Each week our staff of film and TV experts surveys the entertainment landscape to select the ten best new/newish shows available for you to stream at home. We put a lot of thought into our selections, and our debates on what to include and what not to include can sometimes get a little heated and feelings may get hurt, but so be it, this is an important service for you, our readers. With that said, here are our selections for this week.
The mental health and comedy crossover of Ted Lasso was apparent in the show’s second season as Ted’s coping mechanisms started to falter, pushing him to get some help. Shrinking, which comes from the minds of Lasso producer Bill Lawrence and Lasso writer/co-star Brett Goldstein (as well as series star Jason Segel) begins in a similar place with its main character, played by Segel, realizing that his strategies aren’t working when it comes to managing grief, having a relationship with his daughter, and helping the patients who come to him for help as their therapist. What follows is an odyssey of personal rediscovery with plenty of awkward moments, incremental improvements, and a whole lot of charming grouchiness from Harrison Ford as a begrudging mentor type.
10. (tie) History of the World, Part II (Hulu)
There’s a good chance one of your favorite funny people is in History of the World, Part II, Hulu’s follow-up to the 1981 comedy film History of the World, Part I. We’re talking Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, Quinta Brunson, Andy Daly, Danny DeVito, Ayo Edebiri, Jake Johnson, Richard Kind, Johnny Knoxville, Jason Mantzoukas, Ken Marino, Kumail Nanjiani, Sam Richardson, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Carl Tart, Drew Tarver, Taika Waititi, and, of course, Mel Brooks. Pretty good cast! Hopefully, it doesn’t take another 40 years before History of the World, Part III comes out.
9. Party Down (Starz)
Reboots and long-delayed restarts scratch a nostalgia itch while usually falling short of equalling their past greatness, but somehow Party Down returns with its bite largely intact. The cast (anchored by Adam Scott) still plays well together, but it’s the story that sets this one apart with all the subtle ways these characters have and have not changed, marking the passage of time but not necessarily the rise of maturity.
8. Perry Mason (HBO Max)
Matthew Rhys returns as Perry Mason a little more than two and a half years after the character went from avenging private eye to avenging cub lawyer. Where’s he at now? Haunted and stuck on the fringes of the justice system again, working in civil litigation instead of criminal law, though that figures to change at some point as the season’s B story about a rich kid with big dreams and loose morals threatens to intercede with Mason’s life. As always, Rhys navigates this impeccably created world of 1930s LA, playing angles while striving to fight the good fight even if he gets pushed into a ditch or two in the process.
7. Abbott Elementary (Hulu)
The first season of Abbott Elementary was a feel-good network sitcom that caught a massive wave of popularity and won a bunch of Emmys in a time when feel-good network sitcoms are kind of not supposed to do that. Credit for this goes to creator and star Quinta Brunson, who realized that an underfunded inner-city public school was exactly the right place to show us people with good hearts working inside a system that can be cold. Kind of like Parks and Recreation but in Philadelphia. The second season is underway and does not appear to be missing a beat. This is basically a miracle, all around.
Really just a lot going on here. We’ve got a climate-based series set in the future when the effects of centuries of pollution have ravaged the Earth a little bit. We’ve got eight interconnected stories about it all, strung together in an anthology. And we’ve got just a killer cast. Seriously, look at this collection of firepower: Meryl Streep, Tobey Maguire, Edward Norton, Kit Harrington, Sienna Miller, Eiza Gonzalez, etc. etc. etc. It’s crazy that we live in a world where this show isn’t the only thing we talk about, just based on everything in this paragraph. The future remains kind of wild.
An impressively bearded Bob Odenkirk is back with Lucky Hank, his follow-up to Better Call Saul.
An English professor at a middling university, Hank is sleepwalking through life, trying to dodge the consequences of being uncareful with his words with a student and aspiring writer. He’s also mildly participating in an outwardly happy marriage that needs to revolve around his career and nursing a 15-years-long estrangement with a father whose career achievements loom large.
Hank’s redeeming qualities are, at this point, well hidden as he frustrates, causing you to want to stab him, but it’s Bob Odenkirk, so you know at some point we’re going to see why people put up with a character that’s like a canker sore in loafers. That or he’s just going to be so good at being a prick that we can’t turn away, enshrining Hank besides such other beloved assholes as Greg House. Either way, this slow burn is well worth the watch.
To this show’s credit, they’re trying to switch up their formula by transforming Stalker Joe into Stalkee Joe. Sadly, that’s caused the series to lose a lot of bite because part of the fun was roasting Penn Badgley’s horrific character as he fumbled his way through violent crimes, often barely escaping by the seat of his pants. This season wraps up with his new persona, Professor Jonathan Moore, headed towards a possible reckoning, so will Joe truly get what he deserves? Viewers will know soon enough.
What’s the best way to get you to watch Swarm, the unsettling, nightmarish new thriller from Donald Glover and Janine Nabers, premiering on Amazon Prime Video this week? Would teasing that it’s a dark, seriously disturbed portrait of pop culture obsession that features a Beyonce stand-in work? How about if we said Dominique Fishback is deliciously deranged as Dre, a young woman willing to kill to get closer to her celebrity crush? Maybe the eerie use of Twitter’s bird-chirping notification in the show’s trailer, which feels like a Safdie brothers Gen-Z fever dream, will do the trick? No, really. What’s it going to take to convince you to watch this thing? Because we’ll do it.
Break out your biscuits and put on your custom-bedazzled Diamond Dogs silk bomber jackets because the best mustache on TV is back, baby. This might be the last season of Ted Lasso which is a bittersweet pill to swallow but it’s best not to dwell on all of the loose ends still in need of tying. Ted wouldn’t. Instead, let’s just enjoy these characters as long as we have them. And hope something awful (but not irreversible) and humiliating (but appropriately so) and devastating (but ultimately life-changing in a positive way) happens to Nate “not so great” Shelley.
The nice thing about The Mandalorian is that it delivers exactly what the people need and expect. Want to see — or at least, like, hear — Pedro Pascal do various space cowboy things with his lasers and ships? Done, no problem. Want to see little Baby Yoda — apologies, Grogu — make cute little faces and occasionally use the Force to defeat an enemy? Yup, that’s there, too. Want to see a slew of recognizable faces from season to season — Timothy Olyphant, Giancarlo Esposito, Carl Weathers, etc. — as well as a bunch of fun little callbacks to the Star Wars universe? Buddy, this show has you covered. There’s very little to complain about here on any major level. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for out of a big show like this. An adorable little green guy helps.