What's Worth Watching On TV? We Heard From Critics On 'High Desert,' 'Class of 09,' And 'Bupkis'
Are you looking for television picks and trying to avoid the judgment that comes with asking for recommendations?
Are you trying to branch out from your usual television tastes, just to see what more is out there?
Want to get a better picture of what streaming services might have the best collection of shows you'll like?
Maybe you just want to be in the loop with what's "hip" and "hot." Well, wait no further — we got you.
Each week on AirTalk with Larry Mantle on LAist 89.3, we talk with television critics to see what they have to recommend, doing you a solid during this era of peak television. This week's guests were Angie Han, television critic for The Hollywood Reporter, and Roxana Hadadi, television critic for Vulture.
Along with our critics' picks and quotes to pair, I'll also give you a helpful primer on each show. I'll be pulling together some notable facts and sharing my thoughts whenever I've got something to add.
This all comes from a member of Gen Z who was so glued to the TV growing up that it shows up on my trips to the optometrist, went to school to learn some of the bare essentials of television production, and understands just how disappointing it is to scroll through a streaming service's homepage for dozens of minutes.
Listen to the AirTalk segment
Streaming on Apple TV+
“It's got vibes of Inherent Vice or [The] Big Lebowski, in that it's this shaggy, sunny, sprawling mystery with a touch of the absurd.” — Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter
“It took me a little while to get on the wavelength of this series. It feels like there's a lot that they're throwing at the wall, in the beginning, to see what sticks.” — Roxana Hadadi, Vulture
The basics: Following the passing of her mother, a former drug addict tries to start a new life as a private investigator and make sure she can provide for herself.
What it might remind you of: One recent show we’ve talked about a fair amount is Poker Face, a charming story that follows a protagonist's journey from a dicey past to someone looking to assist her community. In that sense they’re similar; however, High Desert feels like a more character-driven story that sets it apart from the “case of the week” premise that Poker Face offers.
Who's behind it: The show is created by Jennifer Hoppe, Nancy Fichman, and Katie Ford. Hoppe and Fichman have worked together on projects like Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. Ford has had an interesting track record as well, having been a co-producer on the 2000 film Miss Congeniality and being credited as a consulting producer on the first season of the iconic Desperate Housewives.
When and where: The first three episodes are streaming now on Apple TV+; episode 4 releases Wednesday, May 24.
Streaming on Netflix
“I think that kind of the connections that the show wants us to get invested in are not necessarily the ones that spark the most, but it is fun watching these kids [interact]” — Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter
The basics: It follows Kitty Covey (played by Anna Cathcart) as she heads to South Korea to find love with her long-distance boyfriend. It doesn’t come easy, with some fresh faces complicating their romance.
What it might remind you of: This is a TV show that spins off from the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before film trilogy, which was a coming-of-age love story starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo. It’s also worth noting that the films are based on the trilogy of books by the same name, written by Jenny Han.
Who's behind it: Along with developing the original story, Jenny Han was also the one to create the show as well. Han’s credits in film and television have all been tied to her written works, specifically To All The Boys I’ve Loved and The Summer I Turned Pretty. Both have been popular book series and To All The Boys I’ve Loved has been a series that was quite popular with teen audiences.
When and where: All eight episodes are streaming now on Netflix.
Class of 09
Streaming on Hulu
“This absolutely sounds like Minority Report. So I will not say that Class of 09 is a particularly unique idea, but I thought that it felt very 'of this time' in a sort of commenting on fears about what the government can do and what they can watch without our awareness.” — Roxana Hadadi, Vulture
The basics: Class of 09 follows the lives of multiple FBI agents as they see their department change as the years go by as a result of artificial intelligence.
What it might remind you of: Think of any story that looks to tackle the future of policing and artificial intelligence’s role in it. A film comparison to this could be Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, for those video-game RPG fans I’d say Detroit: Become Human is one of many examples you could fit into this.
Who's behind it: The show is created by Tom Rob Smith. Smith most notably co-created the series American Crime Story, having done writing/producing for Season 2, earning two primetime Emmys for his contributions.
When and where: The first three episodes are streaming now on Hulu; episode 4 releases Wednesday, May 24.
Streaming on Peacock
“I'm probably all set on semi-autobiographical Pete Davidson projects for the foreseeable future. But I did find this to be a really insightful and fascinatingly raw look into his mind.” — Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter
The basics: A fictionalized version of Pete Davidson’s life as a comedian and public-facing figure.
What it might remind you of: The show has autobiographical elements to it but still doesn’t take itself too seriously, having a comedic ‘variety show’ element to it, in the same way, Comedy Central’s Broad City or FX’s Dave has. Davidson also had a previous project, the film The King of Staten Island, which Bupkis definitely takes from.
Who's behind it: The show is created by Pete Davidson, Judah Miller, and Dave Sirus. To offer some background on Miller: he’s worked as a producer on iconic shows like American Dad and King of the Hill. Sirus has most of his credits in writing, most notably being in the writers’ room for Saturday Night Live. Also worth noting is that this trio of folks also developed The King of Staten Island together.
When and where: All eight episodes are streaming now on Peacock.
Succession [Season 4, Final Season]
Airing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max
“[I’ve] seen the penultimate and I just cannot imagine a world where it doesn't win like every Emmy possible.” — Roxana Hadadi, Vulture
The basics: The beginning of the season finds media conglomerate Waystar Royco, built up by media mogul and kingmaker Logan Roy, close to being sold to a tech visionary. This leaves his children clawing their way to staying relevant and powerful. The final season finds the family dealing with major shake-up after major shake-up — at the end of the day, who’s going to end up on top?
What it might remind you of: The show has truly outdone itself, it’s really hard to find a show that’s dynamics get so muddied. I’ve mentioned Arrested Development before with this show, our guest Roxana Hadadi made a great point by namedropping Shakespeare during our on-air segment, lots of compelling acts of betrayal that don’t require sympathy from viewers in order to feel engaged.
Who's behind it: The show's creator is Jesse Armstrong, whose other major television credit is co-creator of Peep Show, a long-running British sitcom that had similarly layered bits, although it's the mastering of episodic comedy is nothing like the 13-time Emmy award-winning dramedy.
When and where: Eight of its episodes are streaming now on HBO Max; episode 9 releases Sunday, May 21 at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.
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