pick of the week
Quinta Brunson’s mockumentary comedy Set in a rough Philadelphia school, it accomplishes a rare feat. As she might demand of any teacher worth her salt, she shows rather than tells. She encourages us to sympathize with the struggling kids at school and the passionate, hard-pressed teachers. But the show strikes a nice balance between comedic charm and subtle polemic about the inadequacies of the US education system. As we join in on the action, a teacher has been fired for kicking a student and a funding battle begins. for the basic kit. Brunson also plays Janine Teagues, an endearing if slightly fussy teacher who delights the children but sometimes annoys her superiors.
Disney+, starting Wednesday, June 1
Based on the memoir of Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, the six-part book by Danny Boyle dramatic comedy it rattles along quite energetically, summoning the dank, repressed mood of mid-’70s Britain. The angle feels relatively new: Jones’s (Toby Wallace) perspective has been less explored than that of Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten, and his abusive childhood is evoked in all his claustrophobic grimness. But there’s a gravitas to the script and performances that feels a bit out of place, undermining the band’s nihilism. As much as they whine and scoff, the actors just aren’t dirty or criminal enough to pull it off.
Disney +, from Tuesday May 31
Borgen: power and glory
The heyday of Scandinavian drama seems like a distant memory, but the return of Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) feels like a welcome visit from an old friend. A decade ago, she felt like an anomaly early on. In the populist era, she is even more of a liberal wish-fulfillment fantasy. Nyborg is now foreign minister, and when oil is discovered in Greenland, she is at the center of an international power struggle in the Arctic. She must also keep an eye on Katrine Fønsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), who is exploiting her status as a “Nyborg expert” on television.
Netflix, from Thursday June 2
“I can be a superhero. But I’m still just a man who fell in love with the wrong woman.” Homelander (Antony Starr) is attempting a rebrand, but his mellower mode seems even more unhinged. This is part of the course for this return Superhero Parody: He manages to have his cake and eat it satisfying a taste for satire and spectacular ultra-violence. Butcher (Karl Urban) now works for the government and is unusually quiet. But when the Boys learn of a mysterious anti-Super weapon, they clash with the Seven and all hell breaks loose.
Amazon Prime Video, from Friday June 3
Strip clubs have struggled during the pandemic, and the Pynk, in the fictional Deep South town of Chucalissa, was no different. Covid-related departures created vacancies. Cue Roulette: A new dancer (played by Snowfall’s Gail Bean), ready to give the club some headaches and a much-needed new lease on life. the First Station of this show was an unexpected success, but P-Valley deserves more attention: it’s cheeky in every way, but the stories are told generously and from the perspective of the dancers, and are all the better for it.
StarzPlay, starting Friday June 3
This lycra-clad comedy-drama, released last year, aims to do for the fitness video what Glow did for women’s wrestling: present it as an emblem of an era, set in amber and ripe for all manner of melodrama and kitsch period detail. The problem is that, unlike Glow, the characters are never drawn well enough to convince, whether as drama or comedy. In season two, Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) deals with the fallout from her breakout success: her workout video has spawned copycats and jealous ones eager to share her spoils.
Apple TV +, from Friday June 3
the floor is lava
season one of this wonderfully silly adventure show (think The Crystal Maze with regular drops into a scalding red gloop) did big, albeit possibly Covid-related, numbers for Netflix, so a second season was a no-brainer. But once you’ve created an obstacle course of bubbling volcanic matter, how do you raise the stakes? It’s actually obvious: a huge volcano spewing even hotter lava! It’s fair to say that no one can be accused of overthinking the USP of this show, and that’s part of the appeal. Let’s put it this way: you’ll watch more than one episode.
Netflix, starting Friday June 3