What I’m watching on TV right now and you should too.
It’s a great time to binge.
It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s never been a better time to watch TV.
Here are series I’m currently watching and liking a lot (besides Stranger Things, which, you know.)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Last season was a wild ride, literally, with two interconnected arcs: Ghost Rider/Darkhold and Framework/Life Model Decoys, which took the show into both Dr. Strange-influenced magical reality and a deeply dystopian sci-fi parallel universe.
In its fifth season, which started Friday, the show goes even farther, into a Guardians of the Galaxy/Thor Ragnarok cosmic time travel arc that’s completely loony. Much to love!
Based on a Brian K. Vaughan Marvel comic series, it’s The O.C. meets X-Men. It doesn’t lean into the superhero stuff so much as the teen angst, which is well-drawn and played by an appealing cast of newcomers.
The evil parents, meanwhile, include Timeless and 24’s Annie Wersching and Buffy’s James Marsters in a role that makes his evil Spike look like a pansy. And there’s a dinosaur!
The Punisher (Netflix)
The brutal character takes center stage in this Marvel show, which plumbs the character deeply and embeds him in an ur-revenge story that’s pretty predictable and extremely violent. But it’s worth watching for Jon Bernthal’s amazing performance as Frank Castle.
Future Man (Hulu)
This series, from the idiots behind This Is the End and Sausage Party, is surprisingly sharp and hilarious. The sci-fi action comedy wears its ‘80s-’90s influences like a badge of honor, stealing characters, bits, dialog, scenes and entire storylines from every movie you watched if you were a 15-year-old boy in 1985.
The acting, particularly by stars Josh Hutcherson, Eliza Coupe and the brilliant Derek Wilson, finds real emotion beneath the comic-book characterizations and frat-boy humor. It’s a real joy to watch, but you need to know what you’re getting into.
The show, a Western set in a town populated almost entirely by women, is as big and epic as Monument Valley, with a story that incorporates virtually every trope of the genre going back to The Great Train Robbery. But it does so artfully and organically.
Key to its pleasures are the rich assortment of characters, fronted by the stalwart women of LaBelle, N.M. (based on a real place), including Michelle Dockery’s prickly widow, Merritt Wever’s laconic enforcer and Tess Frazer’s hooker-turned-schoolteacher. It’s worth investing the time in this slow-burning story.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
You know how much I love this show, but it’s in the third season that everything comes together.
The story (spoiler alert!) mixes its signature light-hearted musical numbers with a realistic depiction of (attempted) suicide and mental illness. You might say it’s the season the crazy comes to CXGF.
The story arc is important and sensitively dealt with, and Rachel Bloom shows her real acting chops.
Mr. Robot (USA)
The much-praised show’s third season eases off on the head fakes and multiply layered storytelling to restore the focus to Rami Malek’s Elliott, Carly Chakin’s Darlene and the amazing Portia Doubleday’s Angela.
The main story has been building up to a big disaster and now takes the characters into its aftermath. It’s worth catching up to see how these damaged people find their way in a dark new world of their own making.
Search Party (TBS)
Season one turned a merciless eye on a group of over-privileged and self-absorbed New York millennials, led by Dory (a fantastic Alia Shawkat), as they went about their pointless lives while incidentally searching for one of their own who went missing.
Season two ups the ante by placing these ill-equipped people in very real jeopardy in the wake of an inadvertent murder that capped last year’s finale.
There’s real cringey schadenfreude to be had watching them decompensate as they try to negotiate their first real crisis. It’s not pretty, but as with a train wreck, it’s hard to look away.
The Gifted (Fox), in which Bill Compton and Winifred Burkle spawn mutant children and go on the run; The Tick (Amazon), a much-improved and surprisingly poignant superhero lampoon from the redoubtable Ben Edlund; and Ghosted (Fox), which should be a lot funnier than it is.
Shows I’m looking forward to: Dark (Netflix), a German Stranger Things; Bright (Netflix), a Training Day-meets-Alienation by way of The Dresden Files; Happy (Syfy), in which Elliott Stabler turns psychotic assassin with visions of a cartoon horse voiced by Patton Oswalt; Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Amazon), in which JCVD plays himself as if he were really an undercover assassin; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon), mainly because I think Rachel Brosnahan is underrated; Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams (Amazon), because PKD stories on TV!; Castle Rock (Hulu), because Stephen King stories on TV!; Black Mirror (Netflix), because reality has caught up with this pitch-black sci-fi show.
What are you watching??