin’s sentimental Newsroom. It’s hard for me not to get swept up in Cameron Crowe’s passion for music and romanticism for a bygone era when we used to rail against The Man, when we listened to albums instead of songs, and musicians weren’t “brands.” In fact, the best part of the series for me, so far, has been compiling a Spotify playlist of all the songs Crowe has used on the show. Like Elizabethtown, Roadies feels like an excuse to make a mix-tape, but what a terrific mix-tape it has been.
Speaking of Cameron Crowe, I am behind on Patrick Fugit’s Outcast, but there’s no show I look more forward to catching up on. It’s a great Cinemax series that no one is talking about, but we really should be.
No one is really talking about Animal Kingdom, either. I fell behind and with the season finale arriving next week, I’m not sure I’m going to bother catching up. Despite a solid cast and a sufficiently creepy, incestuous Ellen Barkin character, the series never took off or in any way set itself apart from typical TNT fare.
Hulu’s Casual doesn’t even resemble a comedy anymore. I still like it, but it’s bleak, and it’s often hard to watch characters repeat terrible mistakes. It is not, however, as bleak as Bojack Horseman, the third season of which I finished over the weekend. Vivian was right: Don’t watch too much, too fast. It’s crippling, but I’d still place it behind only the effervescent Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the first season of Bloodline as my favorite Netflix series.
I will say that, despite some reservations with the pilot, Braindead has become the show I most look forward to watching every week. It is seriously fun, and this most recent episode — which saw Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character drink, dance, and fuck bugs out of her brain — was one of the most enjoyable television sequences of the summer. I hope CBS brings the series back again next summer.